A more distinctive feature of the Imami Madhhab is its acceptance of Mut’a (temporary marriage), which it claims was sanctioned by the Qur’an and the Prophet, before being banned by the second Caliph.
One would therefore expect to find support for this practice from the early Salaf, before the crystallization of the various theological schools, when it became something of a sectarian marker, firmly associated with the Shia.
An example of just such a dissenting voice, who went against the grain of emerging proto-Sunni consensus, was the scholar known as Ibn (the grandson of) Jurayj (the Arabization of Georgius).
Who was Ibn Jurayj?
ʿAbd al-Malik b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Jurayj (d. 150) was an early Meccan scholar considered to be from the generation of Muslims who came after the Tabi’in i.e. those Muslims who had met the Sahaba.
His grandfather Jurayj (George) had been a slave of Byzantine origin which explains the name. Jurayj belonged to a woman of the Banū Umayya of Quraysh. Either Jurayj or his son ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz was set free, and thus became a Mawlā (client) of this clan, a legal status that their offspring inherited.
The Sunni books of Rijal (biographical evaluation) confirm Ibn Jurayj’s truthfulness and learning, despite some accusations of Tadlis (faulty sourcing practices) and weakness when narrating from memory. Indeed his narrations are included in their most authoritative works of Hadith.
This is how al-Dhahabi introduces him:
هو الإمام، العلاّمة، الحافظ، شيخ الحرم، وصاحب التصانيف، وأوّل من دوّن العلم بمكّة
He is the Imam, the Allama, the Hafidh, the Shaykh of the Sacred Precinct (i.e. Mecca), the author of multiple works, and the first one to write down knowledge in Mecca.
al-Dhahabi proceeds to quote the following statements about Ibn Jurayj from earlier authorities, all of whom are pillars of Sunni Jarh and Ta’dil:
(a) ʿAṭā b. Abi Rabah (d. 114):
إنّه سيّد شباب أهل الحجاز
He (Ibn Jurayj) is the leader of the youths of the people of Hijaz.
(b) Yahya b. Said (d. 198):
كنّا نسمّي كتب ابن جريج كتب الأمانة
We used to call the books of Ibn Jurayj “the books of trust”.
(c) Abd al-Razzaq al-San’ani (d. 211):
كنت إذا رأيت ابن جريج علمت أنّه يخشى الله
If you saw Ibn Jurayj you could tell that he feared Allah.
(d) Yahya b. Ma’in (d. 233):
ابن جريج ثقة في كلّ ما روي عنه من كتاب
Ibn Jurayj can be relied upon in all that which is narrated from him from a book (written source).
(e) Ali b. al-Madini (d. 234):
نظرت فإذا الإسناد يدور على ستة … ثم قال: صار علمهم إلى أصحاب الأصناف ممن صنف العلم منهم من أهل مكة ابن جريج . يكنى أبا الوليد ، لقي ابن شهاب، وعمرو بن دينار
I looked into it and found that the Isnad (all transmitted material) revolves around six (and he went on to mention them) … their knowledge (i.e. of these six) came down to the people of different localities, (specifically) those who wrote down knowledge among them. From the people of Mecca was Ibn Jurayj, he had the Kuniyya Abu al-Walid, he took from Ibn Shihab and Amr b. Dinar (i.e. two of the six).
(f) Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241):
كان من أوعية العلم
He (Ibn Jurayj) was one of the receptacles (stores) of knowledge.
الرجل في نفسه ثقة، حافظ، لكنه يدلس بلفظة عن و قال وقد كان صاحب تعبد وتهجد وما زال يطلب العلم حتى كبر وشاخ
The man is Thiqa in of himself. A Hafidh. Except that he used to make Tadlis in the words ‘from’ and ‘he said’ (when narrating). He was an avid worshipper and a performer of night vigils. He did not stop seeking knowledge until he became old.
