What is the Islamic rule on dowry which the parent of bride gives to groom by money, gold or any other property? This has become as a huge and unavoidable custom in our part (kerala, India). The parents who live in extreme poverty also are compelled to give minimum Rs 50,000 and 400grms gold. Such parents are usually begging in front of others to fulfil this property, otherwise no any Muslim brothers are ready to accept these girls. There are thousands overage ladies living in kerala still unmarried due to this custom.
Some of our Muslim brothers are justifying this custom with a history of Prophet (PBUH) that He has given some gifts to daughter Fatima (RA) while she got married. Please explain the rules on this.
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
By reading the details of your question, it has to be said that this is an extremely unfortunate situation that is prevalent in some Muslim communities. It is a custom that has nothing to do with Islamic teachings and guidelines, and must be prevented.
According to Shariah, the only monetary requirement (in marriage) is the marriage payment or dowry (mahr) given by the groom to his bride. This is the right of the wife, and the husband is obliged to pay it to her.
Allah Most High says:
“Give them (women) their dowers.” (Surah al-Nisa, 24)
“And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift.” (al-Nisa, 4)
Any payment besides this is voluntary. If the family of the groom or the bride feel that they should give additional gifts, then they may do so, but it is something that is purely voluntary. If it is considered to be obligatory or any of the relevant parties demand it, then it will become unlawful.
Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:
“Verily the most prosperous marriage is the one that entails the least expenditure.” (Recorded by al-Bayhaqi in his Shu’ab al-Iman)
To demand something besides the dowry paid by the husband is considered to be bribery, thus unlawful.
Imam al-Haskafi (may Allah have mercy on him) states:
“If the bride’s family demand a return (m, besides the mahr for the bride) for giving her in marriage, the husband has a right to re-claim it, as this is bribery (rishwa).” (See: Radd al-Muhtar, 3156)
Therefore, it is contrary to the Sunnah to wish, hope for or demand presents and gifts from the bride’s family. We should always remember that the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) did not give Sayyiduna Áli (Allah be pleased with him) anything except Duá.
Those who attempt to justify their practice with the incident where the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) gave his daughter Fatima (Allah be pleased with her) certain gifts, are mistaken.
Firstly, these items of gift were not given to Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him), rather to Sayyida Fatima (Allah be pleased with her).
Secondly, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) gave his beloved daughter a silver bracelet, two Yemeni sheets, four mattresses, one blanket, one pillow, one cup, one hand-grinding mill, one bedstead, a small water skin and a leather pitcher. (Jam al-Fawaid, 1/220)
It is evident from the above that the gifts which were given by the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) were basic necessary items and delivered in a simple manner. They were not such that are normally beyond one’s means for which loans are taken.
Note: Unfortunately, the fathers of millions of daughters across the world, especially South Asia, incur debts and become poor and miserable because ‘culture’ pressurises them to give dowry to their future son-in-laws. Some girls are forced to remain single for years because they cannot afford the dowry. Some commit suicide, as do their desperate fathers. In parts of South Asia, dowry-murders, among Hindu families, are commonplace whereby – a new bride is tortured or murdered by her in laws because her family did not give a large enough dowry. This is completely UnIslamic – the dowry or Mahr is to come from the groom to the bride, not the other way around.
Finally, remember the words of the beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace):
“When an offer of marriage is received from a person whose piety and character pleases you then accept this proposal. If you do not do so, then there will trial and discord (fitna) in the land and corruption (fasad) will spread.” (Recorded by Imam Tirmidhi in his Sunan, no. 1085 on the authority of Abu Huraira, Allah be pleased with him)
And Allah Knows Best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK