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Published in the 16-31 Aug 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

The curse of dowry system

By Abdus Samad Qasmi

The practice of dowry is prevalent in India since ancient times. The custom first started in Vaishya community of Hindu society but later all other communities in the Hindu society adopted this practice. Subsequently, this practice crept into the Muslim society in places where Muslims lived as traders and not as rulers.
This Hindu custom has now gripped the Muslim society as well. This practice has affected the whole society, especially the poor, backward and middle classes whose economic and financial resources are limited. Many girls remain unmarried because of the financial problems of their parents. Some of such girls take recourse to suicide and a few of them enter flesh trade and some die as virgins.

The evil practice of dowry has turned the sacred relationship of marriage into a commercial relationship which makes the life of chaste girls and their parents a hell, giving rise to suicide, corruption and moral degradation. The problem of dowry is closely linked to Muslims’ economic, social, educational and religious life.

One of the reasons of these social evils is ignorance and non-compliance with Islamic teachings and practices. Hundreds and thousands of educated Muslim girls are leading unmarried lives or believe in late marriages. Does it not indicate moral degradation of our society? In a society where this is the case with unmarried girls, who will bother about the marriage of widows and divorcees? The Prophet (pbuh) and his companions set examples for their followers by marrying widows and divorcees. Young Muslim girls have to lead unmarried life because of financial difficulties of their parents or because of the non-availability of suitable matches. Their unmarried status creates new problems for them and the society. 

Our younger generation should come forward to rectify this trend and reform the society. They should set an example by neither demanding nor offering dowry. Those who demand dowry should be persuaded by explaining to them religious and Quranic commands. If they still persist in their evil demands, they should be socially boycotted and the matter reported to the police. Demanding dowry is a legal offence also. Anti-dowry committees should be set up. This will bring positive results for the unmarried daughters of the poor. 

These steps are in accordance with the commands of God and His Prophet. These will create a good society free of evil. Unless the younger generations volunteer for such noble tasks, no reformatory projects can succeed.
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