The institution of dowry in India is generally focus on non-Muslim communities.
The problem of dowry which has both the theoretical and empirical significance
in modern time has not been exclusively studied by many sociologists.
article is based on secondary source material, and surveys the practice of the
institution of dowry among Indian Muslims in various forms and origin. This
article discusses the historical assimilation of dowry practices in India from
ancient period to current period. Dowry is an ambiguous word and does not have a
Dowry means the property and valuable articles which the
bride brings at the time of marriage. Indian Muslims generally used the word Jahez for practice of dowry lines and justifies it. This article underlines
different forms of dowry in different religions , explains the difference
between the practice of dowry among Hindu and Muslims.
This article highlights
the difference between DOWER and MAHR and its implications in Islam and the
problems in eradication of this evil social practice from society. There are
certain laws and provisions made in relation with dowry , this article
highlights the loopholes in the implementation of laws.
Dowry is performed in a majority of Indian weddings. Dowry is the giving of
gifts, cash or articles to a groom or his family on behalf of the bride's family
in marriage. Generally it includes cash, money, furniture, electrical
appliances, bedding, crockery, clothes, jewellery and many other essential items
that are requires in new wedding life.
Dowry is the common practice in India.
Dowry is a conditional gift that is supposed to be restored to the wife or her
family if her husband divorces, abuses, or commits other grave offences against
her. The practice of dowry in practice is a source of both joy and curse in the
society. In many societies, dowries have been served as a reciprocal gesture by
the bride's kin or relatives to the groom's kin for the expenses incurred by the
latter in payment of bride wealth.
Who makes a dowry a pre-condition for his marriage, not only shows disrespect to
women but also humiliates his own education and womanhood and such young
person's should be socially boycotted. - Mahatma Gandhi
The practice of dowry has come to a long way from being a token of love for the
daughter to a social menace. This evil practice is behind the deaths of
thousands of women in the country. The despicable custom of dowry has assumed an
alarming proportion reducing the sacrament of marriage to just a merciless
business transaction. The practice of dowry flourishes among all social classes.
It has been practised in all religions despite of strict rules, laws and
The practice of dowry is performed irrespective of religion because
it is an expected part of marriage in cultures where arranged marriages are the
norm. But the discourse on dowry has been largely confined to non- Muslim
communities like Hindu, Sikhs, Jain etc. It is negligently believed by the
people that institution of dowry was not practised by Muslim community. The
practice of dowry in Muslim communities has practised and continues to exist in
different forms and different sects of Islam. The dowry system is a evil social
practice that preserve the oppression, torture, humiliation, sexual assault and
murder of women irrespective of all religions.
History And Origin Of Dowry
During the Vedic age, marriage was a sacred bond and it is integral part of
society. In the hymns of Rigveda and Atharvaveda, it begins with the allegory of
the marriage of Lord Surya, the daughter f the Sun with Suma or Moon. This
particular allegory actually represents that bride at the time of her marriage,
had treasure chest which contains dowry is placed in her chariot. In Vedas,
marriage hymn VAHATU which means dowry is mentioned. If we closely look at the
ancient time weddings i.e. marriages of Spiritual Goddess [Sita , Draupadi,
Subhadra (sister of Lord Krishna)] , marriage had treasure in form of jewels,
cows, elephants, horses etc, which they carry to their home at departure.
In Vedic period, marriage is associated with Kanyadana. In Dharamshastra (Rigveda);
the meritorious act of Kanyadana is not complete till the bridegroom was given a
Dakshina. This practice of dakshina is known as Varadakshina which is given by
bride's parents out of love and affection and not by coercive effects.
like Mahabharata, there was a strong system that supports the practice of Bride
price. It was evidenced by the guardian of Gandhari (wife of Hastinapura King Dharatrashtra) who paid heavy bride price at that time. Dowry system in ancient times (Vedic period) is not considered as social evil as they were made
voluntarily after the marriage out of love and affection. In royal families they
had elaborate giving and taking of gifts in practice.
