Marriage: The Quest for Love & Mercy

Discussion in 'Women, Family, and Marriage' started by ditta, Oct 14, 2010.

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    The Bride’s Permission

    Ruling

    Being one of the two individuals involved in a marriage contract, the bride should have a say in reward to the partner with whom she would be associated in a long-term partnership.

    ‘A’ishah (radhiyAllaahu anha) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “Take the women’s permission in regard to their private parts (i.e., marriage).”


    (Ahmad and an-Nasa’i. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 930 & as-Sahihah no. 398)

    Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “When one of you wants to give his daughter in marriage, he should take her permission.”

    (at-Tabarani (in al-Kabir) and Abu Ya’la. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 300 & as-Sahihah no. 1206)

    A bride’s permission is a required element of the marriage contract. Without this permission, the contract is either null and void, or may be invalidated by the Islamic authorities – based on the bride’s request.

    We will see below that, depending on the bride’s situation, the mode of her permission varies from being fully vocal and assertive to being passive and compliant with her wali’s decision.
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    A Virgin Bride

    A virgin bride (in Arabic: bikr) is a woman who never had intercourse with men. That would normally mean that her virginity hymen is present and intact; however, this is not an absolute condition because some virgins may lose their hymen in an accident or illness.

    A virgin is usually naive and inexperienced in the ways of life and people’s cunning. She has no knowledge about men and is unable to evaluate a potential husband. Thus, it is not possible for her to make a clear decision in that regard, and it is left for her wali, who is usually her father, to make the decision on her behalf. Even then, he must consult with her and take her approval before executing the marriage contract.

    When a virgin is adorned with the strong haya (modesty and shyness) that adorned the early Muslim virgins, she would extremely reluctant to voice her opinion in regard to a man who seeks to marry her. In that case, her passive expression of approval is sufficient.

    A passive approval is expressed by the bride’s remaining silent, nodding her head, or making any other motion to indicate that she does not object to the marriage. On the other hand, is she does object, she must declare that with a clear action or statement.

    The bride’s passive approval is the minimum required permission. However, it is possible for her to express her approval in a more assertive way, such as saying, “Yes, I would like to marry him.”

    Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that the Prophet :saw: said:

    “A non-virgin woman (i.e., widow or divorcee) may not be married without her instruction; and a virgin may not be married without her permission, and her silence indicates consent.”

    (al-Bukhari, Muslim and others)

    ‘Umayrah al-Kindi (radhiyAllaahu anha) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “Take the women’s permission in regard to themselves (i.e., marriage). A non-virgin expresses herself with her tongue; and a virgin’s silence is (a sufficient proof of) her acceptance.”

    (Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 13, 3084 & Irwa-ul-Ghalil no. 1836)

    Ibn Abbas (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported:

    “A virgin woman came to the Prophet :saw: and told him that her father gave her in marriage against her will. The Prophet :saw: then gave her the choice (of maintaining for terminating the marriage).”

    (Ibn Majah. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih Ibn Majah no. 1520)
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    A Non-Virgin Bride

    A non-virgin bride (in Arabic: thayyib) is a woman who has had at least one sexual intercourse with men – whether it was in regular marriage or zina.

    A thayyib normally has more experience in life and more ability to make a decision in regard to her marriage. Thus, she should be allowed to voice her opinion and make her decision, and her decision must be honoured by her wali. This is clearly expressed in the above hadeeths.

    Similarly, Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “A non-virgin has more right to herself than does her guardian; as for a virgin, her permission is taken in regard to herself, and her silence is (a sufficient) permission.”

    (Muslim and Abu Dawood)

    Al-Khansa’ Bint Khitham al-Ansariyyah (radhiyAllaahu anhum) reported that her father gave her in marriage (without her permission). At that time, she was non-virgin. She disliked that marriage and complained to the Prophet :saw: who invalidated the contract.

    (al-Bukhari and Ahmad)
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    An Orphan Bride

    An orphan girl is a virgin who lost her father. Thus, her wali is not her father. In regard to the permission for marriage, she is given more say than a normal virgin.

    Abu Musa al-Ashari (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “Give a (virgin) orphan girl the right to decide in regard to herself (in marriage), and her silence is (a sufficient) permission.”

    (at-Tabarani and Ahmad. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 14 & as-Sahihah no. 656)

    Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “A (virgin) orphan girl’s permission should be sought in regard to herself (i.e., in marriage); if she remains silent, that counts as her permission; and if she expresses her refusal, she may not be forced against her will.”

