Mahr Too Low
As salamu 'alaykum,
I am engaged to be married soon. My future husband and his family have said that it is a tradition in their family to give the bride $500 for the mahr (dowry) at the time of nikah (Islamic marriage). Although I am not the type of person to demand a lot from my husband, this amount seems low to me - especially since my future husband has a good job and is reasonably wealthy. I do not know what to do about this, as I don't know the Islamic ruling on the amount of mahr. Should I say something to him and his family, or should I just settle for whatever amount they give me? I would appreciate any advice regarding this issue. Jazakallah, and thank you for all your good work on this website.
Answer (Abdullah Abdur Rahman) :
Thank you for writing to us and for your kind words. Here are some thoughts for your consideration.
First, We congratulate you on your engagement and wish you the best as you prepare for your marriage. Your specific question about the mahr (dowry) is best answered by the Islamic scholars through the Ask the Scholar service of Islam Online. The amount being offered by your husband to be should be a matter of mutual discussion and agreement. Once you have finished reading our response, we urge you to follow the link we have provided below, which describes the concept and rulings behind the mahr. Be sure that the family is not considering whatever they call the “deen mahr” (deferred payment) and that they will supplement the monetary gift of $500 with other gifts such as jewelry and clothing. Of course in the end you should work with your parents and your future husband to determine what will please you the most as to the final value of the mahr. We just urge you, through dialog and frank communication, to be sure that this family is not offering a small monetary gift as what they call a deen mahr because their perception is that they do not wish to be seen as extravagant or too this worldly by paying a higher amount.
Second, we can suggest to you that you must handle with care and caution the ensuing discussions about the mahr.
Often times, there is so much good will and compatibility between the couple and their families and some one issue being mishandled by either side ends up ruining the relationship. We urge you to think carefully about why it is you wish to marry this young man. What about him makes you so sure that he is the one with whom you wish to spend the rest of your life? Are you able to speak to him frankly? Do you feel he respects you and your family? If there is a high level of mutual trust between you and your fiancé, then you can express to him your concerns, reminding him that you are seeking clarification from him and that you are not driven by financial or worldly motives. Be sure that if you are not comfortable with having such a discussion with your fiancé, then you let him know that you would like your father, i.e. your wali, (guardian) to discuss the matter with him. Share with your father your position and thoughts so that he can convey the proper sentiments to your fiancé.
Finally, you have come a long way to get ready for this marriage and we urge you to consider carefully how you wish to resolve the issue of the mahr. If you find that your fiance’s family wishes to stick to their tradition about the deen mahr then one way out of the impasse might be to have your fiancé offer delayed payment which is recognized as such, which is not paid at the time of the nikah but at some point in the future when the husband is able to do so. That way, your fiancé can maintain his tradition and you can be assured that the final mahr amount is equal to what you would desire to give you some sense of peace and calm. Make lots of dua`aa' and use the Istikhara prayer to seek the guidance and assistance of Allah to deal with the issue of the mahr. We wish you the best and Allah knows best.
Source : Islamonline