"Correction." Mr. Aslam adjusted his glasses and continued calmly. "It's what we want for Nafeesa."
"I cannot come up with that sort of money." All thoughts about romantic evenings Jaber was going to spend with his new wife seemed to evaporate instantly. "It's ridiculous!"
"No, no!" Mr. Aslam tried to reassure him. "You don't have to come up with the money. It's just - on paper - God forbid, in case you divorce - which", he quickly added, "I know is impossible to think now. But, one must always plan for the worst. As father of the bride it is my sad duty to do so."
"What if we never divorce?" Jaber was slightly happier now.
"Oh then," Mr. Aslam beamed. "You never have to pay that money!"
* * *
This is, I find, a particular scenario played across the South Asian Muslim community. I call this the Hostage Mahr situation.
After your parents (or relatives) have managed to find someone that is suitable for you (instead of the usual candidates that you can mentally picture on a desi Jerry Springer show), after you have talked to her and discovered that while she prays she also listens to music, after you find that both of you have a few shared interests, and while she cooks she also likes Cantonese Chow Mein, and both are excited at the prospect of a honeymoon in Europe, it's still not over. We have the Mahr to deal with.
Briefly speaking, Mahr is a gift given to the bride by the groom, mandated in Islam as a binding part of the marriage contract. The fairly recent concept of a 'pre-nup', as it's known here in the West, is old story to Muslims. Almost every Muslim marriage has a pre-nup, also known as the 'nikah-naama'. In various places in the Quran (4:4, 4:21, 4:24, 2:237), Allah talks of the Mahr as a faridah - fixed, decided, obligatory. Allah also describes the Mahr as a token of friendship, as a gift - something the husband gives out of love to his wife which becomes completely hers, even if the marriage fails.
Yet Mr. Aslam (a fictional name here) thinks if he arranges a huge deferred Mahr for Nafeesa, Jaber will never divorce her as immediately he would have to come up with that huge amount of money. If any Muslim girl is planning to hold her husband to a similar hostage Mahr, let me blow this theory apart completely.
Now, my whole point of this post was to bring to light this un-Islamic practice masquerading as Islam. Islam does not specify a fixed amount for Mahr as conditions vary from place to place, era to era, and status in society of the bride and groom. Ladies should stipulate what they want for Mahr, and be practical about it. It should be small enough so that she gets it immediately from her husband (or soon after marriage), it does not place an undue burden on her husband. It should also be large enough so that, if need be, she can be on her own for atleast a couple of months. It should be paid to her, and not to her father.
After all, if things have come to the point where a couple is considering divorce, Mr. Aslam's style of Mahr, unenforceable in Ontario, is unlikely to deter the husband, and provides zero security to the wife should her husband suddenly leave her or stop supporting her.
Related Link: http://www.islamfortoday.com/ruqaiyyah07.htm
Tags: Desi Mahr