The Philosophy of Mahr (Dower)
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Why is a man required to pay a pre-determined amount of money to his would-be-wife? Being a lady, it gives me the abominable feeling of a woman being sold to ‘her’ man. Is the wife the owner of this money? Or are her parents the owner?


The payment of Mahr has a deep symbolic significance. This must be clearly understood to dispel the doubt that seems to have gripped you: Islam has entrusted the husband with the responsibility of supporting his wife and children. It is he who must earn to fulfil the requirements of the family. The Mahr money is only a token of this responsibility. In other words, when a man pays this sum, he makes a symbolic expression of the fact that he has taken the financial responsibility of the woman he intends taking as his wife. Consequently, it is in the spirit of this commitment that he pay the agreed sum before he takes home the bride. It is evident from this that the wife is the owner of the Mahr money. She can spend it anywhere she likes. Her parents are in no way the owners of this money.

It would not be out of place to mention that the amount of the Mahr money, as the Qur’ān asserts, should be fixed keeping in view the social customs and traditions of a society :

... pay them their dowers according to the custom. (4:25)

Also, as mentioned above, it is in the fitness of things that the amount be paid to the wife as soon as possible since it symbolizes one of the primary responsibilities of the husband.

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