Religious scholars from different Islamic sects have unanimously announced that the custom of dowry in vogue in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh was un-Islamic. Speaking in a seminar held by the Social Reforms Society, Ahmaduddin Owaisi said that this system was synonymous with corruption and was, therefore, invalid.
The ulema have passed a resolution that says that the marriage ceremonies in which dowry is given and accepted and the entire expenses of the dinner or lunch hosted in honour of the baratis are borne by the bride’s side would be totally boycotted.
Aleem Khan Falaki said that the Sharia can permit the dinner hosted for the barati if it is borne by the groom’s family but in the countries in the South Asia, it was the other way round, putting the maximum burden of the marriage on the parents of the bride. They have to spend a large sum to marry their daughters off. It is promoting the notion that daughters are a liability. It is unacceptable.
Highlighting the gravity of the issue, he further said that due to the lavish expenses for the pomp and show in marriages, parents of the brides landed in deep financial crisis and it also gave birth to a number of social problems like talaq, dowry killings, suicide by the bride etc.
According to the Sharia, the brides have a right to inheritance and they are entitled to get the ‘mohr’ at the time of nikah. But in the South Asian countries, the Muslims give importance to dowry and ignore the rights of the bride.
The custom of dowry has violated the law of inheritance in Islam. Because of the dowry custom, parents spend a large chunk of their wealth on marriages. As a result, sons and daughters are deprived of the legal rights of inheritance. He said that the expenses of baraat and dowry came under the definition of bribery and it was done for pomp and show and was against the teachings of the Quran as the Quran says that it is the man who spends on women but thanks to the custom of dowry, women have become men as they spend in order to buy men. It is a social blackmail and tantamounts to male prostitution because the price of the groom is decided on the qualities, income and family background. The same happens to the girl if she is less educated or a widow or divorced. So, dowry is haram”, he said.
The ulema unanimously agreed to the resolution. Maulana Muhammad bin Yamin said that the custom of dowry had become the cancer of the society and so only denouncing it or issuing advises would not suffice but constant campaigning and boycott was needed. Quoting the holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) he said, “Make the process of marriage so easy that adultery becomes difficult. But unfortunately, people have made marriages so difficult that adultery has become easy.”
Maulana Fazlur Rehman of Pakistan’s Jamat Ahl-e-Hadith said that that the holy Prophet (PBUH) had instructed us to prefer the girl’s piety and righteousness instead of her wealth, beauty and family status to prevent mischief(fitna).
A Shia scholar Sheikh Hidayat said that people accepting dowry cited the example of the holy Prophet (PBUH) saying that he gave his daughter ‘gifts’. He said that it was a big lie. All the articles of essential domestic use were bought with the money paid by Hadhrat Ali as ‘mohr’.
Jamia Nizamia’s Maulana Abdul Qadir Tahir Qadri said that accepting dowry and eating from the money of the bride’s parents was actually as good as seeking alms, and that begging was haram in Islam.
Religious scholar Arshad Bashir Madani supported the resolution and said that the custom was affecting our society badly. It was promoting people’s urge to increase their income by hook or crook. Many of the rites and customs observed during the marriages had nothing to do with Islam. He said that the government of India had formulated strict laws to root out the custom but people violated the laws. “How can you expect people to obey the law of the land when they do not pay heed to the instructions of the Prophet (PBUH), he quipped.