Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
I’m currently going through a legal divorce proceeding. We were married for 10 years, but together for 7 years. In our marriage contract, the mahr (dowry) was $40k. I did not make payment for the dowry at the time of the wedding or thereafter.
As part of the divorce settlement, she’s getting 50% of all my assets which includes multiple properties, a business, and half of my 401k (which alone amounts to $50k).
I’d like to know if the dowry owed to her ($40k) needs to be paid in addition to the settlements that she’ll receive.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
I pray you are in good faith and health. I am saddened to hear about the proceedings. Allah Most High make matters easy for you and rewards you for your test.
I urge you to convince her through a third party, like through local reliable female and male scholars to come to an amicable financial and divorce settlement.
It would be better for her, and also in the eyes of Allah Most High, to secure the rights and financial settlement out of courts without going through the non-Muslim courts.
However, if it proves difficult and you intend and decide due to the court’s decision, you may intend to include the owed dowry (mahr) in 50% of the assets, money, etc. This was her marital right and debt on you.
Dowry (Mahr) is a Gift and a Debt if Unpaid
Mahr is a gift that is given to the bride. It becomes her sole property and should not be taken back. It can be paid at the time of marriage or promised to be paid on a later date, whereby it becomes a debt on the husband to his wife, which she can subsequently forgive if she chooses to do so out of her free will. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Islam does not obligate expenses after the waiting period (‘idda). Also, it does not permit a woman to claim any money besides anything owed to her, like debts her husband owed, unpaid dowry (mahr), or marriage expenses (nafaqa).
Therefore, a woman cannot claim any type of force payments through the courts, like Alimony, as financial support post-divorce unless the husband agrees to support her willingly. Read the links below.
Check these links:
Court-Facilitated Injustice: The Islamic Stance on Alimony – American Fiqh Academy
Can a Wife Receive Maintenance after Her ‘Idda Period in Hanafi Fiqh? (seekersguidance.org)
Refusal to Pay the Dowry. – SeekersGuidance
Some Rulings Related to the Dowry – SeekersGuidance
What Are the Financial Responsibilities of a Man Regarding His Children From a First Marriage? – SeekersGuidance
Why not begin your search for knowledge by signing up for a course on SeekersAcademy (seekersguidance.org)
I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey.
He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan.
He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.
He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His personal interest is the love of books and gardening.