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Russel's Theory of Temporary Marriage

In his book, Matrimony and Morals, the well-known English philosopher, Bertrand Russell, says that prostitutes protect the chastity of our wives and daughters. When this view was expressed by Luckey in the middle of the Victorian age, the moralists were greatly offended, though they themselves did not know why. Anyhow, they were unable to refute Luckey's arguments. The logic of the moralists was that, if the people had followed their teachings, the prostitutes would no longer have existed. But they knew well that nobody paid attention to what they said.

This is the European formula to deal with the danger posed by men and women who are unable to contract a permanent marriage and the one mentioned above was the formula put forward by Islam. If the European formula is adhered to and this social duty is allocated to a section of unfortunate women, will that be in conformity with the human dignity and self- respect of women and the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Bertrand Russell, in his book, has included a chapter on trial marriage also. He says that Lindsay, who was for many years a judge in Denver, and in this capacity had an ample opportunity to observe the facts of life, proposed that there should be arrangements, for a "companionship marriage." Unfortunately this judge had to lose his post, because he was interested in the welfare of the youth rather than in creating a sense of sin in them. To secure his dismissal, no stone was left unturned by the Catholics and the anti-Negro, Ku Klux Klan.

A companionship marriage had been proposed by a conservative intellectual, with a view to introducing a factor of stability in sexual relations. Lindsay noticed that the main problem of marriage was lack of money. Money is not only required for possible future children, but it is also required because it does not behove a woman to be responsible for the maintenance of the family. He reaches the conclusion that the young men should embark on a companionship marriage, which is different from an ordinary marriage in three ways. Firstly, the aim of this marriage is not to beget children. Secondly, as long as the young woman has not given birth to a child, divorce with the mutual consent of the parties concerned is a simple matter. Thirdly, in the case of divorce, the woman will be entitled to alimony. There is no doubt that Lindsay's proposals are practical and effective and, if they had been accepted by law, they could be expected to have a good impact on morals.

What Lindsay and Russell call a companionship marriage is a little different from the Islamic fixed-time marriage, but this suggestion indicates that thinkers of their calibre have realised that a normal permanent marriage does not meet all the needs of the society.

Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari

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