Purpose of the Mahr

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This article discusses the Mahr (مهر‎, "dowry") and its purpose within Islam, as shown through the Islamic texts themselves (for the marriage contract paid for by the groom in the form of the mahr, see The Meaning of Nikah).

Apologetic interpretation for the mahr[edit]

Mahr is the amount of money to be paid by the groom to the bride, at the time of marriage. As seen in the above video clip, the apologetic claim made for this provision of a mahr is that it is a token of goodwill given by the husband to the wife as a demonstration that he will be able to support her financially throughout the marriage. However the Qur'an and ahadith make it clear that this is not its true purpose.

Purpose of the mahr according to Islamic texts[edit]

O you who believe! it is not lawful for you that you should take women as heritage against (their) will, and do not straiten them 'in order that you may take part of what you have given them', unless they are guilty of manifest indecency, and treat them kindly; then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it.

And if you wish to have (one) wife in place of another 'and you have given one of them a heap of gold, then take not from it anything'; would you take it by slandering (her) and (doing her) manifest wrong?

'And how can you take it when one of you has already gone in to the other' and they have made with you a firm covenant?
Narrated Said bin Jubair: I asked Ibn 'Umar, "(What is the verdict if) a man accuses his wife of illegal sexual intercourse?" Ibn 'Umar said, "The Prophet separated (by divorce) the couple of Bani Al-Ajlan, and said, (to them), 'Allah knows that one of you two is a liar; so will one of you repent?' But both of them refused. He again said, 'Allah knows that one of you two is a liar; so will one of you repent?' But both of them refused. So he separated them by divorce." (Aiyub, a sub-narrator said: 'Amr bin Dinar said to me, "There is something else in this Hadith which you have not mentioned. It goes thus: 'The man said, 'What about my money (i.e. the Mahr that I have given to my wife)?' It was said, 'You have no right to restore any money, for if you have spoken the truth (as regards the accusation), you have also consummated your marriage with her'; and if you have told a lie, you are less rightful to have your money back.' ")
Narrated Said bin Jubair: I asked Ibn 'Umar about those who were involved in a case of Lien. He said, "The Prophet said to those who were involved in a case of Lien, 'Your accounts are with Allah. One of you two is a liar, and you (the husband) have no right over her (she is divorced)." 'The man said, 'What about my property (Mahr) ?' The Prophet said, 'You have no right to get back your property. If you have told the truth about her then your property was for the consummation of your marriage with her'; and if you told a lie about her, then you are less rightful to get your property back.' " Sufyan, a sub-narrator said: I learned the Hadith from 'Amr. Narrated Aiyub: I heard Sa'id bin Jubair saying, "I asked Ibn 'Umar, 'If a man (accuses his wife for an illegal sexual intercourse and) carries out the process of Lian (what will happen)?' Ibn 'Umar set two of his fingers apart. (Sufyan set his index finger and middle finger apart.) Ibn 'Umar said, 'The Prophet separated the couple of Bani Al-Ajlan by divorce and said thrice, "Allah knows that one of you two is a liar; so will one of you repent (to Allah)?' "
Narrated Said bin Jubair: I said to Ibn 'Umar, "If a man accuses his wife of illegal sexual intercourse (what is the judgment)?" He said, "Allah's Prophet separated the couple of Bani 'Ajlan (when the husband accused his wife for an illegal sexual intercourse). The Prophet said, 'Allah knows that one of you two IS a liar; so will one of you repent?' But they refused. He then again said, 'Allah knows that one of you two is a liar; so will one of you repent?' But they refused, whereupon he separated them by divorce." Aiyub (a sub-narrator) said: 'Amr bin Dinar said to me, "In the narration there is something which I do not see you mentioning, i.e. 'the husband said, "What about my money (Mahr)?' The Prophet said, "You are not entitled to take back money, for if you told the truth you have already entered upon her (and consummated your marriage with her)' and if you are a liar then you are less entitled to take it back.

Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that when asked whether it was permissible for a man to return to his wife if he had divorced her irrevocably and then another man had married her after him and died before consummating the marriage, al-Qasim ibn Muhammad said, "It is not halal for the first husband to return to her."

Malik said, about the muhallil, that he could not remain in the marriage until he undertook a new marriage. 'If he had intercourse with her in that marriage, she had her dowry.'

Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Said ibn al-Musayyab and from Sulayman ibn Yasar that Tulayha al-Asadiya was the wife of Rushayd ath-Thaqafi. He divorced her, and she got married in her idda-period. Umar ibn al-Khattab beat her and her husband with a stick several times, and separated them. Then Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "If a woman marries in her idda-period, and the new husband has not consummated the marriage, then separate them, and when she has completed the idda of her first husband, the other becomes a suitor. If he has consummated the marriage then separate them. Then she must complete her idda from her first husband, and then the idda from the other one, and they are never to be reunited."

Malik added, Said ibn al-Musayyab said that 'she had her dowry because he had consummated the marriage."'

