When the sermon of marriage is recited the man gives something to his wife, which in the Islamic terminology is known as Dowry or Sedaq. The word Dowry has come in Qur’an, but the word ‘Sedaq’ is in usage.
The Qur’an says:
Give women their marriage portions with no strings attached. If they themselves waive some of it for you, then consume it at leisure; and with good cheer.(1)
۱- Qur’an 4:4
No particular amount of the Dowry is fixed, but it depends upon the mutual agreement of man and woman.
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) said:
“Dowry is a thing that man and woman negotiate on it…”(۱)
There is also no minimum limit of dowry, but it has come in traditions that it should not be very little.
Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) narrated from Hazrat Ali (a.s.) that he said:
“I don’t like the dowry be less than ten dirhams, so that it would be similar to the money paid to a prostitute.”(2)
There is no maximum limit to dowry also. It is not fixed and there is no problem if it is more, but Islam does not deem it fit for the dowry to be too much and that there should not be competition in it.
Amirul Momineen (a.s.) said:
“Do not make the dowry very heavy for the woman, and do not do competition in it; it is disallowed.”(3)
۱- Wasael, Vol. 15, P. 23
۲- Wasael, Vol. 15, P. 11
۳- Wasael, Vol. 15 P. 11
Dowry should not be so expensive that the youth may not be able to find resources for marriage; and it is good to be moderate in this matter. By observing the status of the man and woman and the social standard of the family of bride and bridegroom, according to their economic standards, should keep an appropriate dowry according to mutual consent. The type of dowry also doesn’t have any limitations, but every kind of wealth such as gold, silver, land, currency, carpet, utensils, automobile, clothes and any other thing, which can be owned, may be considered as dowry.
Dowry can be cash or credit. It can be the responsibility of the husband or any other person, it depends upon the agreement between man and woman.
If it is cash, the woman can demand it before their common living. If man is in the position to pay it, he should do so, and in case he refuses to pay, the wife has the right to remain away from sexual intercourse, and this does not refrain her right to receive food and clothes.
If the dowry is on credit and a fixed time is stipulated, the woman does not have the right to demand it before that time. If a fixed date is not stipulated, anytime the woman demands, and the man has the capability, he should pay it without any delay.
The real owner of the dowry, whether it be property or money, is the woman herself. No one, her mother, father, nor her husband have the right to use it without her permission; the profit accrued from it also belongs to her.
The holy Prophet said:
“Allah will forgive all the sins, on the Day of Judgment, except those who usurp the Mehr of the woman, or do not pay the wage of the worker, or a person who sells a free person as a slave.”(1)
Imam Moosa Ibn Ja’far (a.s.) was asked whether the father of the girl could utilize the dowry of the girl? He said:
“No. He does not have such a right.”(2)
Therefore dowry is a debt of the husband, which upon request, should be paid at the earliest possible time.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) was asked about a man who had married a woman, but had no intention of paying the dowry. He said that that act would have been counted as fornication.(3)
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“One who fixes the dowry for his wife, but does not have the intention to pay it, is like a thief.”(4)
۱- Wasael, Vol. 15 P. 22
۲- Wasael, Vol. 15, P. 26
۳- Wasael, Vol. 15, P. 21
۴- Wasael, Vol. 15, P. 21
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) narrated from the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that he said:
Whoever does not pay the dowry of his wife, will be counted as a fornicator. The Almighty Allah will tell him on the Day of Judgment: “I made My servant marry you, on your word (promise), but you did not fulfill it, and did injustice on My servant. Then the same amount will be taken from the husband, as is equivalent to the right of the woman, and will be given to her. And if no goodness
remains in the account of the man, it will be ordered: Throw him into the fire of hell, because he did not fulfill his promise. And the oaths will be questioned.”(1)
THE PHILOSOPHY OF DOWRY
One may ask about the necessity of dowry and say that man and woman, from the sexual point of view, need each other, and they get attracted to each other and marry. Then what is the meaning of dower? By the legislation of dowry the woman is humiliated and she becomes almost a commodity. Man takes her like a slave by payment of dowry.
To explain its philosophy we point out towards two important things:
۱) Although man and woman in sexual affairs need each other, each of them has a specialty.
One of the characteristics of woman is her softness and beauty, and because of this men are attracted towards her. The important factor of attraction is the beauty of the woman and man pays attention to it. Woman knows this fact, and for this reason she tries to look more beautiful for her husband and attracts him more.
۱- Wasael, Vo.15, P. 22
The second characteristic of the woman is that although she has sexual desires and inner motive to men, she shows herself reluctant and does not attend the man. She wants to create love in the heart of man and wants him to be fascinated to her. The woman gets pleasure from make-up, showing herself loving, and pretty actions. She desires to occupy the heart of the man and his love.
However, man is surrounded to his sexual desires and cannot hide his inner feelings and therefore, he approaches the woman. As he knows that the woman wants his love and interest, he discloses his love and attraction to her and accepts her pretty actions and lovely acts. He spends money end, buys gift for her. Arranges the party to celebrate the marriage. The agreement of dowry is one of the resources for man to prove his inner interest. To accord the respect of his wife and to attract her heart, he presents something as dowry (gift). The Qur’an also says the same thing regarding dowry. It is mentioned under the word “Nahla”, which means a “gift” or a “present”. This was a benefit and Philosophy of dowry.
۲) Dowry gives to woman a sense of peace and confidence, to enable her to perform the duties made on her by nature. Although man and woman, at the time of marriage, promise each other to remain loyal and co-operative in training and maintaining the children, sometimes although the man does not perform his duty and refuses to bear the expense of life and education of children, Nature has put special responsibilities on woman and she cannot disregard them.
Man is like a farmer, and the woman is like a farm. Man puts the sperm in the womb, and after that he is naturally free. Although from the viewpoint of religion, law, and ethics, he has responsibility to protect his wife and children, but there is no natural, bind on him, and leaving the pregnant wife, he may go away. Although not many cases, but there is such a possibility, and we see examples of such men.
But woman is not free as man. She has to bear the difficulties of pregnancy, delivery, and the problems after that. After the delivery, she cannot throw away the newborn baby, which is weak and sinless, or keep it hungry. She has to feed it and look after it. Due to motherly emotions and affection for the child, she pays attention to the child and cannot leave it. She has to look after the baby.
Now, during this period living expenses for house, food and clothes are required. In such a situation, what should a helpless woman do? Women are naturally worried about such a situation.
Maybe one of the reasons for dowry would be for peace and security of women in such events. If dowry is a property or cash, the wife can take it and keep it safe for such events, and if it is a credit, she can demand it.
Thus dowry can be said to be a source of pleasing the woman and a security for marriage.
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
The reason why dowry (Gift) is on man and not on the woman, although the work of both is same, is that man takes sexual pleasure from the woman and gets up; and doesn’t wait for the rest. That is why dowry is on man, and not on the woman.(1)
۱- Wasael, Vol. 15, P. 23
THINK AND ANSWER
۱٫ Is dowry (Gift/Mehr) is mentioned in Qur’an?
۲٫ How much dowry is to be paid?
۳٫ How much dowry is recommended?
۴٫ What can be given as dowry (gift)?
۵٫ What does Islam advise about Mehr?
۶٫ While choosing dowry, where does the interests of the woman lie?
۷٫ Is it possible for man not pay dowry?
۸٫ Who has the right to use the dowry?
۹٫ To whom does the profit of dowry belong?
۱۰٫ What is the first philosophy of establishment of dowry?
۱۱٫ What is the second philosophy of dowry?