I am trying to learn what mahr is customary or recommended according to Islamic faith, customs, or tradition. Our prophet's cousin and first male Muslim revert, Ali ibn Abu Talib (ruh), was said to have provided a mahr to our prophet's daughter Fatima (ruh) in the amount of 400 Dirhams. I learned this information from our imam but could not verify the source. Since we should follow the example of our prophet (pbuh), Is this information correct, and what would 400 Dirhams from back then be worth today in US $? Please provide sources. Thank you.
There is no maximum amount of mahr. The customary mahr depends on various factors: the piety, beauty, intelligence, lineage, social status of the bride, the financial ability of the husband, the custom of the time and place etc.
According to various reports the mahr of the daughters and wives of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was around 12.5 ooqiyah or 500 dirhams, which comes to 1487.5 grams of silver (a dirham is 2.975 grams). You can check the latest price of silver online in whatever currency you are interested in.
كان صداقه لأزواجه ثنتي عشرة أوقية ونشا، قالت: أتدري ما النش؟ قال: قلت: لا، قالت: نصف أوقية، فتلك خمسمائة درهم، فهذا صداق رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لأزواجه
The dowry that he gave to his wives was twelve Uqiyah and a Nashsh.'She said: 'Do you know what a Nashsh is?' I said: 'No.' She said: 'Half an Uqiyah; and that (the whole amount) was equal to five hundred Dirham. That was the dowry of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ to his wives.'
ما أصدق رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم امرأة من نسائه، ولا أصدقت امرأة من بناته أكثر من ثنتي عشرة أوقية
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) did not marry any of his wives or gave any of his daughters in marriage for more than twelve uqiyahs.
قال علي بن أبي طالب: خطبت إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ابنته فاطمة، قال: فباع علي درعا له وبعض ما باع من متاعه، فبلغ أربع مائة وثمانين درهما
Ali ibn Abi Talib said: I sent the proposal of marriage for the daughter of the prophet ﷺ Fatimah. So Ali sold his armor and some other things and it reached four hundred and eighty dirhams.
Islam has no concept of giving Dowry, but still, in several Muslim customs, this tradition seems to be increased. Particularly in regions like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. In fact, the custom of giving dowry has never been legitimated by Islam and is not widely spread among Muslims of other ethnicities. It appears to be the replication of previous Hindu custom in which daughters have no share in the property of the family but were given expenditures that could be in the form of households. On the contrary, the daughter in Islam has a full right to their family property and inheritance.
Dowry is mostly given in the form of cash, goods, or belongings by the bride’s family to the bride in order to catch the attention of her in-laws and her husband and moreover after marring would become the property of him or his family, which is not practiced in Islam and is against the principals of Islam. In Islam, it is not allowed that a woman is owned by a family or is traded in such a way. As it is an offensive behavior to demand money from the bride or the family from the bride or his relatives.
If the bride's father gives a gift to his daughter, it is not a dowry.! In Islam, Groom can not demand and neither has any right on anything given to the bride by her family.
In fact, in Islam, it is the opposite of what is practiced today. Because in Islam it is not the bride's father who has to pay money to the groom but it is the groom himself who has to pay an amount to the bride (known as Mahr).
According to Islam, Mahr is the obligation, in the form of money or possessions paid by the groom, to the bride at the time of marriage (payment also has circumstances on when and how to pay). While the mahr is often money, it can also be anything agreed upon by the bride such as jewelry, home goods, furniture, a dwelling, or some land. Mahr is typically specified in the marriage contract signed upon marriage.
I hope I am able to clear your misconception by this.