Misyar: Prostitution By Another Name

Posted: April 23, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Over the past year many Muslim converts have had the “opportunity” to discover something called a misyar marriage“, or temporary sexual relationship sanctioned by shariah law. From where I stand as a convert, the entire affair appears to be nothing more than prostitution by another name. I just find it interesting how in the over twenty five books on Islamic marriage that I read in English, not once was this little business about temporary marriage mentioned. The fact is that it was hidden from western students and converts to Islam because we would recognize it for what it is and be repulsed. This practice breeds fraud and duplicity in both men and women. For example…

A woman in Jeddah, Arabia has also recognized it for what it is; buying and selling sex for money, and has created a thriving business through hefty dowries and other gold digging tactics, like blackmailing the “husband” (John) that if he doesn’t divorce her (so she can sell her body to someone else) she will tell his other wife!

Misyar marriages are usually clandestine and the women in most cases forfeit all their rights. Why should any women accept such conditions? The reason is usually a lack of options to get married traditionally. Some may have passed the most-sought-after marriage age and others may be widows or divorcees.

In the majority of such marriages, the woman always seeks a stable married life. But the kinds of men who seek misyar are usually married and want a second wife without disrupting their first marriage. As expected, the first wife would object to the marriage and things could get complicated, eventually the misyar would end up in divorce.

Men who don’t have enough income to be the breadwinner for two families also seek misyar, instead of taking a second wife through a traditional marriage.

It is interesting to note that a minority of women have turned misyar into a business. These women never intend to stay married to the same man for more than a few months; the cause of this is the lucrative dowry they get from each marriage. And during the few months of marriage they try to extract as much money as they can.

If the husband refuses to divorce at any point in the marriage, they then use what they claim is a very effective way of making him obey: They threaten to inform the first wife of the secret marriage.

One such woman is Siham, who has been married six times (one traditional and five misyar). She said men who are “scared to death of their first wives” are exactly the type she seeks to marry in misyar.

“I only marry men who are afraid of their first wives and are financially well off,” said Siham, who asked to be known only by her nickname, which means “Arrows” in Arabic.

“When I hear that there is a suitor looking for misyar, I check two things — whether he is wealthy and whether he is afraid of his wife,” said Siham, adding that she takes no less than SR30,000 in dowry.

In many misyar marriages the husband usually doesn’t live with the woman and tends to visit his wife whenever it is convenient. All five of Siham’s former husbands have been such.

Prior to the misyar marriage, Siham’s husband-to-be is made to believe that no financial support will be required of him, and that all the marriage will cost him is the dowry.

However, after the marriage Siham reveals her true color. Every time her husband wants to visit her (once in a week or two) she fleeces anything between SR5,000 and SR7,000 from him.

“I make him pay all my expenses, otherwise I don’t allow him visits,” she said. “I believe men have been taking advantage of women in misyar marriages. They take so much from women and give so little, but I’ve turned the tables on them.”

After getting divorced, Siham completes the waiting period of four months and 10 days, which is required by the Shariah before a widow or a divorcee marries again.

Ever since Siham turned misyar into a business, she has been very careful about her dealings. She said she had kept all her husbands in the dark about how many times she had been married.

“I tell them that I have been married once,” she said. “And there is no way for them to find out because after my first marriage, which was a traditional one, my other marriages were not registered in the court.”

Siham says that her first husband abused her for years until she got divorced from him.

But what made Siham think of misyar as a business? Siham claims that she learned of this eccentric trade from some women she befriended.

“I learned from my friends who like me were abused by their first husbands,” she said.

According to Islamic law, a marriage is not legitimate if any of the spouses gets married with the intention of ending the union after a specific period.

The hitch is the “specific time period” in Sunni law. That is the real difference between misyar and muta

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Comments
  1. Hamza 21 says:

    Abuses in name the of religion in saudiyyah..I’m so surprised.

    But what does that got to do with validity of Misyar? nothing. Misyar like marrying one’s cousin is something someone can choose to do or not. It’s not wajib nor fard it’s mubah. Even some Saudi scholars would say it’s makruh. However just because some abuse the practice doesn’t make the practice unsound or unmoral.

    You seem to to applying western standards of what marriage is to Islam. In Islam marriage is a business contract where both parties agree to certain conditions and obligations and if those conditions and/or obligations are not fulfilled the contract can become void (divorce).

    I just find it interesting how in the over twenty five books on Islamic marriage that I read in English, not once was this little business about temporary marriage mentioned. The fact is that it was hidden from western students and converts to Islam because we would recognize it for what it is and be repulsed.

    I think maybe it isn’t mentioned in english books is probably most authors are unaware of Misyar considering it isn’t practiced much in Muslim world.In most countries misyar isn’t necessary or desirable. In the America convert context it is more so. Most converts have intimate relationships with the opposite sex before taking shahaadah.

    Now take a typical male convert usually will have girlfriend. As of now he has girlfriend who he enjoys a sexual relationship with but the female has no rights. Now mostly most muslims will tell the brother to marry his girlfriend of break up with her. But suppose the brother and female don’t want to break up nor aren’t ready for what marraige entails. Then what do they do?

