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The D☻wer (M♥hr)

18 February 2010 1,417 views No Comment

By Sister Areefa

“And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.” (4:4) Allah (Subhana wa Ta’ala) orders man to give woman upon marriage, their gifts, or dower. The dower, or mah’r, is what is given to the bride by the groom for the purpose of marriage. It is a right to which every bride is entitled to and it is agreed between the two families or the groom and the guardian of the bride in consultation with her. The dower is an obligation given out of willingness and happiness. The groom isn’t forced to give it, he is giving it with happiness and it indicates the sincerity of his love towards his wife. It must be understood that it is due to her in return for agreeing to marry her husband and becoming lawful or permissible for him. “And there is no blame upon you if you marry them when you have given them their due compensation.” (60:10) Here, Allah (Subhana wa Ta’ala) states that if you give the woman their dower, it is allowed for you to marry her.

Once, when a poor man told the Prophet (salalahu alayhi wa’salaam) that he had nothing to give as a bridal gift, he was told “Look for anything, even if only an iron ring.” It was agreed that the dower would be his teaching her what he knew of the Qur’an. Therefore, Islam highlights the necessity of the dowry without identifying its material value. There is no minimum or maximum for the dower. The dower doesn’t reflect the value of the woman in any way. It is based upon mutual agreement between the man and his bride, usually through her father or guardian. No amount is specified by law, and it varies according to the man’s financial ability. If the marriage contract is made without mentioning the dower, for any reason, the wife does not forfeit her right.

Islam grants women equal rights to make contracts, launch enterprises, earn and possess wealth and property independently. She has full control and authority over her own property and money, the right to keep or spend, to buy, sell, or invest.  If she has a job or business, the husband and other family members have no right to any of her income unless she offers it willingly or has entered into an agreement. If she is harmed, she gets due reward equal to what a man in her position would get.

Payment of the whole or a part of the dower may be delayed if the woman agrees to it. If payment is delayed, the dower remains payable at any time she demands it. It should be considered as a debt that is already due, or a postponed debt. What a husband must understand is that he actually takes what is due to him under the marriage contract once the contract is made. Whoever promises a dower and never pays it is considered a fornicator by Allah (Subhana wa Ta’ala) and whoever takes a loan with an intention to never pay it back is considered a thief by Allah (Subhana wa Ta’ala).

If a husband dies without having paid his wife’s dower, she remains entitled to receive it. It is payable from his estate as a debt. It is well known that debts are the first thing to be paid out of the estate of any deceased person. The importance of a dower may be properly understood when it is remembered that if a marriage contract does not specify any amount of dower, and the two parties do not agree such an amount between them, it remains payable. They may agree its amount after marriage. If they do not come to an agreement, the woman may put the matter to an Islamic court which will give her an amount equal to the average dower of girls in her social status. This amount of money is hers and she is fully entitled to dispense with it the way she likes. The best mah’r is that which is the easiest. Allah (Subhana wa Ta’ala) knows best.

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