Al-Hāfidh Ibn Hajr (rahimahullāh) said:
979: Narrated Sahl b. Sa’d as-Sā’idi (radiyallāh ‘anhu): A women came to the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and said:
“O Allah’s Messenger, I have come to offer myself in marriage to you.”
So Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) looked her up and down carefully. After that, he lowered his head. When the woman saw that he had not decided anything regarding her, she sat down. Then a man from his Companions stood and said:
“O Messenger of Allah, if you have no need for her marry her to me.”
The Messenger said: “Do you have anything to offer her as a dowry?”
He replied: “No, by Allaah, O Messenger of Allah!”
So the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said to him: “Go to your family and see if you can find something.”
He he went away and returned, and said: “No, by Allah I found not a thing.”
The Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said to him “Go and look, even if it be an iron ring.”
So he went away and returned saying: “No, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah. I did not even find an iron ring, but I do have this izār (lower garment).”
Sahl said: “And he had no upper garment.”
He continued “I will give her half of it.”
So the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “What will she do with your izār? If you were to wear it, then there would be nothing of it on her. And if she was to wear it, there would be nothing of it on you.”
So the man sat down for a long time. Then he stood up and Allaah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) saw him leaving. So he commanded that he be called back. When he came back, the Messenger said: “What have you memorised of the Qur’an?”
He replied: “I have memorised this Soorah and that Soorah.”
And he enumerated them. The Prophet asked: “Can you recited them from memory?”
He replied: “Yes.”
So the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Then go ahead, I marry her to you on the basis of the Qur’an you have memorised.”
Agreed upon, and this wording is of Muslim. In another wording of Muslim, there occurs: “Go, for I marry her to you, so teach her some of the Qur’an.”
In a narration of al-Bukhari, there occurs: “I have married her to you for what you know from the Qur’an.”
980: Abu Dawood reported from Abu Hurairah (radiyallaahu `anhu) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) asked: “What have you memorised?”
He said: “Sooratul-Baqarah and what follows it.”
So he said to him: “Then stand and teach her twenty verses.”
Shaikh Sālih al-Fawzān (hafidhahullāh) said:
This is a tremendous hadeeth in the regulations of the nikaah. This is the hadeeth of the woman who presented herself in marriage to the Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam). In this hadeeth is a proof that a woman can present herself in marriage to a man if she is attracted to him. So she or her guardian can propose to him. So the proposal is not restricted to the groom, rather the woman can also propose herself to the one who is suited to her.
“So Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) looked her up and down carefully.” Meaning that he looked at her body from its top to its bottom. In this also there is a Sharee`ah permissibility in looking at the one proposed to just as there occurs in the previous hadeeth.
“Then he lowered his head” and he did not say anything. This is from the good manners of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). He did not say to the woman: “I do not want you,” and thereby making her feel defeated and embarrassed. Rather he remained silent. This is from his good manners and good conduct which his Lord taught him.
“When the woman saw that he had not decided anything regarding her, she sat down.” He did not reject her, nor accept, so she sat down. “Then a man from his Companions stood and said: “O Messenger of Allah, if you have no need for her, marry her to me.” So in this there is proof of what has preceded that it is not allowed for a person to propose when his brother has already proposed until he gives him permission. So this man sought the permission of Allaah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam).
Allaah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Do you have anything to offer?” This proves the obligation of the dowry for the woman, or otherwise, she is given the dowry of her equals.
“Go to your family and see if you can find something.” So the man went to his family and returned and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, I did not find anything.” So he said: “Look [again] even if it be a ring made from iron.” So the man went away and returned saying, “By Allaah, O Allaah’s Messenger, I do not have even a ring made of iron.” Meaning, “I have nothing at all.” This contains a proof showing what condition the Sahaabah were in due to constricted situation and poverty. And this is due to what Allah desired for them of good and He did not open up for them the World [i.e. its wealth].
And this proves that the world is of no worth. And Allaah gives it to whom He loves and also to whom He does not love. So one from these Companions said: “I have not a thing, not even a ring made from iron.” Yet they were the noblest of this Ummah and the virtuous and excellent of it. Rather, they were the best of all the nations after the Prophets (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). This proves the insignificance of this world and that it does not equate in the sight of Allaah, even to the wing of a fly. The value of a man is not in his wealth, neither in what he possesses. Rather his value is in his īmān, his ‘aqeedah, his knowledge, his virtues and his taqwā.
So the man said: “However this is my izaar.” The izār is that which is worn on the lower part of the body. Sahl (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) who was the narrator said: “He did have even a ridā.” A ridā’ is that which is worn on the upper part of the body. He said: “This is my izār, so for her is half of it.” So the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “What will she do with your izaar? If you were to wear it, then there would be nothing of it on her. And if she was to wear it, there would be nothing of it upon you.” This due to the fact that the izaar cannot be divided, and if it is divided it is ruined and is of no use.
“What have you memorised of the Qur’an?” He replied: “I have memorised this Soorah and that Soorah.” And he enumerated them. So he enumerated what he had memorised from the Soorahs. So when the Qur’an came, and dignity, he became truly wealthy. However, as for the worldly affairs, he had nothing of them at all. And as for the affairs of knowledge and the Qur’an, then by way of them, he was truly wealthy. The Prophet asked: “Can you recite them from memory?” He replied: “Yes.” So the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Then go ahead, I marry her to you on the basis of the Qur’an you have memorised.” In a narration, “Teach it to her.” In another narration: “I have married her to you (ankahtukahā).” [Bukhari (5132, 5149)]
In yet another narration: “Zawwajnākahaā bimā ma’aka min al-Qur’ān (I have married you off to her due to what you have of the Qur’an).” [Bukhaaree, no. 5135]
So this hadeeth has within it a proof that the Sadāq (dowry), even the smallest amount has sufficiency, due to his (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) saying: “Look, even it be a ring made from iron.” As for going to extremes in dowries as occurs in these times, then that is from transgression and wastage. And what is desired in marriage is ease and being balanced.
