Dower: What dower to pay?

Q180 :Could you please let me know what is the actual amount of dower, or meher, prescribed by Islam.

A180 : This question has been coming up time after time. What I find strange about it is the request for an exact figure. Islam does not prescribe a particular amount which must be paid as a dower, or meher, to be given by the prospective husband to his prospective wife at the time when their marriage contract is made. In establishing the right of the wife to have complete say in what she may do with her dower, Allah mentions in the Qur'an " And if you give any of them (i.e. your women) a large amount, you may not take anything out of it. Would you take it when it is an absolute injustice and a clear sin? " Only if the wife willingly and with clear mind and free choice forgo part of her dower to her husband, he may take it. The above quoted verse, which is No.20 in Surah 4, makes it clear that the dower may be a very large amount. In this connection, it is useful to quote the famous report that Umar, the second caliph, wanted dowers to be moderate, he advised people while he was addressing them, before a Friday prayer not to let dowers exceed what the Prophet paid to his wives. A woman in the mosque objected to him and quoted this verse. The caliph acknowledged that the woman was right and he was wrong. [Added: This follows, therefore, that it is proper for women to attend prayers in mosques.] Having said that, I should perhaps remind you of the Hadith which states that the best women are the fairest looking and cheapest in dower. This Hadith is taken as an encouragement to make dowers small so that they do not represent an impediment to marriage. It is often the case that young men have to delay marriage in order to raise funds to meet the expenses of establishing a new home. When dowers are cheap, the task is made that much easier. If they are expensive, marriage maybe delayed. This is bound to lead to results which Islam does not welcome. In short, a dower may be as little as one rial, or even less, provided the bride willingly accepts that. On the other hand, it may be any amount the two parties agree between them. The dower must be of benefit to the woman and this benefit may be a moral, rather than material one. One of the companions of the Prophet was married in return for teaching his wife the surahs of the Qur'an he had learned. This is an educational benefit which is certainly valuable. No money was paid. That represented the dower, and the Prophet approved that.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )