Young Muslim adults in the U.K. are reviving the Islamic practice of temporary marriages.
Basically, a couple commits to a “pre-marriage” dating arrangement for a set period of time to determine whether or not they want to marry permanently.
The nikah mut’ah is different from regular dating in that the couple is, in a sense, considered bound by a “contract” under Islamic law with a view toward permanent marriage.
The BBC reports that some U.K. Muslims are considering temporary marriages as a way to blend their traditional Islamic practices with more modern, Western lifestyles.
“It allowed us to meet without breaking the bounds of Sharia [Islamic law]. We both wanted to date, to go out for dinner or go shopping and just get to know each other better before getting married, which we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” a 30-year-old Pakistani-Brit named Sara told the BBC.
Sara, a pharmacist who was engaged in a temporary marriage before committing to her partner said, “it’s basically a contract.”
“You sit down and stipulate your conditions — for a girl who hasn’t been previously married, you do need the father’s permission.”
“We stipulated the duration, my father’s conditions, and I requested what you would call a dowry where the guy gives a gift to the girl. It’s simple, straightforward and doesn’t take long at all,” Sara told the BBC.
Nikah mut’ah is apparently on the rise among Shia students, however, the practice is hotly contested by Sunni Muslims who consider the practice haram, or forbidden.
The practice, however, was historically used so men could have a wife-companion for short periods of time while travelling long distances.
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