Malik said,"The practice with us concerning a free woman whose husband dies, is that she does an idda of four months and ten days and she does not marry if she doubts her period until she is free of any doubt or if she fears that she is pregnant."

Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard Ibn Shihab say, "When a man who is terminally ill divorces his wife three times, she inherits from him."

Malik said, "If he divorces her while he is terminally ill before he has consummated the marriage, she has half of the bride-price and inherits, and she does not have to do an idda. 'If he consummated the marriage, she has all the dowry' and inherits. The virgin and the previously married woman are the same in this situation according to us."
Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with them) reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) saying to the invokers of curse: Your account is with Allah. One of you must be a liar. You have now no right over this woman. 'He said: Messenger of Allah, what about my wealth (dower that I paid her at the time of marriage)? He said: You have no claim to wealth. If you tell the truth, it (dower) is the recompense for your having had the right to intercourse with her', and if you tell a lie against her, it is still more remote from you than she is. Zuhair said in his narration: Sufyan reported to us on the authority of 'Amr that he had heard Sa'id b Jubair saying: I heard Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with them) saying that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) had said it.
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: The marriage of a woman who marries without the consent of her guardians is void. (He said these words) three times. 'If there is cohabitation, she gets her dower for the intercourse her husband has had.' If there is a dispute, the sultan (man in authority) is the guardian of one who has none.
Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'If anyone gives as a dower to his wife two handfuls of flour or dates he has made her lawful for him.'

AbuDawud said: This tradition has been narrated by AbdurRahman ibn Mahdi, from Salih ibn Ruman, from AbuzZubayr on the authority of Jabir as his own statement (not going back to the Prophet). It has also been transmitted by AbuAsim from Salih ibn Ruman , from AbuzZubayr on the authority of Jabir who said: During the lifetime of the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) we used to contract temporary marriage for a handful of grain.
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: The marriage of a woman who marries without the consent of her guardians is void. (He said these words) three times. If there is cohabitation, she gets her dower for the intercourse her husband has had. If there is a dispute, the sultan (man in authority) is the guardian of one who has none.
Narrated Basrah: A man from the Ansar called Basrah said: I married a virgin woman in her veil. When I entered upon her, I found her pregnant. (I mentioned this to the Prophet). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'She will get the dower, for you made her vagina lawful for you.' The child will be your slave. When she has begotten (a child), flog her (according to the version of al-Hasan). The version of Ibn AbusSari has: You people, flog her, or said: inflict hard punishment on him.

Seen in the above ahadith, the purpose of the mahr is to make sexual relations lawful to the man. In explicit terms, as stated above, the mahr is payment for the use of a woman's vagina for sexual intercourse.

Temporary marriage vs. apologetics[edit]

Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported: We contracted temporary marriage giving a handful of (tales or flour as a dower during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and during the time of Abu Bakr until 'Umar forbade it in the case of 'Amr b. Huraith.
Sabra Juhanni reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) permitted temporary marriage for us. So I and another person went out and saw a woman of Bana 'Amir, who was like a young long-necked she-camel. 'We presented ourselves to her (for contracting temporary marriage), whereupon she said: What dower would you give me?' I said: My cloak. And my companion also said: My cloak. And the cloak of-my companion was superior to my cloak, but I was younger than he. So when she looked at the cloak of my companion she liked it, and when she cast a glance at me I looked more attractive to her. She then said: Well, you and your cloak are sufficient for me. I remained with her for three nights, and then Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: He who has any such woman with whom he had contracted temporary marriage, he should let her off.
Rabi' b. Sabra reported that his father went on an expedition with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) during the Victory of Mecca, and we stayed there for fifteen days (i. e. for thirteen full days and a day and a night), and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) permitted us to contract temporary marriage with women. So I and another person of my tribe went out, and I was more handsome than he, whereas he was almost ugly. Each one of us had a cloaks, My cloak was worn out, whereas the cloak of my cousin was quite new. As we reached the lower or the upper side of Mecca, we came across a young woman like a young smart long-necked she-camel. 'We said: Is it possible that one of us may contract temporary marriage with you? She said: What will you give me as a dower?' Each one of us spread his cloak. She began to cast a glance on both the persons. My companion also looked at her when she was casting a glance at her side and he said: This cloak of his is worn out, whereas my cloak is quite new. She, however, said twice or thrice: There is no harm in (accepting) this cloak (the old one). So I contracted temporary marriage with her, and I did not come out (of this) until Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) declared it forbidden.
Sabra b. Ma'bad reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) permitted his Companions to contract temporary marriage with women in the Year of Victory. So I and a friend of mine from Banu Sulaim went out, until we found a young woman of Banu Amir who was like a young she-camel having a long neck. 'We made proposal to her for contracting temporary marriage with us, and presented to her our cloaks (as dower).' She began to look and found me more handsome than my friend, but found the cloak of my friend more beautiful than my cloak. She thought in her wind for a while, but then preferred me to my friend. So I remained with her for three (nights), and then Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) commanded us to part with them (such women).

