Much ink has been spilled in recent years — by Ba’at Yeor and Mark Steyn, most prominently — on the demographic decline of Europe vis-à-vis Islam. Heretofore the assumption has been that such could not happen in the U.S., that our higher birth rates — due in large measure to our greater religious adherence — would head off Islamization on the European model. But a recent line of Islamic attack advocated on the Yahoo group MahdiUniteMuslims (MUM) has forced me to reconsider that smug assumption.
For the past few weeks MUM — which is dedicated to uniting the Islamic world through belief in the Mahdi, the “rightly-guided one” of Islamic traditions who will create a global caliphate — has hosted a discussion about mut`ah, Shi`i temporary marriage, the “secret weapon that will convert the West to Islam in the later days before the advent of Imam al Mahdi” according to the ingenious Muslim who first advanced the idea (and is there any doubt it was a guy?). His starting point is the Islamic tradition that in the last days before the Mahdi returns, women will greatly outnumber men worldwide. This Muslim Hugh Hefner opines that “the West will not consider mut`ah as marriage but more at par [sic] with mistress or girlfriend though we consider it a valid form of marriage.”
He continues: “The West can never jail a Shi`ah for doing mut`ah. It is almost impossible to go to jail for doing mut`ah in the West” (except perhaps in Texas). “Even U.S. presidents galore had mistresses” (Bill Clinton, crypto-Shi`i?). And since “the craze about sex today is through the roof” (hard to argue there), mut`ah is not just man-made but “a divine plan,” for “when non-Muslim men learn that they can honorably have more women,” they “will flock to Shi`ah Islam. Sorry for the expression but Allah made women the bait” (feel free to insert fishing pole jokes here). The cumulative effects will then mount (both statistically and, one would presume, literally), for “when so many non-Muslim men come to Shi`ah Islam this will cause non-Muslim women to come to Shi`ah Islam too because an honorable and equitable polygynous mut`ah is better than being unmarried or just having flings with bad men, right?” Bottom-line: “This will cause a chain reaction of conversion to Islam from all corners. Even Sunnis will come to Shi`ah Islam because they want women.” In conclusion, this future editor of the Muslim Maxim pleads, “please do not hate mut`ah anymore. There is a reason for it. It is the secret weapon of the last days to bring the world to Shi`ah Islam.”
Before we consign this plan to the slop pen of male piggery — which in the name of tolerant multiculturalism we can’t do anyway (at least in Canada and Britain), since the author is Muslim — consider that mut`ah has a long pedigree in Islam. The Arabic term literally means “enjoyment, pleasure, gratification” and in its institutional form “temporary marriage contracted for a specified time and exclusively for the purpose of sexual pleasure” (Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic). According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, mut`ah is an Arab cultural tradition left over from pre-Islamic times which, as per some traditions, was practiced by Muhammad himself and sanctioned in the Koran: Surah al-Nisa’:28, which reads, “Allah wishes that they [your burdens] should be lightened, for man was created weak” (good to know the deity feels our pain in the carnality realm — if only the Christian God were so empathetic). In the early days of Islam (7th century CE) a token dowry had to be paid to the woman, which could be as little as one coin or even a handful of corn, and the period of the marriage could be anything from a day to several years.
Mut`ah survived in Sunni Islam until the time of the second caliph, Umar, who outlawed its open adherence. It has always been legal according to the bulk of Shi`i jurists, however. No less a modern authority on Shi`ism than Tabataba’i in his Shi`ite Islam (SUNY Press, 1975) sanctions mut`ah, adducing primarily Surah al-Mu`minun :5ff: “the believers must … abstain from sex except with those joined to them in the marriage bond or the captives whom their right hands possess.” (By the way, that phrase “whom your right hands possess” occurs also in Surah al-Nisa’ :24, which the famous modern Koran translator and commentator Yusuf Ali glosses as meaning women “taken [as] captives in a jihad.” As if jihad needed any more sanction.) Tabataba’i asserts that “it is … clear that since temporary marriage was not forbidden by the Prophet it was a legitimate marriage and not a form of adultery.” In less crass language than the aforementioned MUM poster, Tabataba’i argues in much the same vein that since “permanent marriage cannot fulfill the instinctive sexual desires of everyone … Islam has legitimized temporary marriage.”
His view of mut`ah as a necessary evil to prevent the greater sin of outright fornication was advocated in the 1990s by former Iranian President Rafsanjani and, just last year, by Interior Minister Mustafa Pur-Muhammadi. However, neither of these Shi`i politicians was clever enough to advance mut`ah as a means of Islamizing the corrupt, decadent West, as is being done on MUM. Keeping it simple, the plan boils down to: a married man “should marry two or three Shi`ah women at the same time, all as mut`ah” (with the caveat that “if you are a married man already you won’t be able to do this right unless you divorce your wife and remarry her along with another Shi`ah woman so both are equal” — another aspect of Islamic law known as `iddah, the interval that must be observed between when a woman is widowed or divorced and when she can remarry).
I fear that our mut`ah advocate may have hit upon a policy more dangerous to American civilization than WMDs or even the intellectual appeal of Islam purely as a religion: the siren song of sex. Men are notoriously weak in this regard, and if mut`ah is allowed to exist, even sub rosa, how long will it be before irreligious, or even lapsed Christian, American males begin to see the sexual advantages of Shi`i Islam? Some would certainly argue that mut`ah is a more realistic marriage institution for the male of the species than that rather more demanding serial monogamy which Christianity has mandated. And even in these days of rising ethanol demand, a handful of corn is not that hard to come by.