وروايات ابن جريج وافرة في الكتب الستّة وفي مسند أحمد ومعجم الطبراني الأكبر، وفي الأجزاء
The narrations of Ibn Jurayj are aplenty in the Six Books, in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, in the Mu’jam of al-Tabarani, and in disparate volumes.
Ibn Jurayj and the Teacher
Ibn Jurayj was the foremost student of the Tabi’ ʿAṭā b. Abi Rabah. He explains how he came to study under ʿAṭā in the auto-biographical note below:
كنت أتتبع الأشعار العربية والأنساب فقيل لي: لو لزمت عطاء فلزمته
I used to follow up (had an interest) old Arab poems and genealogy. It was said to me: Why don’t you accompany ʿAṭā (to study under him) instead – so I attached myself to him.
أتيت عطاء وأنا أريد هذا الشأن، وعنده عبد الله بن عبيد بن عمير، فقال لي ابن عمير: قرأت القرآن؟ قلت: لا. قال: فاذهب فاقرأه ثم اطلب العلم. فذهبت، فغبرت زمانا حتى قرأت القرآن ، ثم جئت عطاء، وعنده عبد الله. فقال: قرأت الفريضة؟ قلت : لا . قال : فتعلم الفريضة ، ثم اطلب العلم . قال : فطلبت الفريضة ثم جئت. فقال: الآن فاطلب العلم، فلزمت عطاء سبع عشرة سنة
I came to ʿAṭā desirous of this matter (i.e. knowledge of Hadith). With him was Abdallah b. Ubayd b. Umayr. Ibn Umayr said to me: Have you studied the Qur’an? I said: No. He said: Go and study the Qur’an first and then seek knowledge (of Hadith). A period passed by until I had studied the Qur’an. I came to Ata’ and Abdallah was with him. He said: Have you studied the Faridha (inheritance laws)? I said: No. He said: Learn the inheritance laws first and then seek knowledge. He (Ibn Jurayj) said: I sought the inheritance laws and then came. He said: Now you can seek knowledge. So I accompanied ʿAṭā for seventeen years.
When several Hadith masters, including Ibn Jurayj, were later asked what drove them to seek knowledge they replied differently:
قال الوليد بن مسلم: سألت الأوزاعي، وسعيد بن عبد العزيز، وابن جريج: لمن طلبتم العلم؟ كلهم يقول: لنفسي. غير أن ابن جريج فإنه قال: طلبته للناس
al-Walid b. Muslim says: I asked al-Awzai, Sa’id b. Abd al-Aziz and Ibn Jurayj: For whom did you seek knowledge? All of them said: For myself (to fulfill a personal desire). Except Ibn Jurayj who said: I sought it for the people (to benefit them).
Ibn Jurayj’s attachment to ʿAṭā was so complete that Ahmad b. Hanbal said:
ابن جريج أثبت الناس في عطاء
Ibn Jurayj was the most error-free of all people in (the narrations of) ʿAṭā.
A Meccan School?
Ibn Jurayj and his master ʿAṭā can be considered part of the Meccan school of jurisprudence.
As al-Dhahabi says:
وقد كان شيخ الحرم بعد الصحابة: عطاء ومجاهد،وخلفهما: قيس بن سعد وابن جريج، ثمّ تفرّد بالإمامة ابن جريج فدوّن العلم، وحمل عنه الناس، وعليه تفقّه مسلم بن خالد الزنجي، وتفقّه بالزنجي الإمام الشافعي
The Shaykhs of the Sacred Precinct (Mecca) after the Sahaba were ʿAṭā and Mujahid. After them came Qays b. Sa’d and Ibn Jurayj. Then Ibn Jurayj assumed sole leadership. He wrote down knowledge and the people carried it from him. Under him studied Muslim b. Khalid al-Zanji and it is under this al-Zanji that the Imam al-Shafi’i studied.
Indeed ʿAṭā had appointed Ibn Jurayj as his successor in giving Fatwa to the Meccan masses after his death.