The purpose of this article is not to debate whether temporary marriage is still permissible or not. The fact is that temporary marriage once was, and so the question remains; if the apologetics claim regarding the purpose of giving a mahr is correct, why was a mahr required when contracting a temporary marriage? In other words, if the mahr is simply a demonstration of a man's ability and willingness to provide financially for his wife throughout a marriage and not payment for sexual relations, then why, in a temporary marriage contracted for the purpose of short-term sexual relations, is a mahr required?

Equal to other women of their status[edit]

Although the mahr is not given as a fixed amount, it is made clear that the mahr is dependent upon the woman's social status. She cannot be given less of a mahr if she is an orphan or old; or for any other reason not dictated by the Qur'an or the ahadith. If she is a free woman then she is entitled to a mahr of the same value as any other free woman. Slaves are not of the same social status so they are not entitled to a mahr of the same value. The Qur'an makes it clear that you must be fair when giving a mahr:

And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.
And whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means to marry free believing women, then (he may marry) of those whom your right hands possess from among your believing maidens; and Allah knows best your faith: you are (sprung) the one from the other; so marry them with the permission of their masters, and give them their dowries justly, they being chaste, not fornicating, nor receiving paramours; and when they are taken in marriage, then if they are guilty of indecency, they shall suffer half the punishment which is (inflicted) upon free women. This is for him among you who fears falling into evil; and that you abstain is better for you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Mahr's given by Muhammad and his contemporaries[edit]

Marry a slave and give her freedom[edit]

Narrated 'Abdul 'Aziz:

Anas said, 'When Allah's Apostle invaded Khaibar, we offered the Fajr prayer there yearly in the morning) when it was still dark. The Prophet rode and Abu Talha rode too and I was riding behind Abu Talha. The Prophet passed through the lane of Khaibar quickly and my knee was touching the thigh of the Prophet . He uncovered his thigh and I saw the whiteness of the thigh of the Prophet. When he entered the town, he said, 'Allahu Akbar! Khaibar is ruined. Whenever we approach near a (hostile) nation (to fight) then evil will be the morning of those who have been warned.' He repeated this thrice. The people came out for their jobs and some of them said, 'Muhammad (has come).' (Some of our companions added, "With his army.") We conquered Khaibar, took the captives, and the booty was collected. Dihya came and said, 'O Allah's Prophet! Give me a slave girl from the captives.' The Prophet said, 'Go and take any slave girl.' He took Safiya bint Huyai. A man came to the Prophet and said, 'O Allah's Apostles! You gave Safiya bint Huyai to Dihya and she is the chief mistress of the tribes of Quraiza and An-Nadir and she befits none but you.' So the Prophet said, 'Bring him along with her.' So Dihya came with her and when the Prophet saw her, he said to Dihya, 'Take any slave girl other than her from the captives.' Anas added: 'The Prophet then manumitted her and married her."'

Thabit asked Anas, '"O Abu Hamza! What did the Prophet pay her (as Mahr)?" He said, "Her self was her Mahr for he manumitted her and then married her."' Anas added, "While on the way, Um Sulaim dressed her for marriage (ceremony) and at night she sent her as a bride to the Prophet . So the Prophet was a bridegroom and he said, 'Whoever has anything (food) should bring it.' He spread out a leather sheet (for the food) and some brought dates and others cooking butter. (I think he (Anas) mentioned As-SawTq). So they prepared a dish of Hais (a kind of meal). And that was Walrma (the marriage banquet) of Allah's Apostle ."
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) offered the Fajr prayer when it was still dark, then he rode and said, 'Allah Akbar! Khaibar is ruined. When we approach near to a nation, the most unfortunate is the morning of those who have been warned." The people came out into the streets saying, "Muhammad and his army." Allah's Apostle vanquished them by force and their warriors were killed; the children and women were taken as captives. Safiya was taken by Dihya Al-Kalbi and later she belonged to Allah's Apostle go who married her 'and her Mahr was her manumission.'
Narrated Anas: The Prophet offered the Fajr Prayer near Khaibar when it was still dark and then said, "Allahu-Akbar! Khaibar is destroyed, for whenever we approach a (hostile) nation (to fight), then evil will be the morning for those who have been warned." Then the inhabitants of Khaibar came out running on the roads. The Prophet had their warriors killed, their offspring and woman taken as captives. Safiya was amongst the captives, She first came in the share of Dahya Alkali but later on she belonged to the Prophet . 'The Prophet made her manumission as her 'Mahr'.'
Narrated 'Abdul 'Aziz bin Suhaib: Anas bin Malik said, "The Prophet took Safiya as a captive. He manumitted her and married her." Thabit asked Anas, "What did he give her as Mahr (i.e. marriage gift)?" Anas replied. "Her Mahr was herself, for he manumitted her."
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah's Apostle manumitted Safiyya and regarded her manumission as her Mahr.
Narrated Anas: Allah's Apostle manumitted Safiyya and then married her, and her Mahr was her manumission, and he gave a wedding banquet with Hais (a sort of sweet dish made from butter, cheese and dates).

