Mut`ah In the eyes of the civilised Iranian Society

Sayyiduna Ali Amongst the Sahabah of the Nabi
October 23, 2015
October 29, 2015

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In the eyes of the civilised Iranian Society


Can there be a more depraved society than that of Iran? Why not? Besides the Ambiya’ and Sahabah, good and bad can be found in every class and group of people in society. The most senior in rank among the Ayatollahs only condone the performance of Mut’ah because poverty-stricken women generally seek aid from them. To refer to them as official conveyances is a little too degrading so I will refrain from doing so. We do not deny that these women consider it as a means of great spiritual blessing to have such illicit relations with these Ayatollahs, from which they derive spiritual contentment. It is for this reason that those people who have regarded the Iranian society’s performance of Mut’ah as shameless and immoral have been labelled as irreligious and secular by every single one of these Ayatollahs. Before the Khomeini revolution the civilised society of Iran tried to ban this immoral practice but the Ayatollahs strictly opposed this.

Who is not acquainted with the personality of ‘Allamah al Ha’iri? His niece, Shahla Haeri, who was a research associate in Harvard University America in 1988, wrote a book entitled “Law of Desire”, wherein she states:


Before the 1979 Iranian revolution, the secular classes regarded Mut’ah as a form of prostitution and sought to ban it, while other religious bodies sanctioned it. This public announcement became widely accepted in Iran and thus a religious stamp of approval was placed on prostitution. In justification of this form of ‘Temporary Marriage’, the religious groups claim that this is a favour of the All-Mighty upon us and is necessary for the personal well-being of every individual. In fact, they state that its performance is imperative for the psychological and emotional security of society.[1]


One learns from this that there are civilised individuals present within Iranian Society. The Ayatollahs of Iran have branded them as secular. It is impossible to deny that the Khomeini revolution has once again opened the doors of Mut’ah for the nation and president Rafsanjani appealing to the youth to indulge in this act is the direct result of this.


The Practice of Mut’ah Amongst Religious Groups in Iran.

Shahla Haeri writes:

  • These forms of ‘Temporary Marriage’ generally occur in the shrines of religious leaders.” (page 20)
  • There is a considerable similarity between ‘Temporary Marriage’ and prostitution. (Page 24)
  • There is no clear distinction between Mut’ah and prostitution. (Page 25)
  • All people in Iran know that if you wish to perform Mut’ah then you should go to Mashhad or Qum. (Page 28)

According to the research of Shahla, Mut’ah is an ancient Iranian custom prevalent from before the advent of Islam. A western researcher Eustache de Lorey in 1907 wrote a book entitled Queer things about Persia. Shahla Haeri quotes form page 129 of this book:


In his book Queer things about Persia, De Lorey attempts to link temporary marriage with a pre-Islamic Iranian custom: “The temporary marriage is a time-honoured Persian Institution, if one can judge by legend, which says that Restum, the Hercules of Persia, contracted such a union during a hunting excursion Tamineh, the daughter of the King of Samangam, of which a son, the celebrated Zohrab, was born.[2]


The western writer Benjamin (1887) is also of this opinion. Shahla Haeri writes:

On the basis of the fact that Shia Muslims are permitted to make contracts of temporary marriage with the “Magians,” Benjamin declares, “this is conclusive evidence of the Zoroastrian origin of this form of marriage.[3]


Mashhad and Qum

In India and Pakistan the shrines of saints have become attractions for both the learned and common people. People frequent these shrines to invoke blessings upon these saints, but in Iran these shrines are not only visited because of the deceased but for the living as well. They regard the glances that are exchanged between men and women as a means of deriving blessing. Shahla Haeri writes regarding Mashhad, where the eighth Imam, Imam al Rida, is buried:

The history of Mashhad, which very little is known about, is that when people frequent them they derive social pleasures during their stay.[4]


This is the condition of Mashhad one hundred years ago, now read what the present day condition of the Mashhad is:


