Lately, I have noticed the trend of Muslim women significantly reducing or at times forfeiting their mahr (dowry). In Islam, the dowry is something that is paid by the man to his intended wife. It is paid to the wife, and to her only, to show that he has serious intentions to marry her and is not simply entering into the marriage contract without any sense of obligation or effort on his part. Based on what I have seen the practice of forfeiting ones dowry seems to be more common among African-American Muslim women. I am not sure why this is the case amongst our Black sisters but I do have my speculations.
When we talk about dowries in the modern-day your mind may shift to exuberant amounts of money and gold. For some, this sort of dowry may be a cultural expectation and the grooms family will generally pitch in and assist with providing this requested amount to the bride and her family. In most cases, if this amount is not paid then the marriage will not proceed.
Now, let a sista just keep it real and say that this is not the case in most Black Muslim families. We don’t collectively pitch in to pay dowries. In addition, our dowries are not ridiculous and overwhelming to the groom. Yet, many Black Muslim women still get shamed for requesting simple dowries.
Everyone gets married for different reasons with varied intentions. Since each of us walk a different path in this life we all look for different things within a marriage. Islam assists us in understanding our roles and obligations within a marriage and at the end of the day we rely upon our contractual agreement to guide us within the confines of a marriage. Now if we want to talk about true indisputable rights within a marriage then the dowry is pretty high on that list. With that being said I still find it odd when Muslim women, particularly Black Muslim women, are religiously coerced into asking for far less. At times, their dowries consist of nothing tangible.
Black Muslim women need to stop restricting their dowries for the sake of the men they are marrying. Who are you trying to please? Asking for him to memorize Quran and not requesting anything in conjunction with that is simply ridiculous.
You need something for YOU!
What about Quran in combination with some gold? Or how about a reasonable and fair amount of money with your favorite surah?
My dowry is not grounds for you to practice your bartering skills, especially when I am already being fair.
For my sisters, there is nothing pious about rejecting what Allah has specifically ordained for you. The rules of Allah supersede the wishes of any man who desires to be your husband. For my brothers, it is not in your best interest to go into a marriage negotiating a dowry or persuading her to negate it all together in order to follow whatever form of the “sunnah” you align yourself with. Even if women don’t vocalize it this leaves a very bad taste in our mouths. As a woman, I am telling you this!
Not to mention…
As women we give so much of ourselves in a marriage. You are bounding yourself to take care of this man, giving him access to your temple, putting your life on the line by birthing his children, nurturing and caring for him day in and day out. Muslim women, we are deserving of so much more and asking for a fair dowry is nothing in comparison to what you are giving this man, who will be your husband, in return. Requesting a reasonable dowry is not placing a “burden” on him. If he has to work a little harder to get you a fair and reasonable dowry then so be it. You work for everything else in life. So what makes you think you ain’t gonna put in any extra work for a righteous wife?
Our love and devotion is priceless. The highest dowry wouldn’t even amount to what he is getting in return, which is you.
My motto is essentially this:
If a man attempts to talk you down or out of your dowry (that is Islamically ordained to you by Allah! I repeat, by Allah!) run away and don’t look back. He doesn’t understand your value or worth and chances are you will have to negotiate everything else within that marriage. This just shows that he is not willing to put in the work for you and most importantly he doesn’t care about Allah.
Who has time for that?
Don’t deny what Allah has given us as a means of protection and know your Islam inside and out before you go into any marriage.