Islam is the religion articulated by Quran and by the teachings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It provides an entire code to deal with all aspects of life. The guidelines taught and practiced by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) focus on the well being of mankind. Islam is the only religion in the world which describes “Mehar” as an integral part of entering into wedlock. Often confused with dowry, Islam follows the reverse practice. Dowry and Mahr are often misunderstood and misused concepts. The practice of dowry is something that Islam clearly condemns, let alone practices it.
With many misconceptions regarding it, it is also wrong to say that “Mehar” and dowry is the same thing. In “Mehar”, the groom pays money or certain possessions or both to the bride at the time of Nikkah. There is no concept of paying dowry, which is paid by the bride’s family to the groom’s family, in Islam. In fact, the Quran states that it is the men who should willingly give a dowry to their women, and should they choose to forfeit it, then it is rightfully yours. Islam states that if a man cannot provide for the family and afford Mehar, then a woman is not obligated to marry him. If the woman can live with what the man offers, then that is what the man offers. Given by the groom to the bride, Mehar is a must for the marriage to be accepted in Islam.
Dowry in its form, in which it is given to the man, is totally an un-Islamic tradition. There is no such concept that they are a mean of burden or an article of trade to be treated this way. The presence of dowry among the ignorant Muslims is a result of the influence of the unislamic customs and negligence of what the religion teaches.
Islam has successfully maintained equality between men and women by denouncing and condemning the practice of dowry as it is, paid by the bride to the groom. At the time of marriage, the groom hands over the bride a sum of money or possessions called “Mehr” or dower, which signifies his acceptance of the responsibility of bearing all necessary expenses of his wife from the day on.
The practice of “Mehr” meant to bring an end to what was done in the ”Days of Ignorance” wherein a woman was harassed and disrespected and was considered a heavy burden for the parents. Islam believes in the giving of the dower by the husband to the wife in order to please the woman’s heart and honor her. However, this curse is deep rooted in our social systems today where the woman is required to furnish a “valuable dowry” during marriage. If the woman is not able to gather enough wealth for her marriage, then she shall remain unmarried. Such a practice leads to a rise in social ills.
In majority of the cases, especially in South Asian countries, where a woman gets married without furnishing enough dowry, she is abused and harassed by the in-laws. It is a common case in many places where the woman is tortured and even murdered for lack of dowries during her marriage. Moreover, if it’s given by the bride’s parents in money terms then being the easiest obtainable amount, it is lavishly spent by the groom, in immoral deeds too. This hampers the peace of married life and also causes financial troubles to the newly wed.
Dowry often has adverse effects on the bride’s family too, with them being financially harassed and pressurized. Often, many families have to face hard times even after the marriage of their daughter, still being forced to pay money and to provide with possessions in order to ensure the well being of their daughter. It has been common in recent times to see marriages break and at times even daughters murdered for the want of dowry.
In many rural and backward areas, paying of dowry by the bride’s family to the groom is a very common practice, being almost essential for the marriage to take place. In fact, the sole deciding factor that whether the marriage will take place or not is that how much dowry can the bride and her family give. Surely such a ‘valuation’ of the sacred bond of marriage is a shameful act and should be condemned at all costs, by all sorts of people. It is this dowry dilemma due to which parents often consider daughters a ‘burden’, which leads to many social ills like female foeticide.
Even though Islam is against the practicing of paying of dowry by the bride’s family to the groom, it is still practiced by many ignorant Muslims and those unaware of the true meaning of the teachings. However, effective steps are being made in many places, where the practice of dowry has been made illegal and a punishable offence under the law. The understanding of Islamic knowledge regarding the sacred bond of marriage is what a Muslim society should give utmost consideration today, to come out of dowry dilemma.
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