Do I need to give all my money (Mahr) to my husband?
Submitted by on Sun, 05/07/2009 - 01:25
Dear Brother / Sister,
Mahr (dowry) is a fiqh term meaning the amount of money paid to the bride during marriage, the goods or the amount of money that a woman deserves by signing the marriage contract or after the sexual intercourse.
Mahr is the right of the woman; she does not have to give it to her husband to spend it on the expenses of their home. However, she may give it to her husband on her own accord, without any force.
Islam does not order the woman to save money in order to give it to the man when she gets married as it is the practice in Christianity; on the contrary, it orders the man to give the woman something as a present and as a symbol of his desire for her. Men are obliged to pay mahr; not women in Islam. It is as a result of the respect shown to women.
There are various verses in the Glorious Quran, mentioning mahr. Some of them are as follows:: "And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift " (Nisâ, 4/4). During the age of Ignorance (Jahiliyya), the parents of the girl or woman used to take the mahr and it was called “nihla”.. "...Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess. thus hath Allah ordained (prohibitions) against you: except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property,― desiring chastity, not lust. Seeing that ye derive benefit from them give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, ye agree mutually (to vary it) there is no blame on you" (Nisâ, 4/24).
The Messenger of Allah told one of his companions who wanted to marry to pay mahr to the woman. When the companion returned from his house having nothing in his hands, he said, “try to find something, even an iron ring” and sent him back to his house again. When he returned with nothing the second time, the Prophet asked him how much Quran he knew. Then, the Prophet said, “Go! I gave her to you in return for the Quran that you know.” (ash-Shawkani, Naylu'l-Awtar, VI, 170).
The following judgment is reached from the verses and hadiths regarding the issue: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) never permitted a marriage without mahr. If mahr were not wajib (obligatory), he would have sometimes ignored it to show that it was not so.
On the other hand, the Islamic scholars have unanimously agreed on mahr since the period of the Companions of the Prophet. (See as-Sarahsi, al-Mabsut, V, 62 et al.; al-Kasani, Badayiu's-Sanayi, II, 274-304; Ibnu'l-Humam, Fathul-Qadir, II, 434 et al.; al-Jassas, Ahkamu'l-Qur'an, III, 86 et al.; Ibn Rushd, Bidayatu'l-Mujtahid, II, 16 et al.; Ibn Abidin, Raddu'l-Mukhaâr, II, 329 et al.).
Mahr is not an essential or condition of marriage. Therefore, a marriage that is carried out without mahr is regarded valid and the woman deserves the precedent value. The following is stated in the Glorious Quran:
"There is no blame on you if ye make an indirect offer of betrothal or hold it in your hearts." (al-Baqara, 2/236). In the verse, it is stated that it is valid to divorce a woman before sexual intercourse or determination of mahr. Since divorce can be possible after a sound marriage, the verse indicates that mentioning mahr during marriage ceremony is not an essential, nor a condition. (Kasani, ibid., II, 274; ash-Shirazi, al-Muhazzab, Halabi print, II, 55, 60; Ibn Rushd, ibid, II, 25).
The maximum and minimum limits of mahr:
There is no maximum limit for mahr. The following is stated in a verse: "even if ye had given the latter a whole treasure for dower take not the least bit of it back" (an-Nisa, 4/20). Hazrat Umar wanted to limit it with 400 dirhams and he declared that otherwise the extra amount would be transferred to the Treasury. The evidence Hazrat Umar based his decree on was the fact that no mahr over 480 dirhams (12 ukiyas) was given for the wives and daughters of the Prophet. After Hazrat Umar stepped down from the pulpit, a Quraishi woman recited the verse above (an-Nisa, 4/20) and said that Allah did not impose any limits; on the contrary, He regarded women deserving a whole treasure. Thereupon, Hazrat Umar stepped up the pulpit again and took his words back. He said:
"I had forbidden you to give more than 400 dirhams for mahr. Those who want ca give as much as they want." (ash-Shawkani Naylu'l-Awtar, VI,168; Haysami, Majmau'z-Zawaid, Egypt, t.y., IV, 283 et al.).
According to Abu Hanifa, the minimum amount of mahr is ten dirhams of silver or its equivalent. During the Period of our Prophet, that money was worth two sheep to be sacrificed. The minimum amount for the punishment of theft is one dinar gold coin; mahr was compared to that. One dinar gold coin equaled to ten dirhams silver money. According to Imam Malik, the minimum amount of mahr is three dirhams. That madhhab (sect) based that comparison to their own criterion for theft. Imam Shafii and Ahmad b. Hanbal did not determine a minimum limit for mahr. Their evidence is that there is no minimum limit for mahr in the verse regarding mahr. (Bukhari, Nikah, 34-51; as-Sabuni, Tafsiru Ayati'l-Ahkam, Damascus 1397/1977, I, 453; az-Zuhayli, ibid., VII, 256; Ömer Nasuhî Bilmen, İstilâhât-ı Fıkhıyye Kâmusu, İstanbul 1967, IV, 121-123; Hamdi Döndüren, Delilleriyle İslâm Hukuku, İstanbul 1983, p. 279, 280).
Things that can be given as mahr:
Everything that is not forbidden to sell or to use can be given as mahr. Movable and immovable properties, jewelries, animals, fungible goods, usufructuary rights of movable or immovable goods are among those. However, the things that are forbidden by Islam cannot be given as mahr; for instance, alcoholic drinks, pigs and the flesh of dead animals cannot be given as mahr. If those were given as mahr, the marriage is regarded to have been carried out without mahr and the woman deserves to get the precedent value. (al-Kasani, ibid., II, 277 et al.; Ibn Abidin, ibid., Egypt, t.y., II, 252, 458-461; al-Jassas, Ahkamu'l-Qur'an, II, 143).
The Owner of Mahr:
Mahr belongs to the woman who will marry. Her father and grandfather can take mahr on behalf of her but they cannot own it. However, if the woman does not consent, the payment made to her father, etc is not valid. If the woman is too young, insane or senile, than mahr is given to the authorized relative.
According to Abu Hanifa and some other fiqh scholars, it is not permissible for the father of the girl to take anything other than mahr from the man to marry his daughter. The following judgments are present in Ottoman Family Law Decree dated 917: "Mahr is the right of the woman to marry; she cannot be forced to use it as trousseau. It is forbidden for the father, mother or other relatives of the girl to take money or other things from the man to marry their daughter in order to marry or deliver her." (Family Law Decree, item, 89, 90).
Consequently, mahr is a kind of insurance for the woman during her marriage life. If she loses her husband suddenly, or if her husband divorces her, mahr will support her until she starts a new life because it may be difficult to stay in her husband’s house. Considering that the minimum limit of mahr is the amount of money that can buy two sheep to be sacrificed and that the maximum limit can be over four hundred dirhams and that one sheep could be bought for about five dirhams during the Period of the Prophet, it is obvious that a real mahr will be a kind of insurance for the woman.
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