A piece of gold equal to the weight of a date stone[edit]

Narrated Sa'd's father: When the emigrants reached Medina. Allah's Apostle established the bond of fraternity between 'Abdur-Rahman and Sad bin Ar-Rabi. Sad said to 'Abdur-Rahman, "I am the richest of all the Ansar, so I want to divide my property (between us), and I have two wives, so see which of the two you like and tell me, so that I may divorce her, and when she finishes her prescribed period (i.e. 'Idda) of divorce, then marry her." Abdur-Rahman said, "May Allah bless your family and property for you; where is your market?" So they showed him the Qainuqa' market. (He went there and) returned with a profit in the form of dried yogurt and butter. He continued going (to the market) till one day he came, bearing the traces of yellow scent. The Prophet asked, "What is this (scent)?" He replied, "I got married." The Prophet asked, '"How much Mahr did you give her?" He replied, "I gave her a date-stone of gold or a gold piece equal to the weight of a date-stone."' (The narrator, Ibrahim, is in doubt as to which is correct.)
Narrated Anas: When 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf came to us, Allah's Apostle made a bond of fraternity between him and Sad bin Ar-Rabi' who was a rich man, Sad said, "The Ansar know that I am the richest of all of them, so I will divide my property into two parts between me and you, and I have two wives; see which of the two you like so that I may divorce her and you can marry her after she becomes lawful to you by her passing the prescribed period (i.e. 'Idda) of divorce. 'Abdur Rahman said, "May Allah bless you your family (i.e. wives) for you." (But 'Abdur-Rahman went to the market) and did not return on that day except with some gain of dried yogurt and butter. He went on trading just a few days till he came to Allah's Apostle bearing the traces of yellow scent over his clothes. Allah's Apostle asked him, "What is this scent?" He replied, "I have married a woman from the Ansar." 'Allah's Apostle asked, "How much Mahr have you given?" He said, "A date-stone weight of gold or a golden date-stone."' The Prophet said, "Arrange a marriage banquet even with a sheep."
Narrated Anas: When 'Abdur-Rahman bin Auf came to Medina and the Prophet established the bond of brotherhood between him and Sad bin Ar-Rabi-al-Ansari, Saud suggested that 'Abdur-Rahman should accept half of his property and family. 'Abdur Rahman said, "May Allah bless you in your family and property; guide me to the market." So 'Abdur-Rahman (while doing business in the market) made some profit of some condensed dry yoghurt and butter. After a few days the Prophet saw him wearing clothes stained with yellow perfume. The Prophet asked, "What is this, O 'Abdur-Rahman?" He said, "O Allah's Apostle! I have married an Ansar' woman." The Prophet asked, '"What have you given her as Mahr?" He (i.e. 'Abdur-Rahman) said, "A piece of gold, about the weight of a date stone."' Then the Prophet said, Give a banquet, even though of a sheep."
Narrated Anas bin Malik: 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf came (from Mecca to Medina) and the Prophet made a bond of brotherhood between him and Sad bin Ar-Rabi' Al-Ansari. Al-Ansari had two wives, so he suggested that 'Abdur-Rahman take half, his wives and property. 'Abdur-Rahman replied, "May Allah bless you with your wives and property. Kindly show me the market." So 'Abdur-Rahman went to the market and gained (in bargains) some dried yoghurt and some butter. After a few days the Prophet saw Abdur-Rahman with some yellow stains on his clothes and asked him, "What is that, O 'Abdur-Rahman?" He replied, "I had married an Ansari woman." The Prophet asked, '"How much Mahr did you give her?" He replied, "The weight of one (date) stone of gold."' The Prophet said, "Offer a banquet, even with one sheep."
Narrated Anas: Abdur Rahman bin 'Auf married a woman and gave her gold equal to the weight of a date stone (as Mahr). When the Prophet noticed the signs of cheerfulness of the marriage (on his face) and asked him about it, he said, "I have married a woman and gave (her) gold equal to a date stone in weight (as Mahr)."
Narrated Anas bin Malik: 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf came to Allah's Apostle and he had marks of Sufra (yellow perfume). Allah's Apostle asked him (about those marks). 'AbdurRahman bin Auf told him that he had married a woman from the Ansar. The Prophet asked, "How much Mahr did you pay her?" He said, "I paid gold equal to the weight of a date stone." Allah's Apostle said to him, "Give a wedding banquet, even if with one sheep."
Narrated Anas: The Prophet saw the traces of Sufra (yellow perfume) on Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf and said, "What is this?" 'Abdur-Rahman, said, "I have married a woman and have paid gold equal to the weight of a datestone (as her Mahr). The Prophet said to him, "May Allah bless you: Offer a wedding banquet even with one sheep."
Narrated Anas: When 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf married an Ansari woman, the Prophet asked him, "How much Mahr did you give her?" 'Abdur-Rahman said, "Gold equal to the weight of a date stone." Anas added: When they (i.e. the Prophet and his companions) arrived at Medina, the emigrants stayed at the Ansar's houses. 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf stayed at Sad bin Ar-Rabi's house. Sad said to 'Abdur-Rahman, "I will divide and share my property with you and will give one of my two wives to you." 'Abdur-Rahman said, "May Allah bless you, your wives and property (I am not in need of that; but kindly show me the way to the market)." So 'Abdur-Rahman went to the market and traded there gaining a profit of some dried yoghurt and butter, and married (an Ansari woman). The Prophet said to him, "Give a banquet, even if with one sheep."
Narrated Anas: The Prophet seeing a yellow mark (of perfume) on the clothes of 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf, said, "What about you?" 'Abdur-Rahman replied, "I have married a woman with a Mahr of gold equal to a date-stone." The Prophet said, "May Allah bestow His Blessing on you (in your marriage). Give a wedding banquet, (Walima) even with one sheep."
Abd al-Rahman b. 'Auf (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) saw the signs of the happiness of wedding in me, and I said: I have married a woman of the Ansar. He said: How much Mahr have you paid? I said: For a date-stone weight of gold. And in the hadith transmitted by Ishaq (it is): (nawat weight) of gold.

