In Judaism

According to the Bible, in the patriarchal age it was the custom among the peoples of Mesopotamia and Canaan for the father or representative of the groom to pay a purchase price, or “bride price” (from the Hebrew word mo-har), to the father of a maiden, or to the person who had jurisdiction over her, so that he would give her away to be wed. The sum paid reflected her value as a useful member of the family, because after marriage the bride would usually dwell with her husband in his father’s house; hence, his family would gain the help that her family would lose. The bride price asked for by the father, and agreed upon by the parties, was determined—as in any trade—by the quality of the goods. Virgins could command a higher price, and custom seems to have fixed their bride price at a definite sum (Exod. 22:15). An adulteress was bought for only “fifteen pieces of silver and a homer of barley and a half-homer of barley” (Hosea 3:2). If the groom did not have sufficient means, he would ‘work off’ the bride price, as determined by the bride’s father. For example, Jacob had to serve Laban for seven years for each of his two daughters (Gen. 29:18—20). A father could also stipulate marrying off his daughter as a reward for performing some extraordinary feat. King Saul, for example, let David know that for his daughter Michal he wanted no bride price but “a hundred foreskins of the Philistines,” his enemies (1 Sam. 18:25). Similarly, Caleb declared that he would give his daughter Achsah to whoever “shall smite Kirjath-sepher and capture it” (Judg. 1:12—13). The bride price was usually accompanied by precious gifts (mattan) given by the groom to the bride herself, as can be deduced from the story of Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, who gave garments and ornaments of gold and silver to Rebekah when he betrothed her for his master’s son (Gen. 24:22, 50-53). Hamor, the Hivvite prince of the land of Canaan, offered to pay Jacob as much “bride price and gift” as Jacob wanted, if only he would give his daughter Dinah to his son, Shechem (Gen. 34:1 — 12). The Bible does not specify what was to be done with the bride price if the marriage agreement was broken by either of the two parties. In postbiblical times the bride price custom gradually disappeared as a result of difficult economic conditions in the land of Israel. While in biblical times everyone married young, by the second century B.C.E. men preferred to postpone marriage, especially because one could no longer afford to be married and to study at the same time. By the talmudic era, bachelorship became common. Under these circumstances, there was no place for the old bride price institution. Fathers no longer expected any material gain from their daughters’ marriages. On the contrary, they often gave rich dowries to daughters as an inducement to marriageable men. (In biblical times it was not unusual for a bride to bring certain property with her to her husband’s home upon marriage [cf. Gen. 24:59—61, 29; Judg. 1:14ff.; 1 Kgs. 9:16], but this was optional.) In the talmudic era the custom became established for the father of the bride to provide his daughter with a dowry of at least 50 zuzim, which was the equivalent of the price of 180 grams of silver (m. Ketubbot 6:5), but a father of means would give considerably more. In the first century B.C.E., Simeon ben Shatach, head of the Pharisees, declared that the bride price should be superseded by a marriage contract (ketubbah), in which the groom merely wrote the sum to be paid to his wife in case he divorced her or at his death. In general, this amount was 200 zuzim if the bride was a virgin at the time of marriage and 100 zuzim if she was a widow or a divorced woman. This reform not only facilitated marriage but also made divorce more difficult, thus protecting women from being arbitrarily divorced by their husbands. 

Raphael Patai & Ayelet Oettinger, Bride Price. In Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore and Traditions, Haya Bar-Itzhak, ed. (Routledge 2012) 87.

Though talmudic sages and post-talmudic jurists effected some reforms, Jewish marriage law is ultimately based on Hebrew tribal customs as recorded in the Torah. Likewise, apart from reforms introduced in the Qur’an and in later Islamic tradition, Muslim marriage law is largely an adaptation of pre-Islamic Arabian tribal customs. Formal rituals often survive substantive social change. Thus, it is not surprising that in Jewish and Islamic marriage law, some archaic forms, observed even by those who have discarded most traditional practices, preserve the ancient character of a property transfer. This is especially evident in the marriage settlement. The marriage settlement is of central theoretical and often practical importance. Among very observant Jews and among Muslims generally, it is negotiated between the bridegroom and the bride’s father or guardian. In practice, of course, most western Jews who marry in synagogue today treat the ketubbah (marriage deed) as a pure formality. A standard Aramaic formula, dating from talmudic times, is read at the marriage ceremony to a bride and groom who often have little or no idea of its meaning. Islamic law still calls the marriage settlement by its pre-Islamic name, mahr. This ancient Arabic word, meaning “bride-price,” is identical to the Hebrew mohar mentioned in the Torah. In both pre-Islamic Arabian and ancient Hebrew customary law, a price was paid to the bride’s father in return for the transfer of authority over his daughter. To this day, the Jewish or Muslim husband is technically the wife’s ba’al, “master,” a term also used to denote the owner of a domestic animal. Although the status of most Jewish wives today can hardly be equated to cattle, Hebrew still uses the word ba’al for husband. By contrast, despite the social reality for wives in less advanced Muslim states, Arabic employs the more egalitarian qur’anic terminology signifying “male mate” and “female mate.” However, Islamic law still designates the relationship of wife to husband by the ancient term ihtibas, “custody” or “confinement,” from an old semitic verb meaning “to imprison” or “to saddle an animal.”

Judith Romney Wegner, The Status of Women in Jewish and Islamic Marriage and Divorce Law, Harv. Women’s L.J. 1, 10-11 (1982) (citing W.R. SMITH, KINSHIP AND MARRIAGE IN EARLY ARABIA 96 (1907)).

What act made an unmarried woman into an arusa, a betrothed woman? In the Torah, there are two stages of marriage, eirusin and nissuin. The first, eirusin, makes the woman legally married – and for another man to sleep with her would be an act of adultery – but at this stage the marriage has not been consummated and husband and wife are not living together in a sexual relationship and a shared household. These two stages are juxtaposed in Devarim 22:22-23, which refers to the first stage me’orasah, betrothed, and the second stage as bi’ulat ba’al, a married woman or, more literally, a woman who has had sex with her husband. The second, stage, then, is effectuated primarily through an act of sex (see also Devarim 22:13), and this is described in the Torah as when a man “takes” (lakach) a wife (see Devarim 20:7 and 24:5; this is in contrast to the Rabbinic understanding that lakach refers to the first stage).
However, the initial act that makes a woman legally married, the act of eirusin, is not described explicitly in the Torah. What we do find is that when describing the act of marriage, the Torah regularly references the mohar. This was money that was given from the groom to the bride’s father. There is a broad consensus among Biblical scholars that the mohar is a “bridal price,” and it was the payment of the mohar that effectuated the marriage. This would reflect an understanding of marriage as ownership, and this would be reinforced by the fact that the transaction would take place between the groom and the bride’s father. The bride would be the object being transferred, and not a direct party to the transaction. The two stages would then be: first the groom “buys” his wife from the girl’s father – eirusin – then he takes possession of her – lakach, bringing her home and having sex with her – ni’ssuin.
It needs to be noted at this stage, that while in the Talmud the father’s right to marry his daughter off ends when the daughter reaches the age of legal majority – 12 ½ years old – there is no indication of this in the Torah. In the Torah, we never find a woman marrying herself off to a man, and indeed, in the section in the Torah that discusses a woman making vows (Bamidbar 30:4-17), the only woman who is not under the control of a man – either her father or her husband – is a woman who has been widowed or divorced (verse 10). While this may be because a daughter was always married off before she reached the age of majority, the fact remains that the Torah does not envision a woman (certainly a never-married woman) marrying herself off. A woman is always married off to the groom by the father. This is yet another fact that reinforces the ownership model of kiddushin.

