Rights of Women in Islam : Mahr

Rights of Women in Islam : Mahr

In Islam, the mahr (dower) is a woman’s right, which becomes binding upon the husband once the marriage is contracted. It signifies a husband’s love and appreciation for his wife. There is no fixed amount of mahr in the Shariah. It should be given according to the financial status of the husband and according to the time and place. However, it should be reasonable and not too expensive.

The bride’s guardian and family should focus on the religious commitment and character of the suitor rather than asking for huge amounts of dower which burdens the youths who want to get married and protect themselves against temptations. It is a principle of the Shariah 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. Sometimes 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 to 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.”

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never demanded huge amounts of dower when giving his daughters in marriage. He is also reported to have said, “The best woman is the one whose mahr is the easiest to pay.” (Reported by al-Haythami)

Allah says: “And give unto the women, (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions…” (An-Nisa’: 4)

Allah also says: “And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty…” (An-Nisa’: 24)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The best of marriage is that which is made easiest.” (Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan,  Sahih al-Jaami’, 3300)

And he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The best of mahrs is the simplest (or most affordable).” (Narrated by al-Haakim and al-Bayhaqi, Sahih al-Jaami’, 3279)

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 Quran it is called “sadaqah” 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 the Shariah, the mahr should also be reasonable. There is no fixed amount of mahr in the Shariah. It should be given according to the financial status of the husband and according to the time and place.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) set the highest example for his ummah in that regard, so that a clear understanding of the basic principles would be implanted in society, and a spirit of simplicity would spread among the people.

Abu Dawood (2125) and al-Nasaa’i (3375) narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that ‘Ali said: “I married Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, let me go ahead with the marriage.’ He said: ‘Give her something.’ I said: ‘I do not have anything.’ He said: ‘Where is your Hutami shield?’ I said, ‘I have it with me.’ He said, ‘Give it to her.’” (Sahih al-Nasaa’i, 3160)

This was the mahr of Fatima, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the leader of the women of Paradise.

This reinforces the fact that in Islam, the mahr is not something that is sought for its own sake.

Ibn Maajah (1887) narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: Do not go to extremes with regard to the dowries of women, for if that were a sign of honour and dignity in this world or a sign of piety before Allah, then Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would have done that before you. But he did not give any of his wives, and none of his daughters were given, more than twelve uqiyah. A man may increase the dowry until he feels resentment against her and says, ‘You cost me everything I own, and caused me a great deal of hardship’.” (Sahih Ibn Maajah, 1532)

Hadhrat Umar (R.A) said: “Do ask a high dowry for your women. If (doing so) was a token of honour in this world or a source of piety, by Allah, then your Rasul (salAllahu-alayhi-wa-sallam) should have been more worthy of it (i.e. of stipulating a high Mahr for his daughters).” [Tirmidhi Pg. 21]

“Do not go to extremes” means do not exaggerate in increasing the dowry. “A man may increase the dowry until he feels resentment against her” means, until he begins to hate her when he is still paying off the debts incurred because of this mahr because it is too hard for him, or whenever he thinks about the matter.

Muslim narrated in his Sahih (no. 1426) that Abu Salamah ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman said: “I asked ‘Aa’ishah the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) what the mahr given by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was. She said: ‘The mahr that he gave to his wives was twelve uqiyah and a nashsh.’ A nashsh is half of an uqiyah. That was five hundred dirhams. This was the mahr given by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to his wives.”

The scholar Ibn Khaldoon said:

“The consensus of the scholars from the beginning of Islam and the time of the Sahaabah and the Taabi’een has been that the shar’i dirham is that of which ten coins weigh seven mithqaals of gold. The uqiyah is forty dirhams of this type, and on this basis it is seven-tenths of a dinar… All of these amounts are agreed upon by scholarly consensus (ijmaa’).” (Muqaddimah Ibn Khaldoon, p. 263)

Based on this, the weight of a dirham in grams is 2.975 grams.

So the mahr of the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was 500 x 2.975 = 1487.5 grams of silver.

So, if the price of one gram of pure silver is approximately 1 riyal, so the mahr in riyals is approximately 1487.5 riyals.

May Allah guide you and me to the straight path and direct us to that which pleases Him, Ameen.

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