A portion of memorized Qur'an[edit]

Narrated Sahl bin Sad As-Sa'idi: A woman came to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's Apostle! I have come to give you myself in marriage (without Mahr)." Allah's Apostle looked at her. He looked at her carefully and fixed his glance on her and then lowered his head. When the lady saw that he did not say anything, she sat down. A man from his companions got up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! If you are not in need of her, then marry her to me." 'The Prophet said, "Have you got anything to offer?"' The man said, "No, by Allah, O Allah's Apostle!" The Prophet said (to him), "Go to your family and see if you have something." The man went and returned, saying, "No, by Allah, I have not found anything." Allah's Apostle said, "(Go again) and look for something, even if it is an iron ring." He went again and returned, saying, "No, by Allah, O Allah's Apostle! I could not find even an iron ring, but this is my Izar (waist sheet)." He had no rida. He added, "I give half of it to her." Allah's Apostle said, "What will she do with your Izar? If you wear it, she will be naked, and if she wears it, you will be naked." So that man sat down for a long while and then got up (to depart). When Allah's Apostle saw him going, he ordered that he be called back. When he came, 'the Prophet said, "How much of the Quran do you know?"' He said, "I know such Sura and such Sura," counting them. The Prophet said, "Do you know them by heart?" He replied, "Yes." The Prophet said, '"Go, I marry her to you for that much of the Quran which you have."'
Narrated Sahl bin Sad: A woman came to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's Apostle! I have come to you to present myself to you (for marriage)." Allah's Apostle glanced at her. He looked at her carefully and fixed his glance on her and then lowered his head. When the lady saw that he did not say anything, she sat down. A man from his companions got up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! If you are not in need of her, then marry her to me." 'The Prophet said, "Have you got anything to offer." The man said, 'No, by Allah, O Allah's Apostle!"' The Prophet said (to him), "Go to your family and try to find something." So the man went and returned, saying, "No, by Allah, O Allah's Apostle! I have not found anything." The Prophet said, "Go again and look for something, even if it were an iron ring." He went and returned, saying, "No, by Allah, O Allah's Apostle! I could not find even an iron ring, but this is my Izar (waist sheet).' He had no Rida (upper garment). He added, "I give half of it to her." Allah's Apostle said "What will she do with your Izar? If you wear it, she will have nothing over herself thereof (will be naked); and if she wears it, then you will have nothing over yourself thereof ' So the man sat for a long period and then got up (to leave). When Allah's Apostle saw him leaving, he ordered that he e called back. When he came, 'the Prophet asked (him), "How much of the Qur'an do you know (by heart)?"' The man replied, I know such Sura and such Sura and such Sura," naming the suras. The Prophet said, "Can you recite it by heart?" He said, 'Yes." 'The Prophet said, "Go I let you marry her for what you know of the Quran (as her Mahr).'
Narrated Sahl bin Sad: While we were sitting in the company of the Prophet a woman came to him and presented herself (for marriage) to him. The Prophet looked at her, lowering his eyes and raising them, but did not give a reply. One of his companions said, "Marry her to me O Allah's Apostle!" 'The Prophet asked (him), "Have you got anything?" He said, "I have got nothing."' The Prophet said, "Not even an iron ring?" He Sad, "Not even an iron ring, but I will tear my garment into two halves and give her one half and keep the other half." 'The Prophet; said, "No. Do you know some of the Quran (by heart)?"' He said, "Yes." 'The Prophet said, "Go, I have agreed to marry her to you with what you know of the Qur'an (as her Mahr)."' 'And for those who have no courses (i.e. they are still immature). (65.4) And the 'Iddat for the girl before puberty is three months (in the above Verse).
Narrated Sahl bin Sad: A woman came to Allah's Apostle and said, "I present myself (to you) (for marriage). She stayed for a long while, then a man said, "If you are not in need of her then marry her to me." 'The Prophet said, "Have you got anything m order to pay her Mahr?" He said, "I have nothing with me except my Izar (waist sheet)."' The Prophet said, "If you give her your Izar, you will have no Izar to wear, (so go) and search for something. He said, "I could not find anything." The Prophet said, "Try (to find something), even if it were an iron ring But he was not able to find (even that) 'The Prophet said (to him). "Do you memorize something of the Qur'an?" "Yes. ' he said', "such Sura and such Sura," naming those Suras 'The Prophet said, "We have married her to you for what you know of the Quran (by heart)."'
Narrated Sahl: A woman came to the Prophet and said, "I have come to present myself to you (for marriage)." She kept standing for a long period during which period the Prophet looked at her carefully. When she stayed for a Long period, a man said to the Prophet "If you are not in need of her, then marry her to me." 'The Prophet said, "Have you got anything to give her (as Mahr)?" The man said, "No."' The Prophet said, "Go (to your house) and search for something." The man went and came back to say, "By Allah, I could not find anything." The Prophet said, "Go again and search for something, even if it be an iron ring." He went again and came back saying, "No, by Allah, I could not get even an iron ring." The man had only an Izar and had no Rida' (upper garment). He said, "I will give her my Izar as Mahr." On that the Prophet said, "Your Izar? If she wears it, nothing of it will remain on you, and if you wear it nothing of it will be on her" The man went aside and sat down When the Prophet saw him leaving (after a while), he called back and asked. '"How much Qur'an do you know (by heart)?' He said, 'I know such and such Suras," naming some Suras. 'The Prophet said, "I marry her to you for the amount of Qur'an you know (by heart)."'
Sahl b. Sa'd al-Sa'idi (Allah be pleased with him) reported: A woman came to Allah's Messenger. (may peace be upon him) and said: Messenger of Allah, I have come to you to entrust myself to you (you may contract my marriage with anyone at your discretion). Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) saw her and cast a glance at her from head to foot. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) then lowered his head. When the woman saw that he had made no decision in regard to her, she sat down. There stood up a person from amongst his companions and said: Messenger of Allah, marry her to me if you have no need of her. 'He (the Holy Prophet) said: is there anything with you (which you can give as a dower)? He said: No, Messenger of Allah', by Allah I have nothing. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Go to your people (family) and see if you can find something. He returned and said: I have found nothing. The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: See even if it is an Iron ring. He went and returned and said: No, by God, not even an iron ring, but only this lower garment of mine (Sahl said that he had no upper garment), half of which (I am prepared to part with) for her. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: How can your lower garment serve your purpose, for it you wear it, she would not be able to make any use of it and if she wears it there would not be anything on you? The man sat down and as the sitting prolonged he stood up (in disappointment) and as he was going back Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) commanded (him) to be called back, and as he came, 'he said to him: Do you know any part of the Qur'an?' He said: I know such and such surahs (and he counted them). whereupon he said: Can you recite them from heart (from your memory)? He said: Yes, whereupon 'he (Allah's Messenger) said: Go, I have given her to you in marriage for the part of the Qur'an which you know.'

