#246: Mahar Has Yet to Be Settled but the Husband Died

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling if a husband died before he settled his mahar debt to his wife?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

According to Kamus Dewan, mahar is a gift obligated on the groom for the bride and it is also named as the dowry. [1]

Mahar is also known as al-sadaq and it is obligatory as soon the akad (solemnization) is completed, regardless of whether the specific amount of the mahar is mentioned in the akad. If an agreement was reached to not have a mahar or it isn’t mentioned, the agreement is invalid and the dowry is still obligatory to be given. [2]

Syeikh Muhammad al-Zuhayli stated mahar according to fiqh terminology means anything of value that is obligatory to be given by the groom to the pride due to akad which ruled the relationship between the two permissible. Mahar terminology is also known as al-Sodaaq in fiqh books and there are also other names given to describe dowry, of which all of them is mentioned in the Quran and hadiths of the Prophet PBUH. [3]

Allah SWT states:

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً

“And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously.” [4]

The person commanded to give the dowry are the husbands. Likewise, it is stated by Allah SWT:

فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُم بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً

“…[provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property,” [5]

Next, Allah SWT states:

لَّا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِن طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ مَا لَمْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ أَوْ تَفْرِضُوا لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً

“There is no blame upon you if you divorce women, you have not touched nor specified for them an obligation.” [6]

While the evidence from the sunnah mentioned mahar in a hadith narrated from Sahl bin Sa’d RA, he said:

أَتَتِ النَّبِىَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ امْرَأَةٌ فَقَالَتْ إِنَّهَا قَدْ وَهَبَتْ نَفْسَهَا لِلَّهِ وَلِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ: مَا لِى فِى النِّسَاءِ مِنْ حَاجَةٍ. فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ زَوِّجْنِيهَا. قَالَ: أَعْطِهَا ثَوْبًا. قَالَ لاَ أَجِدُ. قَالَ: أَعْطِهَا وَلَوْ خَاتَمًا مِنْ حَدِيدٍ. فَاعْتَلَّ لَه. فَقَالَ: مَا مَعَكَ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ. قَالَ كَذَا وَكَذَا. قَالَ: فَقَدْ زَوَّجْتُكَهَا بِمَا مَعَكَ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ

A lady came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and declared that she had decided to offer herself to Allah and His Apostle. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “I am not in need of women.” A man said (to the Prophet) “Please marry her to me.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to him), “Give her a garment.” The man said, “I cannot afford it.” The Prophet said, “Give her anything, even if it were an iron ring.” The man apologized again. The Prophet then asked him, “What do you know by heart of the Qur’an?” He replied, “I know a such-and-such portion of the Qur’an (by heart).” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Then I marry her to you for that much of the Qur’an which you know by heart.” [7]

As for according to the ijma’, scholars agreed that dowry is obligatory and none contradict this. [8]

In al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyah al-Kuwaitiyah[9] it is stated by the majority of jurists that the rights in managing the inheritance by a deceased, there are 4 matters to be considered:

  1. The management of the body of the deceased
  2. Debt
  3. Will/bequeath
  4. Faraid

According to the above question, debt is the matter that should be settled before the inheritance is divided through a will and faraid. Especially if the debt involves his obligation as the husband to give dowry for his wife. This follows the hadith narrated from Ali RA, he said:

إِنَّكُمْ تَقْرَءُونَ هَذِهِ الآيَةَ: {مِنْ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ تُوصُونَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ} «وَإِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَضَى بِالدَّيْنِ قَبْلَ الوَصِيَّةِ

“You recite this verse, “After a legacy you bequeath or a debt (Al-Qur’an 4:12),’’ but God’s Messenger decided that a debt should be discharged before a legacy,” [10]

To close, we state that after the death of the husband, before the inheritance is divided through faraid, then take from the inheritance to settle the mahar that has yet to be settled. This is the right of a wife according to the evidences.

Lastly, may Allah SWT give us all the correct understanding in practising this religion. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] See Kamus Dewan Edisi ke-4, pg. 975.

[2] See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 4/75

[3] See al-Mu’tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafi’e, 4/109-110

[4] Surah al-Nisa’: 4

[5] Surah al-Nisa’: 24

[6] Surah al-Baqarah: 236

[7] Narrated by al-Bukhari (4741)

[8] See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 2/583-585

[9] See al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyah al-Kuwaitiyah, 11/210

[10] Narrated by Tirmizi (2094)

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