The following verses from the Quran will enable us to understand the word ‘Dowry’ as per God’s laws.
4:4 “And give the women their bridal gift (Saduqati+hinna) willingly (Nihlatan), and if they remit any of it to you of their own will, then you may take it with good feelings.”
THE WORD UJURA+HUNNA
4:24 And (forbidden to you are women) who are already married (Muhsanatu), except what you rightfully possess (Ma Malakat Aimanukum 60:10); This is the law prescribed to you by God; and All (women), except these, have been permitted for you to seek (to marry) through your wealth as married women (Muhsinina) without being adulterous fornicators (Musafihina). Then as to those whom you have already had joy with, THEN YOU SHALL GIVE THEM THEIR DOWRIES (UJURA+HUNNA) AS AN OBLIGATION. There is no sin upon you for what you agree on after the obligation. God is Knowledgeable, Wise.
4:25 And whoever of you cannot afford to marry the free women (Muhsanati) believers, then from those female servants (Ma Malakat Aimanukum) of the believing young women. And God is more aware of your faith, some of you to each other. You shall marry them with the permission of their parents, and GIVE THEM THEIR DOWRIES IN KINDNESS to be married women (Muhsinatin) and not adulterous fornicators (Musafihatin) nor those who take [secret] lovers. If they commit lewdness when they are married, their punishment should be half that of free women (Muhsinati). This is for those who fear hardship from among you. But if you are patient it is better for you, and God is Forgiver, Merciful.
4:26 God wants to make clear to you [his laws] and guide you to the paths of those before you, and pardon you, and God is Knowledgeable, Wise.
5:5 Today, the good things have been made lawful to you, and the food of those who have been given the Book is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them; and the independent females from those who are believers, and the independent females from those who have been given the Book before you, IF YOU HAVE GIVEN THEM THEIR DOWRIES (UJURA+HUNNA), to be married women (Muhsinatin) and not adulterous fornicators (Musafihatin) nor those who take [secret] lovers. And whoever rejects belief, then his work has fallen, and in the Hereafter he is of the losers.
33:50 “O prophet, We have made lawful for you The Wives To Whom YOU HAVE ALREADY GIVEN THEIR DOWRIES (UJURA+HUNNA), And Those Who Are Rightfully Yours (Ma Malakat Yaminuka), As Granted To You By God; And The Daughters Of The Brothers Of Your Father, And The Daughters Of The Sisters Of Your Father, And The Daughters Of The Brothers Of Your Mother, And The Daughters Of The Sisters Of Your Mother-Those Who Emigrated With You. Also, The Believing Woman Who Had Decreed Herself To The Prophet, The Prophet May Marry Her If He Wishes, As A Privilege Given (Khalisatan) Only To You (Laka) And Not To The Believers. We have already decreed their rights in regard to their spouses and those who are rightfully theirs (Ma Malakat Aimanuhum). This is to spare you any hardship. God is Forgiver, Merciful.”
60:10 O you who believe, if the believing females come emigrating to you, then you shall test them. God is fully aware of their belief. Thus, if you establish that they are believers, then you shall not return them to the rejecters. They are not lawful (HILLUN) for them, nor are they lawful (YAHILLUNA) for them. And return them what they paid (as dowry). And there is no sin upon you to marry them, if you have paid their dowries (Ujura+hunna) to them. And do not keep disbelieving wives, and ask back what you paid (as dowry). And let them ask back what they had paid (as dowry). Such is the judgment of God; He judges between you. God is Knowledgeable, Wise.
From the above we learn that:
1- Dowry is a pre-requisite for a marriage,
2- Is to be paid by husband to his wife,
3- Should be equitable,
4- The husband and wife can mutually make any adjustment to the dowry,
5- A woman’s forfeiting of the dowry for the prophet does not automatically apply to other believers.
Although one cannot find in the Quran any direct support for payment of dowry in cash only, dowry cannot be something that does not have a monetary value. It cannot be love, honesty, being faithful, etc., which are anyway traits of righteous people. If it could be something that does not have monetary value, following and many other verses (including making adjustments to the dowry) would be rendered inapplicable:
2:237 And if you divorce them before having sexual intercourse with them, if you have already specified for them an obligation, then [give] half of what you specified, unless they forgive or the guardian over the marriage contract forgives. And if you forgive, it is closer to righteousness. And do not forget the favor between you; God is Seer of what you do.
60:10 … And do not keep disbelieving wives, and ask back what you paid (as dowry). And let them ask back what they had paid (as dowry). Such is the judgment of God; He judges between you. God is Knowledgeable, Wise.
65:6 You shall let them reside in the dwelling you were in when you were together, and do not coerce them to make them leave. And if they are pregnant, you shall spend on them until they give birth. Then, if they nurse the infant, you shall give them their dowry (Ujura+hunna). And you shall maintain the amicable relations between you. If you disagree, then another woman may nurse the child.
65:7 The rich shall provide support in accordance with his means, and the poor shall provide according to the means that God bestowed upon him. God does not burden any soul more than He has given it. God will provide ease after difficulty.
What is an equitable dowry is what one has to assess for oneself. It depends on case to case. The rich as he can afford and the poor as he can. This should not be abused for God will hold us responsible for our innermost intention. When we are committing our deeds with an intention to please Him, He will guide us to do the right thing.
DOWRY IS A PRE-REQUISITE FOR MARRIAGE THROUGHOUT THE QURAN
Even when verse 4:4 says –
“And give the women their bridal gift (Sadaqati+hinna) willingly (Nihlatan), and if they remit any of it to you of their own will, then you may take it with good feelings.”
Let us see some other relevant verses in this regard
2:229 The divorce is allowed twice. So, either they remain together equitably, or they part ways with goodness. AND IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR YOU TO TAKE BACK ANYTHING YOU HAVE GIVEN THEM unless you fear that they will not uphold the boundaries of God. So if you fear that they will not uphold the boundaries of God, THEN THERE IS NO SIN UPON THEM FOR WHAT IS GIVEN BACK. These are the boundaries of God so do not transgress them. And whoever shall transgress the boundaries of God, then these are the wicked.
PROTECTION FOR WOMEN
4:20-21 And if you wish to replace one wife with another, AND YOU HAVE GIVEN ONE OF THEM A LARGE AMOUNT, THEN DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING FROM IT. Will you take it by falsehood while it is clearly a sin? And how can you take it when you have become intimate with each other, and they have taken from you a solemn covenant.
The above verses make it abundantly clear that it is not righteous to take back the dowry unless one is completely overcome by certain circumstances.
AN EXAMPLE OF DOWRY FROM THE QURAN COULD BE THAT OF MOSES
28:27-28 He said: “I wish you to marry one of my two daughters, ON CONDITION THAT YOU WORK FOR ME THROUGH EIGHT PILGRIMAGE (HAJJ) PERIODS; if you complete them to ten, it will be voluntary on your part. I do not wish to make this matter too difficult for you. You will find me, God willing, of the righteous.” He said: “It is then an agreement between me and you. Whichever period I fulfill, you will not be averse to either one. And God is entrusted over what we said.”