Something equal to an iron ring[edit]

Narrated Sahl bin Sad: The Prophet said to a man, "Marry, even with (a Mahr equal to) an iron ring."

A garden or two[edit]

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: The wife of Thabit bin Qais came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! I do not blame Thabit for defects in his character or his religion, but I, being a Muslim, dislike to behave in un-Islamic manner (if I remain with him)." On that Allah's Apostle said (to her), '"Will you give back the garden which your husband has given you (as Mahr)?"' She said, "Yes." Then the Prophet said to Thabit, "O Thabit! Accept your garden, and divorce her once."
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: Habibah daughter of Sahl was the wife of Thabit ibn Qays Shimmas He beat her and broke some of her part. So she came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) after morning, and complained to him against her husband. The Prophet (peace be upon him) called on Thabit ibn Qays and said (to him): Take a part of her property and separate yourself from her. He asked: Is that right, Apostle of Allah? He said: Yes. He said: 'I have given her two gardens of mine as a dower', and they are already in her possession. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Take them and separate yourself from her.

Two handfuls of flour or dates[edit]

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If anyone gives as a dower to his wife two handfuls of flour or dates he has made her lawful for him.

AbuDawud said: This tradition has been narrated by AbdurRahman ibn Mahdi, from Salih ibn Ruman, from AbuzZubayr on the authority of Jabir as his own statement (not going back to the Prophet). It has also been transmitted by AbuAsim from Salih ibn Ruman , from AbuzZubayr on the authority of Jabir who said: During the lifetime of the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) we used to contract temporary marriage for a handful of grain.

The ahadith above present another problem for the mahr apologists. If it were true, that the mahr is an advance demonstration of a man's ability to financially support his wife, why then did Muhammad not mention this in any of the aforementioned narrations? Furthermore, in the narrations dealing with the Qur'an recitations, we see both Muhammad and the man in question knew that he had nothing material to give as a mahr. This clearly shows he was not financially stable and that the mahr in this case could not possibly have been a token of financial stability. This is why he had to resort to 'giving' his new bride his Qur'an memorizations. These narrations are a recount of a conversation Muhammad himself allegedly had. This means that Muhammad himself has confirmed that the apologist is wrong, and that the Mahr is simply given as payment for lawful sexual relations.

Prohibitions regarding the mahr[edit]

Don't give excessive mahrs[edit]

Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: AbulAjfa' as-Sulami said: Umar (Allah be pleased with him) delivered a speech to us and said: Do not go to extremes in giving women their dower, for if it represented honor in this world and piety in Allah's sight, the one of you most entitled to do so would have been the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) did not marry any of his wives or gave any of his daughters in marriage for more than twelve uqiyahs.

Don't take back the mahr[edit]

Divorce may be (pronounced) twice, then keep (them) in good fellowship or let (them) go with kindness; 'and it is not lawful for you to take any part of what you have given them', unless both fear that they cannot keep within the limits of Allah; then if you fear that they cannot keep within the limits of Allah, there is no blame on them for what she gives up to become free thereby. These are the limits of Allah, so do not exceed them and whoever exceeds the limits of Allah these it is that are the unjust.
Narrated Ibn Abbas: regarding the Divine Verse: "O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness that you may take back part of the (Mahr) dower you have given them." (4.19) (Before this revelation) if a man died, his relatives used to have the right to inherit his wife, and one of them could marry her if he would, or they would give her in marriage if they wished, or, if they wished, they would not give her in marriage at all, and they would be more entitled to dispose her, than her own relatives. So the above Verse was revealed in this connection.
Narrated Said bin Jubair: I asked Ibn 'Umar, "(What is the verdict if) a man accuses his wife of illegal sexual intercourse?" Ibn 'Umar said, "The Prophet separated (by divorce) the couple of Bani Al-Ajlan, and said, (to them), 'Allah knows that one of you two is a liar; so will one of you repent?' But both of them refused. He again said, 'Allah knows that one of you two is a liar; so will one of you repent?' But both of them refused. So he separated them by divorce." (Aiyub, a sub-narrator said: 'Amr bin Dinar said to me, "There is something else in this Hadith which you have not mentioned. It goes thus: 'The man said, 'What about my money (i.e. the Mahr that I have given to my wife)?' It was said, 'You have no right to restore any money, for if you have spoken the truth (as regards the accusation), you have also consummated your marriage with her'; and if you have told a lie, you are less rightful to have your money back.' ")
Narrated Said bin Jubair: I asked Ibn 'Umar about those who were involved in a case of Lien. He said, "The Prophet said to those who were involved in a case of Lien, 'Your accounts are with Allah. One of you two is a liar, and you (the husband) have no right over her (she is divorced)." 'The man said, 'What about my property (Mahr) ?' The Prophet said, 'You have no right to get back your property. If you have told the truth about her then your property was for the consummation of your marriage with her'; and if you told a lie about her, then you are less rightful to get your property back.' " Sufyan, a sub-narrator said: I learned the Hadith from 'Amr. Narrated Aiyub: I heard Sa'id bin Jubair saying, "I asked Ibn 'Umar, 'If a man (accuses his wife for an illegal sexual intercourse and) carries out the process of Lian (what will happen)?' Ibn 'Umar set two of his fingers apart. (Sufyan set his index finger and middle finger apart.) Ibn 'Umar said, 'The Prophet separated the couple of Bani Al-Ajlan by divorce and said thrice, "Allah knows that one of you two is a liar; so will one of you repent (to Allah)?' "
Narrated Said bin Jubair: I said to Ibn 'Umar, "If a man accuses his wife of illegal sexual intercourse (what is the judgment)?" He said, "Allah's Prophet separated the couple of Bani 'Ajlan (when the husband accused his wife for an illegal sexual intercourse). The Prophet said, 'Allah knows that one of you two IS a liar; so will one of you repent?' But they refused. He then again said, 'Allah knows that one of you two is a liar; so will one of you repent?' But they refused, whereupon he separated them by divorce." Aiyub (a sub-narrator) said: 'Amr bin Dinar said to me, "In the narration there is something which I do not see you mentioning, i.e. 'the husband said, "What about my money (Mahr)?' The Prophet said, "You are not entitled to take back money, for if you told the truth you have already entered upon her (and consummated your marriage with her)' and if you are a liar then you are less entitled to take it back.
Sabra al-Juhanni reported on the authority of his father that while he was with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) he said: 0 people, I had permitted you to contract temporary marriage with women, but Allah has forbidden it (now) until the Day of Resurrection. So he who has any (woman with this type of marriage contract) he should let her off, and do not take back anything you have given to then (as dower).
Sabra al-Juhanni reported on the authority of his father: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) prohibited the contracting of temporary marriage and said: Behold, it is forbidden from this very day of yours to the Day of Resurrection, and he who has given something (as a dower) should not take it back.
Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with them) reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) saying to the invokers of curse: Your account is with Allah. One of you must be a liar. You have now no right over this woman. He said: Messenger of Allah, what about my wealth (dower that I paid her at the time of marriage)? He said: You have no claim to wealth. If you tell the truth, it (dower) is the recompense for your having had the right to intercourse with her, and if you tell a lie against her, it is still more remote from you than she is. Zuhair said in his narration: Sufyan reported to us on the authority of 'Amr that he had heard Sa'id b Jubair saying: I heard Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with them) saying that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) had said it.

