Nikah Misyar
Overview
Nikah Misyar is a Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 Nikah
Nikah
Marriage in Islam is an Islamic prenuptial contract between a man and woman to live as husband and wife. It is a formal, binding contract considered integral to a religiously valid Islamic marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride involved in marriage proceedings...

 (marriage) carried out via the normal contractual procedure, with the specificity that the husband and wife give up several rights by their own free will, such as living together, equal division of nights between wives in cases of polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

, the wife's rights to housing, and maintenance money ("nafaqa"), and the husband's right of homekeeping, and access etc.

Essentially the couple continue to live separately from each other, as before their contract, and see each other to fulfil their needs in a permissible (halaal) manner when they please.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Kubaissi from the United Arab Emirates thinks there is no formal problem with 'misyar' marriage.
Encyclopedia
Nikah Misyar is a Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 Nikah
Nikah
Marriage in Islam is an Islamic prenuptial contract between a man and woman to live as husband and wife. It is a formal, binding contract considered integral to a religiously valid Islamic marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride involved in marriage proceedings...

 (marriage) carried out via the normal contractual procedure, with the specificity that the husband and wife give up several rights by their own free will, such as living together, equal division of nights between wives in cases of polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

, the wife's rights to housing, and maintenance money ("nafaqa"), and the husband's right of homekeeping, and access etc.

Essentially the couple continue to live separately from each other, as before their contract, and see each other to fulfil their needs in a permissible (halaal) manner when they please.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Kubaissi from the United Arab Emirates thinks there is no formal problem with 'misyar' marriage. It fulfils all the demands of Islamic law. Nevertheless, he describes it as contrary to the norms of decent Islamic life.

Background and causes

Some people consider that the misyar marriage can meet the needs of young people whose resources are too limited to settle down in a separate home; of divorcees, widows or widowers, who have their own residence and their own financial resources but cannot, or do not want to marry again according to the usual formula; and of slightly elder people who have not tasted the joys of marriage.

Islamic lawyers add that this type of marriage fits the needs of a conservative society which punishes “zina
Zina (Arabic)
Zinā or Zināʾ is generally defined by Islamic Law as unlawful sexual intercourse, i.e. intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to one another or in a state of lawful concubinage based on ownership...

” (fornication
Fornication
Fornication typically refers to consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. For many people, the term carries a moral or religious association, but the significance of sexual acts to which the term is applied varies between religions, societies and cultures. The...

) and other sexual relationships which are established outside a marriage contract. Thus, some Muslim foreigners working in the Persian Gulf countries prefer to engage in the misyar marriage rather than live alone for years. Many of them are actually already married with wives and children in their home country, but they cannot bring them to the region.

Misyar marriage in practice

In addition to the preceding cases, wealthy Muslim men sometimes enter into a Misyar marriage while on vacation, in order to have sexual relations with another woman without committing the sin of zina
Zina (Arabic)
Zinā or Zināʾ is generally defined by Islamic Law as unlawful sexual intercourse, i.e. intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to one another or in a state of lawful concubinage based on ownership...

. They usually divorce the women once their holiday is over. However, that if this is understood by both parties at the time of conclusion of the marriage contract (and this is usually the case), this would constitute a fixed time period, effectively making such a marriage invalid in Sunni law, and more akin to the Nikah Mut'ah.

The Sheikh of al-Azhar Mosque
Al-Azhar Mosque
Al-Azhar Mosque is a mosque in Islamic Cairo in Egypt. Al-Mu‘izz li-Dīn Allāh of the Fatimid Caliphate commissioned its construction for the newly established capital city in 970. Its name is usually thought to allude to the Islamic prophet Muhammad's daughter Fatimah, a revered figure in Islam...

 Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi and theologian Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
Yusuf al-Qaradawi
Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a controversial Egyptian Islamic theologian. He is best known for his programme, ash-Shariah wal-Hayat , broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide...

 note, in their writings and in their lectures, that a major proportion of the men who take a spouse in the framework of the misyar marriage are already married men.

Many of the men involved would not marry a second wife within the regime of normal Islamic polygamy, because of the heavy financial burdens, moral obligations & responsibilities it places on the husband. But, they opt for the option of misyar marriage when the theologians declare it licit.

Legality of misyar marriage

Misyar marriage fits within the general rules of marriage in Sunni  law, on condition merely that it fulfil all the requirements of the Shariah marriage contract i.e.:
  • The agreement of both parties;
  • Two legal witnesses (Shahidain)
  • The payment by the husband to his wife of Mahr
    Mahr
    In Islam, mahr is an amount of money paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage which she can spend as she wishes. The English concept of "dower", the gift of funds to the wife in the event she becomes widowed, closely approximates mahr. The terms "dowry" and "bride price" are...

     in the amount that is agreed
  • The absence of a fixed time period for the contract
  • Shuroot, Any particular stipulations which the two parties agree to include in the contract and which are in conformity with Muslim marriage law.


