Q178 :How much should a man pay in dower at the
present time? When and how should it be paid? What is the result of its
non-payment or delayed payment? How is a husband who refuses to pay the
A178 : There is no fixed amount for a woman's
dower. Normally, its amount is agreed upon by the husband and his
prospective wife's guardian. Her guardian should consult her before
consenting to the marriage. A dower may be in cash or kind and it may
be the realization of some benefit to the prospective wife. The Prophet
asked one of his companions who wanted to get married, how much he
could afford in dower. When he learnt that the man did not have any
money, the Prophet asked him whether he had learnt any parts of Qur'an.
When the man answered that he knew certain surahs, the Prophet
sanctioned the marriage on the basis that the husband would teach his
wife those surahs. That was her dower. In another incident, a man
called Abu Talhah proposed to a Muslim woman. At that time he was not a
Muslim. She said to him: you are not one to be rejected, but as you are
a non-believer, a marriage between us is impossible. If you accept
Islam, I will take that as dower and will ask you nothing more. The man
because a Muslim and the Prophet sanctioned the marriage. His
companions considered that she had the best dower of all. That is
certainly true because by her marriage, she won a good man to Islam.
Normally, the dower is paid by the husband to his prospective wife
before the marriage contract is made. Its amount is specified in the
contract. The payment of the whole of the dower or any part of it may
be deferred. If the dower is not paid before the marriage contract is
made, it remains a debt owed to the woman by her husband. It does not
affect the validity of the marriage. As long as the husband
acknowledges his wife's right to her dower, and is willing to pay it
should she demand payment, there is nothing wrong in delaying payment.
If he defaults on payment, when a demand is made, the case may be put
to a court of Islamic law which will immediately order the man to pay.
In this case it is treated as a debt which is unpaid. Everything that
applied to debts applies to unpaid dower. When the husband dies, his
wife may claim her deferred dower from his estate and its payment is
given priority since such priority is given to all debts left
outstanding by the deceased. I realize that in certain societies the
dower is considered as a formality. It is specified but not paid and
the bride is required to declare that she has forgone her right to it.
Such a practice is unacceptable from the Islamic point of view.
[Added: The agreement to pay as dower a sum of money so high that it
may apparent that the prospective husband will never be able to pay
such an amount, would be far from realistic and thus lose its sanctity.
The husband knows from the day one that he never will pay the dower.
Such a position is not acceptable to Islam. Likewise, a meagre sum of
money agreed between the parties, as is done by certain communities
when they fix paltry sum of money as dower, purely as a customs,
without any specific consideration, is also unrealistic and would
amount to be only a formality. This is also unacceptable to Islam.
Dower is a serious matter. The fixation of dower should be realistic,
meaningful and acceptable to both the parties .]
Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )