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The Fiqh Of Marriage In The Light of The Quran and Sunnah

  • Book Title:
 The Fiqh Of Marriage In The Light Of The Quran And Sunnah
  • Book Author:
Saalih al-Sadlaan
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9 Mb
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What Requires the Giving of the Dower – THE FIQH OF MARRIAGE

The term sadaaq or mahr applies to everything that is required to be paid due to a [marriage] contract, sexual intercourse, or in the case of forced separation, such as due to having the same breastfeeding mother or the witnesses taking back their statements.

Technical Definition of Dower

As a technical, legal term, the dower is defined as, “something given in exchange for marriage or something similar, be it required by the judge or by agreement among the two parties.

The Wisdom behind Instituting the Dower

Islam has legislated the giving of the dower by the husband to the wife in order to make the woman’s heart pleased and to honor her. It is also meant to bring an end to what was done in the Days of Ignorance wherein she was wronged, exploited, despised and robbed of her wealth. The dower is a right exclusively for the wife. It is her possession and none of her guardians or relatives share any part of it.

No one has any power over her concerning how she wishes to dispose of it, as long as she does so in a legally acceptable manner. She may give it away as a gift, she may lend it to others or she may give it in charity or do any other permissible acts she wishes with it.

The dower was instituted because the goal of marriage is not the actual act [ of the marriage contract in] itself. In fact, the actual purpose of marriage cannot be achieved unless the spouses stay in a state of obligation at the time of the marriage contract itself. In this case, when there come times that may lead the man to divorce his wife, such as estrangement or coarse behavior, the husband would not be willing to divorce his wife due to just the slightest act of rudeness that occurs. If it were not for the dower that was required due to the contract itself, it would be very easy for him to leave her.

Requirement for Honor in marriage – THE FIQH OF MARRIAGE

Therefore, the goals of marriage would not be met as the goals and benefits of marriage are only met when the two are in accord and agreement with one another but that accord will not come about unless the women is something honored and special to the husband. But such honor will not come about unless he had to give up something important to him.

This is because what is most difficult to achieve is most special to the person while what is easy to achieve becomes something insignificant to the person. Therefore, if the wife is not something special in the eyes of the husband, then he will dispose of her at the first sign of unhappiness, the accord will not occur and the purposes of marriage will not be achieved.

What we see happening in some European countries- in fact, in some Muslim countries– is very strange indeed. This is where the woman is required to furnish a dowry or provide the furniture for their future house. This is definitely turning the natural order of things upside down and goes against the nature of mankind. It leads to a great deal of social ills and behavioral harm.

It is a means by which the woman is despised and belittled. Indeed, she is ruined because of it. If the woman is not able to gather enough wealth together for marriage, she will not be able to get married and, instead, will have boyfriends and affairs and other evil results.

Such a practice contains a great deal of evil…..

Extravagant Dowers: The Causes, Results and Ruling

The dower is an obligatory right for the woman. The shareeah has made it an obligation as a token of the man’s interest in the woman. It is one of the signs of love and a bond of compassion and mercy. It is an unavoidable obligation concerning which the man has no option but to give it. It is given as a sign of respect for his betrothed and a gesture to her honor, preciousness and esteem. Allah says in the Quran,

(وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً ۚ فَإِن طِبْنَ لَكُمْ عَن شَيْءٍ مِّنْهُ نَفْسًا فَكُلُوهُ هَنِيئًا مَّرِيئًا )

“And give the women [upon marriage] their dowers graciously. But if they remit a portion willingly, then take it in satisfaction and ease” (al­Nisaa 4).

This does not mean that a woman is a piece of merchandise to be bought or sold. Instead, the dower is a token for her honor and esteem. It takes into consideration the woman’s natural desire for items of pleasure and her eagerness for adornments. Furthermore, the giving of wealth indicates the husband’s intent upon fulfilling his responsibilities and attending to her rights.

