Dowry is a universal institution. It is practiced in one form or the other by the peoples of the world. All rich and poor give something in cash or kind to their daughters at the time of departure in marriage. Dowery, bride’s portion’, jahaiz or kannya dan (gifts are given to the daughter by Hindus) is given by the parents of girls when they begin a new life after marriage.
Dowery has been a time long practice among the Arabs and the non- believers before the advent of Islam. Children are the climax of married love. The parents earn and live for their children. They always wish to see their children prosperous and happy. This is main and motivating force behind giving dowery. People having daughters, begin to save something for dowery even when they are small.
As far as Islamic teachings are concerned, it is not binding on parents to give marriage portion or dowery to their daughters. In Islam marriage is not merely a social contract. It is the union of two souls. Those who earn are asked to marry and support the family. It is a part of the Islamic faith. It is a definite ban against sexual corruption that has become a part of western culture. The holy prophet (SAW) gave the hand of his daughter Fatima to Hazrat Ali in marriage. An ordinary bed and some utensils of daily use were the marriage portion.
Islam stands for moderation and simplicity. It discourages show and vanity. Unfortunately, show and vanity have become the motivating forces behind the dowery system nowadays. Marriage has become more or less of bargaining. Grooms and their parents generally demand rich doweries. The result is the parents of the girls have to beg, borrow or steal (earn by foul means). It is purely unislamic and undesirable practice. It must stop.
Voices have been raised on T.V. and Radio programmes and in newspapers against the unislamic trends-sumptuous dinners, feastings, and dowery, but of no avail. Even religious contractors (Maulvi and Mulla)arrange and give rich dowery to their daughters. Some communities hold simple Nikah in ‘mosques, but the parents send rich portions secretly before marriage to the grooms’ house. It has become simply a display of wealth, a race for show-down to others. Islam strictly warns against such practices in the holy Quran.
The Islamic injunctions in the holy-Quran about honest earnings (Qasb-e-Halal) are the best sanctions against such unsocial and worldly practices. In fact, there is nothing Islamic in our lives. Every minute we act against the commandments and will of God. Dishonest earnings are the root cause of moral decay and social evils. If we earn and spend according to the teachings of the Quran and the will of God, we can prosper in both the worlds. But who cares? None! Islam is unity. It must be taken and practiced in words and spirit as a whole. What we do, is mere snobbery.