The Best Mahr
Lately the number of unmarried women has increased. Surveys conducted by AlMaghrib Institute (2013) of its student body discovered that the main reasons that its students were delaying marriage were parents, finances, education, fear of rejection and commitment for men, and fear of control and intimidation for women.
Based on the study led by Ali Bin Ibrahim Al-Zahrani (2015), head of the department of education at the Islamic University in Madinah, it was predicted that the number of unmarried Saudi women will reach 4 million in the next 5 years. Why do so many prefer not to marry or to delay their marriages? A few reasons as reported by Saudi Gazette are due to the cost of marriage and the dowry being high, the number of Saudi men who prefer to marry foreign women has increased, more Saudi women go for further in their studies, or men do not have good jobs or are unemployed so they choose to postpone their marriages. This phenomenon is of course not only happening in Arabia, but also in other countries.
The high value of the mahr becomes one of the factors that makes Muslim men postpone the wedding. Even the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Alsheikh is quoted in the Saudi Gazette (2013) as having said that, “This issue should be reviewed by the pertinent experts and authorities and solutions should be suggested accordingly. Excessive dowry demands have become one of the biggest problems in society that needs to be addressed.”
If we go back to the definition of the mahr (dowry), it is a treasure that is given by the husband to his wife at the time of the marriage ceremony as a sign of sincerity and desire to marry the woman.
At the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), there were several types and values of mahr:
- Free a slave.
It is narrated from Anas (RA) from the Prophet (SAW) that he freed Shafiyah and made it as his mahr. (Bukhari, Muslim).
The above hadith shows that it is permissible to free a slave as mahr. However scholars disagreed in this case, therefore they concluded that it is proper to make “a benefit” as a dowry, because freeing a slave includes a benefit.
- Equivalent to 500 Dirhams.
And narrated from Abu Salamah ibn Abdur Rahmaan (RA) said:
“I asked Aisha (RA): how much dowry is to be given to the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)?” She replied: the mahr which he gave to his wives was as much as 12 uuqiyah 1 nasysy. Then she continued her speech: do you know how much is 1 nasysy? I said: I do not know. Aisha said: 1 nasysy is equal to ½ uuqiyah, thus the total number of dowry is 500 dirhams. Thus that was what the Prophet (SAW) dowry to his wives was.” (Muslim)
And narrated from Ibn Abbas (RA) who said: “When Ali married Fathimah, the Prophet (SAW) said to him: give him something. Ali replied: I do not have anything. He said again: Where is your armor Huthamiyah? (hadith narrated by Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i and validated by Al-Hakim).
- Wheat or Dates
And narrated from Jabir bin Abdillah (RA) who said that the Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever gives wheat or palm as mahr then the woman is halal (the marriage is legitimate).” (Abu Dawud).
This hadith shows that the smallest limit of dowry, according to the amount agreed upon by both sides, can be something as small as wheat or dates if it is a good amount.
- Teach the Quran
Narrated Sahl bin Sa`d:
A woman came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I have come to you to present myself to you (for marriage).” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) glanced at her. He looked at her carefully and fixed his glance on her and then lowered his head. When the lady saw that he did not say anything, she sat down. A man from his companions got up and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! If you are not in need of her, then marry her to me.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Have you got anything to offer.” The man said, ‘No, by Allah, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)!” The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to him), “Go to your family and try to find something.” So the man went and returned, saying, “No, by Allah, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I have not found anything.” The Prophet said, “Go again and look for something, even if it were an iron ring.” He went and returned, saying, “No, by Allah, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I could not find even an iron ring, but this is my Izar (waist sheet).’ He had no Rida (upper garment). He added, “I give half of it to her.” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said “What will she do with your Izar? If you wear it, she will have nothing over herself thereof (will be naked); and if she wears it, then you will have nothing over yourself thereof ‘ So the man sat for a long period and then got up (to leave). When Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saw him leaving, he ordered that he e called back. When he came, the Prophet (ﷺ) asked (him), “How much of the Qur’an do you know (by heart)?” The man replied, I know such Sura and such Sura and such Sura,” naming the suras. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Can you recite it by heart?” He said, ‘Yes.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Go I let you marry her for what you know of the Qur’an (as her Mahr). Sahih Bukhari 5126.
The mahr is NOT the price of a woman and it is not correct to say that a man buys a woman from her guardian in the form of dowry. Mahr is a symbol to honor women and shows the seriousness of the man in seeking the hand of a woman who he will marry.
Based on the hadith mentioned above, it is clear that the mahr does not have to be a house and its interiors, or a car, because of course this will burden the man who wants to marry her.
And narrated from ‘Uqbah bin mir (RA) who said: “Rasulullah (SAW) said:” The best of the dowry is THE EASIEST. “(Abu Dawud, validated by Al-Hakim).
Reference: Syarah Bulughul Maram, Imam Ibnu Hajar al ‘Asqolaany