Many young brides in India are often chided for their obsession with gold. But, in an attempt to shatter two stereotypes at once, Sahla Nechyil, a graduate in political science from the University of Hyderabad, has asked that she be given 50 books as Mehr.
In Islam, Mehr is a mandatory payment in the form of money or possessions by the groom to the bride at the time of the marriage, which then legally becomes her property.
Customarily, the Mehr given is gold or other jewellery, but Sahla intends to drive home a social message by asking for books.
She told Indian Express that she insisted on books because of two reasons, “One, because according to the religious texts, a girl can demand anything she wants and the groom cannot disagree. And second, because I wanted to show the Malappuram Muslims that a wedding can take place without obsessing over the amount of gold transacted between both parties.”
Sahla further explained that this is not the first time a Muslim woman has asserted her own choices. According to her, in the early days of Islam, women would demand their own Mehr, but the elders bought this to the notice of the Prophet because women were not allowed to think for themselves. Because of this resistance on the part of the elders, more and more women stopped deciding what they wanted for Mehr, despite the Prophet explaining that they were doing nothing wrong.
Sahla’s husband (they got married on August 11) Anees went to famous bookstores in Bengaluru, such as Blossoms, Gangarams and Bookworm, looking for the rare titles she wanted; they included books from genres such as Islamic feminist literature, fiction, politics, etc.
“Mehr is the right of the woman, not the generosity of the man,” he told Indian Express.