Can I Use Savings for Charity Before Paying a Dowry Debt?

17 March, 2019
Q As-salamu `alaykum. I got married a couple of years ago. I did not have enough money at that time so I told my wife that I will pay her dowry later on which she agreed. Now I have a better job but I don't have a lot of saving. Last Ramadan I read in the Qur’an that Allah loves those who have set percentage from their income for charity. Since that day I started deducting 5% of my pay check and putting it aside for charity. My question is that: can I use that money to pay off my wife's dowry? And my parents are well-off but if they need money; can I use that money?


Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

You should give priority to paying off your debts over optional charities. So, you may pay your wife deferred dowry and then give in charity. You may strike a balance between both, paying off your debt and giving in charity.

Responding to your question, Dr. Wael Shihab. PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University, and currently the Imam of the Downtown Toronto Masjid in Canada, states:

It is your duty to pay off your debt to your wife, the deferred dowry. It’s her financial right and you should pay it once you are able to. Allah says, {And be true to every promise – for, verily, [on Judgment Day] you will be called to account for every promise which you have made!} (Al-Israa’ 17:34)

Also, Allah says, {And give unto the women (whom you marry) free gift of their marriage portions, but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then you are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth).} (An-Nisaa’ 4:4)

You should take care of your parents too. If they are in a real need of money, it’s your duty to support them as much as you can.

Finally, you shouldn’t mix these duties with optional charities. You should meet your duties first; then you are recommended to give in charity if you are able to. You may strike a balance between your obligations and giving in charity.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.