Dov Linzer, “The Act of Marriage – Mohar and other Marriage-Monies,” in Kiddushin: Ownership or Partnership?. Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (Jul. 31, 2016).

The Talmud queries whether the ketubah with the rights and duties it codifies is of biblical or rabbinic origin. If its origin is biblical, that origin is seen to be based on the biblical institution of mohar, which was originally the price the Torah deemed proper for a male to pay to the father of a virginal unbetrothed minor whom he had seduced (Exod. 22:16-17). By considerable extension, this is now seen by some to be the price anyone has to pay the woman he has abandoned either by death or by divorce. But the purpose of this specific biblical institution of mohar is to punish the sinner with a fine (qenas). Should the institution of the ketubah, which the rabbis “based” (samkhu) on Scripture (but which is not explicitly biblical), be traced back to what is obviously the original biblical reason here, namely, that “the sinner not profit [that is, pay for his sin]”? But this seems counterintuitive. Is a man’s commitment to the marital relationship meant to be a financial penalty imposed upon him? Is an ordinary bridegroom really the same as the debauched seducer of a childish virgin? If this is the only biblical basis for the institution of the ketubah, then it seems we ought to be wary of trying to make a specific biblical connection at all. So, what we see from this Talmudic dilemma in general is the fact that looking at the Bible alone, we do not get enough basis for truly enhancing the status of women. A more radical justification of the institution of the ketubah is called for.

John White, Jr., & Eliza Ellison, Covenant Marriage in Comparative Perspective 42-43 (2005) (citing Talmud: M. Yevamot 14.1; T. Ketubot 12.3.; M. Ketubot 5.6; 7.9-10; M. Arakhin 5.6; M. Gittin 9.8; B. Ketubot 10a).

In Pre-Islamic Arabia

Since pre-Islamic Arabia regarded the birth of a girl child as a punishment and humiliation from the gods, it was important that pronouncements be made to enforce the Qur’anic statements prohibiting the practice and removing the prevalent misgivings entrenched in the Arab mind. These ahadith were corrective of the social norm of female infanticide by engendering sentiments of love, affection and mercy for the girl child in the hearts of their parents. The pre-Islamic practice of zihar whereby an Arab husband would make a pronouncement of divorce upon his wife by comparing her with the back of his mother (and therefore prohibited to him), was also abolished. This prohibition came in the light of the humiliation caused to the woman as a result of this particular form of divorce. Verse 33:4 of the Qur’an states: “God has not put two hearts in any man’s breast: He has not made your wives with whom you do zihar your mothers, nor has He made your so-called (i.e. adopted) sons your real sons.” Another corrective measure in the Qur’anic text relates to a pagan custom whereby a son inherited his stepmother as part of his father’s legacy. The son could either force her to marry him or debar her from remarrying anyone else for the rest of her life. In the absence of a son, the next male kin of the deceased had the same power over her.

Shaheen Sardar Ali, Women’s Human Rights in Islam: Towards a Theoretical Framework, 4 Y.B. Islamic & Middle E. L. 117, 129-130 (1997-1998).

The Qur’an also introduced significant changes in the concept of dower. In contrast to the pre-Islamic notion of dower as a form of bride-price to be appropriated by the father or other male relative of the woman, the wife became the sole recipient of this sum of money or other property. Furthermore, verse 4:20 also prohibited the practice of forcing ones wife to make a will in one’s favour that remitted the dower or any other gifts the husband had given to her. “But if you do want to take another wife in her place (i.e. by divorcing her) and if you have gifted to her a heap of gold, do not take anything back from it; will you take it back as a stunning lie and a dear sin? And how will you take it back when you have been intimate with each other and they have had solemn promises from you?” Haeri sums up this reform in family law in the following words:

“In the seventh century AD the Prophet Muhammad unified the multiplicity of pre-Islamic modes of sexual mores of sexual unions by outlawing all but one form of marriage, namely marriage by contract. Fundamental to this rearranging of the existing social structure was the realignment of the role of the husband and wife into that of the principal transacting parties. As distinct from the pre-Islamic form of “marriage and dominion”, Islamic law recognised the wife – not her father – to be the recipient of the brideprice. Implicit in this act is a recognition of a degree of women’s autonomy and violation. As a party to the contract, it is the woman herself who has to give consent – however nominally – for the contract to be valid. And it is the woman herself not her father (custom aside), who is to receive the full amount of bride price, be it immediate or deferred.”

Shaheen Sardar Ali, Women’s Human Rights in Islam: Towards a Theoretical Framework, 4 Y.B. Islamic & Middle E. L. 117, 131 (1997-1998) (quoting Shahla Haeri, “Divorce in contemporary Iran: a male prerogative in self-will,” in Islamic Family Law, Graham and Trotman, London, 1990, at p. 56).

Under the pre-Islamic law of status, the patria potestas, women had virtually no rights. The Sharia accorded women a number of rights, and thus changed marriage from an institution characterized by unquestioned male superiority to one in which the woman was somewhat of an interested partner. For example, the dowry, previously regarded as a bride-price paid to the father, became a nuptial gift retained by the wife as part of her personal property.

Majid Khadduri, Marriage in Islamic Law: The Modernist Viewpoints, 26 Am. J. Comp. L. 213, 213 (1978).

There is ample evidence that there was no law of endogamy among the Arabs at and before the time of Mohammed ; they could contract valid marriages and get legitimate children by women of other stocks, i.e. of other tribes. There is also some evidence that parents were often unwilling to give their daughters to be possible mothers of enemies to their tribe. This reluctance, however, would not greatly diminish the frequency of marriages with aliens, since women were continually captured in war and marriages with captives were of constant occurrence. Moreover, a man might often find a wife by agreement in a friendly tribe, where there could be no political reason for the woman’s kin objecting to the match. So far as the husband was concerned marriage with a woman not of the kin was often preferred, because it was thought that the children of such a match were stronger and better, and because marriage within the hayy led to ugly family quarrels (see the passages cited by Goldziher in Academy, 1880, no. 427, and Taj, 5 510). And to the woman’s kin, as we shall see later, the price paid by a husband was often important (infra, p. 96).

W. Robertson Smith, Kinship & Marriage in Early Arabia 74-75 (1903).

At the time of Mohammed, when mot’a unions were no longer looked upon as respectable, marriages in which the husband was the wife’s lord were constituted by contract as well as by capture. But the subjection of the wife was quite as complete in the one case as in the other ; practically speaking the contract brought the woman into the same condition as a captive wife. Of course there was a difference between a wife and a slave; the husband’s lordship over his wife did not give him the right to dispose of her in the slave market; but this limitation, as we have seen, applied, by the usage of the prophet’s time, in the case of a captive as well as in that of a woman obtained by agreement with her family. There is in the Kamil, p. 270 sq. a very instructive passage as to the position of married women, which commences by quoting two lines spoken by a woman of the Banu ‘Amir ibn Sa’sa’a married among the Tayyi: “Never let sister praise brother of hers: never let daughter bewail a father’s death; For they have brought her where she is no longer a free woman, and they have banished her to the farthest ends of the earth.”

