Dowry: A Burden or an Obligation?

Written by Amy Yasmin Roslan

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Recently, a Facebook status posted about dowry became viral in social media. According to Syazwani Sharan, a dowry of RM20,000 is acceptable considering the huge cost of planning a wedding. She added that, the amount of dowry is equivalent with the house chores that will become the wife’s responsibility once they get married. She even listed out the acceptable amount of dowry according to the level of education of the woman or the bride to be.

The status received a lot of negative reactions from Malaysian netizens, both in Facebook and Twitter. A lot of netizens agreed that RM20,000 is a large amount of money and it is not easy to save such amount of money with the current economic condition. Netizens also expressed their concern about the desperation of young couples who willingly to put up a loan in order to have a grand wedding.

Amran (not the real name), he still owes almost RM25,000 from a loan shark although it has been a year since he got married to his wife. He only works as a supervisor for a factory and receives RM1,500 per month. Due to the pressure from his wife’s family to have a grand wedding, he decided to go to the ‘Ah Long’ service. Today, aside from daily expenses and personal loan, half of his salary is being used to settle his debt.

Dowry should not have been the priority for a couple that wants to get married, considering that it is a cultural demand. In Islam, the only compulsory gift from the husband to his wife is the Mahr. Couple that wants to get married should discuss and come up with an agreement that will benefit both sides of the party. The amount of dowry is set according to the capability of the man.