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In Islam, marriage is a civil contract. ‘Although a religious duty, marriage is emphatically not a sacrament.
There are no sacraments in Islam, nor is it covertures, Mohammedan marriage is purely contractual.’

According to Schacht, marriage is a contract of civil law, and it shows traces of having developed out of
the purchase of the bride, the bridegroom concludes the contract with legal guardian (wali) of the bride,
and he undertakes to pay the nuptial gift or dower (Mehr, Sadak), not in the Wali as was customary in
pre-Islamic period, but to the wife herself.

Indian courts have also declared Muslim marriage as a contract. Mohmood J., while defining Muslim
marriage in Abdul Kadir v. Salima, observed:

Marriage in Muslim law is not a sacrament but purely a civil contract- though it is solemnized generally
with recitation- from the Quran, yet Muslim law does not positively prescribe any service peculiar to the
occasion. That is a civil contract, it is not positively prescribed to be reduced to writing, but the validity
and operation of the whole are made to depend upon the declaration or proposal of the one, and the
acceptance or consent of the other, of the contracting parties, or of their natural or legal guardians
before competent and sufficient witnesses, and also upon the restrictions imposed, and certain of the
conditions required to be abided by according to the peculiarity of the case.


The Shia law recognizes Muta marriages, but according to Sunni law, such marriages are void. Among
Shias also the Ithna-Ashari school only permits such marriages, but the Zaidi school or Shias law and
other Ismaili Shias including the Khojas and the Bohras of Bombay, do not recognize Muta.

The literal meaning of the word ‘Muta’ is ‘enjoyment, use’. So ‘Muta’ may be defined as a temporary
union of male and female for specified duration, on payment of some consideration. Literal meaning of
the Arabic word ‘Muta’ is ‘enjoyment’, therefore it may also be regarded as ‘marriage for pleasure’. In an
ancient period of Islam, when the Arabs had to live away from their homes for a considerably long
period either on account of wars or on trade-journeys, they used to satisfy their sex desires through
prostitutes. In that society there was a custom whereby the Arab women used to entertain men in their
own tents. The man, who wanted to enter the tent, has to pay some consideration as the entrance fees.
There were no mutual rights and obligations between the man and woman. Any of them could terminate
the union at any time. The children bornout of this union belonged to the woman. Slowly, this union got
some changes and the fixation of the term of union for some amount to be given to the woman, was
made compulsory, which acquired the name of Muta.

Iddat (also pronounced IDDAH) is a period of waiting that Islam has imposed upon a woman who has
been divorced or whose husband has died, after which a new marriage is permissible.

There are several reasons why the Iddat has been ordained. As regards the Iddat that is calculated
according to the cycle of menstruation, the purpose is firstly, to establish the state of the womb, i.e., to
ascertain whether there has been conception prior to divorce or not. When menstruation has been fixed
as the basis for Iddat, it will be the mere formality to establish this, for when the blood haidh flows it is a
sure sign that the womb is empty of a foetus.