Marriage during a Period of Study
Marriage is a contract that assumes a permanent relationship between the married couple. If the element of a specific duration is involved, it is rendered flawed. Although some scholars have other view on it.
Marriage during a Period of Study
· Marriage with the intention to divorce.
· Marriage for a period of travel.
· Concealment of the intention to divorce at the time of marriage.
A man may marry a woman without informing her that he intends to divorce her after a period of time. In most cases, this type of marraige applies to students pursuing their studies abroad. A student feels the pressure of temptation and fears he will slip into sin. He, therefore, marries a woman for the period of his studies and when he has completed his business or course, he leaves and divorces his wife.
Both modern scholars and scholars of olden days have differed on the status of marriage with the intention to divorce. Those who permit it look at the formalities and consider that:
1. The marraige contract meets all the conditions and requirements and as such it is valid. The man’s intention is of no consequence.
2. There is a clear need.
3. It is different from mit'ah, which is marriage for a specified period.
Scholars who prohibit this type of marriage consider the following points:
1. It is a device to legitimize mit'ah.
2. It involves cheating.
3. It tarnishes the image of Islam.
What Scholars Say
The first view: This is a valid marriage provided no time limit is placed on it. The leading scholars who advocated this view include:
1. Shaikh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz was given the following question: ‘I am a Syrian national employed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I would like to get married, intending to divorce later. What is the Islamic ruling on this type of marriage? My intention is that when my contract of employment in the Kingdom is terminated, I will divorce my wife and leave.’ He gave the following answer.
This is a controversial question. The majority of scholars permit this type of marriage because the man’s intention is secret, with no condition to this effect stipulated between the man and the wife or her family. As such, it does not count as a mit'ah. On the contrary, according to the majority of scholars it is a legitimate marriage and the fact that the man intends to divorce his wife in the future, when he leaves the country or for some other reason, does not affect its validity. Divorce is permissible when the need arises, provided that it is not a condition of the marriage. If the marriage stipulates a condition to divorce after a particular period of time, a month, two months, a year, etc. or if it is agreed between the parties, then it becomes a mit'ah, which is forbidden. As long as the intention remains internal with the man, known only to himself and to God, with no condition made between the man and the other party, the marriage is valid.
Shaikh Ibn Baz also said: Scholars have different views with regard to marriage with the intention to divorce. Some, like al-Awza'i, disapprove of it, saying that it is akin to mit'ah. Hence, they say that it is not permissible for a man to marry with the intention to divorce. Ibn Qudamah states in Al-Mughni that the majority of scholars maintain that it is a valid marriage as long as the intention is not made a condition, but remains internal known to the man and God only. This is the case of someone who travels abroad to study or for some other business and fears that he may slip into sin. He may get married even though he intends to divorce when his business is completed.
2. The Permanent Committee of Research and Fatwa .The Committee, headed by Shaikh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz, ruled that this marriage is valid.
3. Shaikh Ibn Jibreen This question is about marriage with the intention to divorce. Many scholars have ruled it invalid, considering it like the mit'ah which is forbidden according to all Sunni scholars. These scholars have said that to permit such a marriage may lead to transgression of the bounds set by Islamic law. A person who resorts to such a marriage may have at one time more than four wives, some of whom may be in their waiting period and some may be married normally, or according to this arrangement.
However, many scholars also permit this type of marriage, provided that all conditions of marriage are met and there is no other reason to prevent it. The man must pay the woman her dowry in full, and must not specify a period of time for the marriage. Moreover, the woman must not come under any compulsion to agree, either by the man or by her guardian. If all these conditions are met, then this marriage is permissible. It may be that the man intends to test the marriage, or perhaps he wants to guard against slipping into sin. After all, divorce is permissible to him. On the other hand, he may feel that she is suitable for him and when he goes home he will take her with him.
Perhaps Shaikh Faisal Mawlawi was referring to this method, i.e. marriage with the intention to divorce, as a practical way that is better than mit'ah. He said: ‘There is no need for the mit[ah marriage in our Islamic jurisprudence, because marriage is meant to be for life and divorce is easy. If a Muslim marries a woman intending the marriage to be for a period and their relationship goes smoothly, he can make it permanent. On the other hand, if the marriage is a permanent one and he discovers after a short period that they cannot live happily together, he can divorce her . So, what need is there for specifying a term for the marriage since the possibility of divorce exists even before the specified term has lapsed?’
