An-Nisa · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Prohibition of Taking Back the Dowry

Tafseer Surah An-Nisa Ayaat 20 – 22

Here it has been said that should it be that the woman has not shown any contumacy or immodesty, but the husband, following his own physical desire and pleasure, intends to marry another woman in her place, then again it will not be permissible for him to claim anything from her in exchange for divorce, even though he had given her a lot of wealth.

Similarly, it will not be allowed for him to force her to forego the dower due against him. This is because there is no fault of the woman and the cause which makes the dower due and payable has been vacated. They have bee married and have had their privacy with each other. Now, the husband has no right to take back what he has given her or make her forego the dower.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,


The ayah commands when a man wants to divorce a wife and marry another one, he must not take any portion of the dowry he gave to the first wife, even if it were a Qintar of money.

This ayah is clear in its indication that the dowry could be substantial.

‘Umar bin Al-Khattab radhiAllahu ‘anhu used to discourage giving a large dowry, but later on, changed his view. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Al-`Ajfa’ As-Sulami said that he heard ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab saying,

“Do not exaggerate with the dowry of women, had this practice been an honor in this world or a part of Taqwa, then the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would have had more right to practice it than you. The Messenger of Allah never gave any of his wives, nor did any of his daughters receive a dowry more than twelve Uwqiyah. A man used to pay a substantial dowry and thus conceal enmity towards his wife!”

Ahmad and the collectors of Sunan collected this hadeeth through various chains of narration, and At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Saheeh.”

Al-Hafiz Abu Ya`la recorded that Masruq said, “‘Umar bin Al-Khattab stood up on the Minbar of the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said, ‘O people! Why do you exaggerate concerning the dowry given to women? The Messenger of Allah and his Companions used to pay up to four hundred Dirhams for a dowry, or less than that. Had paying more for a dowry been a part of Taqwa or an honor, you would not have led them in this practice. Therefore, I do not want to hear about a man who pays more than four hundred Dirhams for a dowry.’ He then went down the Minbar, but a woman from Quraysh said to him, ‘O Leader of the Faithful! You prohibited people from paying more than four hundred Dirhams in a dowry for women?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘Have you not heard what Allah sent down in the Qur’an?’ He said, ‘Which part of it?’ She said, ‘Have you not heard Allah’s statement,

وَءَاتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنْطَاراً

‘And you have given one of them a Qintar.’

He said, ‘O Allah! Forgive me…’ He then went back and stood up on the Minbar saying, ‘I had prohibited you from paying more than four hundred Dirhams in a dowry for women. So, let everyone pay what he likes from his money.’” Ibn Katheer comments that the chain of narration for this hadeeth is strong.

Taking the Dower Back is An Injustice and An Act of Sin

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?”

The sentence refers to ayah 19 where it was laid down that the husband has no right to take back the dower from his wife except when she has committed a shameful act. In ayah 20, it has been said if you take back the dower from your wife, it will mean that you are imputing her for a shameful act because it is the only situation where your claim may be rightful.

Since your wife has not committed a shameful act, your claim to the dower is a false imputation, which is an open sin.

وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَى بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ

“And how could you take it while you have gone in unto each other…”

It means how can you take back the dowry from the woman with whom you had sexual relations and she had sexual relations with you. Be kind with women, for you have taken them by Allah’s covenant and earned the right to have sexual relations with them by Allah’s Word.

[Marriage, Divorce and Their Rules]

Marrying the Wife of the Father is Prohibited

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

وَلَا تَنكِحُوا مَا نَكَحَ آبَاؤُكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ

“And do not marry those [women] whom your fathers married…”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala prohibits marrying the women whom the father married, in honor and respect to the fathers, not allowing their children to have sexual relations with their wives after they die. A woman becomes ineligible for the son of her husband as soon as the marriage contract is conducted, and there is a consensus on this ruling.

Ibn Jareer recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “During the time of Jahiliyyah, the people used to prohibit what Allah prohibits (concerning marriage), except marrying the stepmother and taking two sisters as rival wives. Allah sent down, ‘And do not marry those [women] whom your father married…’ and ‘and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously…’ (4:23).” Similar was reported from ‘Ata and Qatadah.

Therefore, the practice that the ayah mentions is prohibited for this Ummah, being disgraced as an awful sin as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in ayah 22,

إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَمَقْتًا وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا

“Indeed, it was an immorality and hateful [to Allah] and was evil as a way.”

It is a sin itself and causes the son to hate his father after he marries his wife. It is usual that whoever marries a woman dislikes those who married her before him. This is one reason why the Mothers of the Faithful were not allowed for anyone in marriage after the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

[Divorce Before Consuming the Marriage]


Marrying the legally wedded wife of the father has been declared unlawful in this ayah. There is no restriction here to indicate marital consummation by the father. So, the fact that the father has married a woman is enough to forbid the son from entering into marriage with that woman. It will never be lawful.

Similarly, it is not correct for the father to marry the wife of his son, even if the marriage of the son is limited to formal nikkah and his wife has not yet come to live with him.

If the father has fallen into illicit relations with some woman, even then it will not be permissible for the son to marry that woman.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah An-Nisa Ayaat 20 – 22

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم                
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
[Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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