The city of Mashhad still enjoys the same reputation it had a century ago, if more discreetly and secretly, and much to the dislike of some high-ranking religious leaders. “In the old days in Mashhad,” said Amin Aqa (a rawzih khun, a religious preacher) to me in 1981, “there was an old man, a shaikh, who had a worn-out scrap notebook in which he would record names and addresses of women interested in becoming a sigheh[5].” Male pilgrims, or even some inhabitants of the city, would go to the old shaikh in the hope of finding a temporary mate during their sojourn in the city. By helping them, he would gain some sawab (religious merit) for himself as well as for the pilgrims. Amin Aqa said that he himself vaguely remembered the shaikh, for he was just a little boy then. He assured me, however, that he did not know whether another person had continued the shaikh’s vocation after his death.

A little further on she adds:

Although many mullas in Mashhad and Qom are reluctant to admit that such semiorganized networks of matchmakers exist, they do not hesitate to emphasize the religious merit of sigheh (Mut’ah) and the fact that many people do indeed approach them to be introduced to a possible sigheh mate. Mulla Hashim, another religious preacher from Mashhad, told me that not only was he frequently propositioned by women pilgrims but he was also approached by men who would seek his mediating capacity to find them a sigheh. For the past twenty-five years he himself had contracted a sigheh every other week, he said, all unknown to his wife.[6]


Taking a Vow to Perform Mut’ah, in Order to Please the Almighty

Taking a vow to perform Mut’ah is known as sigheh nazri in Iran. Shahla Haeri writes:


Sigheh nazri seems to occur primarily around the shrines of religious leaders. Believing that sigheh incurs religious merit, a woman may make a vow, either for herself or on behalf of her daughter, that should her wish come true she would then contract a sigheh, often with a sayyid (many mullas are sayyids) who is held in great esteem. Usually a woman approaches a mulla directly and conveys her message to him. Mullas, it is believed, are generally more approachable and agreeable than others. For instance, Mulla Hashim, a religious preacher from Mashhad, claimed to have been propositioned by a woman who made a vow to sigheh a sayyid and to pay him one hundred tuman (some twelve dollars). Mulla Hashim said, “I refused her she wasn’t my type. She was old.”[7]


One learns from this that the Iranian Ayatollahs only desire to perform Mut’ah with young girls and are reluctant to do so with older women.


The Custom of Having a Companion with you on a Journey for the Purpose of Mut’ah

It is an incorrect assumption that the Shia only perform Mut’ah when far away from home. If this was the case then they would not have had the custom of taking women with them on a journey for the purposes of Mut’ah. In ancient Iran, a host would hand over his wife to his guests, (in order to perform Mut’ah), as a sign of hospitality. In the Islamic period of Iran it was the Qajar who encouraged this practice based upon a ruling from the Ayatollahs. Shahla Haeri writes:


A traveller may take a sigheh to accompany him on his trip(s). The Qajar royal family often set the trend for their subjects. When on short trips, Nasr al Din Shah (1831-96) would leave their own wives behind in the harem but would take along one or more sigheh wives. Citing Aqa ‘Ali Amin Huzur, I’timad al Saltanih (the Shah’s official translator and minister of communication) writes, “Today I (Aqa ‘Ali) told the Shah, it was customary for your father and your grandfather to give their servants one of their wives. What harm would come of it if you gave me one of your old sigheh(s) who would accompany your harem during the day, and would come to my tent at night?” (quoted in “Fath ‘Ali Shah” 1968, 122). Like his grandson, Fath ‘Ali Shah’s lust for female companions would even prompt them to “kidnap” them! “One night sneaking into the house of Muhammad Khan-i Davvalu,” writes Pizhman Bakhtiari, “the Shah kidnapped his daughter by hiding her under his long robe, ‘aba. He immediately sighehed her, and then sent a message to her father that ‘according to our custom I have stolen your daughter. Why don’t you do likewise by stealing, sirqat, one of my daughters for yourself or one of your sons?’”[8]


You would have probably read many tales of abduction but you would probably never have come across a people with such a depleted sense of honour that they actually invite people to abduct their own daughters. Why has the human sense of honour fallen to such a degrading level? This is the result of the propagation of the Ayatollahs of Iran who announce that there is great reward for the performance of Mut’ah, such that when one takes a bath after performing this act, an angel is created from every drop that falls from his body, who will remain in ‘ibadah until the Day of Qiyamah and the reward will go to the one who performed Mut’ah. Allah forbid!

