#176: Mahar Mithil Too High


Am I supposed to pay a mahar mithil that is set too high?


Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Dowry or mahar is a property or benefit that is obligated on a husband towards his wife whether it is due to marriage or intercourse. [1]

Allah SWT states:

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً

“And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously.” [2]

Ibn Kathir said: According to Ibn Abbas, the word النحلة means mahar (dowry). While Ibn Zaid explained it means an obligatory matter that is given to the wife due to marriage. A man is obligated to give the dowry to a woman as a gift and the gift is given graciously and sincerely. [3]

According to the author al-Fiqh al-Manhaji [4]: The value of a dowry is determined by the paternal family of the wife. It is determined according to the dowry of the woman’s closest family member, which is her sister (with the same father and mother), niece (daughter of her brother), paternal aunts.

It is also determined by the similarities of their characteristics. If none of her closest family members is married, the dowry is determined according to the closest maternal family member such as her mother, grandmother, maternal aunt and the daughters of her sister. The reason is they are prioritized over other non-family member women.

If she doesn’t have any family members on her mother’s side, then her dowry is determined according to the rate of the closest woman to her in terms of their similarities.

The similarities for the evaluation of mahar mithil meant is age, intellect, wealth, dignity, religion, taqwa, knowledge, virgin, widow and other different characteristics according to a good purpose. This is due to the fact that a dowry is different according to the differences of these characteristics.

This is based on the hadith from Abdullah bin Mas’ud RA:

أَنَّهُ سُئِلَ عَنْ رَجُلٍ تَزَوَّجَ امْرَأَةً, وَلَمْ يَفْرِضْ لَهَا صَدَاقًا, وَلَمْ يَدْخُلْ بِهَا حَتَّى مَاتَ, فَقَالَ ابْنُ مَسْعُودٍ: لَهَا مِثْلُ صَدَاقِ نِسَائِهَا, لَا وَكْسَ, وَلَا شَطَطَ, وَعَلَيْهَا الْعِدَّةُ, وَلَهَا الْمِيرَاثُ، فَقَامَ مَعْقِلُ بْنُ سِنَانٍ الْأَشْجَعِيُّ فَقَالَ: قَضَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فِي بِرْوَعَ بِنْتِ وَاشِقٍ – امْرَأَةٍ مِنَّا – مِثْلَ مَا قَضَيْتَ, فَفَرِحَ بِهَا ابْنُ مَسْعُودٍ.

“He was asked about a man who married a woman, but did not name a Mahr or consummate the marriage before he died. Ibn Mas’ud said:

“She should have a Mahr like that of women like her, no less and no more; she has to observe the ‘Iddah, and she is entitled to inherit.” Ma’qil bin Sinan Al-Ashja’i stood up and said: “The Messenger of Allah passed a similar judgment among us concerning Birwa’ bint Washiq.” And Ibn Masud rejoiced at that.” [5}

According to the above question, in our opinion, the dowry should be paid according to fiqh evidences. Among them is: A husband is obligated to pay the mahar mithli through three methods: whether it is ruled by a judge or with the agreement from both the groom and bride or when intercourse happens according to the opinion in madhhab Syafi’e. [6]

If the husband is financially incapable, then he is considered to be in debt which he bears on the zimmah of the husband of which it is obligatory to be settled. With the exception, if the husband discussed with his wife and the wife agreed to reduce it. The reason is the dowry is the right of the wife which is obligatory for the husband to give.

May Allah grant us understanding in religion and this leads us to follow it. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.


[1] See al-Mufassal fi Ahkam al-Mar’ah, 7/49

[2] Surah al-Nisa’: 4

[3] See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 2/235

[4] See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 2/488-489

[5] Narrated by al-Tirmizi (1145), al-Nasa’ie (3524) and Ibn Abi Syaibah in al-Musannaf (1590). Syeikh Syuaib al-Arnout stated in Takhrij Zad al-Ma’ad (5/94), the sanad of this hadith is sahih.

[6] See Kifayah al-Akhyar fi Hal Ghayah al-Ikhtisar, 2/37