Arab News | 14 Jumadal Ukhra 1437/24 March 2016

A young couple’s hopes to get married and lead a happy life have been dashed after the would-be husband failed to pay SR100,000 as ‘dowry’ to the bride’s father.

The 19-year-old bride has said that she was ready to accept SR5,000 from the 24-year-old suitor, but her father insisted on a very high amount, local media reported on Wednesday.

“I ask you to please re-look into women’s rights,” the girl has told the committee on guidance and family reconciliation at the Qassim governorate.

“The father of the girl, despite her being married to the youth on paper a year ago, demanded SR100,000 as dowry to complete the marriage. However, the young man was unable to raise that amount and divorce her,” Rashed Al-Shalash, a member of the committee, was quoted as saying.

“Dowry is for the bride and father does not have the right to demand divorce on that basis. This is a form of control,” said Al-Shalash.

“We cannot get involved because the divorce has been finalized. The young girl has urged us to help other girls who may be experiencing similar pressure from parents or guardians,” he said.

“I am accepting the situation. I forgave my parents, father and husband. I thank God for everything,” the girl has written in her message to the committee.

*Mahr is a compulsory part of an Islamic marriage contract. The other words for mahr generally used in the Qur’an are sadaqah and ajr, meaning reward or gift to the bride in which there is profit but no loss, and faridah, literally that which has been made obligatory, or an appointed portion. Allah commanded: ‘Give women their faridah as a free gift.’ (4:4) (Unfortunately the word is frequently incorrectly translated as ‘dowry).

It is a gift of money, possessions or property made by the husband to the wife, which becomes her exclusive property. It is an admission of her independence, for she becomes the owner of the money or property immediately, even though she may have owned nothing before. It has nothing to do with either of their parents, and is to be owned solely by her.

In Islam, women are not ‘owned’ by their families and should not be ‘traded with’ by their parents. It is an insulting practice for an amount of money demanded from the bridegroom or his family by the bride or her family, usually the bride’s father, without which the daughter will not be given in marriage. This is in fact the way of the jahili society before Islam, where this money was regarded as the property of the girl’s guardian.