Returning the shabka after breaking...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Returning the shabka after breaking off an engagement


Who keeps the shabka after breaking off an engagement?


An engagement, the recitation of Al-Fatiha, the mahr (dowry), and the acceptance of the shabka (what a man traditionally gives his fiancée upon the marriage agreement, usually gold jewelry) and gifts are all part of the preliminary stage that precedes marriage. They are considered a promise of marriage provided the marriage contract and its legal integrals and conditions have not yet been concluded. People usually prefer that there be an engagement period prior to marriage to allow the families of the bride and groom to adjust relationships with each other.

Breaking off the engagement

The dowry

The default in Islamic law is that the bride is entitled to keep the mahr only if the marriage contract has been concluded. Otherwise, the fiancée is not entitled to any of it.

The shabka

The shabka constitutes part of the marriage negotiations and is customarily considered part of the mahr. It is not a gift.

Customs are valid and authoritative in Islamic legislation based on the words of God the Almighty, “Take what is given freely, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant." Ibn Masud said in a non-Prophetic tradition, "What Muslims deem to be good is good in the sight of God, and what they deem to be evil, is evil in the sight of God.” Based on this, the shabka is part of the mahr.

A woman whose engagement is called off is not a wife and consequently, is not entitled to any portion of the mahr. Based on the above, the shabka that a man presents to his fiancée belongs to him in the event of a break up regardless of who broke off the engagement.

And God Almighty knows best.

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