Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The negative and harmful consequences of exaggerating concerning the dowry


What is the ruling on what many women's guardians do nowadays of making excessive demands regarding the dowry and asking the husband for more than he can afford, which makes him take on many debts in order to get married, and which may put many young men off getting married?.

Praise be to Allaah.


We have already explained in the answer to question no.
that Islam teaches that the dowry should be reduced and made simple,
and that this is in the interests of both the husband and the wife. As the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best of
marriage is that which is made easiest.” Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan, classed as
saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3300.


The scholars have spoken a great deal about this issue and
explained the harm that results from exaggerating concerning the mahr. For
example, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem issued a lengthy fatwa on this
matter, in which he said:


One of the things that people have gone too far in, until
they reached the level of extravagance and excess, is the matter of
exaggerating concerning the mahr, and being extravagant in clothing, wedding
feasts, and so on. The knowledgeable and wise people have started to
complain about this because of the many evil consequences to which it leads,
such as many women remaining unmarried, because many men cannot afford the
expenses of getting married, which leads to many kinds of evil
consequences…. I have researched this matter from all angles and reached the
following conclusions: 

1 – Accepting a moderate dowry and not demanding more of the
husband than he can afford are enjoined by sharee’ah, according to the
consensus of the scholars of the earlier and later generations. This is the
Sunnah that is proven from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him). 

2 – If the husband takes on payment of a dowry that he cannot
afford and that is beyond his means, he deserves to be denounced for that,
because he has done something makrooh, even if that dowry is less than the
dowry given by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
Muslim narrated in his Saheeh (1424) that Abu Hurayrah said: A man
came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and
said: “I have got married to a woman from among the Ansaar.” The Messenger
of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to him:
“Have you looked at her? For there may be something in the eyes of the
Ansaar.” He said: “(Yes) I have looked at her.” He said: “For how much did
you get married?” He said: ‘For four uqiyahs.” The Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “For four uqiyahs! It is as if you
are getting this silver by digging it up from the side of this mountain. We
do not have anything to give you, but perhaps we will send you on a campaign
from which you might get something.” So he sent a campaign to Bani ‘Abs, and
he sent that man among them. 

Al-Nawawi said in his commentary on this hadeeth: what this
means is that it is makrooh to make the dowry too much in relation to the
husband’s situation. 

3 – There can be no doubt that marriage is something that is
prescribed and encouraged in sharee’ah, and in most cases it reaches the
degree of being obligatory. Most people cannot manage to do this thing that
is prescribed or mustahabb when there is this exaggeration concerning the
mahr. It is well known that whatever is essential to doing something
obligatory is also obligatory, from which we may understand that it is
prescribed to make people aware of the seriousness of this matter and stop
them from going to extremes in this matter which is preventing men from
doing that which Allaah has enjoined upon them (i.e., getting married),
especially since the command to reduce the mahr will not lead to any evil
consequences, rather it is wholly in the interests of both the husband and
the wife, and is in fact something that is liked and encouraged in Islam, as
stated above. 

4 – There is no shar’i justification for the woman’s guardian
to refuse to marry her to a compatible man if he proposes marriage to her
and she is pleased with him, because he cannot pay the large dowry that the
guardian demands because of his personal greed or for the purpose of
extravagance and showing off. Rather this comes under the heading of
preventing marriage for which the one who does it is regarded as a faasiq
(evildoer) if he does it repeatedly. 

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said: 

The scholars found a way around this obstacle when they said
that if a guardian refuses to marry his female relative under his care to a
compatible man with whom she is pleased, then that guardianship passes to
another. For example, if a woman’s father refuses to marry her to a man
whose religious commitment and character are suitable and with whom she is
pleased and whom she wants to marry, then the closest of people to her after
him, among her brothers, paternal uncles or cousins, should marry her to

5 – Increasing the mahr and exaggerating concerning it forms
a strong obstacle to marriage, and the many evil consequences that result
from that and the spread of evil actions among men and women, are well
known. The means come under the same ruling as the ends. Islam came to
achieve and complete people’s best interests, and to do away with and reduce
evils. Even if reducing dowries were to do no more than block the ways that
lead to haraam things, that would be sufficient. 

6 – The evil consequences of exaggerating concerning dowries
are well known. How many free, chaste women have been prevented from
marrying by their guardians, who have wronged them and left them without
husbands and children. 

How many women has that led to respond to the calls of their
own desire and the Shaytaan, so they have committed evil actions and brought
shame upon themselves and their families and clans, because they have
committed sins that anger the Most Merciful? 

How many young men have been unable to meet these demands for
which no authority was sent down by Allaah, so the devils and evil
companions took control of them, until they led them astray and caused them
to lose out, so they lost their families and lost their way, and they became
lost to their ummah and homeland, and they lost out in this world and in the

7 – Another harmful effect of exaggerating concerning dowries
is the appearance of mental illness among young people of both sexes,
because of having to suppress their natural urges and because of the
frustration they encounter when they try to get married. 

8 – Making demands of the husband that he cannot meet may
stir up enmity in his heart against his wife, due to the financial
difficulties that he suffers because of her. But the aim (of marriage) is
happiness, not hardship. 

9 – Even if there is any benefit in a large dowry for the
women or her guardians, the evil consequences outweigh any such benefits.
The basic principle in sharee’ah is that warding off evil takes precedence
over achieving benefits. 

10 – With regard to the story narrated from ‘Umar ibn
al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him), that when he forbade
increasing the mahr to more than four hundred dirhams, a woman from among
Quraysh objected to that and said: “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, you have forbidden
increasing the mahr of women to more than four hundred dirhams, have you not
heard the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning): ‘…and you have
given one of them a Qintaar (of gold, i.e. a great amount as Mahr)…’
[al-Nisa’ 4:20]?” 

He said: “O Allaah, forgive me. All the people have more
understanding of religion than ‘Umar.” Then he went back and ascended the
minbar, and said: “O people, I forbade you to increase women’s dowries to
more than four hundred. But whoever wants to give as much as he wants of his
wealth, let him do so.” 

But this story may be understood in different ways, and
cannot be used as evidence or to oppose the proven texts referred to above,
especially when there is no report of any objection to ‘Umar or denunciation
of him on the part of any of the Sahaabah apart from this woman. 

Adapted from the words of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem. See Fataawa al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem, 10/187-199.


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