Question # 293: What is Misyaar marriage? Is it legally allowed in Islam?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Misyaar marriage is where a man does a shar’i marriage contract with a woman, meeting the conditions of marriage, but the woman gives up some of her rights such as accommodation, maintenance or the husband’s staying overnight with her; however, the wife can later reclaim the rights which she gave up at the time of contract at any time. Although this type of marriage is not found in the Qur’an or Sunnah in specific, the scholars differed concerning the ruling on this type of marriage, whereby some consider it permissible, and others permit but consider it makrooh (disliked). Those who dislike/ disallow, believe that the consequences of such marriage adversely affect the woman, as it is demeaning to her, and it affects the society as this marriage contract is taken advantage of by people weak in emaan for the sake of mere pleasure whilst forgoing the other benefits of marriage. It also influences the children from such marriage, whose upbringing get affected by their father’s absence. Also, it has been noted that a major proportion of the men who take a wife in the framework of the misyaar marriage are already married. Consequently, its applicability is not generally permitted as it is morally incorrect, rather depends on circumstances of each cases (in case of dire need), for example, if the woman needs to stay in her family home, either because she is the only care-taker for her family members, or because she has children and cannot move with them to her husband’s house, or in a situation where a man who always travels between countries for longer periods, during which he cannot resist his sexual desire or other similar reasons. Nonetheless, this type of marriage reduces spinsterhood and protect divorcees and widows. It also comes to the rescue of youth, many of whom cannot afford either the short-term and long-term costs of regular marriages.

Long Answer: Misyaar marriage [(zawaj al-misyar “traveler’s marriage” or “or “marriage of convenience”)] is not found in the Qur’an, Sunnah or classical works of Islamic jurisprudence. It is a term that has been introduced recently by those discussing a specific type of matrimonial arrangement. However, the concept of such an arrangement can be found being discussed in the works of classical Muslim jurists (fuqaha). (Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam, Darul Iftaa)] In this type of marriage, a man does a shar’i marriage contract with a woman, meeting the conditions of marriage, but the woman gives up some of her rights such as accommodation, maintenance or the husband’s staying overnight with her.

[It has two forms: 1) In the first form, the husband is not responsible for providing his wife with housing and financial support; hence, she will live in her own home, where he comes to her as a husband. In addition, she is requested to provide for her own needs. 2) In the second form, the husband is responsible only for financial support of his wife’s needs but he will not give her an equitable share concerning overnight stay with other wives. This form is most common one since husband wants to keep it secret, especially from the knowledge of his wife and children in order to avoid any possible problems. (The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs)]

[A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) relates that Sawda bint Zam’a (رضي الله عنها) gave up her [right of spending the] day [with the Messenger of Allah] to A’ishah, and so the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to give A’ishah both her day and the day of Sawda (رضي الله عنهما).” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) relates that in his fatal illness, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to ask, “Where will I be tomorrow? Where will I be tomorrow?” wanting the day of A’ishah. His wives gave him permission to be wherever he wished, so he was in the room of A’ishah until he passed away by her…” (Sahih al-Bukhari)]

The reasons that have led to the emergence of this kind of marriage are many, such as the following prominent ones:

  • Increase in the number of single women who are unable to get married, because young men are put off marriage due to the high cost of dowries and the costs of marriage, or because there is a high divorce rate. In such circumstances, some women will agree to be a second or third wife and to give up some of their rights.
  • Some women need to stay in their family home, either because they are the only care-givers for family members, or because the woman has a handicap and her family do not want the husband to be burdened with something he cannot bear, and he stays in touch with her without having to put too great a burden on himself, or because she has children and cannot move with them to her husband’s house, and other reasons.
  • Some married men want to keep some women chaste because they need that, or because they need variety and halaal pleasure, without that affecting the first wife and her children.
  • In some cases, the husband may want to conceal his second marriage from his first wife, for fear of the consequences that may result and affect their relationship.
  • The man travels often to a certain place and stays there for lengthy periods. Undoubtedly staying there with a wife is safer for him than not doing so.

