It is one of the obligations for the bridegroom to prepare the house in which he will reside with his bride out of his own money, in addition to giving the bride her prescribed dowry. This is based on Allah’s words, “And give unto the women, (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions.” (An-Nisa’: 4)
However, in some countries it has become a norm that the woman contributes to the preparation of the marital house out of her paid-in-advance dowry, and the husband’s purchases are to be considered as part of her postponed dowry. Then, all the household stuff are to be recorded in a long list called “Al-Qa’imah” or, list of bridal possessions in the marital home. There is nothing wrong in that as far as it is done in light of Islamic teachings that govern marital relations.
Sheikh Muhammad Bakr Isma`il, Professor of the Exegesis of the Qur’an at Al-Azhar Univ., states: “The norm in some countries is that the bride does not take from the husband her dowry in advance. Instead, she opts for partitioning it; making a part as deferred payment, and the other as advance payment in form of objects to be used in furnishing the marital home.
Also, it’s a norm for a bride to contribute in furnishing the house according to her or her family’s capacity. Thereupon, all these purchases become her right, for they are bought with her dowry. Therefore, everything should be recorded in a list or document in order to preserve her right in case of separation by any means such as divorce or even death.
So, these objects become a trust in care of the husband who should keep and maintain them.” In this regard Allah Almighty says in the Glorious Qur’an, “Be not averse to writing down (the contract) whether it be small or great, with (record of) the term thereof. That is more equitable in the sight of Allah and surer for testimony, and the best way of avoiding doubt between you.” (Al-Baqarah: 282)
So, who dares to say, ‘it is an innovation’, while it is a religious duty on the part of the husband? Also, who dares to say, ‘it is a sign of mistrust’, while the contrary is true!
On my part, I recommend the husband to document and guarantee his wife’s right in a written form and to make it an obligation for his heirs not to deprive her of her own right.
Someone may argue that drawing up such lists was neither practiced by the Companions nor by their successors and followers, thus, it is nothing but a heretical matter.
Answering him, I say: This time in which we live is totally different from that of the Companions and their successors and followers. At that early time, honesty and trust prevailed and every one of them was governed by true conscience and strict adherence to the teachings of Islam. Unlike this present time in which trust and honesty have totally melted away from hearts. In addition, the life of those early pious people was very simple, marriage then was facilitated and the marital homes had nothing worthy of enlisting or documenting, but nowadays marriage is totally ‘different’.
Also, drawing up such a list is an act of norms and habits and thus cannot be branded as ‘innovation’ or heretical matter. Innovation can only be used in describing something which is invented in matters of religion such as exaggeration in practicing certain acts of worship or the like.
In principle, the bride has a right to receive all her dowry and keep it out of the reach of the husband. And, the husband owes an obligation to establish and prepare the marital home out of his own money. But, as the norm goes that she contributes to preparing and furnishing a marital home with him out of her prescribed dowry and the wealth of her family or hers, it becomes more appropriate on the part of the husband to document all the items in the house in a list and guarantee her right to all these things. This is done in order to make her feel secure, comfortable and satisfied.”
Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, adds:
“There is no harm in drawing up a list of the objects that form part and parcel of the household stuff in order to guarantee and preserve the wife’s right to them. It is well-known that Muslims are bound by their stipulations; as the furniture and other possessions in the house may be purchased with the wife’s dowry which is her own right or by some money of her family, it is her right to be given that very list signed by the husband.
I hope there is no exaggeration or excessiveness in this particular issue and that all parties concerned agree on this list from the very beginning (i.e. at the time of engagement) in order to let all things run smoothly with easiness and satisfaction and to give the suitor a chance to think it over and over again before making any decision.
So, it’s improper to raise the issue at the time of fulfilling the marriage contract, for it may lead to the breakdown of the whole marriage and may spark up bitter comments and arguments from both parties.
However, there is a norm in some rural areas where the woman’s guardian refuses to take that list of objects from the husband while pronouncing this smart statement: “I entrust you with my own daughter; how dare I mistrust you concerning some trivial objects!”
This means that the wife’s guardian declared his daughter to be a trust with the husband; hence, it would not be appropriate for him to concern himself with some material matters.
Well, will these lofty values return to our societies? Really, this needs much care of religion and original basic legal norms.”