Dower, also known as “mahr” in Islamic law, refers to the amount of money or property that a husband pays to his wife as a mark of respect and support. It serves as a financial provision for the wife’s sustenance and welfare, ensuring that she is not left helpless in the event of marriage dissolution. There are four kinds of dower in Muslim Law. The types of dower in Muslim law are Muta Dower, Specified Dower, Prompt Dower and Deferred Dower.
Definition and Purpose of Dower
In English law, dower is defined as the portion of a deceased husband’s lands that a widow receives for her sustenance and the upbringing of her children. However, in Islamic law, dower is explained as the payment made by the husband to the wife at the time of marriage as a consideration for the union. Its primary objective is to secure the wife’s well-being and provide for her after the termination of the marriage, whether through divorce or the husband’s death.
Concept of Dower in Muslim Law
Muslim law recognises dower as an essential component of a marriage contract. Unlike a civil contract, the consideration in a Muslim marriage is the dower itself. The husband is obligated to pay the dower to the wife as a sign of respect and acknowledgement of her rights. It signifies the husband’s commitment to support and provide for his wife throughout the marriage and in the event of its dissolution.
Legal Perspectives on Dower
In India, where Muslim Personal Laws are recognised, there is no specific definition of the dower amount. Different High Courts and the Supreme Court have offered varying interpretations and concepts relating to dower. However, it is universally acknowledged that dower holds great importance in Muslim law, ensuring the wife’s well-being and preventing her from falling into helplessness.
Types of Dower in Muslim Law
Muta marriage is one of the kinds of dower in Muslim Law. It refers to a marriage that is contracted for a specific period of time. In the case where the marriage is not consummated, the woman is entitled to receive only half of the agreed dower. However, if the marriage is consummated, the wife is entitled to the full dower amount. However, if the wife decides to leave the marriage before the specified duration, she will not be entitled to the dower or “Mehr”.
Specified dower is another type of dower in Muslim Law. It refers to a specific amount of money or property that is mutually agreed upon by the parties involved in the marriage. The amount of dower differs between Sunni Law and Shia Law. Under Sunni law, the minimum amount entitled to the woman is 12-13 Rupees, which is equivalent to at least 10 Dirhams, with no upper limit specified.
In contrast, Shia law does not provide a specific lower amount and the maximum amount is also not specified. It is important to note that the dower payment should be based on the financial capability of the husband and a poor man should only pay what he can afford in terms of money or property.
If the dower amount has been determined prior to or at the time of the marriage, it is referred to as a specified dower or Mahr-i-musamma. In the case of Kukkiya Begum vs Radha Kishan, AIR 1944 All 241, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the amount of dower can be increased by mutual consent after the marriage.
The dower payment is further categorised into prompt payment and deferred payment. A prompt dower, as the name suggests, must be paid promptly upon demand. The husband is obligated to pay the dower as soon as the demand is made, usually before or immediately after the marriage ceremony and before consummation.
Consequently, the husband’s right to restitution of conjugal rights arises only after the dower payment has been fulfilled. Therefore, it can be inferred that the dower should be paid before the marital relationship is consummated.
In the case of Rabia Khatoon vs Mukhtar Ahmed, AIR 1966 All 548, the Allahabad High Court ruled that a wife may refuse to live with her husband or engage in sexual intercourse until the prompt dower has been paid. It was further stated that the prompt dower is payable upon demand and proof of sexual intercourse is not necessary to claim payment.
Deferred dower, also known as Mahr-i-Muwajjal, refers to a dower that is not immediately payable after the consummation of the marriage. It becomes due only upon the occurrence of a specific event, the expiration of a particular period or the dissolution of the marriage through death or divorce. The wife is not entitled to demand the payment of deferred dower unless it has been mutually agreed upon by the parties.
Proper dower is one of the types of dower in Muslim Law. It is determined when the husband and wife have not predetermined the amount of dower to be paid. In such cases, the wife has the right to determine a reasonable and appropriate dower amount based on her own judgment. It is important to note that the proper dower is not dependent on the husband’s earnings or financial ability.
There are 4 types of Dower in Muslim law. Muta dower, a temporary marriage arrangement, outlines specific conditions for the payment of dower based on consummation and duration. Specified dower establishes a fixed amount or property agreed upon by the parties involved, with variations between Sunni and Shia law. Prompt dower necessitates immediate payment, ensuring that the husband fulfils his financial obligations before the marriage is consummated. Deferred dower, on the other hand, becomes payable upon certain events or the dissolution of the marriage.
Lastly, proper dower offers flexibility for a wife to determine a suitable dower amount when no pre-decision has been made, irrespective of the husband’s financial status. Each type of dower serves a distinct purpose and is subject to specific conditions as per legal traditions and agreements between the parties.
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