In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Mahr (dowry) is a woman’s right and that signifies a husband’s love and appreciation for his wife.
Allah says in the Qur’an: “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart…” [al-Nisaa’ 4:4]. Our Prophet(PBUH) reported having said, “The best woman is the one whose mahr is the easiest to pay.” (Al-Haythami) Following are the Islamic rulings on Mahr:
-It is a gift from a husband to his wife and not a bride price and her parents have no right on it.
– According to the Shari`ah, the mahr should be reasonable. There is no fixed amount of mahr in the Shari`ah. It should be given according to the financial status of the husband and according to the time and place.
– It is wrong to declare or request a large amount of mahr at the time of marriage to show off or to boast even if this is deemed a commitment on paper.
– It is haram to enjoy relations with a wife and then deny her the mahr when she demands it.
– It is permissible for the dowry to be given immediately, or delayed, or some of it may be given immediately and some of it may be delayed
-It’s not a payment after giving talaq as many Muslims believe and do
– If a divorce is issued to the wife before consummation of the marriage and without having been completely alone together in such a manner that consummation of the marriage would have been possible, then she does not have to observe ‘iddah, and she is entitled to half of the mahr
-If a divorce is issued to the wife before consummation of the marriage, but they have been completely alone together in such a manner that consummation of the marriage was possible, then the majority of scholars are of the view that she must observe ‘iddah and she is entitled to the mahr in full.
-If the husband dies after marriage, but before consummation, she’ll receive full mahr
– It is obligatory on the husband to pay mahr to his wife unless she expressly by her own will without any pressure forgives him or returns the amount of mahr to him.
-In the case of khul/khula, the wife should return all, more or less mahr which her husband paid to her
No one can forgive the husband to pay the mahr except the wife herself or, in case she did not go to her husband and the marriage ended without consummation, then in that situation, her guardian can also forgive the mahr on her behalf. If a husband dies without paying mahr to his wife, it will be an outstanding debt on him and it must be paid before the distribution of his inheritance among his heirs.
A wife should also not feel threatened that her husband may leave her if he pays her all her mahr. All these notions belong to various cultures but they have nothing to do with the Shari`ah. Sometimes, the groom declares a big amount and secretly thinks that this is just a commitment on paper. People are often heard saying, “Write whatever you want, no one asks and no one pays.” This is playing a game with the rules of Allah. Muslims should only commit to what they are really capable of paying and what they intend to pay. It is haram to enjoy relations with a wife and then deny her the mahr when she demands. Allah Almighty knows best.
Source: excerpted, with slight modification, from an article by Dr. Muzzammil Siddiqi, President Fiqh Council of North America