Although this type of marriage is similar to mit'ah as practised by the Shia, in as much as it is intended to be for a period, this is not provided for in the marriage contract. It is merely an intention. To terminate this marriage, the husband must pronounce the word of divorce, and the woman is entitled to her maintenance and inheritance on the same lines as any permanent marriage. As such it is different from mit'ah.
The second view: This type of marriage is forbidden. The leading scholars sharing this view include:
1. The late Shaikh Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen
A question was put to him: ‘A young man wants to travel abroad on a scholarship of study. He wishes to maintain his chastity by marrying a national of the country where he is studying, then to divorce her. He will not inform her of his intention to divorce. What is the Islamic ruling?’ His answer was as follows:
This marriage with the intention to divorce can have one of two alternatives. The marriage contract stipulates that it is a marriage for a specific period, such as a month, a year, or for the duration of his studies, which means that it is a mit'ah marriage and that is forbidden. Alternatively, the man intends it as a provisional marriage without making it a condition. The best known view in the Hanbali school of Fiqh isthis is forbidden and the marriage contract is flawed. They say that what is intended has the same status as a stipulated condition.
This is based on the Prophet’s hadith
Actions are but by intentions; and everyone shall have but what he has intended.
Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 1
The other view expressed by scholars on this question is that it is permissible for a man to marry, intending to divorce his wife when he leaves the country. This is one of two views expressed by Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah.
My own view is that this marriage is sound, not a mit[ah marriage, as it does not meet the definition of mit[ah. However, it is forbidden because it involves cheating the wife and her family and the Prophet has forbidden all cheating. Neither the woman nor her family will agree to such a marriage if they know in advance that the man only wants to marry her for a period. He himself would not agree that his daughter marries a man who intends to divorce her once his need of her is over so how can he treat other people in a way that he does not accept for himself? This is contrary to the true faith.
The Prophet says
None of you truly believes unless he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.
Related by al-Bukhari, hadith Nos 6 and 13
I also heard that some people are using this view as justification of a practice no scholar would sanction. They travel abroad for such a marriage, intending the marriage to be temporary and staying with their wife for whatever period they want, then divorce her and come back. This is very serious and strictly forbidden. It is, therefore, better to prohibit marriage with the intention to divorce outright because it involves cheating and deception, in addition to facilitating such a forbidden practice. Most people have little knowledge of what Islam allows, and it is often the case that desire leads people to transgress the bounds set by God.
2. The Islamic Fiqh Council at the Muslim World League
The Islamic Fiqh Council at the Muslim World League considered the question of ‘New Forms of Marriage Contracts, and marriage with the intention to divorce. This is a marriage that meets the conditions and requirements of marriage, but the husband has the intention of divorcing his wife after a period known to him, such as ten days, or unknown to him such as the completion of his studies or his business.
Although some scholars consider this type of marriage permissible, the Council is of the view that it is forbidden because it involves cheating and deception. Had the woman or her guardian known the man’s intention, they would not agree to the marriage. Moreover, it leads to many adverse consequences that tarnish the image of the Muslim community.
4. The Secretary of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America
Marriage is a contract that assumes a permanent relationship between the married couple. If the element of a specific duration is involved, the contract is rendered flawed. If the duration is specified, it becomes a mit[ah marriage, which is invalid according to all Sunni schools of Fiqh. If the husband does not declare his intention to divorce his wife after a period, it is considered a mit'ah marriage by the Hanbali school of Fiqh.
The majority of scholars do not consider the contract flawed by such an intention, because the intention may change. Contracts are rendered invalid on the basis of the conditions they stipulate, not the intentions of the parties. Some scholars are of the view that the contract is valid but the cheating husband commits a serious sin of deception, for having an intention which would make the other party refuse the marriage had they known of it. Perhaps this view is the best.
· Fatawa by the Islamic Fiqh Council.
· Fatawa by the Permanent Committee for Research and Fatwa.
· Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz, Fatawa.
· Husam Affanah, Fatawa.
- M. Ibn Uthaimeen, Fatawa al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah, vol. 2, pp. 757–8.
- The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).