W. Robertson Smith, Kinship & Marriage in Early Arabia 94 (1903).

“Aisha says ‘Marriage is nothing but bondage, so a man should consider who receives his darling [karima] as his bondservant.’ Hence the phrases ‘we were in the possession of such a one,’ ‘such a one possessed a woman,’ ‘her guardian gave her into his possession’; the words for possession in all these cases being forms of the root malaka, “to possess as a mamluk (mameluke) or slave.” “And so,” Mobarrad continues, “the form of oath in which a man swears that, if he breaks his engagement, he will divorce his wife, belongs to the same region with those forms of asseveration in which one binds himself in case he proves false, to give up his goods or emancipate his slaves”—in point of fact the three are generally united in one form of oath (see De Sacy, Chrest. Ar. 1 47 sq.) And the prophet says, ‘I charge you with your women, for they are with you as captives (‘awani).'” According to the lexicons ‘awani is actually used in the sense of married women generally, but this perhaps comes simply from the saying of the prophet just quoted.

W. Robertson Smith, Kinship & Marriage in Early Arabia 95 (1903).

Marriages of dominion were originally formed by capture and were still formed in this way down to the time of the prophet. Capture was afterwards supplemented by purchase, but the type of the marriage relation was not essentially changed by the introduction of this new method of procuring a be’ulah wife; in the days of Mohammed a woman who was under a husband was still one who had lost her personal freedom. This fact is expressed in the one-sided law of divorce, and the evidence quoted from the Kamil shews that it was quite recognised that a married woman was in a sense her husband’s property.

W. Robertson Smith, Kinship & Marriage in Early Arabia 99 (1903).

Before Islam, when a man lost his father, brother, or son, and that person left a widow, the heir, taking advantage of the privileges of the dowry paid by the dead man, hastened to the widow, covered her with his cloak, and thus arrogated to himself the exclusive right to marry her. When he married her, he deprived her of her right to the part of the inheritance constituted by the dowry. But if the widow succeeded in getting to her own clan before the arrival of the heir, he lost his rights over her in favor of her own clan.

Tabari, Tafsir, vol. 22, p. 10, quoted in Fatima Mernissi, The veil and the male elite : a feminist interpretation of women’s rights in Islam, Mary Jo Lakeland, transl. (Perseus Books 1991) 120-21.

In Islam

A more-or-less universal development is for at least a part or perhaps the whole of the bride-price to be passed on to the woman. Islam had a modernising influence in this respect, for the Qur’an says clearly: ‘Give the woman the bride-price as a gift’ (Qur. 4:4). The Akkadian expression for this action was ‘to fasten the bride-price into the hem’, which means into the hem of the woman’s garment. We have already seen that this rule applied already in the Old Babylonian period to nuns who married, and that high amounts were involved. Twenty or thirty shekels was possibly the whole of the bride-price, and the adopted children of the woman could inherit this.

Marten Stol, Women in the Ancient Near East 124 (transl. Helen & Mervyn Richardson 2016)

Quran

And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]. And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.

Quran 4:3-4 {Sura Nisa}, Sahih International transl.

O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good. But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin? And how could you take it while you have gone in unto each other and they have taken from you a solemn covenant? And do not marry those [women] whom your fathers married, except what has already occurred. Indeed, it was an immorality and hateful [to Allah ] and was evil as a way.

Quran 4:19-22 {Sura Nisa}, Sahih International transl.

And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise. And whoever among you cannot [find] the means to marry free, believing women, then [he may marry] from those whom your right hands possess of believing slave girls. And Allah is most knowing about your faith. You [believers] are of one another. So marry them with the permission of their people and give them their due compensation according to what is acceptable. [They should be] chaste, neither [of] those who commit unlawful intercourse randomly nor those who take [secret] lovers. But once they are sheltered in marriage, if they should commit adultery, then for them is half the punishment for free [unmarried] women. This [allowance] is for him among you who fears sin, but to be patient is better for you. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Quran 4:24-25 {Sura Nisa}, Sahih International transl.

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

Quran 4:34 {Sura Nisa}, Sahih International transl.

And they request from you, [O Muhammad], a [legal] ruling concerning women. Say, “Allah gives you a ruling about them and [about] what has been recited to you in the Book concerning the orphan girls to whom you do not give what is decreed for them – and [yet] you desire to marry them – and concerning the oppressed among children and that you maintain for orphans [their rights] in justice.” And whatever you do of good – indeed, Allah is ever Knowing of it. And if a woman fears from her husband contempt or evasion, there is no sin upon them if they make terms of settlement between them – and settlement is best. And present in [human] souls is stinginess. But if you do good and fear Allah – then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.

Quran 4:127-28 {Sura Nisa}, Sahih International transl.

Traditional Views

Musawah argues that, for classical jurists, the validity and inviolability of men’s superiority and authority over women was a given, a ‘qiwamah postulate’ based on their understanding of Qur’an verse 4:34. Following Carol Gilligan, who identified the “gender binary and hierarchy as the DNA of patriarchy”, we suggest that this qiwamah postulate has been the DNA of patriarchy in Muslim legal tradition.
We see the workings of this postulate in all areas of Muslim law relating to gender rights, but its impact is most evident in the laws that the jurists devised for the regulation of marriage. They defined marriage as a contract, patterned after the contract of sale. The contract makes sexual relations between a man and woman lawful, and establishes a set of default rights and obligations for each party, some supported by legal force, others by moral sanction. Those with legal force concern sexual access and compensation and are embodied in two legal concepts: tamkin and nafaqahTamkin  – obedience or submission –  specifically sexual access, is the husband’s right and thus the wife’s duty; whereas nafaqah –  maintenance, provision of shelter, food and clothing-  is the wife’s right and the husband’s duty. The wife loses her claim to maintenance if she is in a state of nushuz (disobedience). The husband has the unilateral and extra-judicial right to terminate the contract by talaq (repudiation); a wife cannot terminate the contract without her husband’s consent, or the permission of the judge if she produces a valid reason. There are numerous moral injunctions that could have limited men’s power to terminate marriage; for instance, there are sayings from the Prophet to the effect that talaq is among the most detested of permitted acts, and that when a man pronounces it, God’s throne shakes. Yet classical jurists made no attempt to restrict a man’s right to talaq. He needs neither a reason nor his wife’s consent.
There were, of course, differences between and within the classical schools of law over what constituted and what defined the three interrelated concepts – nafaqahtamkin and nushuz – but they all shared the same conception of marriage, and the vast majority linked a woman’s right to maintenance to her obedience to her husband. Whether these rulings corresponded to actual  marriage practices and gender relations is another area of inquiry, one that recent scholarship in Islam has started to uncover.
The qiwamah postulate justified other legal inequalities, such as men’s right to polygamy. In addition, because men provide for their wives, justice requires that men be entitled to greater shares in inheritance. Similarly, since women are under their husbands’ authority, they cannot occupy positions that entail the exercise of authority in the family, such as guardians of the children, or in society, such as judges or political leaders. These inequalities in rights were further rationalized and justified by other arguments, based on assumptions about innate, natural differences between the sexes: women are deemed to be weaker and more emotional by nature, qualities inappropriate in a leader; they are created for child-bearing, a function that confines them to the home, which means that men must protect and provide for them.

Zainah Anwar & Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Decoding the “DNA of Patriarchy” in Muslim family Laws, May 21, 2012, Open Democracy.

