Khomeini's Religious Teachings
Ayatollah Khomeini's Religious Teachings on Marriage, Divorce
A woman may legally belong to a man in one of two ways; by
continuing marriage or temporary marriage. In the former, the
duration of the marriage need not be specified; in the latter, it
must be stipulated, for example, that it is for a period of an hour,
a day, a month, a year, or more.
A man can marry a girl younger than nine years of age, even if the
girl is still a baby being breastfed. A man, however is prohibited
from having intercourse with a girl younger than nine, other sexual
act such as forplay, rubbing, kissing and sodomy is allowed. A man
having intercourse with a girl younger than nine years of age has
not comitted a crime, but only an infraction, if the girl is not
permanently damaged. If the girl, however, is permanently damaged,
the man must provide for her all her life. But this girl will not
count as one of the man's four permanent wives. He also is not
permitted to marry the girl's sister.
A father or a paternal grandfather has the right to marry off a
child who is insane or has not reached puberty by acting as its
representative. The child may not annul such a marriage after
reaching puberty or regaining his sanity, unless the marriage is to
his manifest disadvantage.
Any girl who is of age, that is, capable of understanding what is in
her own best interest, if she wishes to get married and is a virgin,
must procure the authorization of her father or paternal
grandfather. The permission of her mother or brother is not
A marriage is annulled if a man finds that his wife is afflicted
with one of the seven following disabilities: madness, leprosy,
eczema, blindness, paralysis with aftereffects, malformation of the
urinary and genital tracts or of the genital-tract and rectum
through conjoining thereof, or vaginal malformation making Coitus
If a wife finds out after marriage that her husband is suffering
from mental illness, that he is a castrate, impotent, or has had his
testicles excised, she may apply for annulment of her marriage.
If a wife has her marriage annulled because her husband is unable to
have sexual relations with her either vaginally or anally, he must
pay her as damages one-half of her mehryeh (her price) specified in
the marriage contract. If the husband or wife annuls the marriage
for any of the above-mentioned reasons, the man owes nothing to the
woman if they have had sexual relations together; if they have not,
he must pay her the full amount of the dowry.
A Moslem woman may not marry a non-Moslem man; nor may a Moslem man
marry a non-Moslem woman in continuing marriage, but he may take a
Jewish or Christian woman in temporary marriage.
A woman who has contracted a continuing marriage does not have the
right to go out of the house without her husband's permission; she
must remain at his disposal for the fulfillment of any one of his
desires, and may not refuse herself to him except for a religiously
valid reason. If she is totally submissive to him, the husband must
provide her with her food, clothing, and lodging, whether or not he
has the means to do so.
A woman who refuses herself to her husband is guilty, and may not
demand from him food, clothing, lodging, or any later sexual
relations; however, she retains the right to be paid damages if she
If a man who has married a girl who has not reached puberty
possesses her sexually before her ninth birthday, inflicting
traumatisms upon her, he has no right to repeat such an act with
A man who has contracted a continuing marriage may not leave his
wife for so long a time as to allow her to question the validity of
the marriage; however, he is not obligated to spend one night out of
every four with her.
A husband must have sexual relations with his wife at least once in
every four months.
A woman who has been temporarily married in exchange for a
previously established dowry has no right to demand that her daily
expenses be paid by her husband, even when she becomes pregnant.
A temporary marriage, even though only one of convenience, is
A man must not abstain from having sexual relations with his
temporary wife for more than four months.
If a father (or paternal grandfather) marries off his daughter (or
granddaughter) in her absence without knowing for a certainty that
she is alive, the marriage becomes null and void as soon as it is
established that she was dead at the time of the marriage.
To look upon the face and hair of a girl who has not reached
puberty, if it is done without intention of enjoyment thereof, and
if one is not afraid of succumbing to temptation, may be tolerated.
It is however recommended that one not look upon her belly or
thighs, which must remain covered.
To look upon the faces and hands of Jewish or Christian women, if
this is not done with intention of enjoyment thereof, and if one
does not fear temptation, is tolerated.
A woman must hide her body and her hair from the eyes of men. It is
highly recommended that she also hide them from those of prepubic
boys, if she suspects that they may look upon her with lust.
If a man is called upon, for medical reasons, to look upon a woman
other than his wife and to touch her body, he is permitted to do
so,but if he can give such care by only looking at the body he must
not touch it, and if he can give it by only touching, he must not
A woman who becomes pregnant as a result of adultery must not have
If a man commits adultery with an unmarried woman, and subsequently
marries her, the child born of that marriage will be a bastard
unless the parents can be sure it was conceived after they were
A child born of an adulterous father is legitimate.
The best person to breast-feed a newborn baby it its own mother. It
is preferable that she not ask to be paid for such service, but that
her husband pay her for it of his own free will. If the sum the
mother asks for is greater than that charged by a wet nurse, the
husband is free to take the child from its mother and turn it over
to the wet nurse.
A man who repudiates his wife must be of sound mind and past the age
of puberty. He must do so of his own free will and without any
constraint; therefore, if the formula for divorce is spoken in jest
the marriage is not annulled.
A woman temporarily married, say, for a month or a year, has her
marriage automatically annulled at the end of that time, or at any
other time when the husband releases her from the balance of her
engagement. It is not necessary for this that there be any
witnesses, or that the woman have had her period.
A woman who has not yet reached the age of nine or a menopausal
woman may remarry immediately after divorce, without waiting the
hundred days that are otherwise required.
A woman who has had her ninth birthday, or who has not yet entered
menopause, must wait for three menstrual periods after her divorce
before being allowed to remarry. If a woman who has not reached her
ninth birthday or who has not entered menopause gets temporarily
married, she must, at the end of the contract or when the husband
has released her from part of it, wait two menstrual periods or
forty-five days before marrying again.
If the father or paternal grandfather of a boy has him marry a woman
for a temporary marriage, he may prematurely cancel it in the boy's
interest, even if the marriage was contracted before the boy reached
the age of puberty. If, for example, a fourteen-year-old boy has
been married off to a woman for a period of two years, they may
return her freedom to the woman before this time has run its course;
but a continuing marriage cannot be broken in this way.
If a man repudiates his wife without informing her of it, and
continues to meet her expenses for a period of, say, a year, and at
the end of that time informs her that he got a divorce a year
earlier and shows her proof of it, he may require that she return to
him anything he has bought or given her during that time, provided
that she has not used it up or consumed it, in which case he cannot
demand its return.
If a child dies within the mother's womb and it is a danger to her
life to leave it there, it must be extracted in the easiest way
possible; it can. if need be, cut into pieces; this should be done
by the woman's husband or a midwife.
A woman who wishes to pursue her studies toward the end of being
able to earn her living through respectable work, and who has a male
teacher, may do so if she keeps her face covered and has no contact
with men; but if-that is inevitable, and religious and moral tenets
are thus undermined, she must give up her studies. Girls and boys
who attend coeducational classes in grammar schools, high schools,
universities, or other teaching establishments, and who, in order to
legalize such a situation, wish to contract a temporary marriage may
do so without the permission of their fathers. The same applies if
the boy and girl are in love but hesitate to ask for such