Praise be to Allah.
The mahr or dowry is essential in marriage, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart”
i.e., it is an obligation.
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Go and look for something even if it is a ring of iron.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5121) and Muslim (1425).
People vary in their dowries according to custom. Some of them make the mahr cash, and some offer gold, and some make it include three things: gold and cash to be paid later, and a list of furniture or household effects, and there is nothing wrong with that.
The list is regarded as part of the mahr, and it becomes the property of the bride, and its specific details depend on the agreement between the husband and the wife’s guardian, who may agree to write down all the furniture that is there, so that it becomes the property of the wife, and she takes it in the event of separation from the husband; or they may agree to write down some of the furniture, and she will not have anything more than that.
The wife’s guardian should not be too strict with regard to this list, because it is mustahabb to make the mahr simple and easy, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best of dowries is the simplest.” Narrated by al-Haakim and al-Bayhaqi and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’ (3279). And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best of marriage is the simplest.” Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’ (3300).
And Allaah knows best.