Since time immemorial a major crime is being committed against humanity in India and other Indian subcontinent countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc. This crime is the Dowry or the Dahej system. It is a system in which durable goods, cash, and real or movable property that the bride’s family gives to the bridegroom, his parents, or his relatives as a condition of the marriage. Thus, along with the bride, the bridegroom’s family receives cash and gifts like jewellery, motor vehicles, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils and other household items.
The custom in most cases puts great financial burden on the brides’ families and the parents have to spend every single penny of their savings on the dowry of their daughters. Many families have to borrow money at a very high interest rate and they go on striving throughout their lives to pay back the debts.
The dowry system is not a mere evil; it is a Mother of many evils. It is known to have led people to commit many crimes against women. The predominant types of dowry crimes relate to cruelty (which includes emotional torture and harassment) and domestic violence including physical and sexual assaults. Sometimes the crimes committed against a woman go the extent of ‘dowry death’ inflicted upon through burning of the bride or killing her in some other way. In other instances this death comes through suicide committed by the woman due to the emotional and physical tortures her husband and her in-laws inflict upon her for not having brought enough dowry.
Then there is another crime the woman is forced to commit – the female foeticide. Female foeticide is the abortion of a female foetus outside legal methods. The modern technology has enabled the medical practitioners to know the gender of the unborn child. As soon as the family comes to know that the unborn child is a girl then the fear of paying dowry in future agitates them and as a result they get the child aborted.
A group called the ‘50 Million Missing Campaign’, laments that dowry in India today “has become the No. 1 method of criminal extortion through the infliction of blackmail, torture, violence and murder of women. Every son born into a family is greedily viewed as the ‘golden goose’ who will bring in the fantasized wealth through the dowry they will demand when he gets married. So families want more and more sons. There is no end to the wealth demands even after marriage, and if the woman is killed, the son can marry again. For another dowry! Why kill, why not just divorce? In the case of divorce, there is always the chance that the woman or her family will demand their dowry money/items back.”
It seems no drastic actions have been taken yet to curb this evil practice except the introduction of the Indian Dowry Prohibition law which seems to be nothing more than ‘window dressing’ as the crime continues to be committed unabated.
Dowry deaths take place in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iran. India reports the highest total number of dowry deaths with 8,391 such deaths reported in 2010, 1.4 deaths per 100,000 women, while ratio wise, Pakistan, with 2,000 reported such deaths per year, has the highest rate of dowry deaths at 2.45 per 100,000 women. (Ref: Wikipedia report titled ‘Dowry Death’).
The above facts paint a very grim picture about Muslims of the areas concerned. A large number of Muslim families have fallen into the trap of demanding dowry at the time their sons get married and they are ready to kill the brides if the dowry they bring is not up to their demands. Islam strictly prohibits taking dowry from the parents of the bride but because of greed and male related egos most of the Muslims in the subcontinent countries are into this evil act.
This crime is so much prevalent among the Indian Muslims that the Wikipedia’s write-up titled ‘Dowry system in India’ has the photograph of wedding gifts for the son of the Imām of Delhi as its leading picture. No details are given about this Imām.
Don’t these Muslims realise that all the above mentioned crimes against the brides and their families are nothing but sheer Zulm (oppression)? Allāh readily accepts the Du’ā of a Mazlum (an oppressed person) as we understand from the Hadeeth given below:
Mu’adh ibn Jabal reported: The Messenger of Allāh, May Allāh’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:
Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between it and Allāh. Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 4090.
The Muslim Ummāh of our Beloved Nabi Muhammad Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa Sallam have to make an effort in whatever way they can, locally and globally, to bring an awakening regarding this evil practice in order to slowly eradicate it from the lives of the people involved.
May Allāh grant us the proper understanding of our Noble Deen…Aameen.