#337: The Court Determining the Mahar

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. I wanted to get married but sometimes I feel burdened by the dowry and mahar set in Malaysia. Can the court set the value of mahar or dowry for marriage?

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.

Dowry or mahar is property or benefit that is obligatory to be given by a husband to his wife whether it is due to marriage or intercourse. [1]

Allah SWT states:

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً

“And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously.” [2]

Ibn Kathir cited the opinion of Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma the word النحلة means mahar. Ibn Zaid explained it means something that is obligatory to be given to a wife due to marriage. A man is obligated to give the mahar of a woman as a gift and it should be given willingly. [3]

There is no minimum or maximum value for mahar. Everything named as wealth or can be exchanged for wealth can be given as dowry whether it is a lot or little in value, in cash or a loan, or something that is beneficial such as cloth, praying mat, house or teaching a skill. 

This is based on the statement of Allah SWT:

وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَن تَبْتَغُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُم

“And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property,” [4]

This verse mentioned only property (المال) without setting any certain value.

Likewise, a hadith of Rasullullah PBUH said:

أَعْطِهَا وَلَوْ خَاتَمًا مِنْ حَدِيدٍ

“Give her something, even if it is an iron ring.” [5]

In another hadith, from Amir bin Rabi’ah RA, he said:


أَنَّ امْرَأَةً مِنْ بَنِى فَزَارَةَ تَزَوَّجَتْ عَلَى نَعْلَيْنِ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَرَضِيتِ مِنْ نَفْسِكِ وَمَالِكِ بِنَعْلَيْنِ. قَالَتْ نَعَمْ. قَالَ فَأَجَازَهُ

“A woman of the Bani Fazara was married for a dower of two sandals. When God’s Messenger asked whether she was satisfied with two sandals regarding her person and her property and she replied that she was, he gave his approval.” [6]

Allah SWT states:

وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمُ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ مَّكَانَ زَوْجٍ وَآتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنطَارًا فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا

“But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything.” [7]

This verse explained that a husband is permissible to give a great amount of wealth. This shows that there is no maximum value for the gifts given for dowry to his wife. 

It is also sunnah that it shouldn’t exceed 500 Dirham according to the dowry of Rasullullah PBUH’s daughters and wives.

This is based on a hadith from Umar bin al-Khattab RA, he said:


لاَ تُغْلُوا صُدُقَ النِّسَاءِ أَلاَ لاَ تُغْلُوا صُدُقَ النِّسَاءِ فَإِنَّهَا لَوْ كَانَتْ مَكْرُمَةً فِى الدُّنْيَا أَوْ تَقْوَى عِنْدَ اللَّهِ كَانَ أَوْلاَكُمْ بِهَا النَّبِىُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَا أَصْدَقَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ امْرَأَةً مِنْ نِسَائِهِ وَلاَ أُصْدِقَتِ امْرَأَةٌ مِنْ بَنَاتِهِ أَكْثَرَ مِنْ ثِنْتَىْ عَشْرَةَ أُوقِيَّةً

“Do not make women`s dowries expensive, do not make women`s dowries expensive, for had this been a sign of honour in this world or piety before Allah, the first one of you to do it would have been the Prophet (ﷺ). The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) did not give any of his wives, and none of his daughters was given, any more than twelve Oasiyyahs [as a dowry].” [8]

One uqiyyah is approximately 40 dirhams. Thus, 12 uqiyyah is 480 dirhams. This rate is equal to 2 ½ times the value of nisab for the zakat of silver. It differs according to the currency of a certain country and value. [9]

It is enough for us to cite the story of a woman who reminded a verse of the divine revelation to Saidina Umar which states that one of the answers is the agreement from the wife. Narrated from Masruq, he said: “Umar al-Khattab RA was at Rasullullah PBUH’s pulpit delivering a sermon when he said:

“O man, why would you set high mahar for women? Indeed, Rasullullah PBUH and previous companions set the mahar of four hundred dirhams or less than that. If increasing the mahar is a sign of taqwa towards Allah or an honour, surely you wouldn’t be able to compete with them in these matters. Don’t let me know of anyone whose mahar is more than four hundred dirhams.”

Masruq then continued: “Afterwards, Umar left the pulpit and he was stopped by a Quraisy woman who said to him: “O Amirul Mukminin, you’ve prohibited people from setting a mahar for a woman for more than four hundred dirhams.”

Umar replied: “Yes!” The woman then said: “Haven’t you heard Allah SWT’s statement in His book:

وَآتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنطَارًا فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا ۚ أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا

“But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?” [10]

Umar then said: “O Allah, forgive me. Everyone is more faqih (understand) than Umar.”

He then proceeded to the mimbar again and declared: “Indeed, just now I’ve prohibited you from setting a mahar of a woman of more than four hundred dirhams. (However) now, anyone can give from his wealth according to what he wishes (as the mahar).”

Abu Ya’la said: “I think he said: “Whoever out of his own free will, then do so, gives the mahar according to his willingness (what he wanted to give).” [11]

According to the above statement as intended by Saidina Umar, it is permissible for a ruler according to the maslahah and maqasid of the marriage itself. However, discussion and agreement from the wife should be considered and it shouldn’t be neglected or taken lightly.

To conclude, we’d like to take this opportunity to advise parents or the wali to ease the affairs of the marriage of their daughter when there is kufu’ and religion and great character. This is to develop happiness and contentment from all parties which will ultimately result in baiti jannati which is what is hoped by every couple.

Let us all reflect and ponder on the hadith of Rasullullah PBUH as narrated from Uqbah bin ‘Amir, where Rasullullah PBUH said:

خَيْرُ النِّكَاحِ أَيْسَرُهُ

“The best marriage is the one that is most easy.” [12]

We end with the supplication to Allah as taught to us:

رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

“Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.”

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] See al-Mufassal fi Ahkam al-Mar’ah, 7/49

[2] Surah al-Nisa’: 4

[3] See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 2/235

[4] Surah al-Nisa’: 24

[5] Narrated by al-Bukhari (4741) and Muslim (1425)

[6] Narrated by al-Tirmizi (1113)

[7] Surah al-Nisa’: 20

[8] Narrated by Ahmad (1114)

[9] See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 2/483-485

[10] Surah al-Nisa’: 20

[11] See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 2/244. He stated the sanad is good and strong.

[12] Narrated by Ibn Hibban (4072) and al-Tabrani in Mu’jam al-Kabir (1/221). Syeikh Syuaib al-Arnout in Takhrij Zad al-Ma’ad (5/161) stated that the sanad of this hadith is strong.

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