Any person with a sense of human decency will bow his head in shame, but if this vile and sinful act is performed with the intention for the pleasure of Allah then one’s iman, beliefs, scruples and morality will be malformed and the true din will become an object of play and amusement.


Agents of Mut’ah in Iran

Iranian female author, Shahla Haeri, writes:


Among the many service agencies that sprang up during the last few years of the Pahlavi regime was the so-called Maid Agency, azhans-i mustakhdim. The agency is still functioning under the Islamic regime, though it has fewer international maids. Nowadays it is run by a certain hajji, and provides household services by maids of all types. Ranging from daily to monthly to live-in maids. One particular middle-aged maid was asked why many of the would-be maids were the hajji’s sigheh. She responded, “Because it is more respectable to be a sigheh than just a maid…. Not all sighehs between masters and maids are done with the consent of the wife and the acquiescence of the maid. A man may deceive his maid(s) with a promise of marriage of either form without attempting to fulfil his promise later on.[9]


Various Forms of Mut’ah Performed in Iran

The practice, method and status of Mut’ah is all the same but the purposes for which they are performed vary. This is why their various forms of Mut’ah found in Iran. It is impossible to delve into the details of each in this concise treatise but we will inform the readers of those forms that were mentioned by Shahla Haeri:

  1. Sigheh Aqa’i (Mut’ah between minors)
  2. Sigheh Towlid (Mut’ah for procreation)
  3. Sigheh Mahramiyyat (non-sexial lawful association)
  4. Sigheh Shirkah fi Ikhrajat (to aid in business or household expenses)
  5. Sigheh Ma’awin (To assist another)
  6. Sigheh Mazhabi (religious purposes)
  7. Sigheh Ma’ash (as a forms of livelihood)
  8. Sigheh Mel Milap (to establish friendly relations)
  9. Sigheh to ease arbitration
  10. Sigheh performed at a religious shrine (to seek blessings)

There are a total of twelve forms of Mut’ah, the eleventh being Group Mut’ah (where a number of men will jointly perform Mut’ah with one woman) and the twelfth is Mut’ah with kuffar. Since there is difference of opinion among the Shia scholars regarding these last two forms I did not mention them with the rest.


Shahla Haeri then mentioned the biographies of eight women who habitually perform the act of Mut’ah:

  1. Mahwash Khanim
  2. Ma’sumah
  3. Farkh Khanim
  4. Fata Khanim
  5. Shahin
  6. Nanihiyyah
  7. Maluba
  8. Iran

The dark pages of these women’s history cannot be included in this brief treatise. Whoever wishes to further his reading on this subject, should refer to the march issue 1993 of Qowmi Digest. After mentioning the biographies of these women, Shahla Haeri has given details of her interview with Ayatollah Najafi Mar’ashi and Shari’atmadari, which she took in 1987. This interview was just before the Iranian revolution. The Shia scholars who were interviewed by Shahla Haeri after the Iranian revolution and under the Khomeini rule are as follows:

  1. Hujjat al Islam Buzrugi
  2. Mullah Pak
  3. Mullah Muhsin
  4. Hujjat al Islam Anwari
  5. Mullah Afshighar


[1]Madhmun Shahla al Ha’iri, p. 18, extracted from Qowmi Digest march 1993.

[2]Qowmi Digest p. 37

[3]  Ibid

[4]  ibid

[5]  One with whom Mut’ah is performed.

[6]  Qowmi Digest p. 86

[7]  Ibid p. 82

[8]Qowmi Digest p. 83

[9]  ibid