طلحة بن عمرو المكي قال: قلت لعطاء: من نسأل بعدك يا أبا محمد؟ قال: هذا الفتى إن عاش. يعني ابن جريج
Talha b. Amr al-Makki said: I said to Ata: Whom will we ask after you O Aba Muhammad? He (ʿAṭā) said: This young man if he lives. Meaning Ibn Jurayj.
For more on this ancient Meccan school of jurisprudence as taught by ʿAṭā and Ibn Jurayj refer to Harald Motzki’s book – Origins of Islamic Jurisprudence: Meccan Fiqh before the Classical Schools.
In it, Motzki proposes to analyse the authenticity of the Fiqhi positions (legal traditions) ascribed to Ibn Jurayj, which often refer to his teacher ʿAṭā b. Abi Rabah, as preserved in the Muṣannaf of Abd al-Razzaq al-San’ani, the latter being a foremost student of Ibn Jurayj.
Motzki’s major methodological innovation is in drawing up a range of indices, by which he seeks to determine if a particular name in an Isnād (chain) is associated with a genuine authorial voice, thus demonstrating the implausibility of fabrication.
Motzki argues on the basis of these indices that we have good reason to believe that the material in the Muṣannaf of Abd al-Razzaq that is ascribed to ʿAṭā b. Abi Rabah via Ibn Jurayj is an accurate representation of the teachings taken down by an honest and assiduous legal student from his well-respected master, a Successor, who lived most of his life within the first Islamic century.
Mut’a within the Meccan School
We find that both these pillars of the Meccan school i.e. ʿAṭā and his student Ibn Jurayj became infamous for deeming Mut’a permissible.
(a) Ibn Hazm:
فيمن ثبت على تحليل المتعة بعد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم… ومن التابعين… عطاء
Those who remained steadfast (did not change their view) about permitting Mut’a after the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم are … and from among the Tabi’in: …. ʿAṭā
قال بنكاح المتعة… جماعة من التابعين منهم عطاء
Those who agreed with Mut’a … a number of the Tabi’in including ʿAṭā
هو أحد الأعلام الثقات… وهو في نفسه مجمع على ثقته مع كونه قد تزوّج نحواً من سبعين امراة نكاح متعة. كان يرى الرخصة في ذلك، وكان فقيه أهل مكّة في زمانه
He (Ibn Jurayj) was one of the most-knowledgeable scholars and from among the Thiqat … and he is in of himself agreed upon as far as his trust-worthiness is concerned despite having married approximately seventy women in Mut’a marriages. He used to consider that to be allowed. He was the Jurist of the people of Mecca in his time.
(d) Muhammad b. Abdallah b. Abd al-Hakim:
سمعتُ الشافعي يقول: استمتع ابن جريج بتسعين امراة، حتى إنّه كان يحتقن في الليل بأُوقية شيرج طلباً للجماع
I heard al-Shafi’i saying: Ibn Jurayj made Mut’a with 90 women, to the extent that he would apply ounces of sesame oil in the nights to aid him with intercourse.
أمّا ابن جريج فإنّه أوصى بنيه بستّين امراة، وقال لا تزوّجوا بهنّ فإنّهنّ اُمّهاتكم وكان يرى المتعة
As for Ibn Jurayj then he willed to his son (the names of) sixty women (with whom he had performed Mut’a) and said: Do not marry them for they are your mothers and he used to accept Mut’a.
و قيل إنّه عهد إلى أولاده في أسمائهنّ لئلاّ يغلط أحدٌ منهم ويتزوّج واحدة ممّا نكح أبوه بالمتعة
It is said: He (Ibn Jurayj) gave his sons the names (of those women) so that they do not fall into the mistake of ever marrying a woman their father had married via Mut’a.
Was this Personal Opinion?
All the evidence at our disposal (four reports from the Musannaf of Abd al-Razzaq will be given below) show that the Meccan school permitted Mut’a because of their commitment to the Sunnah of the Prophet and a realization that it was Umar who was the source of the ban.
