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Dowry: A blessing, but why a curse in our case?

Ubqari Magazine - June 2014

Chosen:  meem-alif, Lahore.

The word ‘jahaiz’ in Urdu has its counterpart ‘dowry’ in English; and each letter of this word jahaiz has a distinctive representation. ‘Ja ’ indicates jazaa’(reward),’ha’ specifies himat(courage),’i’ shows yaqeen(belief),and ’z’ implies zindagi(life)….however, now the letters of the word jahaiz have gained a whole new meaning such that ‘Ja ’signifies juram(crime),’ha’ specifies hawas(greed) , ’i’ shows yalgar(excess) and ’z’ points to zahr(poison).

Previously, people were simple and paid no importance to dowry but these days people demand jahaiz(dowry) which is at odds with their being educated enough to differentiate between the necessary and the unnecessary. Bringing dowry has become a norm that is highly appreciated when brides are brought into family but strongly opposed too when their own daughters are to be wed. The question here is why are people willing to accept dowry but not so willing to give it when their time comes?

A religious person relates that an elderly scholar from Syria visited us and at the same time, a local person too arrived by chance. Upon finding an Arab scholar he requested for a prayer with regard to financial assistance for his children’s weddings. The Syrian scholar then asked whether he had daughters or sons to which the man replied daughters. The scholar then questioned the need for financial assistance to wed the daughters and the man pointed out the need for dowry. Upon inquiring about the meaning of dowry, the gathering informed the Syrian scholar that in our region it is a tradition that a father gives not only his daughter in marriage but some of his fortune too and without this dowry the concept of marriage is incomprehensible and even the groom’s family demand it openly. The sheikh upon listening to this explanation expressed disappointment and questioned that is wedding daughters a sin for which the father is supposed to pay a fine. He further said that in Syria, no such tradition existed and not only that in some places it was considered the responsibility of the groom to provide necessities for the household as well as for the bride. The father of the bride is not bound to offer any of these necessities. Also in some areas the norm is for the father to choose things for his daughter but for the groom to pay the bill. Although there is no such compulsion but if the father feels the need to give his daughter any gift at the time of her wedding it can be done so.

According to Shariah law, the concept of dowry is limited to the extent of any gift that a father may give away to his daughter at the time of her wedding that is within the confines of his budget. If the daughter’s future needs are kept in mind when giving this gift than it is better but the groom’s family have no say whatsoever on the matter of dowry. It is strictly a personal matter that is between the daughter and her father and is not at all for the sake of showing off.

In our community God knows how many girls are not wed just because of demands for a dowry that the girl’s family are unable to meet. And there are those fathers too that in order to fulfil this dowry obligation opt for illegal sources of aid as well as those who though try to obtain finances from sources that are legal but only end up in debts that are even more difficult to pay back. The even uglier truth in this matter is that the groom’s family have a lot of expectations regarding the dowry that the girl will bring, hoping for praise and admiration from their other family members upon having a bride that has brought an expensive dowry.

Regrettably, getting rid of these very problematic traditions that corrupt the society is not being paid any consideration. Dearth of any character growth within the society has ultimately led to the near extinction of morality and conscience from within the masses. Any person backing the rightful way to oppose the age old traditions should work within his own circle so that such damaging practices are put to an end.

A religious person voices the truth on the matter of dowry by saying that the bride is the rightful owner of anything that she brings into her new home. Neither the husband nor his mother has any right over the possessions of the bride and trying to get hands on to it is strongly discouraged. Previously people considered the bride more than the dowry but now times have changed so that people overlook everything except the dowry: something that proves to be a reason why families are being torn apart after marriages.

Earlier, women of the neighbourhood and family gathered to see the bride and congratulate her but these days women mostly come to look over the dowry that the bride has brought. And this looking over is thorough enough to ascertain the presence of items such as LCD TV’s, laptops, fridge and split AC etc. so that the groom can be congratulated on his good luck.

Conclusively, things that must be kept in mind when giving dowry are the need, budget, as well as lack of any show-off since giving some things at the time of the wedding for future use is merely ‘sila-rehmi’ with the kids.

Dates’ milkshake in Ramadan

Take some dates, wash them, and separate the fleshy part from the seed. Put this fleshy part in the blender along with milk as required and after the milk and the dates are fully mixed a frothy drink would be seen which can be used in ‘iftari’ as it is good source of energy. (Kausar, khairpur Mir).

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