    (Abu Dawood, an-Nasa’i and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 1349, 8194 & Irwa-ul-Ghalil no. 1834)

    ‘Abdullah bin Umar (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) reported that when Uthman bin Maz’un (radhiyAllaahu anh) died he left behind a daughter from his wife Khuwaylah bin Hakim. In his will, ‘Uthman had appointed his brother Qudamah bin Maz’un as her guardian. Ibn ‘Umar asked for the orphan girl’s hand from Qudamah (who was his maternal uncle), and Qudamah agreed to marry her to him. However, al-Mughirah bin Shu’bah (radhiyAllaahu anh) approached her mother and beguiled her with money. The mother this leaned towards him, and her daughter followed her mother’s inclination and refused to marry Ibn ‘Umar. They disputed and went before the Prophet :saw:.

    Qudamah said:

    “O Allah’s Messenger! She is my brother’s daughter. He appointed me as her guardian, and I gave her in marriage to ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar – forsaking neither righteousness nor compatibility. However, she is only a woman, and she now leans according to her mother’s inclination.”

    Allah’s Messenger :saw: respond:

    “She is an orphan, and she may not be married except with her permission.”

    Ibn ‘Umar added:

    “Thus, by Allah, she was taken away from me, even after I had taken charge of her (by marriage), and was married to al-Mughirah bin Shu’bah.”

    (Ahmad, ad-Daraqutni and others. Verified to be hasan by al-Albani
    (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1835)
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    The Woman’s Wali

    Ruling

    A woman may not independently give herself in marriage. Her wali (guardian) should represent her in doing that. He should take her consent if she is a virgin. Otherwise, he should follow her instruction.

    Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, Abdullah bin ‘Abbas, Jabir bin ‘Abdillah and Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anhum) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “A marriage (contract) is not valid without a wali.”


    (Abu Dawood, at-Tirmidhi and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1839)

    Thus, the presence of the wali for the execution of the marriage contract is a condition for its validity.
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    Who is a Woman’s Wali?

    Normally, a woman’s wali is her father. If, for any reason, her father is unable to be her wali, her wali would then be her next closest mahram (grandfather, son, brother, uncle, etc).

    If the woman’s close relatives are non-Muslims, they may not be her shar’i guardians.

    Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says:

    “Allah will never grant to the unbelievers a way (of authority) over the believers)”

    (Qur’aan 4: 141)

    A woman may not take another woman as her wali. Abu Hurayrah reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “A woman may not give another woman in marriage, nor may a woman give herself in marriage.”

    Abu Hurayrah added:

    “For, indeed it is an adulterous who gives herself in marriage (without her wali’s consent).”

    (Ibn Majah, al-Bayhaqi and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1841)

    If the bride does not have a Muslim blood-relative as wali, the Islamic authority, represented by the ruler or judge, would appoint a wali for her. In many non-Muslim countries, the local iman of a Muslim community carries out the common duties of an Islamic judge, and would therefore be the wali of a woman who has no wali.

    ‘A’ishah (radhiyAllaahu anha) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “A marriage (contract) is not valid without a wali. And the (Islamic) authority is the wali of the one who does not have a wali.”

    (Ahmad and Abu Dawood. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1840)
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    A Woman may not Appoint Her Wali

    A common practice in many non-Islamic countries is that a woman, having no Muslim mahram as wali, would appoint her own wali. This is wrong, and she has no right to do so. As we saw above, this is the right of the Islamic judge or imam.

    This incorrect practice has caused a number of bad consequences, among which are the following:

    1) The appointed wali if often found unworthy of the trust invested in him and incapable of properly serving his principal’s interests.

    2) Some women take liberty in dealing with the wali. They treat him as an intimate friend or relative, often sharing with him intimate secrets and going into khulwah (complete privacy) with him, which often leads to committing major sins.

    3) Some women expect from the wali much more than what is within his capacity. His only duty is representing the women and serving her best interest in regard to the marriage negotiations and contract. Once that is done, his duty ends and he stops being her wali. Some women, however, think that the wali’s position is permanent, and they contact him for every little or big problem in their life. This results in a relationship that is quite intimate and may lead to serious sinning as above.
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    Marriage without a Wali

    From the above, we conclude that the presence of the wali (or his representative) is a required condition for the validity of the marriage contract. Therefore, a marriage that is held without the wali’s consent and approval is null and void.