Ibn Jurayj narrates from his teacher ʿAṭā a personal testimony of his ignorance of anything to do with Mut’a and how he reacted suspiciously when first told of its permissibility until becoming convinced at a later stage.
عبد الرزاق عن ابن جريج عن عطاء قال: لاول من سمعت منه المتعة صفوان بن يعلى، قال: أخبرني عن يعلى أن معاوية استمتع بامرأة بالطائف، فأنكرت ذلك عليه، فدخلنا على ابن عباس، فذكر له بعضنا، فقال له: نعم، فلم يقر في نفسي، حتى قدم جابر ابن عبد الله، فجئناه في منزله، فسأله القوم عن أشياء، ثم ذكروا له المتعة، فقال: نعم، استمتعنا على عهد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، وأبي بكر، وعمر، حتى إذا كان في آخر خلافة عمر استمتع عمرو بن حريث بامرأة – سماها جابر فنسيتها – فحملت المرأة، فبلغ ذلك عمر، فدعاها فسألها، فقالت: نعم، قال: من أشهد؟ قال عطاء: لا أدري قالت: أمي، أم وليها، قال: فهلا غيرها
Abd al-Razzaq from Ibn Jurayj from ʿAṭā who said: The first one I heard speaking about Mut’a was Safwan b. Ya’la. He (Safwan) reported to me from Ya’la that Muawiya made Mut’a with a woman in Taif, but I rejected that from him.
Then we entered upon Ibn Abbas, so one of us broached this topic, he (Ibn Abbas) said: Yes (it is permitted), but that did not comfort my heart (assuage my doubt).
Until Jabir b. Aballah came (to Mecca) and we went to his house. So the group (of Hadith students) asked him about different things, then they mentioned Mut’a to him, so he said: Yes, we did it in the time of the Messenger of Allah, and Abi Bakr and Umar, until the last period of the Khilafa of Umar when Amr b. Hurayth did Mut’a with a woman – Jabir mentioned her name but I have forgotten it – and the woman became pregnant. That was reported to Umar, so he called her and questioned her, she said: Yes (it happened via Mut’a). He said: Who witnessed it (the marriage)? ʿAṭā said – I forgot whether she said: my mother – or my guardian. He (Umar) said: Did no one else do so (witness it)?!
Ibn Jurayj reports from another teacher of his:
عبد الرزاق عن ابن جريج قال: أخبرني أبو الزبير قال: سمعت جابر بن عبد الله يقول: استمتعنا أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، حتى نهي عمرو بن حريث
Abd al-Razzaq from Ibn Jurayj who said: Abu al-Zubayr reported to me saying: I heard Jabir b. Abdallah saying: We the companions of the prophet contracted Mut’a marriages until Amr b. Hurayth was forbidden it (by Umar).
عبد الرزاق عن ابن جريج قال: أخبرني أبو الزبير أنه سمع جابر بن عبد الله يقول: قدم عمرو بن حريث من الكوفة فاستمتع بمولاة، فأتي بها عمر وهي حبلى، فسألها، فقالت: استمتع بي عمرو بن حريث، فسأله، فأخبره بذلك أمرا ظاهرا … فذلك حين نهى عنها
Abd al-Razzaq from Ibn Jurayj who said: Abu al-Zubayr reported to me that he heard Jabir b. Abdallah saying: Amr b. Hurayth came from Kufa and contracted Mut’a with a slave girl, so Umar brought her forward while she was pregnant and questioned her, she said: Amr b. Hurayth made Mut’a with me, so he asked him (Amr) and he admitted it openly … and that’s when he forbade it.
قال ابن جريج: وأخبرني من أصدق أن عليا قال بالكوفة: لولا ما سبق من رأي عمر بن الخطاب – لامرت بالمتعة ، ثم ما زنا إلا شقي
Ibn Jurayj said: Reported to me the one I consider truthful that Ali said in al-Kufa: If Umar b. al-Khattab’s decision had not preceded I would have reinstated Mut’a again, then no one would have committed adultery except the wretched.
