The Dowry Paid by the Wife
In countries like India, women pay the dowry to their husbands. Such a marriage is contrary to Islamic marriage in this respect, it remains a valid marriage according to the unanimity of Islamic scholars.
The Dowry Paid by the Wife
· Women paying dowry.
· Man taking dowry.
It is the local tradition in India that a woman, or her family, provides a dowry to be paid to the prospective husband, so that he would marry her. Is this acceptable?
This is a very bad tradition and an abominable deviation. It is contrary to the divine book, the Prophet’s tradition and the unanimous view of scholars. It is obligatory in Islam that the husband should pay his wife a dowry, or mahr. For various reasons, including men’s unwillingness to tie themselves to a marital relationship, women in Western countries may resort to this practice. The Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League and Majallat al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah, (i.e. Journal of Islamic Research), have both discussed this issue.
1. The Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League
Having perused the presentations by Shaikh Abu al-Hasan al-Nadwi and Shaikh Abd al-Qadir al-Hindi on this issue, the Council approved the following decision:
One: The Council thanks both Shaikh Abu al-Hasan al-Nadwi and Brother Abd al-Qadir for their presentations of this issue and commends their efforts to stop this deviant practice and bad tradition. The Council begs them to continue their efforts in combating this and similarly bad traditions and prays to God to give them and the Muslim community guidance and success and to richly reward them for their efforts.
Two: The Council draws Brother Abd al-Qadir’s attention, as well as the attention of others, to the fact that although such a marriage is contrary to Islamic marriage in this respect, it remains a valid marriage according to the overwhelming majority of Islamic scholars. Only a small number of scholars rule it invalid if it stipulates that no dowry is payable by the husband. Children born in such a marriage are fully legitimate, legally and properly attributed to both parents. This is the unanimous verdict of scholars, including those who consider the marriage invalid. Such scholars have expressed, in their books, the view that children born in such marriages are attributed to their parents.
Three: The Council’s decision is that this tradition is an extremely bad and abominable deviation. It is contrary to God’s book, the Qur’an, the Prophet’s Sunnah, the unanimity of scholars and the practice of the Muslim community throughout its history.
In the Qur’an, God says
Give women their dowry as a free gift
It is no offence for you to marry them after giving them their dowries
To those with whom you seek to enjoy marriage, you shall give the dowries due to them
Other verses confirm this.
The Sunnah makes this clear through the Prophet’s statements, action and approval. An example of his words is Jabir’s report:
The Prophet says
If a man gives a woman a dowry as little as the fill of his cupped hands in food, she is his lawful wife
Related by Ahmad, hadith No. 14,824; Abu Dawud, hadith No. 2,110
An example of his action is given in
The Prophet’s dowry to his wives was 12.5 ounces [of silver].
Related by Muslim, hadith No. 1,426
His approval is mentioned in the two most authentic anthologies of hadith and other anthologies: ‘The Prophet noticed traces of saffron on [Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Awf and asked him about it. [Abd al-Rahman said: “I have married a woman and gave her a small piece of gold in dowry.” The Prophet said: “May God bless it for you.”’ Moreover, it is universally agreed and done by Muslims in all generations and all places. All praise be to God.
Therefore, the Council decides it is obligatory that the husband should pay a dowry to his wife, whether in advance, or deferred, or partly in advance and partly deferred. If deferred, the deferment should be real, and the husband intends to pay it whenever it is within his means. It is forbidden to make a marriage contract without a dowry being paid by the husband to his wife.
The Council recommends that the dowry should be reasonable and easy to pay. It further recommends to make marriage easier through forgoing unnecessary costs and guarding against extravagance. Following this recommendation brings numerous benefits.
Four: The Council appeals to all Indian scholars, dignitaries and responsible people to resist the bad tradition of women paying dowries to their prospective husbands. They should exert considerable efforts to stop it altogether because it is contrary to the divine law, sound logic and reason.
Five: This bad tradition is not only contrary to Islamic law; it also puts women at a great disadvantage. When it is implemented, men will only marry women that can pay a handsome dowry to tempt them. Thus women belonging to rich families will get married while women belonging to poor families remain single. This leads to obvious social ills. Moreover, it makes marriage based on financial gain, while the approach to marriage should always be to choose prospective marriage partners for their good character. It is noted that in Western societies a young woman who is not rich needs to spend many years in employment so as to save a sum of money that will make her more marriageable.
Islam honours women as it requires every man to pay a dowry to the woman he proposes to marry, so that she can manage her affairs and get ready for the marriage. It thus opens a way for the marriage of women who are poor, who will be content with a modest dowry. Thus marriage becomes easier for men who are not rich.
2. The Journal of Islamic Research
In Issue 34, Majallat al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah (i.e. the Journal of Islamic Research) published an article in which it stated the following: ‘There is no disagreement about the clear wisdom in prohibiting the transactions that Islamic law rules as invalid. For example, it is wrong to advocate equal inheritance for son and daughter, basing the argument on equal relationship and joint responsibility in meeting life’s needs. Islamic law makes clear that this argument is unsound,
as evidenced by what
God has this to enjoin on you with regard to your children: The male shall have a share equal to that of two females
The logic behind this piece of legislation is that the man is required to look after the woman, and he is responsible to take care of her financially. She has no responsibility in this regard, yet she is independent in her financial affairs. Unlike Western women, Muslim women do not need to pay a dowry to their prospective husbands. This is an aspect of the progressive nature of Islamic law which gives women full financial independence after marriage.
· The Muslim World League Website: www.themwl.org.
· Majallat al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah, No. 34.
· Hamad ibn Abdullah al-Khudairi, ‘Al-Nawazil fi Qada’ al-Tanfiz fi al-Mu'amalat wa Fiqh al-Usrah’.
· Badriyyah bint Abdullah al-Aqeel, ‘Al-Nawazil fi al-Nikah wa Firaquh’
- Majallat al-Buhooth al-Islamiyyah, No. 34, p. 184.