Who determines the Mahr - the bride or her guardian?
Fatwa No: 239041

  • Fatwa Date:10-2-2014 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 10, 1435
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Question

Principally who has the right to decide mahr - the bride herself or the father? From sources I have learned that it is the explicit right of daughter and need to be decided among the intended couple so guardian/parents should not involve themselves to put pressure. Also, what can a lady demand in mahr apart from money and gold?? Some say that you may ask for furniture/utensils/home/or simply a dinner too but as per my position Im interested to ask for a fulltime helping hand/maid, will it be valid??

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The specification of the Mahr (dowry) is in the hands of the Wali (the bride’s guardian) or the bride herself if there is no disagreement between them about it. If they disagree about it, then if the bride is a virgin, the Wali has the final say in the matter unless she accepts a Mahr of the women of the same social status like her - then her guardian has no right to object.

If she is not a virgin, then she has the final say without qualification. This is what Imaam Maalik  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him stated in Al-Mudawwanah. Of course, the Mahr has to be agreed upon with the husband.

This is in relation to determining the amount of the Mahr. Once the amount is determined, the Mahr is the right of the woman and her guardian has no right to it except with her consent. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “The money of a Muslim is not lawful (for anyone else to take it from him) unless he gives it with his own proper consent.” [Ahmad in his Musnad]

The wife has a right to her own quarters even if she did not stipulate that as a condition (in the marriage contract). But it is not an obligation that this residence is owned by the husband - it may be rented. If he owns it, he is not obliged to transfer its ownership to her unless he wants to do so.

Furnishing the marital home is the duty of the husband. The wife and her family are not obliged to provide any of it. Even if according to custom it is the wife or her family who do so, it is an invalid custom, and a custom that is contrary to the Sharee’ah does not hold any weight. However, if the people agree between themselves without any party obliging the other to do so unwillingly, then this is permissible.

The Waleemah (marriage banquet) is desirable, not obligatory, according to the most evident opinion, and it is the husband alone who bears its expenses according to his circumstances and without any extravagance. Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “It is desirable that the Waleemah is according to the circumstances of the husband.” The wife does not have the right to oblige her husband to make a Waleemah.

If the wife comes from a social class that is commonly served by maids, then some scholars obliged her husband to provide her with a maid. If she made this a condition (having a maid) before the marriage and he agreed to it, then he is obliged to fulfill this condition even if she is not from a class that is commonly served by maids, as ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “The conditions that are worthiest of fulfillment are those with which you made the private parts of your wives lawful to you.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Allaah Knows best.

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