Moreover, as explained by the Saudi Islamic lawyer Abdullah bin Sulaiman bin Menie, a member of the Higher Council of Ulema of Saudi Arabia, the wife can denounce at any time, as she sees fit, her renunciation of her financial rights, and require of her husband that he give her all her rights, including that he live with her and provide for her financial needs ("nafaqa"). The husband can then either do so, or grant her a divorce.

For these reasons, Professor Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
Yusuf al-Qaradawi
Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a controversial Egyptian Islamic theologian. He is best known for his programme, ash-Shariah wal-Hayat , broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide...

 observes that he does not promote this type of marriage, although he has to recognise that it is legal, since it fulfils all the requirements of the usual marriage contract. He states his preference that the clause of renunciation be not included within the marriage contract, but be the subject of a simple verbal agreement between the parties. He underlines the fact that Muslims are held by their commitments, whether they are written or verbal.

Criticism of misyar

Islamic scholars like Ibn Uthaimeen or Al-Albani claim, for their part, that misyar marriage may be legal, but not moral. They agree that the wife can at any time, reclaim the rights which she gave up at the time of contract. But, they are opposed to this type of marriage on the grounds that it contradicts the spirit of the Islamic law of marriage and that it has perverse effects on the woman, the family and the community in general.

For Al-Albani, misyar marriage may even be considered as illicit, because it runs counter to the objectives and the spirit of marriage in Islam, as described in this verse from the Quran :

“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts)…”

Al-Albani also underlines the social problems which result from the “misyar” marriage, particularly in the event that children are born from this union. The children raised by their mother in a home from which the father is always absent, without reason, may suffer difficulties. The situation becomes even worse if the wife is abandoned or repudiated by her husband "misyar", with no means of subsistence, as usually happens.

"Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about Misyaar marriage; this kind of marriage is where the man marries a second, third or fourth wife, and the wife is in a situation that compels her to stay with her parents or one of them in her own house, and the husband goes to her at various times depending on the circumstances of both. What is the Islamic ruling on this type of marriage?

He replied:

There is nothing wrong with that if the marriage contract fulfils all the conditions set out by sharee’ah, which is the presence of the wali and the consent of both partners, and the presence of two witnesses of good character to the drawing up of the contract, and both partners being free of any impediments, because of the general meaning of the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “The conditions that are most deserving of being fulfilled are those by means of which intimacy becomes permissible for you” and “The Muslims are bound by their conditions.” If the partners agree that the woman will stay with her family or that her share of the husband’s time will be during the day and not during the night, or on certain days or certain nights, there is nothing wrong with that, so long as the marriage is announced and not hidden. End quote

Shaykh al-Albaani was asked about Misyaar marriage and he disallowed it for two reasons:

1) That the purpose of marriage is repose as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect” [al-Room 30:21]. But this is not achieved in this kind of marriage.

2) It may be decreed that the husband has children with this woman, but because he is far away from her and rarely comes to her, that will be negatively reflected in his children’s upbringing and attitude.

As for Ibn Uthaymeen, he recognizes the legality of “misyar” marriage from the Shariah standpoint, but considers that it should be opposed because it has been turned into a real merchandise that is being marketed on a large scale by “marriage agencies”, with no relation to the nature of Islamic marriage.

Critics of this marriage observe, more generally, that this type of marriage usually ends up in divorce. As a result the wife finds herself abandoned, forced to lead a solitary life as she had before the marriage, but traumatized by the experience, while her social status and reputation degraded.

The proponents of the misyar marriage, though they recognize that it can result in problems, observe that it doesn’t have a monopoly on them. The problems result, more generally, from the way in which people apply the rules of the Shariah.

Today, in a large number of Muslim countries, there are official family and marriage law codes whose provisions wouldn't allow the conclusion of a marriage of the misyar type. However, in a number of Gulf States essentially, misyar marriage is accepted by the community and is usually arranged privately through a notary with no publicity.

A comparison with Nikah Mut’ah

According to a Fatwa for Ayatollah Sistani, a Shī‘a Sayyed, Mut'ah is permitted, but Misyar is considered to be prohibited by Shias. There is much similarity between Mut'ah and Misyar. Both require all the conditions applicable to Nikah with an exception of fixed date of expiry in Mut'ah. Every nikah in Sunnis requires two adult male witnesses, whereas in Shī‘as the two witnesses required in either nikah-e-Mut'ah or in ordinary nikah may be just Allah and the Qur'an.

See also

  • Islamic marital jurisprudence
    Islamic marital jurisprudence
    In Islamic law , marriage is a legal bond and social contract between a man and a woman. Islam commends marriage, with the age of marriage being whenever the individuals feel ready, financially and emotionally...

  • Nikah Mut'ah
  • Pilegesh
    Pilegesh
    Pilegesh is a Hebrew term for a concubine with similar social and legal standing to a recognized wife, often for the purpose of producing offspring.-Etymology:...

  • Walking marriage
    Walking marriage
    Walking marriage is a widely-used misnomer for the sort of romantic and sexual relationships embedded in the culture of, for example, the Jaintia sub-tribe of the Khasi people of Meghalaya in north-east India and the Mosuo ethnic minority of China. The Mosuo call it tisese, which translates...

  • Nikah 'urfi

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