    They can have Misyar. That way they both know what to expect. They will have sexual access to each other with a contract stipulating what will occur if a pregnancy develops and if they choose to stay together there no need to get married again but if they choose they don’t want marry in future they have contract stipulating what will occur if that happens as well.

    One can look at misyar this way; it is a typical boyfriend/girlfriend relationship except unlike in today’s world both parties know what to expect in terms of rights and obligations.What will happen in a pregnancy?will we live together or separately?what will happen if we break up? all these questions are answered in contract unlike what’s happening in non-muslim relationship where the woman can fall victim to the whims of the man she “loves”.

  2. Abul Hasana says:

    In Islam marriage is a business contract where both parties agree to certain conditions and obligations and if those conditions and/or obligations are not fulfilled the contract can become void

    Yes, just like the title to the post: basically a long term prostitution contract where you pay for the right to access a woman’s private parts

  3. Dawud Adib says:

    Misyar is a wonderful practice

    sincerely,
    Aboo Tasneem

    • Abu sadness says:

      you are doing copyright infringement, we all know anyone with this name wouldnt use this name or ruin their own rep by saying this, these types of things do uphold in court now, fyi, I know ur trying to be funny, but lets face it, you will be the one suffering

  4. Hamza 21 says:

    Yes, just like the title to the post: basically a long term prostitution contract where you pay for the right to access a woman’s private parts

    “access” to a wife’s private parts is a part of marriage. As well as a wife having “access” to a husband private parts.

    “Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will; but do some good act for your souls beforehand; and fear Allah. And know that ye are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give (these) good tidings to those who believe. ”
    2:223

  5. Abul Hasna says:

    As well as a wife having “access” to a husband private parts.

    Wrong. The woman does not pay a mahr. The definition of the mahr is the price paid to to make the woman’s private part halal. It is about the man having access. Not the woman

  6. Khalil Abdurrazzaq says:

    The case study for misyar in this posting is simply an example of someone who admittently is abusing the law. The fact that a law, whether it be sacred or secular can be abused does not discredit that law of being moral or ethical. For the woman mentioned in the article “having recognized misyar marriage for what it really is” is to imply that the Shariah is inherently flawed by misyar being a permissable form of marriage. As is commonly known, normal Islamic marriage is widely abused from the manner which it begins to the manner which it is dissolved. Just because normal Islamic marriage is widely abused does not fashion mean that Islamic marriage is essentially flawed. Basically, when society begins to abuse rightful law blame should be cast on the society and not the law. Islam is the standard and Muslims are those who are on a constant journey to meet that standard to which they fall short of many reasons, some excusable and others not.

    From a recent conversation with a friend of mine who lived in Saudia Arabia for quite a while, he observed that misyar marriage was very common. Due to the complexities of marriage in Saudia Arabia, oftentimes women opt for marriage in a misyar fashion because it is the only violable option to be married instead of being single. The complexities of Saudi marriage include things like inter-racial marriage, non-Saudi women being married to Saudi men, and status differences between the women and men. Many of these things Americans have no concept of. Every society has their challenges and definitely a Saudi challenge is the institution of marriage along with many other things.

    Khalil Abdurrazzaq

  7. Hamza 21 says:

    Abul hasana

    Wrong. The woman does not pay a mahr. The definition of the mahr is the price paid to to make the woman’s private part halal. It is about the man having access. Not the woman

    I did not say a woman pays mahr. You misread my two posts. However the majority opinion is a woman has right to sexual fulfillment in marriage therefore she has “access” to husband private parts.

    Yes the man pays to have access to woman and the woman agrees to marry to have access to the man. The rights of man in this regard are more due his more responsibility (the man is responsible for care and upbringing and education of the children the woman isnt) but the woman also has access just as man does to sex.

    • Abul Hasna says:

      @ Hamza21

      The man has a right to sex and the woman can NOT refuse him. This is not the case for the woman. You can not find me a single opinion in which the woman can demand sex from the man. Once the man pays the mahr he has a right to her private parts anytime he desires as long as she is not menstruating.

  8. Ahmed says:

    Haram upon Haram…this is just absurd!

  9. Hamza 21 says:

    The man has a right to sex and the woman can NOT refuse him. This is not the case for the woman. You can not find me a single opinion in which the woman can demand sex from the man. Once the man pays the mahr he has a right to her private parts anytime he desires as long as she is not menstruating.

    Yes this is true. However the sexual drive (placed within him by Allah) is more than the woman.There is equality (not fairness per se as fairness implies exactness) in marriage a woman has a right to full “maintenance”. Her “maintenance” includes to be cared for and provided for in manner in which she is accustomed. These matters are all spelled out in the marriage contract.

    If for example she doesn’t feel or want to have sex with her husband anytime he chooses she can put that in contract and the man can agree or not. Issues like these are why in Islam there is marriage contract and a Wali to safeguard peoples rights. The fact that peoples don’t know or exercise their rights doesn’t invalidate the concept or practice. Which is what I believe you and Abdur Rahman are suggesting.

  10. a bibi says:

    http://www.answering-ansar.org/answers/mutah/en/index.php

    This is a good debate about Temporary marriage in Shites as mentioned in the above link. I don’t know much about Nikah Misyar but you may compare it with Mutta (temp marriage) and if may help you understand what it is actually for and how some Muslim are exploiting this practice!

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