Four Types of Marriages Practiced in the Pre-Islamic Period

Praise be to Allah,


It is related from ‘Urwah Ibnuz-Zubayr that ‘Aa’ishah, the wife of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), informed him that there were four types of marriage in the (days of Jaahiliyyah).

  1.  There was the first type of marriage which is still practiced by people today, in which a man asked another man for his ward or daughter, paid her dower, and then married her.


2. The second type was that a man would say to his wife after she was pure from her period, “Send for so-and-so and have intercourse with him.” Her husband would stay away from her and not have sexual relations with her until she became pregnant by that man with whom she was sleeping. When it was clear that she was pregnant, her husband would sleep with her if he wished. He did that out of the desire for a child of noble descent. This marriage was called al-Istibdaa’.


3. Another type of marriage was that a group of fewer than ten men would go to the same woman and all have intercourse with her. If she became pregnant and gave birth, some days after the birth, she would send for them, and none of them could refuse to come. When they were gathered together before her, she would say to them, “You know what you did. I have given birth. It is your son, so-and-so!” She would name whichever of them she wanted to name, and her child would be attributed to him and the man could not deny that.


4. The fourth type of marriage was that many men would go to a woman who would not refuse whoever came to her. She was a prostitute.  They (prostitutes) used to set up flags at the doors as signs. Whoever wanted could go to them. If one of them became pregnant, when she gave birth, they (the men) would be brought together and they would call the physiognomists who would then attach the child to the one they (the physiognomists) thought was the father. He (the child) would be ascribed to him and called his son. None of them could reject that. When Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was sent with the truth, he abolished all of the marriages of Jahiliyyah except the marriage practiced by people today.” [i]

Consider this website which promotes the second type of marriage’ today.  ey are in the business of sperm banking[ii].


[i] Saheehul-Bukhaaree , vol. 7, pg. 44, hadeeth #58

[ii]  The Concise Manual of Marriage Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen [d. 1421]. Including Commentary from other Scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama’aah – Past and Present. Page- 63-64

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