In pre- colonial era, their system was practised to enable women to establish
their status and self esteem in the society. The institution of dowry is
voluntarily managed by women. It was performed and practised to give financial
independence to women so that after marriage they solely do not depend on their
In the pre- colonial period, at the time of marriage parents of the
bride give valuable articles or money to their daughter in same way as they give
their wealth to their sons. It is to be noticed that the valuable gifts are
given to bride and not to her husband and his family. The wealth of dowry
continued to be owned by bride and not by the husband or his family.
In colonial era, the institution of dowry was claimed as a civilized mission.
Prior to British Raj, land was under the control of king and it was not
considered as a commodity which could be sold. Permanent Settlement Of
in 1793 by the British under the rule of Lord Cornwallis was the main cause of
dowry in India.
Prior to British rule, private ownership of land was never practised in India. Under British Raj, woman's entitlements to the precious
resources obtained from the land were erased and their control of the system
diminished as before their rule, this institution of dowry was an index of the
appreciation bestowed upon a daughter in her natal village, and not a groom's
prerogative to make demands on the girl's family.
All the wealth that women got
from her parents for her financial stability would be owned by her husband.
Britishers put landed properly exclusively in the male hands and made them
responsible to pay revenues (payment). This particular action of British Raj
make the entire economy 'masculine' and Indian male became the dominant legal
subject. It leads to the problem of another social evil Groom Price
In the British era, codification of customary law affects women a lot because
they were considered as 'PATRIARCHAL LINEAGE' rather than their localities. In
customary rules and practices women were totally excluded. Britishers make the
practice of dowry mandatory in India because it is the only way to get married
as a consequence of the massive economic and societal upheaval brought on by the
British Raj. The British introduced divide and rule policy which created
different laws for different religions.
Before British Raj, laws in India were
based on geography and not on any caste or religion. It was since British Raj,
personal laws are different in India depending on which religion or caste the
person belongs to and the dowry practices also practices according to the
Origin Of Dowry Practices Under Islam
In dowry, families of the bride and groom negotiate transfer of assets to the
groom and his family before at the time of marriage, within the context of
arranged marriage. Indian Muslims generally used the word JAHEZ for the
institution of dowry and it is used in terms of JAHEZ –E- FATIMI. Jahez is a
culture of the subcontinent given by the bride or her family to the bridegroom.
It is to be noted that this culture is not specifically promoted by Islam. Jahez
is generally used for different kinds of gifts presented by the bride's parents
in consideration for her marriage. Under Muslim Law, There is no specific
provision mentioned for the institution of dowry. Islamic marriages do not
recognize the institution of dowry. It is presumed that Muslims do not practise
Jahez-e-fatimi is classified under two heads; first element includes that the
parents of the bride should arrange special facilities for the bridegroom and
his family (BARATIS). This was a recent phenomenon which is recognized by Islam
under Jahez. Parents of the bride give some articles to bride out of love and
affection. Muslim Ulema( theologian) in their religious texts(Quran) advised
Muslims not to cross the limits in context of dowry.
legitimized this institution of dowry which promotes giving things by parents to
bride in the form of their love and blessing. There is no particular evidence
that established the fact of practising of dowry among Arabs because Prophet
Mohammad in the wedding of her daughter provided her with essential articles to
start bride's conjugal life.
The second element of Jahez is a kind of dowry practice that have no relation
with Islam but Muslim follow this practice according to the norms and principles
of the society which is largely established by Hindu community. It is mainly
practised in South India i.e. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra,
Tamil Nadu. The institution of dowry is not a part of Islam. Whereas it is
permissible for the parents to give gifts to the bride in Islamic, it is not an
Islamic tradition or culture.
Nature And Concept Of Islamic
In Islam religion, marriage between Bride and Bridegroom is regarded as Legal
Contract. In Islam ,marriage is commonly known as Nikah
which means legal contract.In Quran,it
is defined as Mithaqun Ghalithun
. Nikah means physical
and legal relationship between Bride and Bridegroom or Husband and wife.
Purpose of Marriage in Islam
In Quran, Zawj word is used which means Pair
. Marriage is regarded as important
part of life in Islam religion because it fulfills the purpose to provide
company to one another ,legitimate relationship, peaceful relationship and
legitimate procreation of child.