The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “From the virtues of a woman is the one who is easy in terms of proposing to, easy in terms of dowry, and easy in terms of her womb (having babies).”
[Reported by Ahmad, no. 24478. Al-Bazzār (1417), Ibn Hibbān (4095), Tabarāni, al-Hākim and others (a hasan hadeeth)]
However, if she is given a large wealth in mahr (dowry) and she is gifted much, then he will make mention of this mahr anytime there occurs from her even the smallest slip. He will say to her: I gave you such and such amount of wealth and gave you such an amount, to the point he will say: “I gave you a water skin.” So he will mention that as occurs in the narration of ‘Umar b. al-Khattāb [Ibn Mājah, An-Nasā’i, and others].
So, giving large amounts of mahr is a reason for the absence of harmony between the spouses. As for a small mahr, then that is a reason for agreement and harmony between them. S,o the excesses that the people go to in these times in dowries (muhoor) contains much corruption:
1. It contains transgression and wastage for which Allaah has given no authority. Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, stated:
إِنَّ الْمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُوا إِخْوَانَ الشَّيَاطِينِۖوَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِرَبِّهِ كَفُورًا
“Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.”
2. It contains also hardship upon the husband, because most of the people are not wealthy, so the difficulty is placed upon the marriage due to excessive dowries.
So it desired from the Muslims to make the dowry easy, just and balanced, so the woman is not oppressed. She is not deprived of mahr or that she is given a meagre mahr that she cannot benefit from. And likewise, it is not excessive, so that the man is not oppressed by having to carry a large burden of mahr. So the mahr is in accordance to one’s situation. And the best of all affairs are those in a middle way.
“Even if it be a ring made from iron.” This proves that there is no harm in wearing an iron ring. Some of the Scholars dislike that and say that it is the adornments of the people of the Hellfire. However this hadeeth is a proof regarding its permissibility – and had it been forbidden to wear, the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) would not have requested it from this man.
The hadeeth also highlights another important matter and that is that the Mahr can be something of benefit and not necessarily wealth. This benefit can be in the form of teaching the Qur’an, knowledge and hadeeth. That is because the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) married this man to this woman on the basis of him teaching her what he had memorised from the Qur’an. So this proves that the teaching of knowledge or the teaching of beneficial matters such as a useful skill or handicraft – and that can suffice as Mahr.
Just as occurs in the story of the Prophet Moosaa (`alaihis salaam) and how the elderly man married his daughter to Moosaa (`alaihis-salaam) on the basis that he shepherd the sheep for a period of eight years, and he said to him, “so if you complete ten years,” then that is up to you:
قَالَ ذَٰلِكَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكَ ۖأَيَّمَا الْأَجَلَيْنِ قَضَيْتُ فَلَا عُدْوَانَ عَلَيَّ ۖوَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ مَا نَقُولُ وَكِيلٌ
[Moses] said, “That is [established] between me and you. Whichever of the two terms I complete – there is no injustice to me, and Allah, over what we say, is Witness.”
So he fulfilled the contract between them of looking after the flock of sheep. And this is a benefit, so this verse is an additional proof alongside the hadeeth that the Mahr can be to provide a benefit [that is not wealth] and with that, a person gets married.
The Final Benefit:
That is the words that are used to fulfil the contract of marriage. Three words:
1. Mallaktukahaa: I have given you possession of her.
2. Zawwajtukahaa: I have wed you to her.
3. Ankahtukahaa: I have married you to her.
Three words: To marry, to wed, to take possession. So in this hadeeth, we find taking possession and marriage. In the Qur’an, we find we find to wed. Allaah, the Most High, stated concerning the incident of Zaynab (radiyallāhu ‘anhā):
فَلَمَّا قَضَىٰ زَيْدٌ مِّنْهَا وَطَرًا زَوَّجْنَاكَهَا
“So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We wed her to you [O Prophet].” [al-Ahzaab: 37]
So the Messenger of Allaah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) entered upon her with these words that Allaah mentioned in the Qur’an. So it was Allah who wed Zaynab (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) to the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). And she would feel proud amongst the wives of the Prophet because it was Allah who took the responsibility of wedding her to His Prophet (see al-Bukhari no. 7429, 7421, and as-Siyar, 2/211).
So we understand that the words of the contract of marriage are three:
1. Ankahtuka (I have married you…)
2. Zawwajtuka (I have wed you…)
3. Mallaktuka (I have given you possession…)
“Wedding rings” and “engagement rings” are not from the rites of an Islamic marriage and are considered as an imitation of the non-Muslim religious practices, and as such are forbidden in Islaam. This hadeeth merely clarifies that it is permitted to give a ring as a dowry in marriage to a woman. As for the customary non-Muslim practice of exchanges rings, then this has no basis in Islam as the Scholars of Sunnah have clarified.
 Bukhari, no. 5030. Muslim, no. 1425.
 Muslim, no. 1425, 77.
 Bukhaaree, no. 5121.
 Abu Dawood, no. 2112, but its chain of narration is weak.
Adapted from volume 4, Kitābun-Nikāh (The Book of Marriage) from Shaikh Sālih al-Fawzān’s explanation of Bulūgh Al-Marām min Adillatil-Ahkām of Al-Hāfidh Ahmad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalāni (born 773H, died 852H), entitled Tas-heel al-Ilmām bi-fiqhil-Ahādeeth min Bulūghil-Marām and is printed in seven volumes.