I say: There are many instances in the Musannaf wherein Ibn Jurayj is censoring the name of his source using this code ‘the one I consider truthful’. I postulate that it was most likely al-Sadiq from whom he narrates (the clue is in the name: al-Sadiq means the truthful one). The Imam must have forbidden him from linking this to him.
Did Ibn Jurayj Recant?
Some Sunni scholars claim that Ibn Jurayj changed his stance and came over to the position that it is prohibited. They use the following as evidence:
نسبهُ الشوكاني إلى أبي عوانة ـ فقال: فقد روى أبوعوانة في صحيحه عن ابن جريج أنّه قال لهم بالبصرة: اشهدوا أني قد رجعت عنها
al-Shawkani quotes Abu Awana that Ibn Jurayj said to them in Basra: I bear witness that I have recanted from that (its permissibility).
But this is Mursal (disconnected), because Ibn Jurayj died in 150 AH, while Abu Awana was born on the year 230 AH, so how can he narrate from Ibn Jurayj without any intermediary!
A more plausible explanation for the contradictory statements attributed the Meccan school is that both Ibn Jurayj and ʿAṭā practiced Taqiyya about this question.
Consider the report of al-Fakihi:
الفاكهي: حدّثنا يعقوب بن حميد، قال: ثنا عبدالله بن الحارث المخزومي، قال: حدّثني غير واحد، أنّ محمد بن هشام سأل عطاء بن أبي رباح عن متعة النساء، فحدّثه فيها ولم يربها بأساً قال (فقدم) القاسم بن محمد قال: فأرسل إليه محمد بن هشام، فسأله فقال: لا ينبغي هي حرام قال ابن هشام: عطاء حدّثني فيها وزعم أن لا بأس بها! فقال القاسم: سبحان الله، ما أرى عطاءً يقول هذا قال: فأرسل إليه ابن هشام، فلمّا جاءه قال: يا أبامحمد حدّثَ القاسم الذي حدّثتني في المتعة فقال: ما حدّثتك فيها شيئاً قال ابن هشام: بلى قد حدّثتني فقال: ما فعلت، فلّما خرج القاسم قال له عطاء صدقت أخبرتك، ولكن كرهت أن أقولها بين يدي القاسم، فيلعنني ويلعنني أهل المدينه
Muhammad b. Hisham asked ʿAṭā b. Abi Rabah about Mut’a of the women, so he (ʿAṭā) narrated to him in regards that and did not see in it any wrong.
Then al-Qasim b. Muhammad (b. Abi Bakr, one of the seven jurists of Madina and Aisha’s favourite) came, so Muhammad b. Hisham sent for him and asked him, so he (al-Qasim) said: It should not be done – it is prohibited. Ibn Hisham said: ʿAṭā narrated to me about it and claimed that there was nothing wrong in it! al-Qasim said: Glory be to Allah! I can’t imagine ʿAṭā would have said that!
He said: So Ibn Hisham sent for him, so when he (ʿAṭā) had come he said: O Aba Muhammad, narrate to al-Qasim what you narrated to me about Mut’a. He said: I did not narrate to you about it anything. Ibn Hisham said: Yes you did narrate to me. He said: No I did not.
So when al-Qasim had left ʿAṭā said to him: You are right I did narrate to you, but I did not like to say it in front of al-Qasim for he will curse me and the people of Madina will curse me.
This goes to show how repressive the atmosphere was for anyone wishing to go against the policy of the Shaykhayn who had become virtually infallible in the eyes of the Jama’a (masses). Our Imams must have been in an even tougher situation being considered contenders for political authority (as rival candidates of the Khilafa).
We have a very interesting Hadith in al-Kafi on this subject. The Imam directs one of his companions to go to this Ibn Jurayj to learn about Mut’a. The Imam wished to acknowledge by doing this that Ibn Jurayj’s stance about Mut’a was accurate.
علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن عمر بن أذينة، عن إسماعيل بن الفضل الهاشمي، قال: سألت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام عن المتعة، فقال: إلق عبد الملك بن جريح فسله عنها فإن عنده منها علما، فلقيته فأملى علي منها شيئا كثيرا في استحلالها، فكان فيما روى لي ابن جريح، قال: ليس فيها وقت ولا عدد إنما هي بمنزلة الإماء يتزوج منهن كم شاء، وصاحب الأربع نسوة يتزوج منهن ما شاء بغير ولي ولا شهود، فإذا انقضى الاجل بانت منه بغير طلاق ويعطيها الشئ اليسير، وعدتها حيضتان، وإن كانت لا تحيض فخمسة وأربعون يوما، فأتيت بالكتاب أبا عبد الله عليه السلام فعرضت عليه، فقال: صدق وأقر به
Ismail b. al-Fadhl al-Hashimi said: I asked Aba Abdillah عليه السلام about Mut’a so he said: Go and see Abd al-Malik b. Jurayj and ask him about it for he has some knowledge about it.
So I met him and he (Ibn Jurayj) dictated a lot of material in regards its permissibility to me. From among that which Ibn Jurayj transmitted to me included (the information that): It (Mut’a) has no fixed duration nor limit in number (of partners with whom you can contract), it has the same status as (union with) slave girls, a man marries with them as he likes, even someone who already has four wives can marry as many as he wishes, without (permission from) guardian required nor witnesses, so when the period terminates she departs from him without divorce, and he gives her some small thing (as her Mahr), and her Idda is two menstrual cycles, and if she does not menstruate then forty five days.
I came with the book (i.e. Ismail had written down the reports) to Aba Abdillah عليه السلام and presented its contents to him, so he said: He is truthful, and he agreed with it.
Conclusion: The Ahl al-Bayt Connection?
Is there something more to be said about the relation of the Meccan school with the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt apart from their agreement on Mut’a?
Consider al-Kashshi’s comment about Ibn Jurayj:
محمد بن إسحاق، ومحمد بن المنكدر، وعمرو ابن خالد الواسطي وعبد الملك بن جريح، والحسين بن علوان الكلبي هؤلاء من رجال العامة، إلا أن لهم ميلا ومحبة شديدة
Muhammad b. Ishaq, Muhammad b. al-Munkadir, Amr b. Khalid al-Wasiti, Abd al-Malik b. Jurayh (sic. Jurayj) and al-Husayn b. Ulwan al-Kalbi, these were men from the `Amma (proto-Sunnis), except that they had an inclination and excessive love (for the Ahl al-Bayt) …
Even more suggestive is the following:
قال نصر بن صباح: و ولد عطاء بن أبي رياح تلميذ ابن عباس عبد الملك و عبد الله عرفاء و نجباء من أصحاب أبي جعفر و أبي عبد الله عليهما السلام
The sons of ʿAṭā b. Abi Rabah, the student of Ibn Abbas, are Abd al-Malik and Abdallah, cognizant and distinguished ones from among the companions of Abi Ja’far and Abi Abdillah
This is definitive on the Madhhab of the two sons of ʿAṭā who became companions of al-Baqir and al-Sadiq. I would argue that it must also reflect somewhat on the beliefs of the father.
The fact that ʿAṭā narrates an appreciable amount of narrations from al-Baqir, whilst his student Ibn Jurayj does the same with al-Sadiq is also significant. Despite being Meccan scholars, they did not ignore the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt the way scholars closer to home in Madina did. Compare this to most proto-Sunni scholars who can be said to have abandoned the narrations of the Ahl al-Bayt.
In light of the above, the narrations of ʿAṭā and Ibn Jurayj from the two Imams, as found in Sunni books of Hadith, should be studied in depth. My cursory reading of many of these show them to be preserving a pro-Ahl al-Bayt version of events, with the Imams giving an intimate family record of the Prophet’s life, directly contradicting in many instances the pro-Aisha orbit of narrators who give an alternate version. The Fiqhi positions of this Meccan school should also be compared to Imami Fiqh and areas of convergence noted