Islam awoke the people to consider the dower as a token and not as a price for the woman. Islam also exhorted the people not to be extravagant with respect to the dower and to go beyond the proper limits since, after all, the dower is not actually a goal in itself.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was the excellent example. On this particular issue, he established for the Muslim nation a splendid practice, so that the reality of the matter would be well established in the sincere and thoughtful society and that the spirit of ease and simplicity would be well-known among the people.

His (peace be upon him) simplicity when it came to the dower of his daughters is an obvious indication that he wanted to spread that understanding among the people. Ibn Abbaas narrated that when Ali married Fatimah, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) told Ali, “Give her something.” He replied, “I do not have anything.,; The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Where is your smashed armor plate?” He said; ”I have it.” So the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Give it to her.”

This confirms that the dower, from an Islamic perspective, is not the goal in and of itself. It is also not setting a price for the worth of a woman. In fact, it is sanctioned to be easy in setting dowers and not to be extravagant. A hadith states,

“The best dower is the easiest [for the person to meet].”1 The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) also said,

“From the blessings related to a woman are the facilitating of her

proposal, the facilitating of her dower and the facilitating of her womb.”2

The wisdom behind forbidding extravagant dowers is obvious. It is to make marriages easier upon the people, so that they do not become adverse to it and therefore succumb to various evil social ills and practices.

Definitely, the dower is simply a token and not a price for merchandise. Furthermore, the happiness of a household is not found in extravagance, waste and burdening when it comes to the dower. Al­Tirmidhi recorded and declared authentic the narration from Aamir ibn

Rabeeah that a woman from the tribe of Fazaarah married and the dower was a pair of shoes. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) asked her, “Is your soul and wealth pleased with a pair of shoes?” She replied, “Yes,” and therefore the Prophet (peace be upon him) allowed the marriage.1

Ibn al-Qayyim stated, after mentioning a number ofhadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) issued some decrees concerning the dower,

These hadith imply that there is no minimum established for the dower. A handful of flour, a ring made of iron and a pair of shoes can all validly be declared the dower and by them the marriage is valid. These hadith also imply that it is disapproved to have extravagant dowers for the marriage and such reduces its blessings and makes it more difficult. 2

There is no room in Islam for that materialistic approach that has overcome the thoughts of many people who, therefore, demand exorbitant dowers. The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that hardly any people leave a marriage ceremony without discussing how much the dower was. It is as if they were leaving from an auction. A woman is not a piece of merchandise that is sold in some kind of “woman’s market” such that people should be speaking about her in such a purely materialistic fashion.

Abu al-Ujafaa al-Sulami said that he heard Umar ibn al- Khattaab say,

Listen! Do not become exorbitant when it comes to the dowers of women. Verily, if such a thing were noble in this world or an act of obedience to Allah, the first one to demand such would be the Prophet (peace be upon him}. However, the Prophet (peace be upon him) never gave in dower to his wives or asked for dower for his daughters anything in excess of twelve auqiyah. A man goes to such an extreme in getting a dower for his wife that there develops an enmity for her in him, and he says, “I burdened myself [to the point of even providing] the rope of the watersldn for you. “

In other words, he says to her, ”I overburdened myself and I bore everything just for you. Even the rope of a waterskin I presented for you.”2

The Maliki jurist ibn al-Arabi stated, “An auqiyah, according to the people of knowledge, equals forty dirhams. So twelve auqiyah equals four hundred and eighty dirhams3• “4

Exorbitant dowers, extravagance., pomp, ignorant customs, wrongful taking of a woman’s dower and using it for purposeless show are the causes behind many young men not being able to marry and many women becoming old maids nowadays. If only the people would follow the Islamic path when it comes to values, not allowing evil customs to distance them from what is proper nor having evil practices take sway over them, the structure and health of the household would not be in the state of disrepair that we witness today.

The houses have become filled with old maids due to the numerous conditions that the people place on the men proposing and the heavy burdens that they must face. These conditions sometimes come from the woman herself or her guardian or are due to the prevalent customs and norms of her tribe. How could it be that there would be one young man rolling in luxury and having great wealth for each of those women, to propose to them and be able to please them and meet their conditions? Verily, we belong to Allah and to Allah shall we return!