Marriage is compulsory in islam or not
Islamic religion recommends that marriage is necessary and important part of
life. In Quran, it is mentioned that if marriage is completed then husband has
fulfilled half of his religion. Many Muslim scholars considers it as a Naflor Mubah
preferable. But it is also written by many scholars in their
Muslim texts that if husband does not fulfill the needs of his wife or
maintenance of his wife and children than it shouldn't be followed.
Important Components of Marriage
- Essentials of Marriage
- Effect of Marriage
- Capacity of Marriage- There are important points of capacity which are
given in following manner:
- According to Islamic Marriage, husband should be sound mind and have
attaining puberty (Adult age and knowing about physical relations)
- If there is no proof or evidence of puberty than it will be assumed as
15 years according to Quran.
- Minor person can be contracted in marriage, if it is accepted by their
- Consent should be given in free means, if consent and acceptance is not
given in proper means than marriage will be void.
- Essentials of Marriage- There are some important conditions which must
- Proposal should be made by one party and acceptance should be given by
another party .if we go into Islamic context, then Ijab (Proposal) should be
made by one party and Qubul (Acceptance) should be given by other side.
- Proposal and Acceptance should be in expressed manner.
- Parties should be competent .There should be legal relationship between
- In Islamic Marriage,two or three male or Female must be present in
marriage as witness because it is important for evidence of marriage.Marriage
must be start in presence of Muslim Scholar.
- Proof or evidence is not needed in writing.
- Consent should be given in free manner. it should not be given due to
Coercion, undue influence, compulsion or by any other forceful means.
- Effect of Marriage- There are Lawful obligations and Duties in Islamic
Marriage which must be followed:
- Wife have power to get Mahr. Women have a right to recover her money
(Dower) from her husband property or his guardians.
- Women have right to get maintenance from her husband in proper
- Sexual Intercourse between Husband and Wife should be mutual .it should
not be done by compulsion or by any forceful means.
- The Right of succession should be obliged.
- Women have not to married during Iddat period : After Divorce
or Death of husband.
- In Islamic Law,there is no right be given to husband and wife regarding
property matters. They can not interfere with each other in property matters.
Different Aspect of Marriage in Islam
- Valid Marriage or Sahih
In Islam religion ,marriage will be valid if it does not violate any
condition or duties such as maintainence right to
women,Mahr (Amount of money be given to wife after married),Mutual Intercourse
and consent must be in free manner.Obligations on the part of Husband and Wife
should be followed in proper and systematic manner.
- Irregular marriage or Fasid:
Irregular marriage are those marriage which is terminated by one of the party.This is terminated by party because of non
fulfillment of Rights and Duties.
There are certain factors due to which these marriages are terminated:
- If marriage is done without any witness
- If husband married to fifth women (5th marriage).In Quran ,it is
mentioned that husband can be married to 4th women.
Marriage during Iddat period : After Divorce or Death of Husband
- married with Fire Worshipper
- Void marriage or Batil:
Void marriages are those in which there is no legitimate relationship
between parties.These type of marriage does not create any legal
relations,rights and duties between parties.These types of marriage are unlawful
Factors of Void Marriage
- If marriage is completed by any unlawful means such as coercion,undue
influence or by any forceful means.
- Marriage will be void on the ground of Consanguinity.In other means if
husband married with women who belongs to descendants of same ancestor than it
will be void.
- Void on the basis of Affinity
- Marriage will be void on the basis of Fosterage
- Marriage will be void on the basis of Plurality of Husband.
Case Laws of Islamic Marriage
- Abdul Kadir vs. Salima And Anr. (1886) – In this case court consider about
nature and effect of Islamic Marriage ,about Women Maintenance rights ,about
Mahr (Dower Money) and consider about matrimonial rights.This is very important
case of Islamic religion regarding nature and effect of marriage.
- Shamim Ara vs. State of U.P. – In this case Court held that it is liability
of husband to pay maintenance to his wife and children. This is a very important
case of Islamic Law regarding maintenance rights.
Difference Between The Hindu And Muslims Institution Of
The institution of dowry is an important factor in Hindu's marriages. In
Hinduism, there are various occasions other than marriage where parents have to
give some valuable goods or gifts in the form of dowry to groom's family. It was
observed in the society generally that the daughter always remains as a burden
on the family because the father of the bride lifelong imprisoned by the
responsibilities of the daughter in context of dowry. Hinduism provides a new
scope to this evil social practice. They legitimized this practice on the name
of rituals and customs.
