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The Bride Price: Dowry Abuse


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N. Truth Seeker
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« on: November 22, 2006, 02:49:59 am »

By  Amatullah Abdullah

A woman holds a very high status in the Islamic faith. She is honored and respected at all times, but many startling transgressions have crept into Islamic practice. These transgressions have been caused by cultural influences that have no basis in Islam.
One such influence is the dowry. Muslims living on the Indian subcontinent have slowly incorporated the payment of dowry into their lives. In India, the dowry originated in the upper-caste Hindu communities as a wedding gift (cash or valuables) from the bride’s family to the groom’s family. There is nothing strange or unique about a culture influencing Muslim practice, as it is a common occurrence around the globe. There is nothing wrong with this as long as those cultural practices do not contradict Islamic law. The practice of dowry, however, does in fact transgress Islamic Law.

The Bride Price

We usually use the word gift for something that we give voluntarily to a person we like. A gift is something that strengthens the bond of friendship between two people. Dowry, which is usually defined as a “gift” given along with the bride by a bride’s family to the bridegroom, is used as a tool of coercion and greed in societies like India. The bride’s family must give this “gift” or the marriage will not take place. Always the price of the dowry is set higher than the bride’s family can afford, and, sadly, this results in the bride becoming a burden on her family. The bride’s family then struggles to pay the “gift.”

In Islam, in contrast, it is the man who pays the mahr (dower) to the woman. The following verses in the Qur’an prove that it is the man who is obligated to pay the mahr to the woman unless the woman chooses not to take it.

[And give women their dower as a free gift, but if the  of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result.]  (An-Nisaa’ 4:4)

[And all married women [are forbidden to you] except those whom your right hands possess. (This is) Allah’s ordinance to you. And lawful for you are (all women) besides those, provided that you seek (them) with your property, taking (them) in marriage not committing fornication. Then as to those whom you profit by, give them their dowries as appointed; and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise.] (An-Nisaa’ 4:24)

Dowry Deaths

Cultures that demand dowry from the bride’s family are actually practicing the opposite of what Allah has commanded. They have reversed Allah’s words in their practice. The bride is forced to pay a negotiated amount to the groom unless the man chooses not to take it. When the woman brings less than the negotiated amount, she has to endure constant torture from her in-laws after marriage. When the husband or in-laws are not satisfied with the dowry brought by the bride, they may even go so far as to kill the woman after marriage.

The most severe among all the dowry abuse is “bride burning.” The parties engaged in the murder usually report the case as an accident or suicide.


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Ruhi_Rose
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« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2006, 03:21:21 am »

Wa'salaam persian.  very informative article.  this is just disgraceful.  it really surprises me .. i hear so much about Islamization going on in pakistan.  even matters that aren't unIslamic are considered against Islam by many hardliners.  but everything is very selective.  anything that suits the interests of menfolk of the society is retained without fuss even if it's the most unIslamic practice of all, like the dowry coerced from women.  it's so so shameful.  Islam makes it very clear that no woman ever has to pay any dowry, let alone forcing her to pay a huge amount.  dowry is strictly the duty of the man toward his wife.  and even the man must not be pressured by the bride or her family into giving more than his means.  according to my perception, the south asian subcontinent and middle-east both commit violations regarding this issue of dowry.  in south asia of course the violation is much greater.  first of all they force out huge amounts of dowry and that too from the bride.  in the middle-east although the man pays the dowry, yet they are often harassed by the bride's family into paying much more than the poor guy can afford which is also not right.
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