In Islamic law, a woman has the right to receive dower (mahr) from her spouse in the event of marriage. Giving the dower allows a man to free himself unilaterally from marriage by repudiation; where the reason for a divorce is ascribable to the wife, the husband can claim the return of mahr. A woman can use the dower as a tool of persuasion to obtain termination of the marriage, pressing for a consensual repudiation and offering the return of an inferior, equal or superior sum to the one that she received. Dower has been qualified either as an effect of marriage (Hanafi school) or as a constitutive element of the marriage contract (Maliki school). In any case, it has evolved from the ‘price of the bride’ to a form of financial support for the woman in the event of divorce or the death of her husband: this understanding is confirmed by the increasingly widespread custom of postponing, either totally or partially, the payment of dower at the moment of divorce. If mahr has to be paid in a deferred way, it is a deterrent from the exercise of the male right to repudiation, but it also limits a woman’s option to petition for hul’, which implies the return of the dower received. A woman enjoys maintenance and accommodation rights during the waiting period following the dissolution of her marriage. The female position is more firmly guaranteed when repudiation is not definitive. When repudiation occurred in the past, Islamic law used to recognise ‘moral damages’ to women, providing a ‘gift of consolation’ in order to repay a woman for the pain that she suffered from abandonment: this compensation was only ‘recommended’, but it was compulsory in the case of a non-consummated marriage.

Adelaide Mader, Juridical Bonds of Marriage for Jewish and Islamic Women, 11 Ecc. LJ. 51, 62 (2009)

Dissolution can also happen by mutual consent through a sort of consensual repudiation (hul’). In this case, the woman presses her husband for the dissolution of the marriage, offering him either a payment of compensation or the return of her dower (mahr); she loses all the rights that she acquired with the marriage contract (dower and maintenance).

Adelaide Mader, Juridical Bonds of Marriage for Jewish and Islamic Women, 11 Ecc. LJ. 51, 59 (2009)

In the law in respect of Dower rights the Prophet gave woman a means of protecting herself against repudiation. He there decreed that no man could marry a woman without conferring upon her a settlement, the amount of which “shall be reasonable with reference to the means of the husband and the status of the wife,” and he then founded a custom which provided that one-half of this dower shall be payable “on demand” and the remainder on the termination of the marriage by death or divorce. In other words, Muhammad established a tradition which made it necessary for a man to go down into his pocket before doing away with his wife, and thus made sure that the husband will “stop, look and listen” before repudiating his spouse.

Pierre Crabitès (Judge of the Mixed Tribunal, Cairo, Egypt), Woman in Islam: Duties of the Eastern Husband and Wife Place Upon the Woman No Charge, Submit Her to No Disability and Make No Demand Upon Her Which, if Carefully Analyzed, Places Her in a Position Inferior to Her Western Sister, 17 A.B.A. J. 677, 679 (1931).

Throughout her life, a female is placed under the care and authority of males. A young girl is enjoined to be an obedient daughter and to exhibit modest and chaste behavior. A marriage guardian (wali) (in practice this is usually her father) is required in order to ensure that her marriage is properly arranged. A marriage contract (‘aqd) outlines the conditions of the marriage union and sets out the terms of the bridewealth and/or the sum (mahr, sadaq) provided by her husband if she is divorced by him or if he dies. The main duty of a married women is to her husband; she must obey and serve him in a respectful manner, and he in turn is obliged to provide for her welfare. Her modesty and faithfulness are prescribed. Her second duty is to produce male heir(s) for her husband. A mother is responsible for the care and nurture of her children and for their moral and religious training. Children belong by right to the legal father, and upon a certain age they are entrusted to him or his kin if the mother is divorced or widowed.

Lois Beck, “The Religious Lives of Muslim Women,” in Women in Contemporary Muslim Societies, ed. Jane L. Smith (Bucknell University Press 1980).

In one scenario reported in the Mudawwana, a man sends a representative to marry him to a woman for a dower of 1,000 dirhams. The representative dutifully contracts the marriage, but for twice that amount. Sahnun asks Ibn al-Qasim whether in Malik’s view the husband owes the entire 2,000 dirhams. Ibn al-Qasim answers, in accordance with Malik’s logic, that the husband must pay the entire amount if he consummated the marriage despite knowing that his representative had set a higher dower. To justify his view, he makes a comparison to the purchase of a female slave. “Can you not see,” he presses, “that if a man ordered [another] man to purchase so-and-so’s slavegirl for him for 1,000 dirhams, and [the representative] bought her for him for 2,000, and he knew [that his representative had paid 2,000] and he took her and had sex with her and had privacy with her, then he did not want to pay anything except the 1,000 for her, he could not do that?” Ibn al-Qasim clearly expects his questioner to accept his logic in the case of the female slave. He assumes that once the rule has been clarified for the purchase of a slave, its application to marriage will be self-evident.

Kecia Ali, Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam 53-54 (2010) (citing [Maliki jurist] Sahnun [b. 776-854 Syria], Mudawwana, K. al-Nikah I, “Fi man wakkala rajulan ‘ala tazwijihi,” 2:174–176).

Fatwas (Fatawa)


If a man marries another wife and gave her something what should he give to the first?
Question: The following question was received by the Committee: A man has a wife and he marries another, then the first wife requests that he gives her jewellery like he gave the second. Is he required to give her or not?
Answer: The Committee replied as follows: One who marries a woman is not obliged to give his first wife what he gave the second, such as the dowry or the jewellery which customarily is a part of the dowry. But if he gives her in order to appease her, out of kindness for her, then it is good. Especially if it is to his benefit to please her and to ensure her companionship with kindness in the future. And Allaah is the Granter of success. And may peace and blessings be upon His servant and His Messenger, Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.
Permanent Committee for Research and Verdicts
Fatawa Islamiyyah, Darussalam, volume 5, page 350

Rulings having to do with divorce before consummation of the marriage
Question: […] I was divorced before consummation of the marriage. After getting some opinions, according to the majority of opinions that I found, I have to observe ‘iddah and receive my mahr in full, because we were alone together and some intimacy happened between us, but my husband refused to believe that. Then we got married a second time with a new marriage contract and mahr a few months ago, ma sha Allah. But my husband went to study fiqh and one of the shaykhs told him: if you divorce the sister before consummation of the marriage, then she will be haraam for you like one who is divorced three times. So my husband refused to consummate the marriage with me, saying that he wants to think about it and be sure that the marriage will be successful, and that before that I have to lose some weight, and that he will not have intercourse with me unless that happens. We have been married for approximately four months, ma sha Allah, but if consummation has not happened up till now, do we have to separate? He also asked me to give up some of my rights at present, and he also agreed to some conditions, but now he is saying that he intends to go back on the agreement, saying that it was only verbal, and that it should have been written in the marriage contract in order to be valid. Is it permissible for him to do that? What is the state of my marriage?
Answer: Praise be to Allah […] With regard to divorce before consummation of the marriage, the following details apply:  If a divorce is issued to the wife before consummation of the marriage and without having been completely alone together in such a manner that consummation of the marriage would have been possible, then she does not have to observe ‘iddah, and she is entitled to half of the mahr that was agreed upon. If no mahr was agreed upon, then she is entitled to some payment, according to how well off he is. And he cannot take her back except with a new marriage contract and mahr.  Please see the answers to questions no. 75026 and 99597.  If a divorce is issued to the wife before consummation of the marriage but they have been completely alone together in such a manner that consummation of the marriage was possible, then the majority of Hanafi, Maaliki, Shaafa‘i (according to the earlier view of their madhhab) and Hanbali scholars  are of the view that she must observe ‘iddah and she is entitled to the mahr in full. As far as taking her back is concerned, the majority of Hanafi, Maaliki and Shaafa‘i scholars are of the view that he cannot take her back except with a new marriage contract and mahr.  Please see the answers to questions no. 49821 and 118557.  As you (re)married in that manner – i.e., with a new marriage contract and mahr – then at present you are a wife to him according to sharee‘ah, and he is your husband; the marriage contract between you is valid, with all its shar‘i implications, and it is not permissible for either of you to undermine any of its conditions, if the conditions are Islamically acceptable. Moreover, it is not permissible for him to ask you to give up some of your rights, unless you do that willingly, not as a result of compulsion or embarrassment.  It was narrated from ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The conditions that most deserve to be fulfilled are those by means of which intimacy becomes permissible for you.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2572; Muslim, 1418.  Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The words “those by means of which intimacy becomes permissible for you” mean: The conditions that most deserve to be fulfilled are the conditions of marriage. End quote from Fath al-Baari, 9/217  For more details on conditions in the marriage contract, please see the answers to questions no. 1034349666 and 20757  […] It is not permissible for the husband to go back on the conditions that he agreed upon with his wife or her guardian, whether the conditions were stated verbally or in writing. If the conditions were not recorded in the marriage contract, then they are still binding on him before his Lord, may He be exalted, even if they are not legally binding. Please see the answer to question no. 126855. To sum up:  1. Your first marriage ended with a valid, Islamically acceptable divorce. As it happened before consummation of the marriage and after being alone with him in such a manner that he could have consummated the marriage, then you are entitled to the mahr in full, and you have to observe ‘iddah, and you cannot go back to him except with a new marriage contract and mahr.  2. Your going back to your husband with a new marriage contract and mahr is valid, whether you were completely alone with him or not. Hence your second marriage contract is valid with all its shar‘i implications, and you both have to fulfil the Islamically acceptable and permissible conditions stipulated by both of you, whether they were stated verbally or in writing.  We ask Allah to guide your husband to that which He loves and is pleased with, and to guide him to adhere to what we have mentioned of rulings. If he does not agree with what we have mentioned here, then we advise you to take your case to the director of the nearest Islamic centre, or to someone near you whose knowledge and religious commitment you trust. There is nothing wrong with asking some sincere people to intervene, especially if they are from your family or his, to bring about reconciliation between you.  And Allah knows best.
Islamic Question & Answer (Aug. 12, 2013)

