Muslim Matrimonials and More's Ask Bilqis


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 Ali)

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) "…Those 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… (al-Nisa' 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… (Al Baqarah 2:237)

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.

-Bilqis Muslim Matrimonials