History tells us that this dower, that was established for a noble and good purpose, was in all eras easy and simple on the people and it was something that was available in every time and environment.

Ibn Taimiya wrote,

Only a fool and ignoramus could lead himself to requiring a dower for his daughters that is larger than the dower of the daughters of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), who were the best of Allah’s creation in their nobility and they were the most virtuous of all the women in the world. The same is true [for one who demands more than] the dowers of the mothers of the believers [the Prophet’s wives]. Such is the case for one who has the means and ability to pay more. As for the poor person, he must not agree to a dower that he is not able to pay without undergoing hardship.

The Causes behind Exorbitant Dowers

In any case, behind this worthless phenomenon are causes that are followed by negative results and great harm. The causes for exorbitant dowers include the following:

  • The abundance of wealth [is a major cause]. This phenomenon did not exist until the people had abundant wealth and their_ pockets became filled. The strong winds of this new modem-day rich society then brought about many new things that were not existent before.2

(2) The desire of the husband to show that he is rich and well-to­do and his desire to convince his wife and her guardians that he is well­to-do [ is yet another cause].

(3) Covetousness and greed on the part of some guardians and their failure to realize the value and principle goals of marriage [is another important cause]. In addition, they [wrongly] see many actions and expenses as necessary, that they cannot cut short at all.

(4) A hasty and immature seeking of riches only, regardless of other qualities [ of the prospective husband is another cause]. For that reason, they reject the qualified, God-fearing, pure and upright person who can benefit the woman in both her life here and in her Hereafter.

(5) Blind following of others [is another important cause]. If another person did something, then the next in line must also do the same otherwise he will be considered cheap and will be exposed to insults from the people.

(6) Allowing the women to decide and get involved in these matters, listening to their opinions and fulfilling their wants, not distinguishing between what is a sound demand and what is not, [is another important cause].

(7) Boasting and competition in preparing the new home leads to being exorbitant in dowers and abuse in such matters.

These are some of the main causes that lead to exorbitant dowers.1

The Negative Consequences of Exorbitant Dowers

The negative consequences, evil results and extremely harmful aspects due to this phenomenon of exorbitant dowers are many. They include the following:

  • Most of the young men have to remain bachelors and most of the young ladies become old maids. The young man who has little or no wealth, and yet he wants to keep himself chaste, will soon become depressed and sad. He can remain a bachelor, tasting the bitterness of being prevented from marriage and living without a wife. Or he cn bear the burden of a loan that he will not be able to repay easily and, hence, he and his wife will have to live a very poor life. Soon such a marriage will be destroyed and its bonds destroyed. This is a punishment from Allah due to the exorbitant dowers, waste and extravagance the people fell into.

(2) Immorality spreads between the two sexes when they have no means to marry and they seek a substitute for its pleasures.

(3) Psychological problems afflict the young men and women due to the suppression of their natural needs and the crushing of their dreams and aspirations.

( 4) Many of the children then begin to disobey their fathers and mothers and refuse to abide by the good customs and morals that have been passed down.

( 5) The guardian betrays his ward by refusing to marry her to one who is pious and qualified but whom he believes will not pay a large dower. He refuses that person out of hopes that he will find someone who will pay a larger dower even though his religion and character is not pleasing. He is not working for the happiness of the woman he is in charge of. In addition to this being a type of deception or betrayal, he is leaving that woman in suspense. If he does that often, he must be considered an evil doer, lacking in faith, who is not considered trustworthy until he repents.

(6) Burdening the husband beyond what he can bear [by such exorbitant dowers] produces a hatred in his heart for his wife. since his material means are now very limited due to her. The goal of marriage is happiness and not this unhappiness [ that is produced by such dowers] .1

Now that the causes of exorbitant dowers and their painful consequences have been made clear, we must clarify the ruling of such dowers and what the scholars have said about them.

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