mahr; dowry; marriage; family law; Gulf

“It may be said that the provision of Mahr may be considered to be beneficiary to women as long as women’s social and economic subordination remains the norm. It is a way of reinforcing, institutionalising and perpetuating women’s dependency on men... It can only be appreciated as an effort to minimise the economic risk of women within marriage in a society where her rights to equality are either systematically denied or violated.”

In 1998, in Dossier 19, Sultana Kamal tackled the topic of Mahr, the Islamic obligation of the groom to provide the bride with money or possessions as a prerequisite to marriage. I will revisit this topic and review the ideas put forward by Kamal in different contexts. Kamal analyzes Mahr within a South Asian framework, but what can be said of it from a Gulf context? Furthermore, how can we as Muslim women assert our rights by understanding the place of Mahr in the Qur’an and Hadith?

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