The Condition of the Dowry has the most right to be Fulfilled
Question: Is it correct to pay a part of the dowry at a later date, because I do not possess the whole sum?
Answer:
It is permissable for a person to marry a woman with a dowry he specifies, whether it be paid immediately or at a later date. He may also come to an agreement with his wife to delay the whole dowry, or to delay some of it. If they agree to this, and make a contract to that effect, then it is incumbent upon each of them to fulfill the conditions imposed on him or her, according to the words of the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasalam): Verily, the condition having most right to be fulfilled is one by which you make the private parts (of the spouse) permissable.
Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-`Uthaymeen, Saudi Arabia (b. March 9, 1925 – d. January 10, 2001), “a giant within conservative Salafi Islam.”
Fatawa Islamiyyah, Darussalam, volume 5, page 303

The Dower is the Right of the Women.
Question:

Can a man use his daughter’s or sister’s dower in order to get married?
Answer:

The dower of his daughter or sister is one of her rights and it is a portion of her wealth. If she gives it as a gift to him or a part of it, voluntarily and out of free choice and she is someone legally capable of such an offer, then it is permissible for him to take it. If she does not give it as a gift, it is not allowed for him to take it or any portion of it as it is something that specifically belongs to her. However, the father may take a portion of it, but only if such is not harmful to her and only if he does not take specifically from some of his children. This is based on the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi-wasallam) statement , ”The best of what you consume is that which you have earned. And your children are part of what you have earned. ” [Recorded by al-Tirmidhi, and al-Nasai, and Al-Albani graded it Sahih Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami , Vol.1, pg.326.]
Permanent Committee for Research and Verdicts
Islamic Fatawa Regarding Women – Darussalam Pg. 177.

The Ruling on Delaying the Dowry
Question:

What is the ruling on delaying the dowry given to the woman in the Islamic Law? Is it forbidden or permissible?
Answer:

There is no objection to delaying the dowry. If, for example, there was an agreement on the payment of ten thousand Riyals immediately, and ten or twenty thousand later, then the Muslims must abide by their conditions; the Messenger of Allaah said: The condition having the most right to be fulfilled is one by which you make the private parts (of the spouse) permissible. [1] If it is a delayed dowry for a certain date or when getting divorce or upon death. And Allaah is the Granter of success. [1] Al-Bukhari no. 2721 and Muslim no. 1418.
Shaykh `Abdul-`Azeez Bin Baz, Saudi Arabia, 1910-1999, Salafi,
Fatawa Islamiyah Vol. 5 Page 303

The Marriage with the Greatest Blessing is that with Lesser Financial Burden.
Question: What is your opinion of the large dowers and expensive parties and honeymoons that cost a great deal of money? Does the Shariah approve of such things?
Answer: Having very expensive dowers and extravagant wedding parties is something that goes against the Shariah . The marriage which has the greatest blessing is the one with lesser financial burden. Any time the burdens are lessened, the blessings are increased. This is a matter that is many times caused by women. Women are the ones that often insist upon their husbands to set very high dower [for their daughter]. If a lesser dower is offered, they will say their daughter is deserving of such and such. Furthermore, expensive and luxurious wedding parties are prohibited by the Shariah . they fall under the command of the verse. ”But be not extravagant. Verily, He loves not those who are extravagant ” (Surah Al- Anam 7:141) Again, many times it is the women who force their husbands to do such things. They say that so and so’s party they had this and that. However, such gatherings must be according to the Shariah .The person should not spend what is beyond his means. He must also never be extravagant for Allah has prohibited extravagance. ” Verily, He loves not those who are extravagant .” (Surah Al- Anam 7:141) Honeymoons are worse and even more evil. This is because they are an imitation of the non-Muslims. They are a waste of lots of wealth. It also leads to people being lax with respect to their religious duties when such honeymoons take place in non- Muslim areas. The people come back with customs and behaviour that are harmful for them and for the Muslim community . This is something that is to be feared for the Ummah . However there is no harm, Allah Willing, if a man travels with his wife to make Umrah or to visit Madinah.
Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-`Uthaymeen
Islamic Fatawa Regarding Women – Darussalam Pg. 193-194
Who has the right to decides the amount of meher’ (gift given by groom to his bride during marriage or nikah)? How much it should be? Is a marriage valid without ‘meher’ ?
Praise be to Allah. Deciding the amount of the dowry is to be left to the woman and her guardian. If the woman disagrees with her guardian about the amount of the dowry, then what appears to be the case from the words of the scholars is that they should take as a reference the dowry of a woman of similar standing. If she agrees to the dowry of a woman of similar standing, but he wants more than that, then no attention should be paid to his wishes. If he is the one who wants a dowry like that of a woman of similar standing, but she wants less than that, then what matters is his view. Please see fatwa no. 224378.  With regard to the amount of the dowry, there is no set limit. Rather it is whatever is agreed upon by the couple or by the husband and the woman’s guardian, whether it is small or great, but the Sunnah is to make the mahr smaller and to be easy-going concerning this matter. This is the practice of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him).    For more information, please see the answers to questions no. 3119 and 10525.  It is essential to have a mahr in the case of marriage. Once the amount of the dowry has been agreed upon, at that point it becomes a right only for the woman, which the guardian must hand over to her, and not take anything from it except with her consent.  After the marriage contract, it is permissible for her to give up to her husband all of the dowry or part of it, on condition that she be of sound mind.  If marriage occurs without a dowry, it is still valid, but the woman is still entitled to a mahr like that of a woman of similar standing.  See fatwas no. 111127 and 112153  And Allah knows best.
Islam Question & Answer (Aug. 4, 2016).

