What is Jahez?
The dictionary definition.
“In some societies, an amount of money or property that a woman’s parents give to the man she marries.”
And while we all agree that the system of dowry /jahez is an archaic old-world regressive tradition that needs to be done away with, you know what? No one actually does away with it.
Who gets Jahez?
Dictionary definition (again)
“The term signifies ‘bride price or bride service’ is a payment by the groom or his family to the bride’s parents, dowry is the wealth transferred from the bride’s family to the groom or his family, ostensibly for the bride.”
This dictionary definition made me cringe. There is no justifiable excuse for giving or taking jahez. So please STOP! There are many who stand by it, for visibly non-caustic reasons. But you know what? There is nothing harmless about jahez. It’s an age old tradition that undermines our young girls. It adds a burden to the families of those who cannot give it and more power to those who feel their right to receive it.
I am going to refute your jahez arguments one by one. Listen in and decide if you’ll stand by and still do what you want or change because that is the RIGHT thing to do! The right, the moral, the modern and the millenial thing to do is to say NO!
1. To The Larkay Waalay Who Demand Jahez
Don’t marry your daughter in a family that lays a price on her. Yes, it’s as simple as that. It’s hard, but not impossible. The family that demands a bride price, yes, that is what jahez is (check definition above) will not stop there. There will be children born, each child birth will be attached to a significant demand. Add to that, the status of your daughter in a family that accepted her or gives her respect only because of the wealth she brings with her? Really? Is that how you brought up your daughter? The girl who means the world to you, to now have to part with her and give some property & your hard-earned wealth to thank her in laws for taking her in?
You answer the question. I’m just asking it!
She’s better off if you spend that money to invest in her education, so that she can be a self-assured young woman who is able to stand on her own feet and meet her life partner as an equal!
2. To the Larki Waalas Who Want To Give Jahez
“We have 2 daughters and we’d like them to have a comfortable start in life.” – Saima Ashfaq from the UK
Let your son in law and daughter work their way up. Jahez is not a birth right and shouldn’t be. If you have property in her name, give it away to charity. Sound extreme? Well then ask your son in law that you will hold it for the two of them till they manage to buy it off you. Sound even more extreme? You know what, they can wait for you to pass away and use a succession certificate to get their share OR (if you really want to give it to her, then you can gift it to your daughter later. It might be her right, but do not attach it to her marriage. in fact, I would go so far as to say, do not even disclose to your children that you own wealth. Let them earn their way up. Son or daughter, they don’t need to grow up in a jagirdaari system. All a child needs is good education, and a decent upbringing. Set the pace so that others may follow.
3. To the Larkay Waalay who feel they can’t say no because the Larki Waalas will feel bad.
Say NO! And return the gifts. Families have done it, and it sets the right expectations from day one just like this one.
“My in laws returned everything. I am an only child, and my parents wanted to give me something but they flatly refused and sent it all back.” – Nida Anis Ahmed from Islamabad
We are not buying your daughter, we are welcoming her into our home as a member of our family, as our son’s wife, as our daughter in law and we value her presence in our lives. Not the furniture, multiple sets of jewelry, gold watches or bracelets that you so lavishly shower upon us. Why do you feel your daughter is not good enough? Your daughter will be treated well, not because you have paid a price for her, but because she deserves that much as our daughter in law, and your daughter. If we respect her, we respect the relationship our son has chosen to be in … and that’s that! No gold jewelry or coins can measure up to the life of a human being!
4. To The Larki Waalay Who Say, Izzat Ka Sawaal Hai.
“In the Punjab, we HAVE to give Jahez. It’s the way we’re brought up. Giving and taking is part of the wedding preps. Tradition can’t be messed with.” – Aishah Umar from Lahore
What will our relatives say? Well, they will say a lot, trust me. Because jahez is a habit. A bad habit. A curse on our society, that we are too lazy, too selfish or too scared to get rid off. When you can allow your girls to study, to enroll in colleges, to ride a bike on wheels, to work and feel equal in society with men, when you let them be independent in their life choices, even in their marriages, then why do you regress when it comes to jahez? Tell your dear relatives & friends that jahez is not on the agenda. Let’s celebrate the marriage of 2 young people and wish them a blessed future ahead!
Enough said. If you still want to carry on with the Jahez culture … oh well – perhaps you should read this:
“The mahr (dowry) is something that is paid by the man to his wife. It is paid to the wife and to her only as an honor and a respect given to her and to show that he has a serious desire to marry her and is not simply entering into the marriage contract without any sense of responsibility and obligation or effort on his part… It indicates the sincerity of the husband’s desire for his wife. ” Quran 4:24 Islam’s Women
THIS definition does NOT ask the bride’s family to bequeath ‘dowry’ on the groom’s family, but rather, only the gifting of ‘Mehr’ from the husband to his wife. A contract of marriage or a Nikah nama is just that – a contract between 2 individuals who promise to spend their lives together. Let’s keep it pure, un-scarred by traditions that weigh us down, and leave a burden for generations to come. Be the Change!
Shazia likes to pen her thoughts when she feels passionately about a life experience, a person or an event. She is mother to 3 lively boys and along with her husband, attempts to settle in her new country by taking German lessons so she is able to soak in the culture, language and spirit of the region.
“Wake up in the morning, take a deep breath and exhale! Keep on living with a passion that inspires others! “