The meaning of the word “Dowry”, from the English version of the Personal Status Law, somehow does not sum up the real and full meaning of it, which in Arabic is Mahr or Sadaq.
The term “Dowry” is sometimes incorrectly used to translate mahr or sadaq. Still, mahr and sadaq as per the Personal Status Law of the UAE and as per the Sharia regulations differ from dowries in many other cultures. A dowry in some non-Muslim cultures represents the assets (for example, money, gold, or a house) the bride puts forward, generally provided by her family.
Article no. 49 of Personal Status Law defines the dowry as “the money or property offered by the husband to his wife for marriage.”
This dowry can be in the form of money and in-kind, like a property, gold, or whatever possession that carries value. In the second thesis of the same article, it is mentioned that the law does not prescribe a minimum or maximum for the dowry.
Mahr or Sadaq also can be classified as a form of “bride wealth”, being given directly to the bride and not to her parents. In fact, as her property. Mahr or Sadaq sets out the financial independence of the bride. Firstly, she will be independent of her parents and secondly, from her husband in case of divorce. (Article no. 50, Personal Status Law).
Why should the groom be required to give the dowry to the bride?
The widely understanding for the dowry is to secure the financial independence of the woman that is very necessary in case of divorce or death of the husband. For this reason, she is not allowed to waive it.
Article no. 51.2, Personal Status Law, is mentioning that for those situations when the dowry’s amount is not determinate in the contract, it’s invalidly stated, or it’s originally dismissed, the woman is still entitled to an equal dowry payable to a bride under the same circumstances.
This means that in such circumstances that the marriage agreement is established without mention of the dowry amount “Mahr,” the validity of the marriage would not be affected. However, the wife remains eligible to receive such amount. Also, in such circumstances that the dowry amount is determined in the marriage agreement but not factually paid to her or paid but not in full. The eligibility of the wife receiving such dowry or its balance as the case may remain, and the amount is considered as a debt to the husband payable to the wife in case of divorce or death of the husband.
Legal editor of The UAE Jurist