    ‘A’ishah (radhiyAllaahu anha) reported that the Messenger :saw: said:

    “Whichever woman marries without her wali’s permission, her marriage is void, her marriage is void, her marriage is void. If he (the husband) performs intercourse with her (despite the invalidity of their marriage), the mahr becomes her right because he had access to her private parts. And if they dispute (with the wali about this or other matters), the ruler would then be the wali of the one who does not have a wali.”

    (Ahmad, Abu Dawood and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1840)
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    A Difficult Wali

    A wali is required to represent his principal and serve her best interest. From the above hadeeth of ‘A’ishah, we see that if the wali causes unnecessary harm to his principal or prevents her from doing things that Allah has made permissible for her, she may protest and dispute that before the Islamic authority. In that case, and if her allegations were found true, the Islamic judge may command the wali to change his course of action, transfer his guardianship to another man, or make other decisions as he sees fit in her case.

    Ma’qil bin Yasar (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that he married his sister to a man who subsequently divorced her. After the end of her ‘iddah, he came seeking to remarry her. Ma’qil said to him,

    “I married her to you, gave you furnishings, and was generous to you, but you divorced her! No, by Allah, she will never go back to you!”

    But the man was reasonably good, and the woman wanted to go back to him.

    Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) then revealed:

    “And when you divorce women and they have fulfilled their term, do not prevent them from remarrying their husbands – if they agree between
    themselves on reasonable terms.”

    (Qur’aan 2: 232)

    Ma’qil then said to Allah’s Messenger :saw:,

    “Now I listen and obey, O Allah’s Messenger!”

    So he let them remarry, and expiated his oath.

    (al-Bukhari, ad-Daraqutni and others)
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    The Wali’s Responsibility

    The wali, whether natural or appointed, holds a major responsibility before Allah toward his principal. He should represent her and look after her interest in the best possible way. He should make sure that the man who seeks marrying her is suitable for her. His criteria should be what pleases Allah, and not what brings him better social status, wealth, or other worldly gains.

    If it is demonstrated that the wali is not worthy of his responsibility, he loses his walayah (position as being wali) according to the procedure outlined earlier.
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    The Witnesses

    Another condition for the validity of a marriage contract is the presence of at least two trustworthy Muslim male witnesses.

    ‘A’ishah, Imran bin Hasayn, and Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (radhiyAllaahu anhum) reported that the Prophet :saw: said:

    “A marriage (contract) is not valid without a wali and two trustworthy witnesses.”

    (Ahmad, Ibn Hibban and others.Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1839, 1858, 1860)

    The witnesses should witness and hear all of the contract’s details, including the permission given by the bride to the wali.
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    The Mahr (Dowy)

    Definition and Ruling

    In Islam, the dowry is a mandatory marriage gift given by the husband to his wife at wedding. In Arabic, it is called mahr or sadaq.
    Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) commands:

    “And give the women (upon marriage) their dowry as a free gift.”

    (Qur’aan 4: 4)

    Commenting on this ayah, al-Qurtubi (rahimahullaah) said:

    “This ayah indicates that the woman’s sadaq is mandatory. There is a consensus on this (among the scholars), and there is no difference in its regard...”

    (Al-Jami’u li-Ahkam il-Qur’aan)

    And Allah commands:

    “And give them (the women that you marry) their compensation as an obligation.”

    (Qur’aan 4: 24)

    And Allah commands:

    “So marry them (slave girls) with their people’s permission, and give them their compensation according to what is reasonable.”

    (Qur’aan 4: 25)

    Even though the mahr is an obligation on the husband, there is no proof to make it a condition for the validity of the marriage contract. As we will see below, a marriage contract could possibly be executed without specifying a mahr. However, that should normally be avoided because it may lead to future complications and disputes.
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    Who takes the Mahr

    The mahr is the sole right of the wife and no one may take any of it without her permission – not even her parents.

    Some people may object to the above citing the story of the old man offered his daughter in marriage to Musa (alayhis-salaam) and took her dowry in the form of labour work from Musa. However, as-San’ani indicates that was possible permissible in the laws prior to Islam but was abrogated in Islam. (Subul-us-Salam)

    Furthermore, Musa’s service to the old man may have profited Musa’s wife as well. Also, she may have agreed with her father to take something from him in exchange for Musa’s service, or wanted to give up her mahr as a gift to her father.

    The mahr is a compensation that wife takes in return for making herself available to her husband. Thus, Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) gives her full right to it, even at the time of divorce – if her husband divorces her without any default on her part. Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says:

    “If you want to substitute one wife for another, and you have given one of them a qintar, do not take back any of it. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin? And how could you take it while you have intimately dealt with each other, and they (your wives) have taken from you a solemn covenant?

    (Qintar: According to Lisan-ul-‘Arab, it is a large indefinite quantity of gold or silver. Most commonly, the Arabs used to mean by it four-thousand dinars (or gold coins))

    (Qur’aan 4: 20)

    We will show below that the “qintar” in this ayah does not only refer to the mahr, but also to gifts and other items that the husband gives to the wife whom he then wants to divorce without a serious reason.

    Therefore, it is up to the wife if she wants to keep all of her mahr, give some of it to her parents or other people, or even give some of it back to
    her husband.

    (Note that the way a woman dispenses of any of her property would still be subject to her husband’s approval)

    Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says:

    “And give the women (upon marriage) their dowry as a free gift. But if they willing give up any of it to you, enjoy it with pleasure and satisfaction.”

    (Qur’aan 4: 4)
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    Kinds

    The dowry can be money, jewellery, clothes, or other material things. It can also be a non-material gift, as we’ll see below.

    The amount of the dowry should be in accordance with the husband’s financial ability and with what is reasonable for the bride in her social status. It is normally determined by agreement between the husband and the bride (or her wali).

    Sahl bin Sa’d (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that woman once came to the Prophet :saw: and offered herself (in marriage) to him. He :saw: declined and indicated that he had no need for any (additional) wives. A man who was present with him said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Marry her to me.”

    The Prophet :saw: asked him,

    “Do you have anything (to give her)?”

    The Prophet :saw: said,

    “Give her at least an iron ring.”

    But still could not afford it. He :saw: asked him,

    “Have you memorised any portion of the Qur’aan.”

    He replied:

    “I memorised such-and-such surahs.”

    The Prophet :saw: then said:

    “Go (have her as wife). I marry her to you for the portion of the Qur’aan that you memorised.”

    (al-Bukhari, Muslim and others)

    One may ask,

    “What benefit did she get from his memorisation of the Qur’aan.”

    The answer is that he would then be expected to teach her some of what he had memorised, and to treat her kindly according to the upright principles learned from what he memorised. All of that would be of much more benefit to the bride than maternal gifts.

    In addition to a cash sum of money that is usually specified as the mahr, some cultures require from the husband other financial commitments toward the bride, such as clothes, jewellery, and so on. In the Islamic law, all of that counts as part of the mahr, and it is best to clearly name it in the marriage contract to avoid future disputes.
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    Moderateness in Dowries

    Islam does not set an upper limit for the dowry; but it is recommended to make it light and easy on the husband. A burdening mahr could be a bad omen of a miserable and non-compassionate marriage.

    In many Muslim countries, the woman’s parents request extremely high dowries. That has led many young men to forsake marriage or postpone it for a number of years, which has in turn led to the spread of zina and other sins among the young. Thus, the parents should be considerate and should realise that demanding too much from the husband brings harm to their daughters and the whole Muslim community.

    Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that a man came to the Prophet :saw: and said,

    “I have married a woman from al-Ansar.”

    The Prophet :saw: asked him:

    “How much (mahr) did you give her?”

    The Prophet :saw: replied,

    “Four uqiyyahs.”

    (Uqiyyah: an old measure that correspond to forty dirhams)

    Noting his limited financial condition, and that he needed help paying that mahr, the Prophet :saw: said disapprovingly:

    “Four uqiyyahs? It is as though you scoop silver from the side of this mountain.”

    (Muslim, an-Nasa’i and others)

    Abu Hadrad al-Aslami (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that he came to the Prophet :saw: seeking help in paying a woman’s mahr. The Prophet :saw: asked him,

    “How much did you promise to give her?

    He replied,

    “Two hundred dirhams.”

    The Prophet :saw: responded:

    “Had you been scooping (silver) from Bathan (name of a valley in
    al-Madinah), you would not have pledged more than that.”

    (al-Hakim and Ahmad. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 2173)

    ‘Uqbah bin Amir (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “The best of marriages (or dowries) are the easiest.”

    (Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 3279, 3300, as-Sahihah no. 1842 & Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1924)

    A dowry that is light upon the husband is a sign of blessing for the bride. ‘A’ishah (radhiyAllaahu anha) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “Verily, a sign of blessing for a woman is that her engagement, sadaq, and womb (i.e., giving birth), are all made easy.”

    (Ahmad, al-Hakim and others. Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 2235 & Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1928)
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    Unspecified Mahrs

    If the marriage contract is executed without specifying a mahr, that does not forfeit the wife’s right to it.

    ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that the Prophet :saw: said to a man.

    “Do you agree that I marry so-and-so woman to you?”

    He replied,

    “Yes.”

    The Prophet :saw: then said to the woman,

    “Do you agree that I marry you to so-and-so man?”

    She replied,

    “Yes.”

    So he married them to each other without naming a mahr for the bride or giving her anything. That man was of those who witnessed the al-Hudaybiyah Covenant, and he got a share from the battle spoils of Khaybar. When he approached death, he said,

    “Indeed, Allah’s Messenger :saw: gave me so-and-so in marriage but I did not then give her anything. Be my witnesses that I now give her as mahr my share from Khaybar.”

    So she took that share and sold it for one-hundred thousand.

    (Abu Dawood, Ibn Hibban and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1924)

    ‘Ulqumah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that some people came to ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (radhiyAllaahu anh) and asked him about a case where one of them married a woman without naming a mahr for her and he died before consummating the marriage.

    ‘Abdullah said,

    “Since I departed from Allah’s Messenger :saw:, I have not been asked a harder question. Go ask someone else.”

    They kept trying to get an answer from him for one month, at the end of which they said,

    “Whom would we ask if we do not ask you, and you are one of the most esteemed of Muhammad’s :saw: companions in this land, and we cannot find anyone else?”

    He said,

    “I will try to give you my best opinion in her regard. If it is right, that would be from Allah alone Who has no partners. And if it is wrong, that would be from me and from Satan, and Allah and His Messenger would be clear from it.”

    Then he said,

    “She should be given a mahr similar to that of other women of her family (or social status), without increase or reduction, and she should accomplish the ‘iddah (of four months and ten days), and she should be given her share of the inheritance.”

    Some individuals from the tribe of Ashja’ were then present, and one of them, called Ma’qil bin Sinan al-Ashja’i, stood and said:

    “I testify that your judgement is similar to what Allah’s Messenger :saw: judged in regard to a woman of ours called Baru’ bint Washiq.”

    Since embracing Islam, ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud was never seen as pleased as he was when he heard this.

    (Abu Dawood, an-Nasa’i and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1939)

    From the above reports we conclude that if, at wedding, a woman was not assigned a mahr, or if her mahr was too small compared to her husband’s situation and the mahrs that are usually given to other women of her status, that does not forfeit her right to a fair mahr. She may then dispute that with the Islamic authorities.

    Therefore, extreme care should be taken by the woman’s wali to make sure that his principal is given a fair mahr at the time of marriage. If she then chooses to give up part or all of it to the husband, she should do that voluntarily and knowingly.
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    Dowries of the Mothers of the Believers

    The mahr that the Prophet :saw: gave to his wives varied from one to another. In the case of Safiyyah (radhiyAllaahu anha), her dowry was emancipation from slavery.

    Anas (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported:

    “The Prophet :saw: freed Safiyyah (and married her); and her freedom was her dowry.”

    (al-Bukhari and Muslim)

    Umm Habibah (radhiyAllaahu anhum) reported that she was married to ‘Ubayd Ullah bin Jahsh, and he died when they were at al-Habashah (Abyssina). So an-Najashi (the Abyssinian king) gave her to Allah’s Messenger :saw: in marriage. On behalf of Allah’s Messenger :saw:, an-Najashi gave her four thousand (dirhams) as mahr, and he then sent her to him with Sharhabil bin Hasanah.

    (Abu Dawood, an-Nasa’i and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih Abi Dawood no. 1853)

    Thus, Umm Habibah’s mahr was quite large. But it was not given to her by the Prophet :saw: himself. Rather, it was a gift from an-Najashi on his behalf. In all other cases, the mahr that Allah’s Messenger :saw: gave to his wives did not exceed five hundred dirhams.

    Abu Salamah ‘Abd ur-Rahman reported that he asked ‘A’ishah (radhiyAllaahu anha),

    “How much was the sadaq that Allah’s Messenger :saw: gave?”

    She replied:

    “His sadaq to his wives was twelve and a half uqiyyahs.”

    (Muslim)

    Abu al-‘Ajfa reported that ‘Umar (radhiyAllaahu anh) once gave a khutbah in which he said:

    “Do not be excessive in regard to the women’s dowries.”

    He added:

    “Had that been an indication of honour in this life or taqwa before Allah, the Prophet :saw: would have been most worthy of it among you. Yet, Allah’s Messenger :saw: did not give as dowry to any of his wives, nor did any of his daughters receive more than twelve uqiyyahs.”

