This tradition is a personal and verbal agreement between men and women who do not have marriage ties (girls or widows). The period of the marriage agreement and the amount of compensation given to the temporary wife must be specific.
Temporary marriages can be done in one hour or even 99 years. The purpose of mut'ah is a sexual pleasure (istimta'), while permanent marriage is procreation (sexual relations to obtain offspring).
Today, Mut'ah is a phenomenon of urban fringe and popular especially around the pilgrimage center in Iran. However, this pattern is slowly changing along with the support and defense of the Islamic regime at this institution
Temporary marriages do not need to be recorded or attended by witnesses, although the presence of witnesses is highly recommended.
In addition to the four wives who are legally permissible for every Muslim man, a Shia man is also permitted to simultaneously hold as many temporary marriages as desired. However, this practice was opposed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Murtadha Motahhari. Therefore, a Shia Muslim is only permitted to make a temporary marriage at the same time interval.
There are no divorce procedures in temporary marriages. With the expiration of the deadline promulgated in marriage, the pseudo togetherness is automatically cut off.
After each marriage is interrupted, however, short the period of togetherness, the wife must undergo a period of sexual abstinence (iddah period). If there is a case of pregnancy, iddah provides an opportunity to identify the legal father of the child.
In the Shi'ite rule, here lies the legal uniqueness in temporary marriage and at the same time distinguishes it from prostitution, although there are also striking similarities between them.
There are only a few reciprocal obligations for the couple Mut'ah. Men are not obliged to provide daily necessities for their temporary wives, as must be done in permanent marriages. Correspondingly, the wife also has a slight obligation to obey her husband except in sexual matters.
Speaking of its history, actually, Mut'ah towards women has been banned since the seventh century by the Second Caliph, Umar ibn Khattab, who likens it to adultery. Therefore, for Sunnis, temporary marriages are officially banned even though in practice sometimes there are those who still do it.
Until now, the Shi'ah still maintained the legitimacy of mut'ah with the basis of the Quran verse 24 and the absence of a specific prohibition by the Prophet Muhammad by ignoring some of the opposing Sunni traditions.
The legitimacy of temporary marriages continues to be a point of sharp differences, disputes, and hostility between Sunnis and Shiites.
During the Pahlavi regime (1925-1979), temporary marriage habits, although not illegal, were viewed negatively. On the contrary, during the Islamic regime (since the Iranian Revolution in 1979) it made an effort to make people aware of these habits.
By following the ideological legacy of Ayatollah Mutahhari, many Islamic regime thinkers and theologians, especially President Hashemi Rafsanjani, praised the institutionalization of temporary marriage as the most likely approach to relations between men and women in modern Islamic societies. They especially saw temporary marriages ethically and morally, so regarded them as the best alternative to the prevalence of promiscuity in the West.
Despite the ongoing religious and legal rehabilitation of Mut'ah, most educated middle-class people and urbanites in Iran see this with ambiguous morale and emotion. Among Iranians, marriage has never obtained the strictness of licensing on a par with a permanent marriage, because that tradition will still be a controversy going forward.