Reformist Views

The concept of dower underwent a process of change after the promulgation of Islamic norms. Starting from a position where it (dower) was the bride price paid by the husband to the male members of the woman’s family, it was modified to become a sum of money or other property paid by the husband to the wife as a mark of respect to her and to be held by her as her property.

Shaheen Sardar Ali, Women’s Human Rights in Islam: Towards a Theoretical Framework, 4 Y.B. Islamic & Middle E. L. 117, 149 (1997-1998).

Mahr (dowry) agreements are considered obligatory features of Islamic marriage contracts; they are prescribed by the Qur’an and establish important economic rights for women. Characterized variously as a “gift” (sadaq),” “reward” (ajr), or financial obligation ofthe husband to the wife, the mahr is generally agreed to be “a sum of money given by the husband to the wife in consideration of marriage.” The mahr agreement is taken very seriously by women in Muslim countries, where parties maintain separate property throughout the marriage; the mahr can often represent financial security in the event of divorce or the husband’s death. In the United States, its importance varies. Sometimes U.S. Muslims only include a token amount because the imam presiding over their marriage ceremony merely informs them it is required, while others continue to include sums in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

C. Sharpe, Islamic Marriage Contracts as Simple Contracts Governed by Islamic Law: A Roadmap for U.S. Courts, 14 Geo. J. Gender & L. 189, 198 (2013).

Secular Commentary

The idea is prevalent in the Occident that the Oriental woman is a toy made to pander to the pleasures of man, and that she is at best nothing but a human incubator or a purveyor to the lacteal needs of infancy. It is, therefore, worthy of note that the obligations of a wife do not include, except in urgent necessity, the most elementary duty of a mother, that of suckling her own children. “If the child be an infant at the breast, there is no obligation on the mother to suckle it, because the infant’s maintenance rests upon the father.” The various duties incumbent upon the wife require no further elucidation. It cannot be said that they throw upon her shoulders a burden unknown to the West. In these twentieth century days of progress and equality it does appear incongruous to speak of a wife’s being “bound to obey all other reasonable commands of her husband.” Nevertheless, it must not be forgotten, when this criticism is made, that in 1840 Victoria was Queen of England, and in 1846 Isabella II ruled over Spain. When these two sovereigns were led to the altar they both swore “to love, honor and obey.” As long as such marital vows continue to underlie the superstructure of Christian civilization, it would ill become a Western woman to seek to draw an argument from the language quoted. The Muslim husband not only may insist upon obedience to all reasonable commands but the unmodified Muhammadan law clearly recognizes his right to inflict moderate personal chastisement, for the Quran says: “Those whose perverseness ye fear, admonish them and remove them into bed chambers and beat them; but if they submit to you, then do not seek a way against them.” Such a principle is inherently wrong and cannot be condoned. But when the outraged civilization of the West is seeking for language wherewith to castigate the East let it be remembered that at Common Law “the husband hath by law power and dominion over his wife and may keep her by force within the bounds of duty and may beat her, but not in a violent or cruel manner.”

Pierre Crabitès (Judge of the Mixed Tribunal, Cairo, Egypt), Woman in Islam: Duties of the Eastern Husband and Wife Place Upon the Woman No Charge, Submit Her to No Disability and Make No Demand Upon Her Which, if Carefully Analyzed, Places Her in a Position Inferior to Her Western Sister, 17 A.B.A. J. 677, 677-78 (1931).

Marriage in Islamic law is a contract of which mahr is an integral component. Mahr is also called sadaq, an Arabic term which implies ‘friendship’; in English it has been translated as ‘dower’. It consists of a sum of money or anything valuable that the bridegroom has to give the bride upon marriage. The centrality of the mahr to the marriage contract is such that there can be no marriage without it. Mahr becomes the exclusive property of the bride after marriage and she is free to dispose of it in whatever way she wishes. The shari’a recognises two types of mahr. In mahr al musamma (definite mahr) as the name implies, the exact amount of mahr is agreed upon prior to marriage and is specified in the marriage contract. In mahr al mithal (exemplary mahr), however, the amount is not specified in the marriage contract, and it is determined later on the basis of the bride’s personal qualities, her family position and the prevailing amount of mahr among her people. There is a general and implicit consensus among different rites within the shari’a on the basic assumptions that lie behind mahr. It is a corollary of the exchange element of the marriage contract. This view is clearly expressed by some jurists who consider mahr as the price (‘awaz) that the man pays for exclusive rights to the sexual and reproductive faculties of women, analogous to the price paid in the contract of sale. Some modern writers, however, regard mahr as an expression of honour for woman’s worth and as a means of providing economic security for women during and after marriage. This notion is negated by the very fact that the shari’a rules so distinctly relate mahr to the act of consummation and not to other aspects of the marriage contract. For example, a woman becomes entitled to mahr only after consummation of marriage: at the same time she can refrain from sexual submission unless she receives her mahr in full. If the marriage is annulled before consummation she is not entitled to any portion of her mahr and she is entitled to half of it if she is divorced before consummation.

Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Women, Marriage and the Law in Post-Revolutionary Iran – in Haleh Afshar, Women in the Middle East: Perceptions, realities, and struggles for liberation (1993) 68-69.

Marriage under Muslim law is governed by the marriage contract, which, like any commercial contract, is a binding offer and agreement that gives rise to reciprocal rights and obligations. Article 35 of the JLPS [Jordanian Personal Status Law of 1976] states that if the contract is valid then the wife is due maintenance and dower from her husband, and mutual inheritance is established. The husband, in return, has a unilateral right to no-fault divorce, and is entitled to obedience from his wife so long as he performs his duty to pay her dower and maintenance. Dower, or mahr, is thus an essential part of marriage. In an exchange for her agreement to enter into an intimate relationship with her husband and to offer him obedience, a wife is entitled to receive from her husband a dower of money or goods (usually jewelry), which is hers to keep for her own use. Dower is owed whether or not it is specified in the marital contract; if the contract does not specify an agreed-upon sum, the husband still owes his wife “proper dower” even if the marriage contract or other document contains a written agreement by the wife to forego mahr.

Heather Jacobson, The Marriage Dower: Essential Guarantor of Women’s Rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 10 MICH. J. GENDER & L. 143, 145-46 (2003).

Etymology (m-h-r)

And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow [maharher to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay [yim·hā·ren·nāhmoney according to the dowry [mō·har] of virgins.

Exodus 22:17-18. (“Mohar” on Biblehub)

The Arabic mahr is the same word with the Hebrew mohar, which is also paid to the damsel’s father (Deut. 22 29), and the Syriac mahra, which Bar ‘Ali (ed. Hoffm. no. 5504) defines as “whatever the son-in-law gives to the parents of the bride.” The etymological sense is simply “price.”

W. Robertson Smith, Kinship & Marriage in Early Arabia 74-75 (1903).

Bedouin documents contain many legal terms which also occur in Islamic law but which, in the Bedouin context, still have the customary connotation that attached to them before they were absorbed into Islamic law and took on a new shade of meaning. … Family law terms current in Islam are used by the Bedouin with customary meanings. Thus, for example, the mahr, dower, is paid for certain rights such as the right to the woman’s offspring and work as in dominion marriages; the dower is not her personal property as in Muslim marriages, to which she is a party.

Aharon Layish, Challenges to Customary Law and Arbitration: The Impact of Islamic Law upon Settled Bedouin in the Judaean Desert, 5 Tel Aviv U. Stud. L. 206, 208-09 (1982).

