Concept

Mahr

Summary
In Islam, a mahr (in مهر; مهريه; mehir; mahari; also transliterated mehr, meher, mehrieh, or mahriyeh) is the obligation, in the form of money or possessions paid by the groom, to the bride at the time of Islamic marriage (payment also has circumstances on when and how to pay). While the mahr is often money, it can also be anything agreed upon by the bride such as jewelry, home goods, furniture, a dwelling or some land. Mahr is typically specified in the marriage contract signed upon marriage. "Dower" is the English translation that comes closest to Islamic meaning of mahr, as "dower" refers to the payment from the husband or his family to the wife, especially to support her in the event of his death, although subsequent to marriage the wife also acquires inheritance rights. However, mahr is distinct from dower in two ways: 1) mahr is legally required for all Islamic marriages while dower is optional, and 2) mahr is required to be specified at the time of marriage (when a certain amount is promised, if not paid immediately), while dower is not paid until the death of the husband. Mahr also can be classified as a form of "bridewealth", described by anthropologists as payments made from the kin of the groom to the kin of the bride; however, mahr is paid directly to the bride and not her parents. In fact, as her legal property, mahr establishes the bride's financial independence from her parents and in many cases from her husband, who has no legal claims to his wife's mahr. The terms "dowry" and "bride price" are sometimes incorrectly used to translate mahr, but mahr differs from dowries in many other cultures. A dowry traditionally refers to money or possessions a woman brings forth to the marriage, usually provided by her parents or family; bride price to money or property paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman (but not to the woman herself) upon the marriage. In the event the marriage contract does not contain an exact, specified mahr, the husband must still pay the wife an equitable sum.
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