The minimum mahr

Allah Almighty has ordained that when a man marries a woman, he must give her something. Is there a minimum? The Ahnaf state ten dirhams, the Malikiyyah state 1/4 of a dinar and the others state no minimum so long as it is of some value.

By Mulla Ali Qari al-Harawi
Fathu Bab al-Inayah v.2 pp. 51-52
Translated by F. Miah & Z. Mahmud – 3 Rabi I 1438 | 3 December 2016

The minimum mahr, according to [the Ahnaf], is ten dirhams; it should weigh [ten dirhams] in silver coins, nuggets or be equal in value to 10 dirhams in price or property.

Imam Muhammad [b. Hasan Shaybani] (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon him) states in Asl, ‘We learnt that the minimum of mahr is ten dirhams from Ali, Abdullah b. Umar, Amir and Ibrahim (may Allah Almighty be pleased with them all)’.

Imam Malik (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon him) mentions in Muwatta, ‘I do not consider that a woman be married with less than a quarter of a dinar.’ This is the threshold for theft according to him.

Imams Shafi’i and Ahmad (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon them) state that everything that has a price can be mahr’.

Imams Daraqutni and Bayhaqi in Sunan Kubra narrate via multiple sources, albeit da’if, from Jabir (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘There is no mahr less than ten dirhams’. Daraqutni and then Bayhaqi narrate in their Sunans from Dawud al-Awdi [who narrates] from Sha’bi [who in turn narrates] from Ali (may Allah Almighty be pleased with him) who says, ‘Do not cut the hand for [theft on] less than ten dirhams. The mahr should not be less than ten dirhams’. Imam Ibn Hibban (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon him) declared al-Awdi to be da’if. Imam Daraqutni narrates from Juwaybir, who narrates from Dhahhak, who narrated from Bazzal b. Sabrah, who narrates from Ali who mentions [the same]. Juwaybir is weak. He narrates through another source via Dhahhak but in the sanad there is Muhammad b. Marwan Abu Ja’far. Imam Zahabi (may Allah Almighty have mercy upon him) says, ‘He is not closely to being known’1.

It is accepted that multiple sources raises [a narration] to the rank of hasan. This is sufficient for evidence.

As for what is mentioned in the Sahihayn2 from the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him), ‘Request! Even if it is a ring made of iron’. What is in Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah from Abdullah b. Amir b. Rabi’a from his father that the Prophet (peace be upon him) permitted marriage to a woman [in exchange] for a pair of shoes [as mahr]. What is in Sunan Abu Dawud from Jabir that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘He who gave in mahr for the wife a handful of stalk or dates, then it is halal for him (to consummate)’. However, in this sanad there is Ishaq b. Jabir b. Jibril. Abdul Haq says, ‘That which is linked through him cannot be trusted’. Imam Zahabi states, ‘He is not known and Azdi has declared him da’if.’

All [of these ahadith] refer to [the portion of the mahr] that which is immediately due. It was common practice amongst them that part of the mahr was given immediately before consummation. So much so that it reported that Ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar, Zuhri and Qatada (may Allah Almighty be pleased with them) [held] that the man should not consummate until she has been given something [of the mahr]. [This is] based on the Prophet (peace be upon him) stopping Ali from consummating [his marriage] to Fatimah (may Allah Almighty be pleased with them both) until he has given her something. He said, ‘O Prophet of Allah! I have nothing.’ [The Prophet] responded, ‘Give her your armour’. So, he gave her his armour and then consummated the marriage. It is known that the mahr was four hundred dirhams of silver.

Nevertheless, the preferred view is that it is allowed [for a woman to go to her husband] before [he gives her] anything. This is due to what is in Sunan Abi Dawud from Aisha (may Allah Almighty be pleased with her) who says, ‘The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) commanded me that I allow a woman to consummate her marriage with her husband before he gave her anything.’ So the stoppage mentioned [before] will be deemed mustahab. It is mustahab to give something before consummating to make her happy and create amity.

As this is the established custom, it is necessary to base that which oppose what we have narrated to it to combine between the ahadith. as it is the custom and it is Waajib to place it in contrast to that which was reported against us. Similarly, the command of the prophet (peace be upon him) to request for an iron ring will be taken to mean advancing something to create amity. Do you not see that he commanded the man to give what was in his hand; it is possible the mahr remained in debt. So, we understand, the meaning was to pay immediately what was in his possession. When he was unable, [the Prophet] said, ‘Stand and teach her twenty ayats and she is your wife. This is narrated by Imam Abu Dawud. This is the meaning of the narration, ‘I marry you to her in exchange of that which you have of the Quran.’ This is not contradictory and combines the narration.

The is how some muhaqqin have answer and Allah Almighty knows best.



[1] Nothing much is known about him.

[2] Bukhari and Muslim