The best-known Babylonian term for a bride-price is terḫatu, which the ancient word-lists equate with Sumerian nimusa. The two words may be equivalent but intrinsically they can describe different things. The bride-price can be compared with Ugaritic mhr, Hebrew mohar, and Arabic mahr. Moreover the root of terḫatu and the root of mohar occasionally occurs as a verb meaning ‘to obtain by marriage’. Sumerian nimusa means literally ‘that which belongs to the son-in-law (musa)’ showing that from their point of view it was a contribution from the man. It was a significantly different gift from the Old Babylonian terḫatu, which was an amount of silver, since the Sumerians gave foodstuff and objects.

Marten Stol, Women in the Ancient Near East 117 (transl. Helen & Mervyn Richardson 2016)

128. If (after) a person [a man] takes a woman (wife), (and) he does not set (her) a contract, that female is not a wife. […]

133. If (after) a person [a man] disappears, (and) he has that of feeding (living necessities) in his house, his wife |……..…|, she shall keep (secure) her body, she shall not seek help [she shall not enters (seeking help) in a second (another) home.

133A. If (after) this female did not secure her body, (and) she enters (seeking help) in a second (another) home, that female (wife) they shall seat [call] her in, (and) shall throw [let go] her in the water (river).

134. If (after) a person [a man] disappears, (and) he does not have that of feeding (living necessities) in his house, (then) his woman (wife) entered (seeking help) in a second (another) home, this female (the wife) does not have (owe) charge [penalty].

135. If (after) a person [a man] disappears, (and) he does not have in his house that of feeding (living necessities), (then) his woman (wife) enters (seeking help) in a second (another) home, gives birth to (new) children, to his face (openly), hereinafter, her husband returns, (and) arrives (with) his tribe, this female (wife) shall return to her chosen (her first husband), the children go after (to) their father.

136. If (after) a person [a man] let go (neglects) (and) abandons his family, after him, his woman (wife) enters (seeking help) in a second (another) home, if (after) this person [the man] returns, to catch (hold) his woman (wife), the woman (wife) of the abandoner shall not return to her husband, that is because he scorned [mistreated] his family (and) abandoned.

137. If (after) a person [a man] set his face (eye) on the estrangement [leaving] of the concubine who borne (from) him children, and (even) the woman (the wife) who begot him children, to that female, they shall return to her her endowment, and they shall give to her (from) the earnings of the field, orchard, and goods [possessions], to raise up her children; once her children are grown up, they shall give her a disbursement (an allocation) (alimony) as much as one (child) responsibility [child] in (from) whatever they gave to (for) her children, (and) she shall take (marry) the husband of her heart (her choice).

138. If (after) a person [a man] leaves (divorces) his wife who have not borne him children, he shall give her the full (amount) of her dowry silver, and secure (guarantee) the endowment that once (first) her father’s house brings, to leave (divorce) her.

139. If (after) (the person [the man]) does not have the dowry (amount of silver), he shall give her for divorce 1 Mana (2 lbs.) silver.

140. If (after) (the person [the man]) is an ordinary man, he shall give her 1/2 Mana (1 lb.) silver.

141. If (after) a person’s [a man’s] woman (wife) residing in the person’s [the man’s] set her face (eye) on leaving (divorce), (and) commits negligence [behaves like monkey (fool)] [flirts flirtation], wastes (neglect) her house, belittles her husband, they shall seat [call] her in; if (after) her husband says “I shall estrange [leave] her”, her husband shall leave her, (at) her departure, her leaving (divorce), she shall not be given anything; if (after) her husband says “I shall not estrange [leave] her”, her husband shall take a second (another) female (wife); this female (the first wife) shall reside in her husband’s house as a female slave.

142. If (after) a female (a woman) scorns [mistreats] her husband, (and) says (to him) “you shall not take (have) me”, they shall examine her background in (in regard to) her victim (the husband); if (after) she was protective, (and) does not have stubbornness [rudeness], and her husband was greatly confrontational (abusive) [oppressive (arrogant)] [gadabout], this female (wife) does not have charge [penalty], she shall take her endowment, (and) go to her father’s house. 143. If (after) she was not protective, (and) was confrontational [arrogant] [gadded], wastes (neglects) her house, belittles (does not take seriously) her husband, that female (wife), they shall throw [let go] her in the water (river).

144. If (after) a person [a man] takes a woman (wife), (and) this woman (wife) gives a female slave to her husband, to raise up children, (then) this person [man] set his face (eye) on taking a concubine, that person [man], they shall not approve him, he shall not take a concubine. […]

148. If (after) a person [a man] takes a woman (wife), a terminal illness seizes her, (then) set his face (eye) on taking a second (another) (woman), he shall take (the second woman); his woman (wife) who was seized by terminal illness, he shall not leave her, she shall settle in a house he prepared (equipped), (and) he shall bear her hardship (her responsibility) until (as long as) she is alive.

149. If (after) this female (the sick wife) does not accept residing in her husband’s house, he shall secure (guarantee) her endowment that once (first) her father’s house brings, (and) she shall go.

150. If (after) a person [a man], to his woman (wife), he endows her a field, an orchard, a house, and possessions, leaves her a sealed document (will), after her husband (death), her children shall not contend her (legally challenge) her; the mother, after her (death), shall (may) give to the child whom she loves, shall (may) not give to (his) sibling. […]

156. If (after) a person [a man] selects a bride (wife) to his son, (and) his son does not wed [touch] her, (if) he (the father) lay down (have sex) in her company, he shall measure (and give) her ½ Mana (1 lb.) silver, and shall secure (guarantee) anything that once (first) her father’s house brings, (and) she shall take (marry) the husband of her heart (her choice). […]

159. If (after) the person [the man] who has transported crop to his uncle (future father-in-law), gave as dowry, longs to another female, (and) tells his uncle “I shall not take your girl (daughter)”, the father of the girl shall take whatever he transported (gave) to him.

160. If (after) the person [the man] transports crop to the uncle (the future father-inlaw), gives as dowry, (and) the father of the girl says “I shall not give you my girl”, he (the father of the girl) shall double the full (amount) he transported (gave) to him (of) anything, (and) return.

161. If (after) a person [a man] transports crop to the uncle (future father-in-law), gives (it) as dowry, (and) a fellow of his challenges him (for the girl), (then) his uncle (father-in-law) says to the owner (master) of the woman (the future husband) “you shall not take my girl”, he (the father-in-law) shall double the full (amount) he transported (given) to him (of) anything, (and) return, and his fellow shall not take his woman (fiancé).

162. If (after) a person [a man] transports crop to the uncle (future father-in-law), gives (it) as dowry, (and) a fellow of his challenges him (for the girl), (then) his uncle (father-in-law) says to the owner (master) of the woman (the future husband) “you shall not take my girl”,If (after) a person [a man] takes a woman (wife), she bears him children, (and) the female (the wife) goes to destiny (dies), her father shall not fine (penalize) (for) her endowment, her endowment of (for) her children.

163. If (after) a person [a man] takes a woman (wife), (and) she does not beget him children, (then) this female (wife) goes to destiny (dies); if (after) his uncle (father-in-law) returns (to) him the dowry which this person [man] brought to his uncle (father-in-law), her husband shall not fine (penalize) for that female (wife) endowment, her endowment of (for) her father’s house (her family).

