M&M’s: Marriage and Money


By Eyad Alnaslah

http://www.flickr.com/photos/elycefeliz/4410603929/A recent article in the New York Times highlighted the importance of a couple agreeing on the type of financial lifestyle they wish to live before things get serious in a relationship. Questions such as “What is your credit score?” are increasingly asked on a first date. Unromantic? Very. Important? Exceptionally. As Muslims, we do not use dating as a means for marriage. But if a man and a woman are considering each other for marriage, a financial discussion is imperative. Research also conveys that one of the major reasons behind high divorce rates is poor money management, bad spending habits and debt distress. A couple must agree on the way their money will be spent. The romance comes later! By writing this, I seek to convey to my beloved Muslims to take heed of their financial decisions in a relationship and to instill an Islamic-financial perspective that will facilitate the marriage process in the Muslim community.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) told the youth to get married if they are able to, as marriage guards a person’s chastity. However, the Prophet ﷺ did not mention that youth need be rich to get married. Being rich has nothing to do with marriage. A family should be able to sustain itself financially for what they need at a minimum, at least in the beginning stages, and with the help of Allah, a couple can grow financially in the future.

The Prophet ﷺ also said: “A woman may be married for four reasons: for her wealth, for her lineage, for her beauty, and for her religion, so marry the one who is best in the religion and character, and you will prosper.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Beauty will not last forever. Wealth will come and go. But the religion and the character of a person is what will last throughout his or her life. Islam teaches us that being rich in the heart is more important than being rich in the pocket.

Our hearts should be content with what Allah gives us, and to constantly thank Him for the innumerable blessings He has bestowed upon us. A Muslim couple should not be preoccupied with what others have in wealth. It is only a distraction from enhancing their relationship with Allah and with each other. Make du`a’ (supplication) that Allah blesses others with what they have, and be content with what you have as a couple. No doubt that Muslims should have nice clothes and work hard for a comfortable lifestyle, but we must also live within our means without yearning for what others have.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

51-22
“And in the heaven is your provision and whatever you are promised.” (Qur’an 51:22)

Everything is written for us! Our rizq (provision, sustenance, wealth, etc.) is already predetermined by Allah. We must have full faith that what Allah (swt) gives us is in our best interest. No one will make a penny more or less than what Allah has prescribed for them. Our wealth does not belong to us, it belongs to Allah. Out of the immeasurable generosity of Allah, Allah has promised to reward those who righteously spend from He already owns. Everyone will be held accountable for the wealth they have, the way it was earned, and how it was spent. Every couple should be content with and grateful for the financial situation they have. As a team, a husband and wife should not only invest their time and wealth in this life, but to also invest in their Hereafter.

A number of financial discussions also come up when discussing the mahr (dowry) and weddings. Unfortunately, some disagreements between a prospective husband and wife, or even their two families, have a more cultural than Islamic basis. It is not uncommon for the family of the bride to ask the proposing man for a very high dowry, be it money or jewelry. However, the dowry is not a price that Islam puts on a woman when she gets married. Our Muslim sisters do not have a price tag attached to them when they get married. The dowry is a gift from the man to the woman he is proposing to, and there is no set amount that the man must give. The dowry is whatever the man can afford to give her. The only requirement is that both families agree to the dowry offered. The worth of a Muslim woman is set by her faith and character, not by the amount of dowry she is given.

It is understandable, and encouraged in Islam, to have a wedding that is memorable, decorative, and full of celebration, happiness and laughter. And it is also an Islamic principle to spend moderately, and not be stingy or excessive. However, as thousands of dollars are spent on weddings in the Muslim community, some more extravagant than others, Allah says in the Qur’an when describing the characteristics of the righteous worshipers of Al-Rahman, The Most Merciful:

“And [they are] those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, [justly] moderate.” (Qur’an, 25:67).

The Arabic word “israaf” in this verse is defined as excessive spending beyond one’s means. With that in mind, both stinginess and extravagance are denounced in Islam, and this verse should be kept in mind when planning weddings. Some couples actually go out of their way to get a loan for their wedding ceremony, at which point a couple begins their lives together paying off a loan, instead of building and investing that money for the couple’s future. Many couples are suffering because of the financial distress they are experiencing as a result of their unwise spending decisions and the massive debt they carry. Some have debt out of need, and we pray that Allah relieves them from the burdens of debt. However, some have debt out of their want for more, in which case they are adversely affecting their lives and those around them. Debt should be avoided, not only because of the Islamic prohibition of riba (monetary interest), but also so the couple can work for and focus on the family and its future rather than pay off a loan.

