What is Mehr in Marriage?

Mahr is very important in an Islamic marriage. Allah has used the word “Farida” for it. It means something fixed, decided and obligatory. It is obligatory on the husband to pay a mahr to his wife unless she expressly by her own will without any pressure forgives him or returns the amount of mahr to him. Mahr belongs to the wife and it is to be given to her only. Allah says:


لَّا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِن طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ مَا لَمْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ أَوْ تَفْرِضُوا لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ عَلَى الْمُوسِعِ قَدَرُهُ وَعَلَى الْمُقْتِرِ قَدَرُهُ مَتَاعًا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ


“(There is) no blame upon you if you divorce [the] women whom not you have touched nor you specified for them an obligation (dower). And make provision for them – upon the wealthy according to his means and upon the poor according to his means – a provision in a fair manner, a duty upon the good-doers.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:236)


It is not the property of her parents or her guardian. No one can forgive the husband to pay the Mahr except the wife herself or, in case she did not go to her husband and the marriage ended without consummation, then in that situation, her guardian can also forgive the mahr on her behalf. Allah says:


وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمُ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ مَّكَانَ زَوْجٍ وَآتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنطَارًا فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا


“And if you intend replacing a wife (in) place (of) a wife and you have given one of the heaps (of gold) then (do) not take away from it anything. Would you take it (by) slander and a sin open?” (Surah An-Nisa, 4:20)


When marriage vows are recited then-husband gives his wife a gift which is known as “Haq Mehr”.  In religion Islam, some basic components have to be fulfilled without them marriage is not completed. One of those components is “Mehr” which is the amount of wealth that the husband pays to his wife. Allah says:


لَّا يَحِلُّ لَكَ النِّسَاءُ مِن بَعْدُ وَلَا أَن تَبَدَّلَ بِهِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ حُسْنُهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ رَّقِيبًا


“(It is) not lawful for you (to marry) women after (this) and not to exchange them for (other) wives even if pleases you their beauty, except whom you rightfully possess And Allah is over all things an Observer.” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:52)


Allah Almighty called it “freedom” in the Quran and commanded Muslim men to pay it happily to their wives. So it’s obligatory on every man who is going to get married to pay “Mehr” to his wife. It is the legal right of the wife. It can be in cash or any other kind of property. The amount is variable not fixed and should be agreed to by both parties. No one is excluded from this as our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also paid “Mehr” to His wives. Allah says:


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


“And give the women their dower graciously. But if they remit to you anything of it (on there) own, then eat it (in) satisfaction (and) ease.” (Surah An Nisa: 4:4)


The Mehr is the sole property of the wife and neither parents nor any other relatives have any right over it. Hence, in the light of the Quran and Hadith, it can carefully be said that the Mehr is the amount of wealth that a Muslim man must pay to be able to start to and continue to, enjoy a Muslim woman’s private parts in the way approved by Allah Almighty through halal married relations. Allah says:


وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَن تَبْتَغُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُم مُّحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُم بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا تَرَاضَيْتُم بِهِ مِن بَعْدِ الْفَرِيضَةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا


“And (prohibited are) the ones of the women except whom you rightfully possess. Decree of Allah upon you. And are lawful to you what (is) beyond that; that you seek with your wealth desiring to be not (to be) lustful. So what you benefit[ed] of it from them, you give them their bridal due (as) an obligation. And (there is) no sin on you concerning what you mutually agree of it from beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:24)


Mehr is a gift that is requested by the woman from her future husband. It can be anything that she asks for as small as a single date fruit to as large as she wants. It is recommended that what she asks for does not put the future husband into too much hardship but whatever she receives becomes hers alone. A Muslim man is responsible for paying his wife some amount of money or gifts as ‘Mehr/mahr’.This is a right given to women by Allah upon marriage. Allah says:


وَلَا تُؤْتُوا السُّفَهَاءَ أَمْوَالَكُمُ الَّتِي جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ قِيَامًا وَارْزُقُوهُمْ فِيهَا وَاكْسُوهُمْ وَقُولُوا لَهُمْ قَوْلًا مَّعْرُوفًا


“And (do) not give the foolish your wealth which Allah made for you a means of support (but) provide (for) them with it and clothe them and speak to them words (of) kindness.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:5)


Marriage is a legal contract between two parties. In Islam marriage being an obligatory act is so important that it is declared to be one half of Muslim’s faith. We can say that Marriage is Half Deen of Muslims. Mahr is not a bride price. It is a woman’s right and it signifies a husband’s love and appreciation for his wife. In the Qur’an, it is called “sadaqah” which means a token of friendship. It is also called “nihlah” which means “a nice gift or present.” Mahr also signifies a husband’s commitment to take care of his wife’s financial needs (nafaqah). Allah says:


وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُوا حَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا إِن يُرِيدَا إِصْلَاحًا يُوَفِّقِ اللَّهُ بَيْنَهُمَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا خَبِيرًا


“And if you fear dissension between (the) two of then send an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family. If they both wish reconciliation, Allah will cause reconciliation between both of them. Indeed, Allah is All-Knower, All-Aware.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:35)


Mehr only belongs to the wife and it is to be given to her. It is not the property of her parents or her guardian. If a husband dies without paying mehr to his wife, it will be an exceptional debt to him and it must be paid before the distribution of his inheritance among his inheritors. Allah says:


وَلُوطًا إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِ إِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ الْفَاحِشَةَ مَا سَبَقَكُم بِهَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ مِّنَ الْعَالَمِينَ


“And Lut, when he said to his people, “Indeed, you commit the immorality, not has preceded you with it, anyone, from the worlds.” (Surah Al-‘Ankabut 29:28)


When marriage vows are recited then-husband gives his wife a gift which is known as “Haq Mehr”.  In religion Islam, some basic components have to be fulfilled without them marriage is not completed. One of those components is “Mehr” which is the amount of wealth that the husband pays to his wife. In the Holy Quran, Allah Almighty said in these words: Allah says:


قُل لَّن يُصِيبَنَا إِلَّا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَنَا هُوَ مَوْلَانَا وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ


“Say, “Never will befall us except what Allah has decreed for us, He (is) our Protector.” And on Allah [so] let the believers put.” (Surah At-Tawbah 9:51)


The Mahr (dowry) is something that is paid by the man to his wife. It is paid to the wife and her only as an honour and respect given to her and to show that he has a serious desire to marry her and is not simply entering into the marriage contract without any sense of responsibility and obligation or effort on his part. Allah says:


فَآمَنَ لَهُ لُوطٌ وَقَالَ إِنِّي مُهَاجِرٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّي إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ


“And believed [in] him Lut, and he said, “Indeed I (am) emigrating to my Lord. Indeed, He [He] (is) the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Surah Al-‘Ankabut 29:26)


Mehr” is totally for the woman and it is for her security. Nobody can demand the Mehr from a woman, not even her parents, siblings or guardian. Islam has commanded the Mehr obligatory in marriage. May Allah give us the chance to live our lives according to Islamic and Quranic teachings. Ameen


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