Rafed English

Mahr (Dower)

Mahr (dower) is that amount which is paid by the husband to his wife at the time of nikah (marriage) or agrees to pay afterwards. Mahr is the term in usage to express the payment, the Quran has not used this word, and instead it has used the word nehlah to clarify that this amount is not in lieu of anything else except a specific gift to wife and not remuneration (4:4). Its payment is compulsory. In this regard an example of honeybee has been quoted in the holy Quran so far as payment of mahr is concerned, when the honeybee expels honey it does not expect any return for it.

If the amount of mahr has not been fixed at the time of nikah the payment will be acceptable by mutual consent. Since the payment has to be made necessarily, it has to be fixed as per the husband’s capacity to pay it. Therefore, the amount could be anything, even a heap of gold (4:20). The mahr is generally paid at the time of nikah (marriage) itself. In case nikah has been performed but mahr has not been fixed, it can be fixed after the nikah (2:236). Mahr is the property of the woman (wife). She cannot be deprived of her right. If the woman (wife) so desire, she can forego the whole amount or a part of it (4:4, 4:24).

In case divorce has taken place after nikah, and the husband has not touched the woman (wife) and (I) if mahr has not been fixed, then the husband has to pay as much as he can so that the damage thus caused to the woman’s name could be made good to some extent. This kind of treatment is necessary because it exhibits its worth (2:236; 33:49); (ii) if the mahr was fixed but the man has not touched the woman (he has married) and divorce has taken place, then half of the value of mahr will be given to the woman unless she, by herself forgoes it or if the husband pays the entire mahr it is his righteous act (2:237).

Under a situation when the woman is found guilty of open lewdness (immorality) a portion of the mahr could be given to the husband (4:19).

In case the woman demands for divorce and if court feels it necessary, she has to forego a part of the mahr and get free from the marriage - the nikah (2:229)

Giving material goods as jahez (dowry) is merely a custom about which there is no mention in the Quran. Demand for such material goods or cash by the man is gross excess; the Quran has rather instructed men to give to the woman but not to take from her.

Adapted from: "Family Life in Islam" by: "Dr. Mir Mustafa Hussain"

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