At times, our dear families worry too much about “What will others say about us?” when planning weddings. At times, people pressure themselves to put on a wedding that others will praise. It is notable to mention that our purpose in life is to please Allah before anyone else. Marriage is a means to please Allah and fulfill a sunnah (Prophetic tradition). Thus, weddings should avoid anything that may displease Allah, including excessive spending.

Without a doubt, a couple should enjoy their lives, cherish each other’s company and have memorable and quality time spent with each other. A couple should also strike a balance and keep in mind their future endeavors, such as the home they want to buy, the children they will have, the charity they will give, and the list goes on. With financial responsibility comes discipline. Financial professionals all agree that saving a portion of one’s money each month for the future is the best investment, and “if it doesn’t hurt, you’re not saving enough.”

Lastly, a successful relationship must have taqwa (God-Consciousness) at its center. For those who have taqwa, Allah says:

65-3



And [Allah] will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent. (Qur’an 65:3)

Allah will provide to those who uphold His commandments, strive to better themselves everyday, have good character, give in charity, treat their spouse with respect and honor, are patient in times of hardship and have trust in Him alone in all their matters. Rizq (provision) can come in many different forms, not only money. For example, sound health or one’s parents being pleased with him or her are considered rizq from Allah; and the Prophet ﷺ said: “The best provision in this world is a righteous spouse.” A righteous spouse is the best rizq from Allah, and therefore a couple should, together, please Allah with their actions and decisions.

Brothers should seek a wife whose ultimate goal is to enter Jannah (Paradise), not a Louis Vuitton store at the mall. Sisters should seek a husband who has a goal of pleasing Allah in all that he does, and not solely pleasing the boss at work for a promotion or bonus.

Allah is Al-Hay, The Ever-Living. Any relationship attached to Allah will never die, because Allah will never die. A relationship attached to Allah will thrive in this world, and continue in the Hereafter in Paradise.

We ask Allah to bless the marriages in the Muslim community and gather us with our families and spouses in Paradise, where the real wealth is.

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27 Comments

  1. Fatima says:

    Jazakallah 4 d beautiful remindr. May Allah bls u n ur family

  2. aafiya says:

    love it. may ar Rahmaan grant you more hikmah. ameen

  3. Asif says:

    Excellent reminder. Money is what destroys relationships whether directly or indirectly. The sooner one makes it less of a top priority, the better for them, and the more they will be blessed with provisions like you had stated from the Quran verse 65:3.

  4. Yasmin says:

    Mashallah, this post is very beautifully written and very informative and I highly recommend that anyone who is considering marriage to read this post!

  5. ZAI says:

    “The dowry is a gift from the man to the woman he is proposing to, and there is no set amount that the man must give. The dowry is whatever the man can afford to give her. The only requirement is that both families agree to the dowry offered. The worth of a Muslim woman is set by her faith and character, not by the amount of dowry she is given.”

    This is a reasonable analysis and exhortation IF the intent is to diminish or eliminate the problem of mahr amounts being taken as status symbols. Examples of this abound in the Gulf region and among wealthy Muslims everywhere. Within that specified context, a good reminder.

    That being said, we have legitimate problems in the ummah
    concerning mahr/divorce/maintenance. Way too many of our women are put into situations where they do not have access to reasonable maintenance following divorce and therefore their options are 1.) Staying in a horrible marriage or 2.) poverty. Both are unacceptable.

    In THAT context, to tell women not to demand too much mahr is actually a bad deal for them. If I were a Muslim woman, I’d be insane to simply put my faith in Muslim men being good husbands. All that does is empower men and leave women at their mercy.

    Too many of our men nowadays, use guilt and shame to both keep women in the West from demanding alimony because it’s “unislamic” or provide a paltry “symbolic” mahr that will not suffice for any reasonable maintenance in the case of divorce. Ofcourse this is done while encouraging or even demanding women not to work either, which leaves them w/o work experience to take care of THEMSELVES after divorce.

    This scenario has played out many times, most famously with the Shah Bano case in India where a guy threw out his wife of 40+ years to get himself a younger trophy wife. Divorce rates are approaching general population levels among Muslims as well.

    My advice to all Muslim women:
    1.) ABSOLUTELY ask for a reasonable amount of mahr. As long as you’re not doing it out of pride, competition or for status it’s absolutely OK…and don’t let any Muslim, Imam or anyone else make you feel guilty for it.

    2.) Put your trust in Allah, not Muslim men.

    3.) Fully take advantage of the rights Allah has given you in the Qur’an: Put mahr into your marriage contract as a form of alimony and have it NOTARIZED as a pre-nuptial agreement with witnesses and lawyers present!