It cannot be said any clearly than that. You cannot take back the mahr that you have given to a wife, because you have already availed yourself of the service that it was a payment for (you have had sex with her).

Daughter trading in lieu of a mahr is not permissible[edit]

Narrated Ibn 'Umar : Allah's Apostle forbade Ash-Shighar, which means that somebody marries his daughter to somebody else, and the latter marries his daughter to the former without paying Mahr.
Narrated 'Abdullah: Nafi narrated to me that 'Abdullah said that Allah's Apostle forbade the Shighar. I asked Nafi', "What is the Shighar?" He said, "It is to marry the daughter of a man and marry one's daughter to that man (at the same time) without Mahr (in both cases); or to marry the sister of a man and marry one's own sister to that man without Mahr." Some people said, "If one, by a trick, marries on the basis of Shighar, the marriage is valid but its condition is illegal." The same scholar said regarding Al-Mut'a, "The marriage is invalid and its condition is illegal." Some others said, "The Mut'a and the Shighar are permissible but the condition is illegal."
Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with them) said that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) prohibited Shighar which means that a man gives his daughter in marriage on the condition that the other gives his daughter to him in marriage with- out any dower being paid by either.
Narrated Mu'awiyah: AbdurRahman ibn Hurmuz al-A'raj said: Al-Abbas ibn Abdullah ibn al-Abbas married his daughter to AbdurRahman ibn al-Hakam, and AbdurRahman married his daughter to him. And they made this (exchange) their dower. Mu'awiyah wrote to Marwan commanding him to separate them. He wrote in his letter: This is the shighar which the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) has forbidden.

This practice is forbidden because the service has not been paid for by the one using it. ie. the husband has not paid the wife for the sex he has had with her.

Exceptions regarding the mahr[edit]

Women who wish a divorce must return the mahr[edit]

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: The wife of Thabit bin Qais came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! I do not blame Thabit for defects in his character or his religion, but I, being a Muslim, dislike to behave in un-Islamic manner (if I remain with him)." On that Allah's Apostle said (to her), "Will you give back the garden which your husband has given you (as Mahr)?" She said, "Yes." Then the Prophet said to Thabit, "O Thabit! Accept your garden, and divorce her once."
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: Habibah daughter of Sahl was the wife of Thabit ibn Qays Shimmas He beat her and broke some of her part. So she came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) after morning, and complained to him against her husband. The Prophet (peace be upon him) called on Thabit ibn Qays and said (to him): Take a part of her property and separate yourself from her. He asked: Is that right, Apostle of Allah? He said: Yes. He said: I have given her two gardens of mine as a dower, and they are already in her possession. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Take them and separate yourself from her.

Disbelieving wives shall return the mahr[edit]

O you who believe! when believing women come to you flying, then examine them; Allah knows best their faith; then if you find them to be believing women, do not send them back to the unbelievers, neither are these (women) lawful for them, nor are those (men) lawful for them, and give them what they have spent; and no blame attaches to you in marrying them when you give them their dowries; 'and hold not to the ties of marriage of unbelieving women, and ask for what you have spent', and ask them ask for what they have spent. That is Allah's judgment; He judges between you, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.

Wives may forfeit all or part of the mahr[edit]

And give women their dowries as a free gift, but if they of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result.
And all married women 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.

Divorce before consummation gives the wife half the agreed mahr[edit]

And if you divorce them before you have touched them and you have appointed for them a portion, then (pay to them) half of what you have appointed, unless they relinquish or he should relinquish in whose hand is the marriage tie; and it is nearer to righteousness that you should relinquish; and do not neglect the giving of free gifts between you; surely Allah sees what you do.

Conclusion[edit]

The purpose of the mahr as explained by the Islamic texts is clear; it is a payment from a man to a women; payment in full for the future sexual relations (nikah) he will have with her. This is illustrated by the requirement for a mahr in temporary "marriages", the statements of Prophet Muhammad, and the fact that a mahr cannot be taken back (except under extenuating circumstances) because the man has availed himself of the service for which it was payment. The apologetic claim that it is simply a demonstrative token of his ability to financially support his wife does not hold up to scrutiny once all of the evidence is examined. Even the Qur'an alone makes it clear this is incorrect.

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