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AL-KAFI #1395: THE WISDOM OF DOWRY IN MARRIAGE

 AlKafi 1395

 

Question:

Assalamualaikum SS Datuk Mufti. Why does Islam set dowry as one of the valid conditions in marriage?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt wbt,

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

We start with the statement of Allah SWT:

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً ۚ فَإِن طِبْنَ لَكُمْ عَن شَيْءٍ مِّنْهُ نَفْسًا فَكُلُوهُ هَنِيئًا مَّرِيئًا

“And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.”

Surah al-Nisa’ (4)

Ibn Kathir said: According to Ibn Abbas, the word النحلة means dowry. Ibn Zaid explained it means something that is obligatory to be given to a wife due to aqad of marriage. It is wajib for a man to voluntarily give the dowry of his wife as a gift for her. (See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 2/235)

In a hadith narrated by Sahl bin Sa’ad RA, he said:

أَتَتِ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ امْرَأَةٌ، فَقَالَتْ: إِنَّهَا قَدْ وَهَبَتْ نَفْسَهَا لِلَّهِ وَلِرَسُولِهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَقَالَ: «مَا لِي فِي النِّسَاءِ مِنْ حَاجَةٍ»، فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ: زَوِّجْنِيهَا، قَالَ: «أَعْطِهَا ثَوْبًا»، قَالَ: لاَ أَجِدُ، قَالَ: «أَعْطِهَا وَلَوْ خَاتَمًا مِنْ حَدِيدٍ»،

A lady came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and declared that she had decided to offer herself to Allah and His Apostle. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "I am not in need of women." A man said (to the Prophet) "Please marry her to me." The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to him), "Give her a garment." The man said, "I cannot afford it." The Prophet said, "Give her anything, even if it were an iron ring."

Sahih al-Bukhari (4741) and Sahih Muslim (1425)

Imam al-Nawawi explained the above hadith saying: “The hadith states that dowry can be of little or great value, when both parties are content with it, for an iron ring is a cheap dowry. This is the opinion in madhhab Syafi’e and the majority of scholars from among the salaf and khalaf.” (See al-Minhaj fi Syarh Sahih Muslim Ibn al-Hajjaj, 9/190)

In answering the above question, there are numerous wisdoms for the stipulation of dowry in marriage. Here, we will present several wisdoms of the sanctioning of dowry in Islam.

In the book al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, it is stated: Dowry is sanctioned to show the intention of future husband to build a good relationship and marriage with his wife. At the same time, it will enable the woman to prepare herself with the necessities for marriage such as clothing and expenses. (See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 2/586)

Syeikh Muhammad Mutawalli al-Sya’rawi said, Allah SWT obligates dowry on man for his spouse as proof of love between them. It also ties the relationship between the couple with love and compassion under the leadership of the man. (See Ahkam al-Usrah li Bait al-Muslim, pg. 75)

Syeikh Mustafa al-Siba’ie said, dowry is sanctioned as a symbol of honour and acknowledgement of woman through a marriage. (See al-Mar’ah Baina al Fiqh wa al-Qanun, pg. 56)

While according to Syeikh Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili, the purpose for a dowry is to show the priority and importance of a marriage, at the same time honouring the status of women. The preparation of dowry in Islam is also seen as a benchmark of the preparedness of the couple in facing a greater trial of married life. Dowry is given as a symbol of virtue and sincerity from the husband’s side to live together with the woman of his choice. (See al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh, 9/239)

Syeikh Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi explained the wisdoms for the sanctioning of dowry are:

  • The stipulation of dowry shows the honour of women. This is a sign that they are looked for and not the one looking, where the man searched for her and not the other way around. The man searched, strive and allocate some of his wealth to get the woman. Different from other races which burdens the women to give her or her family’s wealth to give to the man so that the man would agree to marry her.
  • To showcase the love and care of a husband to his wife that the gift of some of his wealth is nihlah from him, as a gift, present and hibah, not as a payment price of a woman as claimed by some people. Thus, al-Quran uses a clear language when stating:

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً ۚ فَإِن طِبْنَ لَكُمْ عَن شَيْءٍ مِّنْهُ نَفْسًا فَكُلُوهُ هَنِيئًا مَّرِيئًا

“And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.”

Surah al-Nisa’ (4)

  • Dowry is also a symbol of determination. Marriage is not a game for man to simply say to a woman: “I’m married to you,” which would then bound them together. But after a while, he would leave the woman as he pleases and find another woman to do the same with the first woman, and the next, … Allocation of some of his wealth shows the determination of a man in building a relationship with her.

Even in other relationships that are of less importance than marriage, people would give presents and gifts – as a symbol of determination – then it is prioritized in family relationships. Thus, Islam obligates a man to pay half of the dowry if he marries a woman and divorced her before intercourse. This is as an acknowledgement on the great and pure agreement as well as a symbol that intercourse is not the main purpose – for in this case intercourse had yet to happen. Allah SWT states:

وَإِن طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَمَسُّوهُنَّ وَقَدْ فَرَضْتُمْ لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً فَنِصْفُ مَا فَرَضْتُمْ إِلَّا أَن يَعْفُونَ أَوْ يَعْفُوَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ عُقْدَةُ النِّكَاحِ

“And if you divorce them before you have touched them and you have already specified for them an obligation, then [give] half of what you specified - unless they forego the right or the one in whose hand is the marriage contract foregoes it.”

Surah al-Baqarah (237)

  • The wisdom that dowry is stipulated in marriage is that Islam places the responsibility of family in the hands of a man (the husband), for his natural capability to handle emotion (feelings) is greater when compared to woman. He is able to plan their lives together. This is a wisdom if a man pays to attain such rights and from another angle, he will be more responsible and not let the marriage be destroyed due to trivial matters. He is the one responsible to fund the marriage, such that if the building collapses it would surely fall on him. (See Fatawa Mu’asirah, 2/322)

Conclusion

According to the above statement, it is clear that there are numerous wisdoms on the sanctioning of dowry itself. Among them is to show the honour of woman as the symbol of virtue and status in Islam. It is also a sign of determination for a man in building a relationship with a woman.

In our opinion, dowry will lead to the feelings of contentment for all the people involved which includes the wife, and their respective families. This is the greatest difference between the aqad for marriage in Islam and other religions.

Hopefully, this explanation will increase the love, mawaddah and rahmah between husband and wife which will lead to Baiti Jannati. We end with a supplication to Allah SWT:

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."

Surah al-Furqan (74)


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