    (Abu Dawood, an-Nasa’i and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1927)
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    Weak Story: “A Woman is Right and ‘Umar is Wrong”

    It is important to warn against a weak story that is alleged to have taken place between ‘Umar and a woman, and even to note that some great scholars, such Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah), have quoted this story without realising its weakness.

    Once ‘Umar (radhiyAllaahu anh) gave a speech in which he admonished against excessiveness in dowries and said,

    “I will not allow any dowry larger than that of the Prophet’s :saw: wives and daughters.”

    A woman protested saying:

    “O Command of the Believers! You just forbade the people from being excessive in dowries. Why would you prevent us from receiving something that Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) gave us?”

    She then recited:

    “If you want to substitute one wife for antoher, and you have given one of them a qintar, do not take back any of it. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?”

    (Qur’aan 4: 20)

    Upon hearing this, ‘Umar said (two or three times),

    “All people have a better understanding than ‘Umar. Indeed, a woman is right and ‘Umar is wrong.”

    Then he went back to minbar and addressed the people saying:

    “Indeed, I had forbidden you from being excessive in the women’s dowries. But now I say: let every do with his wealth as he pleases.”

    (This is a combined report recoded by Abu Ya’la, al-Bayhaqi, and ‘Abd-ur-Razzaq. It is declared to be extremely weak by al-Albani (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1927 & Raf ul-Malam pp. 33-34)

    After indicating the weakness of this report, al-Albani (rahimahullaah) said:

    “Furthermore, the woman’s quotation of this ayah is out of place. The ayah refers to a woman who is divorced without reason. It means, ‘If you wish to substitute a new wife for a previous one that you dislike and have no patience to treat with kindness – even though she did not commit any obvious sin, and if you had previously given her a large amount of money – whether she had received it all or you had pledged it to her, making it a debt owed by you to her, do not take back any of it.

    Rather, you should leave it all to its rightful owner. You only wish to substitute her with another woman for the sake of your desire and enjoyment, and not for any shar’i reason that would have permitted your taking some of her money – such as her demanding separation, thereby hurting you by forcing you to divorce her. Is she did not do anything like that, how can you take any of her money?’”

    (Commentary on Raf ul-Malan ‘an il-A’immat il-A’lam pp. 34-35)

    This story is commonly cited by speakers and writers, trying thereby to prove variety of points, some being absolutely false. Among the false conclusions are the following:

    It is permissible to demand excessive dowries.

    There is nothing wrong with women standing in a masjid and correcting the imam or other speakers.

    Women may give public addresses to a mixed audience.

    No scholar of Islam deserves much respect, because even a common woman may easily expose his mistakes.

    Women should be allowed as members, or even heads, of religious councils, such as shura boards of Islamic centres and organisations.
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    A possible reason for destruction

    Demanding from the husband mahr and gifts more than what he can afford could be a reason for destruction. If that becomes a standard practice among Muslims, it would inevitably lead some men to fall into theft, bribery, gambling, and other prohibited means in order to satisfy the greed of their wives and families. This would eventually destroy the whole society.

    Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

    “Indeed, the dunya (worldly life) is sweet and lush. And indeed, Allah gives you custody over it to see how you will do. So, beware of the dunya, and beware of the women, because the first fitnah (trial) of the Children of Israel was through women.”

    (Muslim and others)

    This fitnah is explained in another narrated by Abu Sa’id that once the Prophet :saw: gave a long speech about incident from this life and the Hereafter, and among what he mentioned was the following:

    “Indeed, what first destroyed the Children of Israel is that a poor man’s wife would require from him as much clothing and jewellery as a rich man’s wife.”

    (Ibn Khuzaymah and Ahmad. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 591)
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    Postponed Mahr

    It is recommended to give the bride her mahr immediately after execution of the marriage contract. As we saw in the above examples, the Prophet :saw: only asked the husband for what he would offer at the time of marriage, and not what he could pledge for a future date.

    Yet, it is a very common practice to divide the mahr into two portion, an advanced portion paid at the execution of the marriage contract, and a postponed portion to be aid when divorce or death takes place between the spouses.

    Postponing the mahr is, in general, an innovated inconvenience that departs from the normal practice in the Sunnah. It defeats the very purpose of mahr, which is to be a gift given to the bride prior to having any intimacy with her. It also burdens the husband with a large amount of money that he must pledge as a postponed debt to an indefinite term.

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