Who is supposed to give the Dowry?

One of my lab mates is going back to his country in Africa to get married. Me and him are the only non Americans in the group. Our all male group members were shocked to know that the dowry system works different than in the USA. I always thought that the dowry is paid by the groom (or the groom’s parents) to the bride (or the bride’s parents) except in India.

One of the Americans noted that giving money to the bride’s parents is like selling your daughter. According to my American friends the bride’s parents should pay for the wedding.

It is a very interesting subject that I was hoping to learn more about from the Americans. I want to know what is their perspective about the dowry system and why they believe that the bride should pay the groom not the other way. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish our discussion so hopefully I can hear your perspective about the subject.

Who should give the dowry? And why you think he/she should do that not the other way around?

Is there a contract between American Christians between the bride and the groom like Muslims do? In Islam, the contract should specify what the bride is offering and the responsibilities of both sides. In addition, it includes the amount of Nafaqa in case a divorce happens.

I wish also to hear what Christians in the Middle East do. Who give the dowry?


17 thoughts on “Who is supposed to give the Dowry?

  1. Well, in Quqazian culture, it`s amounted to be a small figure paid by the groom`s side. It`s in accordance with Islam Shari ‘ah; to let the amount be a humble one so as to not make it as an obstacle for marriage(s). In Jordan it equals = 270 JOD (like $380) for Quqazian tribes.

    It was set that way -as far as I`m aware- becaue it`s equivalent to 1 golden (piece) at the time when Islam spread through Quqaz and the tradition transcended through from there.
    Interesting issue! I hope a lot of feedback/views come-in on this.
    *If no agreement is reached, I`m willing and happy to take the money from either side 😛
    But if prompt toward paying as a standard from now on u r on yr own Jaraad! 😀

  2. ترددت قبل ما أترك تعليق
    “مش عشني بعرف كل شي,, أوسكت هيشم”

    بس عشان شفت تجارب خارقة للعادة حلوينا
    إنه في عائلات موضوع المهر عندهم ثانوي وملوش أهميه دامهم شارين رجال
    وفي عائلات بتخرب كل الجيزه إزا العريس بوقت دفع المهر إستبخس أو ســّمع إم العروس كلمه إنه على شو كل هالطلبات

    لإنه في بعض الحالات بكون المقدم ” ليرة ذهب” والكسوة على العريس
    ف بيصفي المهر متعلق بقديش العروس رح تشتري مستلزمات من ذهب ومبلابس وأغراضات إلها

    بعائلتي الكريمه ,, مهر العروس متل ما تحكي ليرة ذهب وإنت شو بتدفع إحنا بنكمل
    يعني ,, الليرة الذهب بوقتي كان سعرها 85 دينار أردني,, وانا ووزجي و والدي تقاسمنا المبالغ المتبقية
    تنساش إنه الزيجة مش بس مهر ,, وصالة, وزفه,, وصيوان,, وفي حالات فيها غدا
    يعني المهر أول الطريق مش أخره 🙂

    1. نسيت أضيف إنه الباقي المهر عندهم محدد
      يعني بيدفع العريس مبلغ متفق عليه ,, وما إله دخل إن نقص علىالعروس في مشترياتها

      أنا رح أبعت اللينك لصديقة عشان تجاوبك ع إستفسارك الأخير 🙂

    2. شكرا ام عمر على التعليق
      انا بوافقك الرأي انه للأسف بعض الاهالي طلباتهم مش منطقيه كأنه طمع في صفقه تجاريه مش زواج بنتهم
      انا كثير بحترم اهالي الزوجه اللي بتساعد الزوج هذا يدل على نبل اخلاق. حتى لو لم تكن المساعده ماديه على الأقل ممكن يقللوا من طلباتهم

  3. Dear , There is no contract between bride & groom regarding the marriage arrangement in Arab countries mostly the groom paid for the wedding arrangements .. before if the bride want to make big party at the engagement logically she has to pay for this arrangements because the party should be at her home but if she want to make it bigger her family have to pay .. but the wedding something different it is up to her if she want to help him nothing can stop her but we do not have what we call it (Maher) it is between the bride and the groom if he is wealthy enough and do not want his bridge to pay for anything he can bring everything if he can not and she has the ability to do that why not .. this is their own life and they have to share everything from the beginning especially if they really want & love each other.

    About (Nafga 🙂 there is no divorce in Christian if that happen what we call (separated) the person should ask about his family especially his kids .. mostly the woman did not ask for it because she just only want to be far away from him but if she has kids logically he has to pay for his kids to help her .. that’s it .. there is no law asking for all of that it regards to the person attitude and behavior 🙂

    Hope I gave you and idea .. if you need any further information plz do not hesitate to tell me .

    Thanks 🙂

    Mirage Karam

    1. Hello Mirage – Thank you very much for your comment. I am glad to know the wedding arrangement among Christians in Jordan.
      ” in Arab countries mostly the groom paid for the wedding arrangements”
      So, it seems this is something common in Jordan; the groom in general pays for the wedding.