    4.)Examine a.)your husbands salary b.) your standard of living and c.)adjustments for inflation over time…and based on those, come up with a reflective amount of mahr, which you will allow to be given to you piecemeal monthly(like alimony) or lump sum if the man so chooses.

    Do NOT end up being Shah Bano’s! Allah has given you rights and with the Qur’an and understanding of local law you can procure those rights in a way that is COMPLETELY halal. Don’t just trust Muslim men and accept paltry or symbolic mahrs! As unromantic as it sounds, only God knows the future and it may well be that divorce is in it. Protect yourselves!

    • Reyhan Hoq says:

      Well said! Too many “secular” / “liberal” / “moderate” Muslims demand excessive amounts of mahr for their daughters. On the other end of the spectrum there are “conservative” / “practicing” Muslims who ask for very little, putting their daughters at risk like you said. Women have to be protected in the event of divorce while marriage must be facilitated for believing men and women.

    • siahus says:

      So refreshing to hear a muslim man’s perspective! I was recently proposed to by a guy 12 years older and not in the best of health. We had only met twice and he was literally desperate to get married. My dad always says to be careful in such matters if someone is pushing you, which he was. He then texted me that ‘it would make my kids happy if you signed a prenup’ – the marriage is for the couple’s happiness or that of my potential step kids who had yet to meet me and told their dad to get me to sign it. He suggested a very low mahr (he is very wealthy and I don’t know his net worth, but I could tell by how he had been talking – his wife died a year and 1/2 ago). He did not want any alimony for me, and he wanted me to give back whatever I would get from him in his lifetime back to his kids should he die before me. He also told me, that I should consider giving what I have to them as well bec I don’t have kids! he I felt had no right to tell me what I should do with what is rightfully mine. If his kids would have been good to me had I married him, then it was something different, but these are adult kids who are buying townhomes with daddy’s help in Manhattan and I have a teacher’s salary job. Nonetheless, I ended up declining due to his greediness – he ignored the fact that I was a sincere, educated practising muslim trying to earn a decent halal living for herself and he was just looking for a younger wife without providing any protection for me should I be widowed.
      We need to have a muslim prenup service started ASAP to benefit us, because the lawyers charge a lot and it takes $$ to explain to them the Islamic parts of the prenup

    • Anon says:

      You’re absolutely right!

      A few things you’ve forgotten, however.

      1. Muslim women should IMMIDEATLY begin keeping records of all mistakes their husbands make in order to be ahead in the likely case of divorce.

      2. MUSLIM WOMEN: Do not trust yourselves. One day you may find that the love of your marriage has faded and you have become interested in another Muslim man. In this, yet again, likely scenario, ensure that you’ve kept valid and detailed records of mistakes your husband has made in order to, 1) be ahead in your divorce case, 2) prove that his “abuse” has been ongoing to the entire community, and 3) strip him of every penny that he’s got.

      3. Keep an article about the Shah Bano case handy in case you, in a moment of love and cooperation, decide to foolishly work as a team with your husband.

      As for me, I believe like individuals will gravitate towards one another. Every great marriage, just like every great organization, must be a team effort. Two individuals who are unlike one another (let’s say, someone who believes in the wealth of the heart vs someone who believes in the wealth of a bank account) should not join in marriage. When this happens we hear of devastating divorce cases. This is also mentioned in the Quran.

      If we are true to ourselves and KNOW ourselves, these superficial marriages will diminish along with the high divorce rates.

      Do not plan for failure. Work for success.

      As for the article… Exceptional.

  6. Amani says:

    MashAllah, an excellent read. May Allah (swt) reward you in this world, and the hereafter, ameen.

  7. shanawaz says:

    Masha Allah. Very informative indeed. May Allah reward you immensely. Aameen.

  8. ISMAIL says:

    thank you for this reminder

  9. Kareem says:

    No alimony! You get a reasonable lump sum or keep it moving, we have options that Allah (swt) has provided men masha’allah. Marriage in the community is hard enough, lets not make it harder.

  10. siahus says:

    We need to have a muslim prenup service started ASAP in the US to benefit us, because the lawyers charge a lot and it takes $$ to explain to them the Islamic parts of the prenup

  11. S Khan says:

    Assalaamualikum,
    I am delighted to read this article as it is an excellent reminder for all looking to get married.JazakAllahukhair.

    But there is a very serious issue I wish to highlight.

    The groom’s side in many Asian countries like India and Pakistan expect and even openly ask for a dowry in kind or cash,from the bride’s family.Is this correct?

    Also,they expect and demand the bride’s family to spend on certain types of customs and traditions,which are not at all necessary.If not done,they don’t think twice before breaking up the engagement of the prospective bride and groom.

    There are a lot of non US citizens (perhaps US citizens too) of South Asian origin(mostly Indians and Pakistanis) who are currently in the USA for education and jobs,who pray at masjids,attend islamic conferences etc,but they stick to old unislamic cultures in weddings,simlpy exhibiting greed and show off in marriage celebrations.

    Is this right?

    • concerned sister says:

      This dowry nonsense is only common among Indians as this is based on hindu traditions which is absolutely unislamic!

    • Zaheer says:

      Yes, indeed, this is a wider problem than just marriage, and is not really limited to those from the subcontinent.

      Traditional practices often win over Islamic ones, and what’s worse, the two become conflated very quickly when the need arises.

      In this particular case, I suppose it’s ubiquity is what makes it so concerning. It’s sort of seen as ‘just the way things work’. It’s all-encompassing nature is also worrying – it’s not just limited to the things you have mentioned, but the entire wedding ceremony itself. I’m talking Mehndi, etc. While they might not be performed with the intention of pleasing Hindu gods (na ‘uthibillah), or warding off evil spirts, or whatver, they are still Hindu customs, and my personal opinion is that they have no place in a wedding between Muslims.

      And this is something which goes on everywhere – I live in South Africa and Indian weddings are notorious for being lavish week-long affairs with a Mehndi day, and day for this and that. And of course it’s seen as completely normal. So it’s definitely a problem, and no offence is meant to those who practice this, but I believe I am correct in asserting it’s un-Islamic nature.

  12. Shamshad Muscati says:

    Beautifully written article addressing the common oversight of talking about financial goals and habits as part of knowing about the person one is choosing to marry.

    Jazakallah Khair Br Eyad for writing this article.

  13. fawad khan says:

    Marriage is imp part of life.this article is very helpful for those who are awaiting for wedding nice work.

  14. Salam, it is a nice piece of article. Dowry is menace to Muslim society. It is mostly seen at the time of marriage woman side tries to increase amount of Mehar as maximum as they can and man side tries to get dowry as maximum as they can, some people name it mutual give & take and some name it gambling or investment but nobody bothers, what is the stance of Quran and Islam.

    And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth).(4 Surat-un-Nissa . Aayat4)

  15. Kirana says:

    Hmm.. I am one of those women who, due to my education and social standing, would have absolutely been justified in the eyes of my society if I were to demand a high dowry. But I didn’t. And I didn’t have a lavish reception either. For the sake of Allah.

    While my marriage did not work out for unrelated reasons, I do sometimes wonder whether a man takes a woman for granted and doesn’t realise he doesn’t try as hard as he ought and have promised, if she helps out in the marriage and doesn’t make it difficult for him to marry her. Perhaps men need to suffer a little to get a woman, to realise that actually marriage takes a lot of work from a man, a lot of responsibility to prepare for, a change from his previous life, and he better find fulfilment in that challenge or not marry.

    If I find a new husband, I will certainly seriously consider not helping as much, at least prior to the marriage, and will certainly only consider a man who has shown clear evidence of feeling fulfilled by having responsibility and caring for others.

  16. quranexplore says:

    Great article about marriage and money both are run by sie by side.I red the article about marriage in china so interesting article about marriage, the ration of man and woman in china is quite unbalance.Girls ration is low and men ration is high so a man want to marry some one then he faces lot of demands by a woman.so he make more efforts to earn a lot of money to fulfill the demands of women or her perents.But in Islam Money is secondary issue but if u get marry a girl you should choose her character not choose dowry that how much she bring dowry with her.on other side if woman want to marry some one she must choose his character not wealth…

  17. quranexplore says:

    The Prophet Muhammad(P.B.U.H) makes the criteria for selecting a husband for one’s girl . He tells us: “If someone with a comforting definitive of faith and honesty comes to hunting wedlock, then allow him (your daughter or sister) in marriage.” If you reject, that faculty direction to spreading of spreading dishonesty in the land.

  18. mohamed says:

    masha Allah nice post my friend i will follow you amazing post

  19. in these days human mind set is that “if you have money then you can have every thing” but the truth is far apart from this. parents want to marriage their daughters with a rich man. very good message conveyed by this article good effort made by author appreciate your effort good concept discussed by author may Allah give you more time to clear more concepts like this. May Allah give you more strength to write articles like this article has got a place in my heart. in these days Muslims has gone away from the true teachings of Islam. the authors like you can play a good role to create a society which would be based on the true teachings of Islam. i really appreciate you

  20. Noor Najjar says:

    Jak. very insightful

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