As-Salamu ‘Alaykum sister,
Thank you for writing in. Marriage is very important in Islam, and it is incumbent upon us to marry one who follows Islam and is Islamically acceptable. Sister, while I am not well learned about your culture in India, I do know that it is the man who gives the women dowry concerning marriage. In the Qur’an it states,
“And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.” (4:4)
Sister, as we can see, it is not the woman who gives dowry to the future husband but he who gives to her. The fact that these so called “religious” men and/or their families are requesting or demanding a big dowry and lots of gold causes me to pause and wonder what kind of Muslims they are. Surely they are not following the Islamic rulings for marriage as they are to give the women the dowry for the marriage to be valid. Therefore, how religious are the men who have been seeking your sister’s hand in marriage?
Sister, I would kindly suggest that you sit down with your sister and speak to her about this. Perhaps in your culture it is the man who receives a dowry, but it is not Islamic. You may want to review with her the Qur’an and hadiths in regards to marriage contacts, what needs to be in place for a valid marriage as well as what is her definition of “religious”. Religious men who seek to marry for the love of Allah (swt) do not demand a dowry and do not turn away from a pious Muslimah because there are no “riches” in it for him. Rather, a religious Muslim man will look at a woman’s deen, her love, and obedience to Allah (swt) along with other factors which pertain to her piety and in being a good wife and life partner.
As far as her “falling in love” with a non-Muslim man, this is haram. As she is Muslim, she must marry a Muslim man. Sadly, her bad experiences with the previous men who have courted her in hopes of gold and riches may have tarnished her thoughts of finding a truly righteous Muslim man. Please, keep encouraging your sister to seek a potential husband who is balanced, is striving to please Allah (swt), and is not involved in any major haram acts. These men may be the ones whom you are describing as “well-mannered” Muslim men.
In my opinion, and I may be wrong as I am not an Islamic scholar, these men may be more suitable for marriage as while they might not “religious” by your sister’s definition, they are well-mannered which may imply that they are more willing to grow towards increasing their religiosity in a true and lasting manner. On the other hand, the men who your sister thought were religious may, indeed, not be that religious as they appear to be concerned with only wealth, gain, gold, and turning down proposals in which they do not benefit materially.
I would kindly suggest, sister, that you encourage your sister to re-examine her definition of “religious”, learn what exactly are the requirements for an Islamic marriage (opposed to a cultural marriage) and to consider the well-mannered men of good character – Muslims who may not appear to be highly “religious”. Appearances can be deceiving, and the one who may be most pious may not show it externally while the one who appears to be most pious, religious and displays it externally may, indeed, have a somewhat hardened heart.
Only Allah (swt) knows, and Allah (swt) knows best.
We wish you both the best. You are in our prayers.
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