When the marriage was fixed, any festival which come before marriage like TEEZ,
DIWALI, HOLI, MAKKAR SAKRANTI, KARWA CHAUTH, SINDHARA, NEW YEAR etc, father have
to give some gifts and articles to the groom's family. In MAHESHWARI and BANIYA
it was evidenced that these festivals have great importance and bride's family
gives dowry directly to groom's family. It was recorded that in some caste,
articles and gifts are specified by the groom's family for each member of the
family and ancestors before marriage which parents have to give lifelong to
their daughters. There are many occasions except marriage which makes parents of
the bride anxious instead of joy.
Birth Of Child: The birth of children becomes an occasion for the husband's
family to command more money. Indian traditions required a bride's family to
provide her with gold, jewellery or other items of value. Parents of the bride
have to fulfil the demands of groom's family on the birth of child for the sake
of customs. It was a huge expense for parents because generally gold chain, ring
and nose pin for mother of the child, silver as a(KANGANA) of the child and
other things like clothes for each member of the groom's family, toys are
On festivals like DEEPAWALI and HOLI, father of the bride or any guardian went
to her home along with various gifts, sweets, crackers, colors etc. is also
considered as a form of dowry. Whenever daughter visits her parental home, she
must take gifts, clothes for her in-laws. It is a mandatory practice in India.
Prayojan: This practice is followed in some caste of Hinduism especially in
BANIYAS. It was an occasion in which daughter of the bride has ear piercing
ceremony. On this ceremony, parents of the bride give various valuable gifts to
the groom's family. It was noticed as a big function like marriage. It normally
creates an expense of Rs 100000 to 300000 to bride's parents and it was another
practice in the form of dowry.
In Hindu law, MITAKSHARA is a legal treatise on inheritance, it emphasized that
a female or women cannot demand share in the immovable property of parents.
Female is not considered as a coparcener in the ancestral property and she did
not have equal rights as male members of the family.
The MITAKSHARA School of
Law is conservative and it is observed in India except West Bengal and Assam. It
is generally observed in the society that if women demand share in the ancestral
property, her relation with the family especially her brothers become toxic. If
women demand share in their parent's property, usually families break all the
relations with daughter. It was observed that women do not demand share in the
ancestral property from parents and in addition to that parents promise the
daughter to look after her needs lifelong (in the form of food, clothing) and
dowry at the time of marriage.
This is the major reason for the practice of the
institution of dowry under Hindu. The system for preference the daughter with
handsome dowry seemed to have been introduced to overcome the restriction
imposed by MITAKSHARA LAW.
Dowry among Indian Muslims is a recent development by imitation of
Hindu practices and adoption of hedonistic and consumerist culture. Many Muslim
countries adopted the practice of dowry from the Indian culture. It was presumed
that Muslims don't practice the institution of dowry but in current scenario,
Muslim women are also victims of dowry although only few cases were reported.
Pakistan adopted the dowry from Indian Culture because before the partition of
India and Pakistan, all people were known as Indians. They adopted many things
from each other such as the dowry, Basant etc. Because at that time many Muslims
and Hindus lived together. Major cause of Muslim practising dowry is that Indian
Muslims had not actually follow the Islamic ideals, laws and rituals in their
social life. They followed the social practices of India and Indian culture.
Many people confuse about the concept of Dowry and Mahr in Muslim law. Islam
promoted Mahr instead of Dower because it permitted multiple marriages. Islam
introduced the concept of Mahr to protect the rights and interest of women.
According to Quran, Muslim grooms are not allowed to demand dowry from bride's
family. MAHR is the payment made by the groom to bride for sustenance after
divorce. Mahr is meant to show how much her husband cares about his wife, and is
willing to commit to her. Mahr serves as a safety net for the bride in case of
divorce by her husband and leaving her with no form of income or provisions to
care for herself.
