In this series of articles we’re looking at how the Bahá’í Marriage Vow “We will all verily abide by the Will of God” can help solve the 10 most common marriage problems. In this article we will explore the topic of money problems in marriage.
Although it’s not required for the people of the west yet, the Kitab-i-Aqdas makes provision for the payment of a dowry prior to marriage. This is a sum of money paid by the husband to the wife, to provide her with a sum of money which is hers to keep and use as she wishes. The reason is that even if the girl has nothing, she becomes a bride with property of her own.
No marriage may be contracted without payment of a dowry (KIA#66) . . . The dowry is to be paid by the bridegroom to the bride. It is fixed at 19 mithqals of pure gold for city-dwellers, and 19 mithqals of silver for village-dwellers (see note 94).
The purpose is to promote the comfort of all, and to bring about concord and union among the people. Therefore, the greater the consideration shown in these matters the better it will be. (Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 209)
To calculate a Mithqal, I recommend the Bahá’í Mithqal Calculator
As of July 13, 2012, nineteen mithqals is equal to $3585.88 for city dwellers, and only $54.78 for village dwellers. Clearly it’s in the woman’s best interest to marry a city dweller!
In previous dispensations, the dowry was a “bride price” where the woman was purchased, and the money given by the bride’s family to the groom. In this dispensation, Baha’u’llah makes provision for women to have money of their own. This is a huge step towards equality, and symbolic of the woman’s right to have money of her own, to spend as she wills. This is particularly important, since the husband’s role is that of breadwinner, while the wife is the primary educator of the child. When couples choose to live on one income in order to fulfill this role, the principle of the dowry suggests that women have a right to money of their own which they can spend as they wish. This can be very empowering if handled correctly!
If the bride later seeks a divorce, she still is entitled to keep the dowry:
Should either party, following the recital of the specifically revealed verse and the payment of the dowry, take a dislike to the other . . . the taking back of the dowry, however, is not permitted. (Baha’u’llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 40)
Secondly, it’s the will of God for us to give sacrificially to the fund, and when we do, we are promised a tenfold reward.
All the friends of God … should contribute to the extent possible, however modest their offering may be . . . Such contributions must come from all centers and all believers. … O Friends of God! Be ye assured that in place of these contributions, your agriculture, your industry, and your commerce will be blessed by manifold increases, with goodly gifts and bestowals. He who cometh with one goodly deed will receive a tenfold reward. There is no doubt that the living Lord will abundantly confirm those who expend their wealth in His path. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 83)
This is a much higher interest rate than any bank is currently paying; and with all the corruption surrounding the banking system, it helps to put your money in God’s bank, to protect your savings.
Closely related to this is paying your Right of God (Huqúqu’lláh), because (among other benefits) it averts loss and disaster.
This weighty ordinance, as testified by the Pen of Glory is invested with incalculable benefit and wisdom. It purifies one’s possessions, averts loss and disaster, conduces to prosperity and honour and imparts divine increase and blessing. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Huqúqu’lláh #100)
Many couples fight about money because they worry about the potential loss that’s following them, knowing that Baha’u’llah has said:
Be not troubled in poverty nor confident in riches, for poverty is followed by riches, and riches are followed by poverty. (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words, #51)
When couples contribute to the Fund, and pay the Right of God, they’re protecting their assets, and can trust that God will provide them with everything they need. It takes away much of the stress around money.
Moderation and the payment of debts are two other ways to bring our lives into the will of God:
In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation. (Bahá’u’lláh, Lights of Guidance, p. 294)
Careful study of the writings on materialism and the Right of God will show what moderation might look like when we consider the differences between our needs and wants, but it’s beyond the scope of this article to explore it more fully.
You might find the following articles helpful:
With regards to the payment of debts, it’s a matter of truthfulness.
In connection with the demands for payment of which thou hast written in thy letter, it is manifestly clear that anyone who hath the ability to settle his debts, and yet neglecteth to do so, hath not acted in accordance with the good pleasure of the one true God. Those who incur debts should strive to settle them with all diligence and application. God’s binding commandments with respect to trustworthiness, uprightness and the honouring of rights have been recorded in clear and perspicuous language in all the sacred Books, Tablets, Scriptures and holy Writings. Well is it with him whom the fleeting vanities of the world have not deprived of a lasting adornment, and whom avarice and negligence have not shut out from the illumination of the sun of trustworthiness. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 336)
I see this in two ways:
- Is it truthful to spend money I don’t have (using credit cards?)
- Is it truthful to run the credit cards up so high that you have to declare bankruptcy?
These two questions have helped me pay off all my debts so I am now debt free.
Once truthfulness is firmly in place, the rest is dependent on trusting that the blessings of God will ensure you are able to pay off your debts:
Trust in God and engage in your work and practice economy; the confirmations of God shall descend and you will be enabled to pay off your debts. Be ye occupied always with the mention of Bahá’u’lláh and seek ye no other hope and desire save Him. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 375)
Two articles which will further your understanding about the Bahá’í perspective on debt:
For more information please see:
For more on this topic, please see:
How else does the Will of God help solve money problems in marriage? Are there principles I’ve missed? What are your thoughts on what you’ve read? Post your comments here: