Is dowry permissible in Islam? Isn't it a burden on man?
One of the problems that may occur in the later years of marriage is to demand a large amount of money that will leave the male in a difficult situation when speaking about dowry (mehr) for the female. Or to demand extreme quality goods that will force the budget of the man or woman’s side when buying presents or household goods. Under these circumstances, both sides fulfill and supply what is wanted by forcing their potentiality and financial recourses and also if required by incurring a debt. In spite of the fact that the case has been solved and the demands have been fulfilled, there will remain a big difficulty and a heavy burden like a heritage either upon mother-father or upon the newly married couple. Sometimes paying this debt lasts for years. So, the first years of the young couple while it should have been good, it will have been with the difficulty of paying the installment or debt.
Like in every matter, so in this matter, too; he is Our Prophet (peace be upon him) who shows the safest and the most reasonable way in this case. By saying the hadith which is “The most advantageous nikah (marriage) is the one which is the easiest.” (1), he advised a marriage that everyone can carry out and to spend a suitable amount of money.
And also the amount of the mehr which is a right of the woman and which is to be given by the man is available in the sunnah (the sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad, which form a basis for much of Islamic law). And in this case it can be seen clearly both in his personal practice and with the examples that he showed to his excellent Sahabas (the companions of Our Prophet (pbuh)).
The dowry and household goods of Hazrath Fatima (may Allah grant her peace) were only composed of a few goods that were needed to be in a house. Our Prophet (pbuh) who wanted to prevent the young companions from going wrong (who did not have any money and economically very poor), -by easing the act of nikah- conduced them to have a family. Indeed, once he said to a companion, “Even if you have an iron ring, give it to woman as a dowry.” Then, when he said Our Prophet as “Even I have no an iron ring.”; Our Prophet said to him that “I have married you with her as long as you teach her the chapters (surah) that you memorized from the Qur’an.” (2).
The saying of the just, Hazrath Omar (may Allah grant him peace), upon peoples’ asking for extreme amount dowry says as follows: “O believers, do not go to extremes concerning with the case of increasing the amount of the dowry given to the women. Because, if exceeding in this case were something to praise in this world life and a piety before Allah, he would be Hazrath Muhammad (pbuh) who has the most right and capacity for that. Whereas he did not paid above 12 ukiyya (500 dirham) to any of his wives as a dowry and did not demand above 12 ukiyya for any of his daughters.” (3).
In the Islamic law there is no “bonnet money”, but dowry. Some mixes the dowry with bonnet money. While dowry is given directly to the girl as a present from the man; in the bonnet money, the father of the girl asks for money in return for his daughter to his account. This money that is demanded from the groom candidate makes the marriage a material deal.
The Parts of the Dowry
According to the Islamic jurisprudence, a woman married to a Muslim man has a right to get a property or money which is called mehr. It is advised to mention about mehr while solemnizing the nikah. However, either mentioning about it or not during the nikah, even if it is ignored or denied; the woman has the right of having mehr. That is to say, the mehr is the most natural right of woman.
At the same time this is a divine right given to the woman. However, woman can remit the dowry to her husband after marrying. Unless woman remits that dowry voluntarily, her right to take it back continues.
Concerning with this matter in the chapter of Nisaa, in the Qur’an, the fourth verse’s meaning is as follows:
“And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it with right good cheer.”
(1). Ebu Davud, Nikah: 31.
(2). Muslim, Nikah: 76.
(3). Ibn-i Mace, Nikah: 17.
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