100 books from groom to bride

This bookworm bride from Kerala demanded books as mehr instead of gold or money. The 100 books she got from her husband included the Quran, Bhagavad Gita, Bible and the Constitution of India.

Mrs Ajna Nasim, 24, a BEd student with a master's degree in chemistry, also had her husband, Ijas Hakim, 26, a civil engineer, give her books by the Afghan-American novelist Khaled Hosseini, Japanese author Haruki Murakami and Michelle Obama's Becoming, reported The Indian Express.

Mehr is usually a large sum of money, gold or other precious possessions that a Muslim groom gifts his bride.

But, as Mrs Ajna told The Telegraph: "In our community, girls have the right to demand whatever they want as part of their mehr. Usually expensive jewellery and cash are seen as mehr. But I asked for books."

Mr Ijas said he immediately agreed to her request when they got betrothed in October. They got married at Nilamel in Kollam, Kerala, on Dec 29.

"She reads a lot," said Mr Ijas, who works for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Madavoor, a gram panchayat in Thiruvananthapuram. "I am not into heavy reading, but I immediately agreed.

"Mehr is the right of a woman and she can demand anything, which the groom cannot refuse. There are no ground rules that only gold should be presented as mehr.

"The list of books is also our own little way of expressing what we feel in these difficult times," he said, alluding to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the planned countrywide roll-out of the National Register of Citizens, which Muslims allege discriminate against them.

Their relatives and friends initially opposed the idea of books as mehr, but the couple went ahead with support from their parents.

"At first, when everyone around us learnt about our decision, they thought that ours was a love marriage as these things are common in such cases," said Mr Ijas. "But it is purely an arranged marriage.

"She wasn't particular about getting new books.

"However, I tried getting as many new books as I could."

The couple have set up a big bookshelf in their bedroom. After reading the books, they plan to donate them to a social development project in a Rajasthan village.

"Since parents go for work, their children are left with no basic education. So we started something called a Digital Self-Learning Space," Mr Ijas said.

Mrs Ajna isn't the first books-for-mehr bride. In 2016, another Kerala bride, Ms Sahla Nechyil, a political science graduate from the University of Hyderabad, demanded 50 books as mehr.

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