The Symbols in Marriage
A wedding is a ceremony where two souls are united in marriage.
“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts) …” (Surah ar-Rum 30:21)
Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes. However, the wedding practice that transcends all cultures is the presentation of a gift or dowry. The dowry or mahr can be a single or multiple item that come in different forms such as a set of clothing, money or flowers. Amongst all the items, there is normally one that stands out because of its great intrinsic and sentimental value. This item is specially chosen by the couple for its symbolic significance with the hope that the union by marriage will last forever.
“And of everything, We have created pairs that you may be mindful.” (Surah az-Zariyat 51:49)
What is the Mahr?
The mahr is a compulsory part of an Islamic marriage contract. The mahr is a gift of money, possessions or property made by the husband to the wife thus making the mahr her exclusive property. It is an admission of her independence and her becoming an owner of the money, possessions or property immediately even if she may have owned nothing previously. It serves as a token of the husband’s willing acceptance of the responsibility of bearing all the necessary expenses of his wife.
“And give to the women (whom you marry) their mahr with a good heart …” (Surah an-Nisa’ 4:4)
The Gold Dinar and Silver Dirham: Reviving the Blessed Form of Mahr
The Holy Prophet gave each of his wives mahr ranging from the granting of freedom from slavery when being made a wife to the payment of 500 silver dirhams. His wife Umm Habibah’s mahr consisted of 500 gold dinars which is the equivalent of 5,000 silver dirhams. (Abu Dawud, Kitab an-Nikah, 2:235).
There is, in fact no fixed upper limit for mahr and it really depends on the circumstances of the husband:
But give them [a gift of] compensation - the wealthy according to his capability and the poor according to his capability - a provision according to what is acceptable, a duty upon the doers of good. (Surah al-Baqarah 2:236).