Foreign Policy’s article “The Militarization of Sex” says there’s no doubt that Hezbollah’s legitimization of mutaa — or temporary marriage — helps its Shiite supporters stay true to Allah in the more secular culture of Lebanon.
This concept of temporary marriage is disavowed by Sunni Muslims and is concentrated primarily in Iran and Iraq, and now Lebanon.
Reviewing several Islamic blogs, I see that mutaa or muta prevents “prostitution, dating, sexual anarchy, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and the AIDS that’s so prevalent in Western societies.”
In this state of temporary marriage — apparently sought by divorced and widowed women as much as all men — the couple pledges themselves in “marriage” to each other for an hour, day, month or year, in order to practice sanctified sex, rather than Western-stye sex — even if that sex is tantra or some other divinely-inspired Western encounter.
If I’m understanding correctly, because the temporary union is recognized by religious authorities, who understand that sexuality and libido are strong in humans, the mutaa marriage is far superior to our Western sexual mores for reasons not obvious to me.
Pragmatically, the woman receives financial compensation during the mutaa marriage, which could potentially make mutaa more attractive than just dating, from a woman’s perspective.
My initial reading is that mutaa is off limits for single women who should be virgins when they marry. In this way the many widows of war and divorced women can enjoy sexual pleasure as sanctified women in the eyes of religous authorities.
Most articles I’ve scanned say that single women do practice mutaa. I’m not certain where this situation leaves them when it’s time to marry and they must pass the virginity test. The article underscores the reality that mutaa is not a ‘loose woman’s’ practice but one enjoyed by many women who wear niqab. Such a woman is quoted extensively in the piece — if we can believe her and the source of the article.
Admittedly, I don’t know what I’m talking about on this fascinating subject, one that understandably upsets many feminists from all countries. I understand New Statesman writer Ziauddin Sardar’s argument that mutaa is a realistic response to human sexuality and Western sexual mores in conservative Shiite Muslim countries.
Honestly, I have no opinion on the subject. Instead, I’m getting an education on one aspect of Muslim sexuality, as practiced by Shiites, reading “The Militarization of Sex”.
This Foreign Policy article caught my eye, searching for the writeup on Iranian Zahra Rahnavard, listed third, between President Obama and New York University economist rock star Nouriel Roubini on Foreign Policy’s list of the Top 100 influential thinkers in the world.
I haven’t reviewed them yet, but there are 10 Muslims in the list of 100. I don’t know how many women of any faith or country are included, but I’m counting now. Anne
More Reading on mutaa: Temporary ‘Enjoyment Marriages’ in Vogue Again with Some Iraqis Washington Post
Will you marry me - temporarily? New Statesman writer Ziauddin Sardar