The Evil Practice of the Dowry System in Yemen [Archives:1999/35/Focus]

August 30 1999

By: Abdulrahman Khaled Al-Mikhlafi 
Islam looks upon marriage as a sacred social need, and makes it a duty for every man and woman to get married, unless he or she is physically unfit or has other important reason for not marrying. The following Hadith show the importance of marriage in Islam. 
– “It is necessary for you to marry, because marriage is a protection against the wickedness of the sight. If one of you can not marry, then let him fast” 
– “The prophet declared that marriage is a sacred duty and whoever dislikes this way of life is not of me” (Bukhari). 
– “When a man has got married, he has made his Islam half perfect. Then let him fear Allah for the remaining half” (Baihaqi). 
Marriage in Islam is a contract between two parties. The object of marriage is that man and woman may live together in peace and happiness, and raise a family for promoting the good of society. However, for what we observe in our society, the extortionate price of dowry is considered to be one of the most important of the social problems, which face our society, especially the youth (males and females). Who is to be blamed for this problem? The fathers are regarded as mainly responsible for this social and serious problem. The high price of dowry plagues both boys and girls. Some fathers may ask for a dowry of 400,000 YR or more. In reality, the dowry in Yemen varies from one country to another, and from one region to another, and from one family to another, also, from one father to another. It may extend to more than YR 1,000,000. 
What we see in our society is something illogical, the disparity between the very low income that does not meet the minimum family requirements and the worsening economic conditions. I am here neither to discuss nor to go into the the negative aspect of this serious problem, which is known for each member of the society. 
I want to dispatch both a supplication and an admonition to all fathers to be merciful toward their children, informing them that, money, no doubt, is going to vanish, just the good manners will still remain. O, fathers, don’t destroy love and happiness inside your sons and daughters’ hearts, and let them heartbroken. 
Don’t permit greediness of making you blind. As you have daughters, you also have sons who want to get married. You do know that the majority of the people in our society do not dwell in the seventh heaven. Life has become unbearable and going from bad to worse, since the hard economic circumstances and the unceasing corruption of the administration. So, you should not assist in worsening the situations. Isn’t it better to participate in your children’s suffering instead? The number of the unmarried, all over Yemen, is cautioning. 
So, be careful, and stand at attention to confront the inescapable sequences. Let us speak candidly and distinctly. What will happen if we pay no attention to the matter? Think a little bit! The phenomenon is going to be aggravated, and many evil phenomena, God forbid, will be created, such as, immorality, adultery, prostitution, and the like. Why do we lead this conservative community to lose its reputation?? 
I also send a letter of gratitude and an appreciation to those contented fathers, who pay no attention to the amount of the dowry, and care only about the manners of the finance, showing that they seek for the peace and happiness of their daughters. 
I conclude, by sending an invitation to the university students and new generation, telling them, that many evil traditions such as, dowry have been taking place among our fathers and grandfathers for along time. So, we should not keep quite and let things continue. No, we should try our very best to put an end to such bad traditions in our society evermore, if it is not now, let us swear to change these conventions, when we become fathers.