In Pakistan there is no bigger conversation, celebration or expectation than that of marriage. Shadi is our national pastime. A cultural, social and religious institution that we take seriously and invest a lot of money in. Multiple events, hundreds of guests, taking out loans and saving money for it. One cannot think about Pakistani marriage without thinking about the costs but not enough emphasis is given to one of the most crucial financial obligations of a marriage:
In the Islamic marriage contract the Nikah Nama covers haq mehar in clauses 13 - 16. It is a mandatory gift or token of respect given by the husband to the wife.
It is often a monetary amount. But It can be in the form of cash or gold or even property or another financial obligation that solely belongs to the wife. The mehar is in place on every nikah nama because it is something the wife is entitled to as a safety net for herself during the marriage or after if the marriage meets an end, either by circumstances outside of the spouses’ control or ter
The amount is meant to be decided upon by the bride and groom together, an amount that feels fair and respectful to th
eir present as well as their future goals.
There are two types of mehar, one which is promptly handed over to the bride on signage of the nikah nama, called Mu’ajjal, and then a deferred amount to be paid at a chosen date or time or whenever the wife asks for it, called Ghair Mu’wajjal. And the two are not mutually exclusive, a nikah nama can include both with some gifted now and some gifted later.
For example a monetary amount can be gifted at the time of the wedding ceremony and a year down the road property or jewelry or something else of value could be gifted between husband and wife
But in Pakistan the Haq Mehar’s significance often stops at being a “token” with many families putting down a minimal amount to fill the slot and not taking into account the importance of why it exists.
It is not uncommon to see the value jotted down as PKR 1 or only slightly more.
When couples in Pakistan get married often the first time they come into contact with a nikah nama is at their nikah when the ceremony has already begun. It leaves little time for a bride or groom to whip out their reading glasses and start taking in the contract they are binding themselves through.
But this money is money meant for half of the couple as protection. In fact, some courts in cases of separation and divorce will still award an amount to a wife even if it was not specified on the nikah nama because it is within her right to receive it. The importance of the mehar is such that one can evolve it throughout one’s marriage to match not only your own circumstances but that of the economy. A nikkahnama may be amended to increase the amount of Haq Mehar this is a great way to account for inflation and devaluation of monetary sums as dower.
Before signing the contract and embracing marriage, talking about your financial goals, hopes, dreams and present situation are crucial. The haq mehar plays a role in that and can be a topic that helps you and your new spouse get into the nitty gritty of how you feel about money, the role it plays in your lives and how you wish to handle money together as a unit going forward.
The haq mehar is not merely a token but an important step into your future together.