In Islam, the mahr (dower) is a woman’s right and that signifies a husband’s love and appreciation for his wife. There is no fixed amount of mahr in the Shari`ah. It should be given according to the financial status of the husband and according to the time and place. However, it should be reasonable and not too expensive.
The bride’s guardian and family should focus on the religious commitment and character of the suitor rather than asking for huge amounts of dower which burdens the youths who want to get married and protect themselves against temptations. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never demanded huge amounts of dower when giving his daughters in marriage. He is also reported to have said, “The best woman is the one whose mahr is the easiest to pay.” (Reported by al-Haythami)
Here, we’d cite the following by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, president of the Fiqh Council of North America: “Mahr is a wife’s right, which becomes binding upon the husband once the marriage is contracted. It is fully payable after the consummation of marriage but if divorce occurs before the consummation of marriage then half of the Mahr is required to be paid unless the wife or her guardians waive it. Allah says: “And give unto the women, (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions…” (An-Nisa’: 4)
He Almighty also says: “And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty…” (An-Nisa’: 24)
Mahr is very important in Islamic marriage. Allah has used the word “faridah” for it. It means something fixed, decided and obligatory. It is obligatory on the husband to pay 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. 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. If a husband dies without paying mahr to his wife, it will be an outstanding debt on him and it must be paid before the distribution of his inheritance among his heirs.
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).
People often make part of mahr advanced (mu`ajjal) and part of it deferred (mu’akkhar or mu’ajjal). The advanced mahr should be paid at the time of Nikah while the postponed should be paid later. The wife has a right to demand it from her husband; it’s her right. A wife should also not feel threatened that her husband may leave her if he pays her all her mahr. “All these notions belong to various cultures but they have nothing to do with the Shari`ah.
According to the Shari`ah, the mahr should also be reasonable. There is no fixed amount of mahr in the Shari`ah. It should be given according to the financial status of the husband and according to the time and place.
However, it is a principle of the Shari`ah that the mahr should not be too expensive. It is wrong to declare large amount of mahr at the time of marria
ge to show off or to boast. Some time bride’s family put pressure on the groom and his family for a large amount of mahr so that they may show their pride to their relatives and friends boasting that their daughter was married for a big mahr. Sometimes the groom declares a big amount and secretly thinks that this is just a commitment on paper. People are often heard saying, “Write whatever you want, no one asks and no one pays.” This is playing a game with the rules of Allah. Muslims should only commit to what they are really capable of paying and what they intend to pay. It is haram to enjoy relations with a wife and then deny her the mahr when she demands.”