Baloch Daughters a blessing, not liability
January 13, 2012
Baloch are the most under developed community in Pakistan but their customs and traditions are distinctive. Baloch are considered as ferocious, un-educated and backward people of society as compared to other communities. But these under developed and backward people are far better in many practices, for instance, the crucial issue of dowry, said Faiza Baloch, a 27-year-old woman.
She said Baloch daughters are not considered liabilities, while in other communities when a daughter is born, the parents start worrying about her marriage and her dowry, and it is a social stigma that daughters are considered as liabilities, just because of the practice of the dowry.
She said: “We are five sisters and four of us are married; our parents never were worried about our wedding and jehaz (dowry).
We all got married as per our Balochi customs and every thing in the wedding was provided by the bride groom and he bore all the wedding expenses.”
Among the Baloch, dowry or Jehaz is not customary. The bridegroom or his family does not demand any sort of dowry in any form from the bride's family, Faiza elaborates.
She said if the bride's family can afford to give any gifts to their daughter, they are welcomed, but if not, then the groom's family has no right to demand dowry. It is considered bad manners if the groom or his family demand any kind of dowry.
It is said that the father of the bride is giving away his honour and beloved daughter to the groom, which cannot be evaluated with materialistic things of the world. So a Baloch father is never worried about his daughter's marriage and it's clear that dowry (Jehaz) is not a part of Islam so he has not to worry about anything.
Even if he has more than one daughter, it makes no difference, Faiza says proudly.
At the time of marriage, the groom is responsible for providing Mahr, but he also provides the finances of the wedding according to his means. A Baloch groom is bound to provide not only the Mahr, but he also bears the wedding expenses and other sundry demands required to setup a home.
The groom has to give all the necessities of life to the woman going to be his bride, according to his affordability.
In times when slavery was practiced in several parts of Balochistan, rich grooms who could afford a huge Mahr in kind or cash, also provided their wife with a personal slave who did all the servile chores including looking after of their children.
A Baloch marriage is similar to the marriage of the world's most pious and honorable woman Hazrat Fatima (A.S) to Hazrat Ali Abi Talib (R.A). The later did not ask for any dowry from bride's father. Instead he sold his armour and the amount thus accrued was given to Holy Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) as Fatima's Mahr. Portion of that amount was used for preparation of the wedding and for articles of household. The best example the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) set is the marriage of his beloved daughter Fatima (A.S). The gifts given to her were extremely modest household articles comprising a sheet, a leather water-bag, and a pillow stuffed with grass and fibre.
Marriage is a sacred affair in any religion, but in Islam it has a special status. Islam prohibits any practice which is against Shariah. The concept of dowry (Jehaz) does not exist in Islam and the dower (Mahr) in Islam is totally different from the Jehaz concept.
Accordion to Islam, a daughter is neither a burden nor a loss.
As mentioned in the Holy Quran, "And give women (on marriage) their dower (Mahr) as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it with right good cheer." (Al-Qur'an: Al-Nisa':4).
It is very clear from the verses of the Quran and from the Sunnah that dowry (Jihaz) is not the part of Islam.
Any father who wishes to give gifts to his daughter is commendable, but if he cannot afford to give gifts, it's not obligatory for him to go out of his way and provide or fulfill any demand of the groom's family. But the general practice of marriage in the other communities is contrary to Shariah and Sunnah. The elite of society know that dowry or Jehaz is not part of Islam, but practice this evil and it has become an essential part of our lives.
Dowry is considered as part of tradition. Families are compelled to fulfill this demand, and failure to do so sometimes leads to tragedy, including suicide.
If one is talking about tradition, it's important to know the dynamics of tradition.
The custom of giving dowry actually seems to be on the increase among several Muslim cultures, notably those of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin. In fact, it is a practice which has never been sanctioned by Islam and is not prevalent amongst Muslims of other cultures; it is an imitation of ancient Hindu culture.
It's Important to know religious and cultural importance of dowry amongst the Hindus. There were two types of practices involved in Hindu culture: One, dowry and other is bride-price.
Dowry is practised among the higher castes to whom no manual labour was assigned in the caste hierarchy. A marriage meant an additional member who was to be supported and hence was a burden on the groom's family as the bride did not go out to earn and contribute to the family income. Thus a dowry was collected to provide the additional burden resulting from a bride's entry into the groom's family.
Contrary to dowry, the bride-price exists mainly among the lower castes and tribal Adivasis. The going away of a bride from the family meant a loss in the number of members who could work along with other members and was a source of income for the family. Thus, family suffers a loss of an earning member. Hence, a bride-price was paid to the bride's parents to compensate the loss.