"DOWRY" this five lettered word has become a monstar today. May be this is not a new disease, an old one,, but only recently it,has been turned into a life taking disease. This is hightime that proper diagnosis should be made and effective step should be taken immediately to free our society from this illness.
Dowry is much more dangerous than AIDS and Drugs. AIDS kills one individual and the-same with drugs also but Dowry kills the entire society. That's why in the olden days people use to kill their daughters as soon as they were born and female infanticide was prevalent in all the societies. The horrors taking place in the modern times prove that those people were right in doing so. Let us think about the origin of this disease. Where from it came and since how long it is prevalent and in which part of the world it is more vehement.
If we delve deep into these questions we come to the conclusion that "It Is not confined to one particular area but it is a contagious disease. It is there since time immemorial in some form or other all over the globe"
Dowry (Dahej/Hunda) as we all know is paid in cash or kind by the bride's family to the groom' s family along with the giving away of the bride (Kanyadanam). The ritual of Kanya-danam is an essential aspect in Hindu marital rites: Kanya = daughter, danam = gift. A reason for the origin of dowry could perhaps be that the groom and his family had to take up the 'onerous' responsibility of supporting the bride for the rest of her life.
Bride-price on the other hand involves the receipt of presents, in cash or kind, by the bride's family in return for giving away of the bride. Hence bride-price has the character of an exchange.
One feature about dowry and bride-price that is conspicuous is Bride-Price was prevalent among the tribals, Vaishyas and Shudras whereas dowry was prevelent amongst Brahmins and Kshatriyas. We can only conjecture as to why this curious combination could have come into being.
It may not be too exaggerating or harsh of saying the ancestors of Tamil Muslims were mainly Hindus. This is the truth, which we have to confront when we retrace our roots. The many customs and traditions we are observing and practicing today are the living proof to that reality.
One such 'tradition' that bonds us eternally with our Hindu brethren is the demanding of the scornful and contemptuous gift called dowry in our Tamil Muslims weddings. Begging for dowry from the bride's family by the bridegroom's is not an Islamic practice and when they talk about their daughter's marriages, with great pride they talk about gold, cash, land etc., They offer all these things as Dowry to their prospective in - laws.
In the beginning people did not give more importance to Dowry because of economic viability. Economically people were Sound. They did not think about the constraints. Giving dowry was considered as a part of rituals performed during marriages. Now only people have become conscious of this evil because of the economic constraints they face in the day-to-day life. This evil is not at all encouraged and patronised by any religion. In fact this is created by man and now man himself is its greatest victim. It is not confined to one religious group. This menace has engulfed almost all the religious groups of the world. As I have already mentioned above, that it is a globel disease but its impact on Asian Countries is much more visible. It is very much in vogue and practised in these countries.
Who is responsible for this? This is a very big question mark before us. This disease is fed and nourished by the economically viable section of all the communities. More than 90% among this group are the supporters of this menace. They offer Cash, Gold, both movable and immovable wealth to purchase husbands for their daughters. Naturally this affects the middle class and the lowest strata of Society. If at all this should be curbed the rich section of our Society should take a bold step in this direction. Unless they come forward it is impossible to contain this menace.
In India though Dowry is prohibited by law in 1961, the extraction of Dowry from the bride's family prior to marriage still occurs. When the dowry amount is not considered sufficient or is not forthcoming, the bride is often harassed, abused and made miserable. This abuse can escalate to the point where the husband or his family burn the bride, often by pouring kerosene on her and lighting it, usually killing her. The official records of these incidents are low because they are often reported as accidents or suicides by the family. In Delhi, a woman is burned to death almost every twelve hours. The number of dowry murders is increasing. The lack of official registration of this crime is apparent in Delhi, where ninety percent of cases of women burnt were recorded as accidents, five percent as suicide and only the remaining five percent were shown as murder.
The vital role in this regard should be played by prospective grooms. They should take a vow that they will not accept any amount as Dowry from the Bride's side. The parents of the grooms should also be involved in such oath taking process. Somehow, some serious steps should be taken in this regard. Anti - Dowry propoganda should be made in a war footing. Public awareness campaigns should be conducted. Anti Dowry message should reach the remotest corners through conferences Television, Radio, Newspaper and-other Media.
"And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect." Al-qura'n (30:21)
"And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahar (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful)." Al-qura'n (4:4)
"O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them - except when they have become guilty of open lewdness. On the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike something and Allah will bring about through it a great deal of good." The Holy Qur'an: Surah 4, Ayah 19
Religious heads also can play a vital role in this regard. In the Mosques, in the Temples, in the Churches and in all types of religious gatherings the speaker should talk about this evil. If we adopt such measures we can hope of conquering this evil atleast in the near future or else the destruction of the entire humanity is not far off.
How Does Islam Elevate The Status Of Women?
According to the Qur'an, men and women are equal before God; women are not blamed for violating the "forbidden tree," nor is their suffering in pregnancy and childbirth a punishment for that act.
Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. A marital gift is given by the groom to the bride for her own personal use, and she may keep her own family name rather than adopting her husband's. Roles of men and women are complementary and collaborative. Rights and responsibilities of both sexes are equitable and balanced in their totality.
Both men and women are expected to dress in a way that is simple, modest and dignified; specific traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are often the expression of local customs rather than religious principle. Likewise, treatment of women in some areas of the Muslim world sometimes reflects cultural practices which may be inconsistent, if not contrary, to authentic Islamic teachings.
The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: