Dower, Curtesy and Mahr

One thing that makes our law practice in DC and its Maryland and DC suburbs interesting is that we have a lot of international clients, such as employees of the World Bank or International Monetary Fund.  We are used to prenuptial agreements and waivers of common law rights like dower and curtesy and all rights granted under Maryland law or any other state or nation.  But when you have clients who married under Islamic law, you may also have to inquire about Mahr.

Mahr (also spelled mehr, meher, or mahrieh), according to is “a gift, mandatory in Islam, which is given by the groom to the bride upon marriage in Islamic cultures (in contrast to other cultures’ bride price, which is paid to the bride’s father).  It is considered to be a form of appreciation, as well as providing certain guarantees for the woman.”

The gift may be slight or major involving investments and real estate according to the social status of the bride.  It can be paid in installments, one at marriage and the other if the husband dies or the parties divorce.

“According to a tradition in Bukhari, the mahr is an essential condition for the legality of the marriage: ‘Every marriage without mahr is null and void’.”  Encyclopaedia of Islam.  The Qur’an also mentions Mahr at verse 4:4.