a dowry is the right of every bride at the time of marriage. a marriage contract is not considered legal and complete unless and until a dowry has been specified. this right cannot be forfeited, even if the bride approves, until after the marriage contract is completed. the dowry belongs to the woman entering marriage, and she has the freedom to do whatever she wants with what she owns after the marriage contract is fulfilled. allah, the exalted, states in the glorious qur’an:
(give the women whom you marry their dowry with a good heart. if they remit any part of it to you, of their own good pleasure, take it and enjoy it fully without fear of any harm.) [4:4]

the husband is not allowed to take anything back from the dowry if he decides later to divorce her; as allah, the exalted, states in the glorious qur’an:
(if you intend to replace a wife by another and you have given one of them a huge sum of gold as dowry, take not the least of it back; would you take it wrongfully without a right and with a manifest sin. and how can you take it back while you have entered with intimate relationship unto each other, and they (the wives) have taken from you a firm and strong covenant?) [4:20-1]

this verse indicates, significantly, the sacredness of the marriage vows and the intimacy of the marriage relationship, as well as the right of retaining the dowry gift in case of divorce. allah, the exalted, also states in the glorious qur’an:
(o you who believe! you are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. live with them honorably; if you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and allah brings through it a great deal of good. [4:19]

this verse ensures the wife’s rights and complete justice even if the man dislikes her for any reason. this is also mentioned in an authentic prophetic tradition wherein abu hurairah (may allah exalt their mention) reported that the messenger of allah (peace be upon him) said:
“a believer must not hate a believing woman (i.e. his wife): if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.”
[muslim #1469]

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