Mahr serves as a measure of the woman's social
standing Whereas dowry is the payment made by the bride's family to the groom
or his family. Mahr is the Arabic of Dowry. It is the reverse system of the
institution of dowry in which husband gifts the girl some valuable articles in
form of cash. In dowry, there is burden on the bride's family but in Mahr there
is no obligation or the burden on the man, he can give whatever he can afford
and the women is supposed to happily accepts whatever she gets.
In Quran, Dowry (Mahr) is the pre-requisite for marriage (NIKAH). MAHR is
obligatory because In Quran it is called as FAREEDAH which menas it is
obligation of Muslim men to pay money to their wives in happily manner. But at
present, Mahr is considered as dowry because both dowry and Mahr is paid for
woman's well -being and safety. The institution of dowry in Muslims is strongly
influenced by Indian culture and tradition. Like in Hinduism, there are also
events and occasions under Islam like EID, MOHARRAM in which various valuable
things are demanded from bride's family.
Problems In Eradicating The Institution Of Dowry In India
There are different viewpoints of the institution of dowry. It includes what is
given to bride or groom before at the time of marriage, what is given to the
bride-in laws or her husband's family. By considering the current scenario,
dowry is legitimized in a way that the groom's family does not make demands but
the bride's family make payment of dowry because the parents of bride thought it
was their obligation or responsibility, or in other means it was implied that
without making demands by groom's family, the bride's family pays dowry in the
form of cash, furniture and other articles.
One of the major object of dowry
being still practised in India despite of rules and regulations because society
considered this institution as a matter of social status and prestige. If we
closely look at Dowry Prohibition Act, 1960 it has rather narrow definition of
dowry that excludes any voluntary gifts when no demands were made by groom's
side. This action has given rise to a whole new vernacular when it comes to
stating dowry demands without explicitly stating them. It helps the groom's
family to escape from law provisions and on the other hand they also receive
On the contrary, there are research studies that indicate the positive
relationship between how qualified a woman is and the institution of dowry.
Higher the salary and more economically independent the women, lesser the price
(women recognized as an asset to the groom's family. After marriage the
remuneration and salary of bride belongs to the groom's family. It has been
reported that in these cases the amount of dowry demanded may be less. The
education of women leads to another problem, when a woman is more educated; the
search for groom as qualified to her than she intensifies. As a result, demand
for such grooms in the marriage market is high, leading to their PRICES GOING
HIGHER. This is the new problem in the current scenario.
Islamic Dowry In Modern
Institution of Dowry is not followed in Islam but it is practiced among
Muslims. Dowry in Islamic marriage could be in terms of Gold ,Cash or any type of
ornaments. In the modern time ,they believed that if marriage is performed with
heavy dowry than status of these types of marriages will be high.Without
Dowry,there is fear in mind of Daughter parents and their families.
It is common in
Muslim religion to married with their cousins and family members
but in modern time ,system of marriage with cousins and family members is not
prevalent due to Dowry.It is not prevalent because they can not demand heavy
dowry from their close family members.
In Modern time,Dowry is regarded as necessary and important part of Islamic
Marriage.Daughter parents and their families feared that if they will not give
dowry ,than their daughter will be beaten and harassed by husband and his family
members.This type of fear in society created Dowry as a source of
prestige,reputation and honour.It is supposed that if high dowry will be given
to husband family then daughter will be happy and will be given more respect to
her in society.
According to many Muslim scholars and Muslim texts ,Dowry in Muslim marriage
should be given according to Financial capability or capacity of father and
their family but this is necessary and important part of Islamic marriage to
Laws Relating To Dowry In Muslim
Dowry in Muslim Religion is governed by many laws which are given in following
- The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act,1937
This Law Deals With matters of Muslim Religion such as Marriage, Charities, Inheritance ,succession
- The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act,1939
This Law deals with Muslim Divorce procedures. In other means this Law talks about a situations in which
Muslim Women can take Divorce.
- The Muslim Women (Protection of Right on Divorce) Act,1986
This is important act of Muslim religion. This Law talks about rights of
who have been divorced .MAHR is also defined in Muslim Women Act,1986.This Act majorly focuses on
Muslim Women rights such as maintenance, section relating to
Divorce and contain all provisions relating to Dowry.
