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IslamQA: What is the wisdom in mahr (dower) and how much should a woman ask?

What is mahar and what is the requirement for me to decide how much mahar should I ask from the groom?

Mahr is a payment that the groom promises to give to the bride at the time of signing the marriage contract. The payment can be immediately or it can be in installments. Scholars say the wisdom in it is to impress upon the groom the seriousness of the marriage contract. It also makes divorce more difficult for him because it means he would lose that wealth if he were to divorce her. This makes it less likely for him to divorce her for frivolous reasons.

I would say another benefit is to give the woman a safety net in case of divorce, so that she is not left destitute. A woman with a mahr of $50,000 will be able to live comfortably on her own for a year after the divorce. This will give her the time she needs to prepare for the next stage of her life. It also helps make divorce easier for her, so that she is not forced to remain with an abusive man, for example, just because she’s financially dependent on him. The mahr will allow her to enjoy some financial independence.

How much you ask in mahr is entirely a personal choice. A man who is eager to be with you will likely be willing to agree to a year’s median salary (maybe $35,000 USD in the US). This is something that can be negotiated between the two of you (or between your families). If the man is rich you can ask to be given the payment immediately, while if he isn’t, if you trust him, you can agree to delay the payment, so that it becomes like a debt on him.

Followup question

Sorry brother but I strongly disagree with your mahr question response. I think it should be answered in full, establishing the problems with expectancy and unrealistic proposals of mahrs in today's islamic society. If a wedding/mahr is judged or depended on by how much a man can give his possible future wife with underlying tones of materialism.. then it should be approached with caution… to be continued

Continued…. There’s brothers out there going broke trying to impress a muslimah and her high demands and also falling into sin, by dealing in usury and Riba JUST to give her a large sum. This current Ummah has many many issues with this particular subject.

I’m quite aware of that, but I believe that each society and couple can find their own balance. If a woman demands a mahr that’s too high, a man can always find another woman. Of course in gender-unbalanced societies like India things can be very difficult due to the scarcity of women. But I believe things will get easier as Muslim cultures start to take in the Western culture of romantic love.

And God knows best.
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