Advertising/Digital/Marketing/PR, Social Issues

#RishtonMeinInnovation: A Different Approach By Orient Towards The Social Cancer Known As Dowry

Baba Jani, “Bee, daughters are blessings. You know why?”

Me, “umm.. No. Why?”

*Baba Jani smiles*

Baba Jani, “When Allah is happy with a man, He blesses him with a son as a ‘Naimat (Favor)’; but when He is truly happy with a man, He blesses him with a daughter as a ‘Rehmat (Blessing)’ . I can never thank Allah for blessing me with his special ‘Rehmat (Blessings)’ twice! I don’t even know what I did to deserve His kindness and mercy. “

*And in that moment I saw how proud my father was of him, my mother and of us (both his daughters). I saw a shine in my father’s eyes. A beautiful smile on his lips that I wish I can see again*

Those were the words of my beloved father (May His soul rest in peace) from years back. Its one of the precious memories I have never shared with anyone and when I say anyone, it includes my mother too. I am sharing this memory for recently, I saw a brand ( Orient ) take a big risk by taking a very different approach on a very sensitive social dilemma of our society (which is a more like a deep-rooted cancer) that it generated both positive and negative buzz in the society but I am very happy to know that there are people who are sensible enough to understand the pressure that dowry puts on the shoulders of the parents of a female. That is when a daughter, a ‘Rehmat (blessing)’ becomes a ‘Zehmat (burden)’.

My mother by profession was a teacher who taught kids with special needs and is a woman who strongly believes that education is the basic need of every individual. It trains you how to differentiate between right and wrong.

Now having parents like that and being raised in a different country I was unaware of the term known as ‘Dowry‘ for the longest part of my life. I got acquainted to the word on one of my visits to Pakistan at the age of 17 when my youngest paternal aunt was getting married. I saw this room filled with electronic appliances from Split AC to refrigerator, from food factory to even a milk frother. Furniture, toiletries, clothes, shoes, in short, every single thing a person needs for a new house. Now, you’d say that those are necessities and here’s where I disagree with you but let me first translate the word ‘dowry’  for those who don’t know what it means. It’s an Urdu for ‘Jahaiz‘ meaning ‘an amount of property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage.’

Coming back to why I said that those items were not ‘necessities’. It was A LOT, in fact, A LOT MORE than necessities because the house she was going to already had more than half of the items so, there was no need of spending a fortune on those items.

I being the rebel of the entire khandaan, raised a question, “why is she taking so much stuff?”

The answer came from one of my other paternal aunts which was, “Jahaiz kay tor pay.” (as dowry)

I asked, “jahaiz? Yeh kya hota hai?” (Dowry? Whats that?)

An elderly lady who I never met in my entire existence stood up and said, “yeh to har larki ko diya jata hai.” (its given to every girl)

I asked, “Kyun?” (why)

She replied, “agar nhn dain gay to ‘log kya kahaingay?’ Aur yeh larki ki taaqat hoti hai us kay susraal mein. larkay walon ko di jati hai” (If we don’t give it then ‘what will the people say?’ It gives power to the girl and this is given to the groom and his family)

Being the rebel I was, I asked, “To ap larkay ko khareed rahi hain? Issay apko kya guarantee milti hai kay larki eik khushgawar shadi shuda zindagi guzaraygi? Woh apna gher, apnay maa baap, apni puri zindagi peechay chor kay ja rahi hai aur woh larkay walon ko itna kuch bhi day? Baba Jani kehtay hain Betian Rehmat hoti hain, ap log zehmat kyun bana rahay hain?” (So, you are buying the groom? How does this give you a guarantee that the girl will live a happily married life? She is leaving her house, her parents, her entire life behind and yet she has to pay the guy so much? Baba Jani says, “Daughters are blessings” why are you all making them a burden?)

As soon as I said this, a wave of shock ran through all the women present in the room and I was dragged from there and took in front of my parents and my father was questioned why he raised me to be a rebel. He should have been careful since I am a girl and I shouldn’t raise such questions let alone open my mouth.

Thankfully, my father being the sensible man he was, stood up and said, “I raised my daughters rightly. I gave them education which is the right of every human being. I taught them the difference between right and wrong.The questions she raised are in no way wrong but right as I too wanted to raise the same questions and I swear neither I or my daughters’ or my wife’s intentions are to ruin this wedding. We wish for the best for everyone.

My father was questioned if he has collected anything for his daughters?

To which he replied, “I do not worry about collecting things or money for when my daughters get married. If I keep worrying about it, I’ll lose countless beautiful moments I can have with my daughters.Whatever is written in their fate, they will take with them, but I wouldn’t call it ‘dowry’ but my gift to my daughters.”  *One of those moments when I took it as an honor to be his daughter.*

Here I would like to quote two men I look up to and wholeheartedly respect because one remind me of my father while other taught me how to deal with the loss of my father and how to take care of my family.

Islamic or non-Islamic, we often hear ‘Sood’ or interest is haram and etc. Why? Because giving financial aid to someone in need and taking it back in return with interest (sood) kills the humanity. I believe that same goes with dowry. If dowry is used to blackmail parents of a girl or if she is being blamed for not bringing enough dowry, I believe this is forbidden in Islam.

Everything in life has a positive and negative use. Using weapon to protect yourself and your family or using it to kill innocents. You can’t blame the weapon every time. 

I have a daughter. Some day, she will get married and I would want to give her as much as I can. Not to fulfill the requirements or demands of her susraal (in-laws) but because I want to Give everything to my child. Call it dowry. Call it gift. Call it blessings for her. And then again, it will be her choice. ” – Adil Siddiq Awan AKA aurAdil

I am a married man. I too don’t support the dowry system, but still there are things which her parents gifted her after a straight NO from our end. And I couldn’t say anything because she’s their daughter first, before my wife.” – Arsalan M Khan AKA amk

On my social media platforms I shared that there is no concept of dowry in Islam and a lot of people gave justifications that I am wrong. My friend A’esha Binte Abubakar did research on it. Here’s what she found:

I hope I made my point. In case I didn’t, please feel free to leave a comment below. :)

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