Pain of Being a Temporary Wife

11 June, 2021
Q Salam alaikum, I have found myself in a tiring situation which has gone so far and I cannot turn it around. I am a Shi`a Muslim who is currently in a temporary marriage contract (nikah mut`ah) with the man I intend to permanently marry in sha’ Allah. We are both Muslims studying at the same university although he comes from Saudi Arabia. We live together, do everything together. The problem is that his parents have no idea about us, and I have seen at least 3 of my sisters attempt to become engaged to a Saudi man, only to have his family shut down the idea of them marrying a Western woman. They do know of my existence, I have met them through Skype and spoke to them, they ask how I am and even sometimes send me things but all on the assumption I am just a school friend. To deny someone an intercultural marriage, to me this seems racist. Doesn't the Holy Quran encourage us to embrace those from different cultures? He seems to think there is a great chance his family will reject the idea, but promises me he will do everything in his power to convince them otherwise, but he has no idea how to bring up such a conversation. I do know two other Saudi men who received permission from their parents to marry a foreigner, and even two women (which I know in their culture is rare) who married someone in my city! I don't know where to go from here. He told me if ultimately his parents never give him permission, we can never be permanently married, and when he is done school he will have to leave without me. The idea of this pains me as through the temporary marriage we have become so close and function just like in a permanent marriage. The idea that our love may be refused is a crushing idea for both of us. I have no idea what to do or what to tell him. Please, help me!! I pain every day.


In this counseling answer:

Many times people do not like the idea of cross cultural marriages simply because of the complexities that it brings. So, his parents’ potential refusal of the marriage might not have any connection with racism. However, you shouldn’t have to convince someone to stay with you; he should love you enough to stand up for you and your marriage.

Wa `Alaikum As-Salaam dear sister,

Thank you for your question. Your question seems to be speaking about two things: unrequited love and racism amongst Muslims. Islam might state that a certain behavior or thought is acceptable or unacceptable, unfortunately, there is no guarantee Muslims will follow it. It is completely incorrect to judge people according to their racial origins. However, it doesn’t stop Muslims from doing it. The rules or ideals that are set by Islam are just that: rules and ideals. Having them in place cannot confirm complacency.

There are many racist Muslims in the world. They haven’t been able to conquer ill-informed cultural biases and rise above them. This doesn’t make them „bad” people; it just makes them people with faults. All of us are people with faults. One key to relationships, however, is to find people whose faults are tolerable to you.

You’ve gotten into a relationship with a man whose family may be essentially racist. They already know that Islam doesn’t allow such ideas, but until they are ready to reflect and grow, preaching to them and trying to convince them won’t get very far.

Many times people do not like the idea of cross cultural marriages simply because of the complexities that it brings. This isn’t necessarily racist, but a matter of preferences. Racism runs a lot deeper than that. It is also unfair to state that someone’s preferences are racist if they do not stem from a place of fear/hatred or bigotry.

I do not know why your husband’s family has these preferences and so I cannot comment. However, it is quite common amongst Arab cultures to prefer marrying within their culture. This may or may not be racist; many factors have to be examined before that label is placed.

Your husband has already stated and made clear that he will not go against the wishes of his family and you still find yourself fighting to have a place for yourself in his life. Does this not tell you something? Does his statement of leaving you because of his family’s wishes not tell you your worth in his life? Even if you “convince” him that his ideas are wrong, do you want to spend the rest of your life convincing and re-motivating him every time a conflict arises due to cultural misunderstandings?

It seems that you love this man more, much more than he is ever prepared to love you back. You shouldn’t have to convince someone to stay with you; they should want to stay with you because they see your worth in their life. This man does not see your worth in his life.

Not only does he not respect you and your dedication to him, he doesn’t demand respect for you from his family. Their own ideas may make them inclined towards another type of woman and he isn’t going to be a man to protect you from them, even if he does decide to make your marriage permanent.

You state that you two have fallen into a routine and are able to make your current relationship work, but your husband has made it clear that you aren’t the one he will settle down with long term. The bottom line is, it isn’t because of what his family wants-it’s because he doesn’t love you enough to stand up for you. It seems to be a case of unrequited love.

I am sorry that you’ve found yourself in this position, but it’s good to know so you can decide your position accordingly. Don’t run after a man who makes your worth in his life clear, both my words and actions.

In addition, please read more about temporary marriage in Islam. Although I am aware that Shi’a Muslims regard it as permissible, please read why the rest of the Muslims declare it as an unacceptable form of marriage:

Mutah Marriage in Islam

Can Muslim Students in the West Resort to Temporary Marriage?



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