  4. I don’t believe in dowries nor do I know anyone here who has done such a thing. It’s an outdated concept which I’m happy to see go away.

    I do think the tradition of the bride’s family paying for the wedding has roots in the dowry system, but it’s no longer *should pay* but traditionally have done. Some couples pay for their own weddings, sometimes the bride’s family does, sometimes the groom’s, often each family pays for certain things (bride’s family – wedding; groom’s family – rehearsal dinner and maybe the honeymoon.)

    We did not sign any contract when we married except the legal one with the state. It basically makes sure we are who we say we are and registers our marriage civilly. Some couples do have prenuptial agreements. I often hear of this if, say, the man has a bunch of money and he doesn’t want his wife to have claims on it if they divorce. Or vice versa. Andrew and I made vows to each other during our wedding: to love, honor, cherish, to death do us part – stuff like that. But those are supposedly vows to each other in front of God and our witnesses. We didn’t have a list of what we will each contribute to the marriage nor did we make plans for divorce. If we ever divorced, it would go through the court system and we’d probably each get half of our accumulated assets.

    1. Thank you very much for the clarification.
      Unlike what some people may think the dowry, in Islam, is just a gift from the groom to the bride. It could be a ring or even a house. It depends on how much the groom can spend. But according to the Sunnah it is the best if the dowry is little and makes no burden on the groom.

      1. So the dowry is just a gift? I thought it was an amount the lady can keep in case of divorce, but if I understand you correctly that is a separate part of the contract, correct? So in Islam there is the gift (a ring or house or whatever a groom can spend) and there is a contract that specifies what each person will bring into the marriage. By this do you mean monetarily or service provided? Like he will clean the toilets and mow the yard if she will wash his clothes and cook for him. And there are separate provisions made pre-marriage in case of divorce. Such as “if we divorce, I promise to give you $20,000 and the family car, but I get the children.”?

  5. I know that historically in Europe the dowry was the money that the bride brought to the husband. A girls father, if wealthy, would settle or promise a certain amount or lands or something on his daughter that would then pass to the husband. Poorer families would still bring a dowry but it would be things for the house: linen, clothing for the bride, etc. I think Susanne’s probably right in thinking that this is where the tradition of the brides family paying for the wedding comes from.

    But that happens less and less nowadays. With the exception of one friend whose father has money and who is an only child, all of the people I know who’ve gotten married have paid for their own weddings. The couple get engaged and plan their own wedding, keeping it within their means which is why the wedding can sometimes be delayed for a few years. The parents on both sides will sometimes chip in, according to their means, but there’s no expectation of either side footing the entire bill.

    There is, to my knowledge, no Christian marriage contract except for the vows that are made in church. Nothing to say that the bride is bringing x to the marriage and the groom is bringing y. Depending on the church tradition one is being married in the vows can be written by the people themselves and so can vary a bit. But they don’t cover who gets what in the event of a divorce. That’s more of a civil matter, these days, and would be decided by a prenuptial, or the couple if it’s a *very* amicable divorce, or a court (the usual way). That’s also how child/spousal support is decided in cases of divorce.

  6. “I know that historically in Europe the dowry was the money that the bride brought to the husband”
    I think this exactly answers my question. Very interesting. I have never thought of this before.
    It seems everywhere the culture is changing of marriage, along with many other things, is changing according to the means of the bride and the groom.
    Thanks for your comment.

  7. The key difference is that in addition to being a civil contract, the Muslim contract is a property contract detailing the financial conditions of the marriage, and allowing for additional conditions like whether the bride will continue to work, whether the parents of the groom will live with the couple, etc. There must be a dowry from the groom to the bride for an Islamic marriage to be legal. It can be even a token sum like 1 dirham but without it the marriage contract is not legal.

    In the case of divorce, Islam has specific conditions and obligations for the breaking of the marriage contract, as do other religions. In the West these have been supplanted with state laws.

    Great question and topic!

      1. Chiara – Thank you for answering Susanne’s question.
        Q: “So the dowry is just a gift? I thought it was an amount the lady can keep in case of divorce, but if I understand you correctly that is a separate part of the contract, correct?”
        A: There must be a dowry from the groom to the bride for an Islamic marriage to be legal.

        I once was speaking with a Chinese friend and she mentioned that the husband is not obliged to feed his family. It is a mutual responsibility, in the Chinese culture. In Islam, for example, the husband is obliged to feed his family. It is only upon the wife if she wants to work and help her husband but she doesn’t have to.

        Now, I understood what my American friend was refering to when he said “since polygamy is allowed in Islam it makes more sense for the wife to pay the dowry not the husband.” He thought Muslim men may marry more than one wife because he doesn’t have to pay a dowry. And may because his understanding the financial support of the family is mutual, not just upon the husband only.

        Thank you all for this interesting discussion!

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