164. If (after) his uncle (father-in-law) does not return (to) him the dowry, he shall set aside (deduct) as much as the full (amount) of her dowry in (from) her endowment, (and) shall return (the rest of) her endowment to its bringer (its giver) (her family). […]

166. If (after) a person [a man] takes women (wives) for the sons who settled (matured), does not take a woman (a wife) to his young son, after the father has gone to destiny (died), when the brothers divide (share), in addition to his portion in (from) his father’s things (belongings), to their young brother who did not take a woman (a wife), they shall set (put) for him dowry money, to enable him to take a woman (a wife).

167. If (after) a person [a man] takes a woman (a wife), (and) she bears him children, (and) that woman (wife) goes to destiny (dies), after her, he takes a second (another) woman (wife), (and) she bears children, afterwards, the father has gone to destiny (died); the children to (of) the mothers shall not divide (share) (all), they shall take their (respective) mothers’ family dowries, (and) they shall divide (share) the things (the belongings) of the father’s house, equally.

[…]

170. If (after) a person [a man], his wife bears him children, and his female slave bears him children, (and) the father (the person [the man]), in his bloom [in his life], says to the children that the female slave bore him “my children”, count them with the children of the wife; after the father has gone to destiny (died), the children of the wife and the children of the female slave shall divide in (share) the things (the belongings) of the father’s house, equally; the chosen [the first] son of the wife shall determine in the portion (and) take (he shall have first choice).

171. And after (and if) the father does not say “my children” to the children that the female slave bore him, in his bloom [in his life], after the father has gone to destiny (died), the children of the female slave with the children of the wife shall not divide (share) in the things (the belongings) of the father’s house, the freedom of the female slave and her children shall be set, the children of the wife, to the children of the female slave, shall not fine (demand) to slavery; the wife shall take her endowment and her givings (presents) that her husband gave her, wrote her in a tablet, she shall settle in her husband’s dwelling (house), she shall enjoy (the house) until (as long as) she is alive, it (the dwelling) shall not be given for silver (shall not be sold), after her (death) (it is) of (for) her children.

172. If (after) her husband does not give her givings (presents), they shall secure her (family) endowment for her, she shall take a disbursement (an allocation) as much as one (son) responsibility bearing [son] in (from) the things (the belongings) of the father’s house; if (after) the judges examine (investigate) after that his children, that is because they harass her in her own home, (and) furnish (put on) the children the charge [penalty], the children shall not force out that female (wife) in (from) her husband’s house, if (after) this female (the wife) set her face (eye) on leaving (her house), she shall leave to her children the givings (presents) that her husband gave her, she shall take the endowment of her father’s house, (and) shall take the husband of her heart (her choice).

173. If (after) this female (wife), where (in the house) she entered (later), she bears (new) children to her later husband, after this female (wife) dies, the children of the advanced (former husband) and the latter (later husband) shall divide (share) her endowment.

174. If (after) she does not bear (new) children to her later husband, the children of her chosen (her first husband) shall take her endowment.

[…]

176. If (after), let-it-be a palace’s slave, and (even) let-it-be an ordinary man’s slave takes (marries) a daughter of a person [a man], (and) when he took her, she enters to the house of the palace’s slave, and (even) let-it-be the ordinary man’s slave along with the endowment of her father’s house, (and) once they coupled, they established a house, settled in (put in) goods [possessions], afterwards, letit-be the palace’s slave, and (even) let-it-be the ordinary man’s slave goes to destiny (dies); the daughter of the person [the man] shall take her endowment, and whatever that her husband and she settled in (put in) once they coupled, they shall divide (share) to its twos (its halfs), the owner of the slave shall take (one) half, the daughter of the person [the man] shall take (one) half to (for) her children; if (after) the daughter of the person [the man] does not have an endowment, whatever that her husband and she settled in (put in), once they coupled, they shall divide (share) to its twos (its halfs), the owner of the slave shall take (one) half, the daughter of the person [the man] shall take (one) half to (for) her children. […]

178. If (after) the priestess woman [the old priestess], and (even) let-it-be an obedience female (a palace’s disciple or servant) whose father endowed her an endowment, wrote her a tablet, he has not written her “after her, wherever on her pleasing (whoever pleases her heart) shall be given” in the table he wrote her, her full heart (choice), he does not intend it for her, after the father has gone to destiny (died), her brothers shall take her field and her orchard, (and) shall give her grains, oil, and wool, as worthy as her portion, (and) shall please her heart; if (after) her brothers do not give her grains, oil, and wool, as worthy as her portion, (and) do not please her heart, she shall give her field and her orchard to the farmer (renter) who is over her pleasing (who pleases her heart), (and) her farmer (renter) shall bear their hardship (their responsibility), she shall enjoy (the fruit of) the field, the orchard, and whatever her father gave her until (as long as) she is alive, she shall not give for silver (sell), she shall not load (pledge) to a second (to another), her load (her property) (will be) of (for) her brothers.

179. If (after) the priestess woman [the old priestess], and (even) let-it-be the obedience female (the palace’s disciple or servant) whose father has endowed her an endowment, wrote her a tablet, he has written her “after her, wherever on her pleasing (whoever pleases her heart) shall be given” in the table he wrote her, her full heart (choice), he intends it to her, after the father has gone to destiny (died), after her (passing), she shall give wherever on her pleasing (whoever pleases her heart), her brothers shall not contend (legally challenge) her.

180. If (after) the father, to his daughter the bride, and (even) let-it-be an obedience female (a palace’s disciple or servant), does not endow her an endowment, after the father has gone to destiny (died), she shall share a disbursement (an allocation) as much as one (son) responsibility bearing [son] in (from) the things (the belongings) of the father’s house, (and) she shall enjoy (the house) until (as long as) she is alive, after her (passing) (her share) of (for) her brothers.

181. If (after) a father dedicates [directs] to the god a devotee [pure] (daughter), and (even) let-it-be a withdrawn (non-devoted) (daughter), (and) he does not endow her an endowment, after the father has gone to destiny (died), she shall share 1/3 his bearing of (son) responsibility [his sonship] in (from) the things (the belongings) of the father’s house, (and) she shall enjoy (the house) until (as long as) she is alive, after her (the share is) of (for) her brothers.

182. If (after) the father, to his daughter, (who is) a woman (a priestess) of the god Marduk (Ma’arduk: son of the storm maker (son of Enlil)) of the land of Babylon, he does not endow her an endowment, he does not write her a sealed document (will), after the father has gone to destiny (died), she shall share with her brothers 1/3 his bearing of (son) responsibility [his sonship] in (from) the things (the belongings) of the father’s house, (and) she shall not run the operation (shall not do the work); a woman (a priestess) of the god Marduk shall give wherever on her pleasing (whoever pleases her heart), after her (passing).

183. If (after) a father, to his daughter, the concubine, endows her an endowment, gives her to a husband, writes her a sealed document (will), after the father has gone to destiny (died), she shall not share (does not have a share) in (from) the things (the belongings) of the father’s house.

184. If (after) a person [a man], to his daughter, the concubine, does not endow her an endowment, does not give her to a husband, after the father has gone to destiny (died), her brothers shall endow her an endowment as worthy as the father’s house, (and) they shall give her to a husband.

Hammurabi Code §128-184, as rendered in Saad D. Abulhab, The Law Code of Hammurabi: Transliterated and Literally Translated from its Early Classical Arabic Language (Blautop Publishing 2017).
[The Arabic reads “tarhat” (طرحة), and in parentheses has “mahr”, “price.”–kjm.]
מָהַר – mahar (verb): to acquire by paying a purchase price.; Word Origin: denominative verb from mohar.
NASB Translation: bartered, pay a dowry.
Screenshot of the Hans Wehr (p. 929) entries listing Modern Standard Arabic derivatives of the triliteral m-h-r.