Monday, September 4, 2000
I am getting married soon. I want to know about the concept
of mahr in Islam. For how much money should I ask to my groom?
How should we calculate the amount of mahr? Should the money
be according to the groom's earnings? Please let me know soon."
- Ayesha, soon to be married
Dear "Ayesha, Soon-to-be-Married,"
The following information is taken from
: AL-NIKAH : THE ISLAMIC MARRIAGE CEREMONY by M. Mazhar Hussaini.
The marriage-gift (Mahr, called dowry in English) is a divine
injunction. The giving of mahr to the bride by the groom is an
essential part of the contract.
"And give the women (on marriage)
their mahr as a free gift." (Qur'an 4:4)
Mahr is a token commitment of the husband's responsibility
and may be paid
in cash, property or movable objects to the bride herself. The
amount of mahr is not legally specified, however, moderation
according to the existing social norm is recommended. The mahr
may be paid immediately to the bride at the time of marriage,
or deferred to a later date, or a combination of both. The deferred
mahr however, falls due in case of death or divorce.
Best wishes to you and your future husband! May Allah (swt)
grant you both
in your marriage the best of this world and the next.
I would also like to include an answer
by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, President of the Islamic Society
of North America, to a similar question presented to him:
First, I would like to thank you for all you have done for
the Muslim community. Secondly, I would like to know what is
the concept of Mahr in Islam? What should be the Mahr for someone
living in California, USA? I am getting married soon and my in-laws
would like the Mahr to be set according to the Shari'ah. (Adnan
Dr. Siddiqi's Answer:
Mahr is a wife's right, which becomes binding upon the husband
once the marriage is contracted. It is fully payable after the
consummation of marriage but if divorce occurs before the consummation
of marriage then half of the Mahr is required to be paid unless
the wife or her guardians waive it. Allah says in the Qur'an,
"And give 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." (Al-Nisa' 4:4) "
among them (i.e. your wives) whom you enjoy give them their dowers
as determined. But there is no blame on you, if after a dower
is determined, you mutually agree to vary it
4:24) "If you divorce them before
consummation and you have fixed a dower for them then half of
the dower is due to them, unless they forgive it or it is forgiven
by him in whose hand is the marriage tie
Mahr is very important in Islamic marriage. Allah has used
the word "faridah" for it. It means something
fixed, decided and obligatory. It is obligatory on the husband
to pay Mahr to his wife unless she expressly by her own will
without any pressure forgives him or returns the amount of Mahr
to him. Mahr belongs to the wife and it is to be given to her
only. It is not the property of her parents or her guardian.
No one can forgive the husband to pay the Mahr except the wife
herself or in case she did not go to her husband and the marriage
ended without consummation then in that situation her guardian
can also forgive the Mahr on her behalf. If a husband dies without
paying Mahr to his wife, it will be an outstanding debt on him
and it must be paid before the distribution of his inheritance
among his heirs.
Mahr is not a bride price. It is a woman's right and it signifies
a husband's love and appreciation for his wife. In the Qur'an
it is called "sadaq" which means a token of
friendship. It is also called "nihlah" which
means "a nice gift or present." Mahr also signifies
a husband's commitment to take care of his wife's financial needs
(nafaqah). According to Islam, it is a husband's responsibility
to provide for his wife and his household. There is a common
misconception among some Muslims that Mahr is to be paid at the
time of divorce. Mahr has nothing to do with divorce. It is for
marriage, not for divorce. It, however, becomes immediately due
at the time of divorce, if it was not paid before. People often
make part of Mahr advanced (mu'ajjal) and part of it postponed
(mu'akkhar or muwajjal). The advanced Mahr should be paid
at the time of Nikah while the postponed should be paid later.
The wife has a right to demand it from her husband. The husband
should not feel bad, if his wife demands her Mahr. A wife should
also not feel threatened that her husband may leave her if he
pays her all her Mahr. All these notions belong to various cultures
but they have nothing to do with the Shari'ah.
According to the Shari'ah, the Mahr should also be reasonable.
There is no fixed amount of Mahr in the Shari'ah. It should be
given according to the financial status of the husband and according
to the time and place. We cannot apply the Mahr of 7th century
in the 20th century, nor the Mahr of India or Pakistan can be
applied in the United States. As the financial conditions of
the people in different time and places change, so the amount
of Mahr can be determined accordingly. However, it is a principle
of the Shari'ah that the Mahr should not be too expensive.
It is wrong to declare large amount of Mahr at the time of marriage
to show off or to boast. Some time bride's family put pressure
on the groom and his family for a large amount of Mahr so that
they may show their pride to their relatives and friends boasting
that their daughter was married for a big Mahr. Some times the
groom declares a big amount and secretly thinks that this is
just a commitment on paper. People are often heard saying, "Write
whatever you want, no one asks and no one pays." This is
playing a game with the rules of Allah. Muslims should only
commit what they are really capable of paying and what they intend
to pay. It is haram to enjoy relations with a wife and then
deny her the Mahr when she demands.
Jazak Allah Khayran and much thanks
to Dr. Siddiqi for his thorough response.