- Section 125 of C.R.P.C.,1973
This Section generally not solve the problem of MAHR or Dowry but only deals with matters of Divorce rights and protection in
cases of Divorce. This Section emphasize on maintenance of Wives, children and
parents.It gives rights to those who are unable to maintain themselves, who are
unable to maintain due to physical or mental abnormality.
There are important case laws regarding to Dowry in
Apart From these laws of Indian Legislations, there are Muslim text laws which
- Hamira Bibi vs. Zubaida Bibi (1916)- In this case it is observed by the
court that if husband does not pay mahr or Dower to his wife then wife has a
debt on Husband property.In other means if husband do not pay mahr due to any
reason then women have a right to recover her husband property or money by his
family members or guardians of husband.This is a very important case relating to
mahr or dower in Muslim religion.
- Maina Bibi vs. Chaudhri Vakil Ahmed- In this case it is observed by the
court that after the death of husband ,all the debt which is due by her husband
will be paid later .Wife has 1st right on property of her husband ,All other
persons debt will be paid later after the recovering of mahr.She have full right
to recover her money (mahr or dower) from Husband property.
Shia Law: According to this law,there is no obligations to be fulfilled
regarding Mahr. If husband is died without giving dower to his wife than women
does not have any right for recovering her due amount (In Islam ,It is regarded
as Mahr). There is no due left on the part of husband. According to this
law, Marriage can be valid or reasonable without deciding any Dower .In this
law, Dower limit is not fixed,but proper dower can not be exceed by 500 Dirhams.
Sunni Law: This law is directly opposite of shia law. According to this
law, marriage will be void if agreement of dower is not formed at the time of
marriage. In this law,it is defined that if husband dies without giving any
amount to his wife than wife have a right to recover her money either by his
property or by his guardians .There is always debt to be left on the part of
In this article, we discussed many aspect of Dowry in Islamic marriage such as
Origin of Dowry in Islam, Islamic Dowry in Modern time ,Law relating to Dowry in
Islam religion, Nature of Islamic marriage etc.. Covering of of these topics in
detailed manner, it conclude that as a part of economic, religious and ritual
value ,Dowry has been made a important and necessary part of Islamic
religion. Dowry have become a source of honour, respect and esteem in
society. Amount be given as a Dowry in Islamic marriage has been made as a
valuable and reputable source in society.
Due to Dowry, Islamic marriages in modern time have create a many problems in
society. parents feared that if they will not give heavy dowry in daughter
marriage then their daughter will be beaten and harassed and sent back them to
their parents house.These type of custom or norms should not be prevalent in
society. If dowry is regarded as a source of esteem or honour in society than it
should be given according to financial and economic capacity of parents ,not by
any pressure or coercive means. Many laws have been made in india regarding
prohibition of Dowry but they could not give any effective outcome. Strict laws
should be made by government for complete prohibition of Dowry.
References & Bibliographies
- Ameer Ali, Mahomedan Law, Students 7th Ed,,97
- GradesFixer. (2019, January, 15) Dowry system in India. Retrived June 18,
2020, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/dowry-system-in-india/
- Dowry among Indian Muslims: ideals and practices,Abdul Waheed, Indian
Journal of Gender Studies 16 (1), 47-75, 2009
- The economics of dowry and brideprice, Siwan Anderson, Journal of Economic
Perspectives 21 (4), 151-174, 2007
- https://www.ukessays.com/essays/religion/analysing-the-dowry-system-religion-essay.php Abdul Kadir V Salima, (1886) 8 Allahabad, 144 at p 154
- Dowry Death: A Violation of the Right to Life Under Article Six of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (AK Carlson-Whitley -
U. Puget Sound L. Rev., 1993 – HeinOnline)
- Sexual ethics and Islam: feminist reflections on Qur'an, hadith, and
jurisprudence(K Ali - 2016 - books.google.com)
- Maina Bibi vs. Zubaida Bibi,ILR(1916)
- Section 125 of C.R.PC.,1973
- Indiakanoon.org(Abdul Kadir Case)
- India Kanoon .org(Shamim Ara Case,2002)
- Indiakanoon.org(Hamira Bibi Case,1916)
- Ritik Jain and
- Gunjan Aggrawal
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