Next. the scholars differed concerning the ruling on this type of marriage, and there are several opinions, ranging from the view that it is permissible, to the view that it is permitted but makrooh (disliked), or that it is not allowed. Here we should point out several things:

  • None of the scholars have said that it is invalid or is not correct; rather they disallowed it because of the consequences that adversely affect the woman, as it is demeaning to her, and that affects the society as this marriage contract is taken advantage of by bad people, because a woman could claim that a boyfriend is a husband. It also affects the children whose upbringing will be affected by their father’s absence.
  • Some of those who said that it was permissible have retracted that view. Among the most prominent scholars who said that it was permissible were Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz and Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez Aal al-Shaykh; and among the most prominent scholars who said that it was permissible and then retracted it was Shaykh al-‘Uthaymeen; among the most prominent scholars who said that it is not allowed at all was Shaykh al-Albaani.
  • Those who said that it is permissible did not say that a time limit should be set as in the case of mut’ah. And they did not say that it is permissible without a wali (guardian), because marriage without a wali is invalid. And they did not say that the marriage contract may be done without witnesses or without being announced, rather it is essential to do one of the two.

Opinion of the scholars concerning this type of marriage:

  • Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) replied to a question on Misyaar marriage: “There is nothing wrong with that if the marriage contract fulfils all the conditions set out by shari’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 (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “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. “Fataawa ‘Ulama’ al-Balad al-Haraam and Jareedah al-Jazeerah – issue no. 8768) However, some students of the Shaykh said that he later retracted the view that it is permissible, but we could not find anything in writing to prove that.
  • Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez Aal al-Shaykh (may Allah preserve him) said: “The conditions of marriage are that the two partners should be identified and give their consent, and there should be a wali (guardian) and two witnesses. If the conditions are met and the marriage is announced, and they do not agree to conceal it, either the husband, the wife or their guardians, and he offered a waleemah or wedding feast, then this marriage is valid, and you can call it whatever you want after that.” (Jareedah al-Jazeerah – issue no. 10508)
  • Shaykh al-Albaani was asked about Misyaar marriage and he disallowed it for two reasons:
  1. That the purpose of marriage is repose as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says: “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” (Soorah ar-Rum 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. (Ahkaam al-Ta’addud fi Daw’ al-Kitaab wa’l-Sunnah)
  • Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) used to say that it was permissible, then he stopped saying that because of the negative effects, as it was poorly applied by some wrongdoers.
  • [Islamic scholars like Ibn Uthaimeen or Al-Albani claim, for their part, that misyaar marriage may be legal but not moral. They agree that the wife can reclaim the rights which she gave up at the time of contract at any time. 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. (Wikipedia.org)
  • The Sheikh of al-Azhar mosque, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi and Yusuf Al-Qaradawi 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. (Wikipedia.org)
  • Shaikh Mansour Aidha Al Minhali, Director of the Federal Islamic Affairs Department (an Abu Dhabi-based scholar), said: “…The validity of this marriage does not contradict with the Shari’ah and the law, which do not reject this kind of marriage, but stand against certain terms which are not allowed under Shari’ah and the law… These conditions forbid what is legal and should not be accepted, because the Islamic Shariah makes spending, housing and staying mandatory on the husband. These rights are given by the Islamic Shariah to the wife and the husband should fulfil them all. The husband is not exempted from carrying these responsibilities even if the wife has given them up. If the wife has accepted marriage on these conditions and ceded her rights, and then gone back after the marriage, the husband shall be obliged in view of the Islamic Shariah and law to those rights.” (Khaleej Times, May 7, 2006)]

Finally, if Misyaar marriage fulfils the conditions of a valid marriage, namely the proposal and acceptance, the consent of the wali and witnesses or announcement of the marriage, then it is a valid marriage contract, and it is good for some categories of men and women whose circumstances call for this type of marriage. But this may be taken advantage of by some whose religious commitment is weak, hence this permissibility should not be described as general in application in a fatwa, rather the situation of each couple should be examined, and if this kind of marriage is good for them then it should be permitted, otherwise they should not be allowed to do it. That is to prevent marriage for the sake of mere pleasure whilst losing the other benefits of marriage, and to prevent the marriage of two people whose marriage we may be certain is likely to fail and in which the wife will be neglected, such as one who will be away from his wife for many months, and will leave her on her own… This is different from one who lives with her family or children and has enough religious commitment, obedience, chastity and modesty to help her be patient during her husband’s absence.

(The above reply is based on answer by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid, unless stated otherwise)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam