Define Dower. What are its kinds? Discuss the nature and legal significance of Dower in Muslim Law.
Category : Family Law – II
According to K.P.Sexena, “Dower is a sum of money or any property promised by the husband to be paid o delivered to the wife as a mark of respect for the surrender of her person after the marriage contract but generally said to be consideration for marriage.”
DEFINITION:-Dower or mehr is a sum that becomes payable by the husband to the wife on marriage either by agreement between the parties or by the operation of law. It may either be prompt or deferred. According to Wilson, “dower is a consideration for the surrender of person by the wife. It is the technical Anglo Mohammedan term for its equivalent ‘Mehr’ in Arabic. According to Amir Ali, “Dower is a consideration which belongs absolutely to the wife.” Mulla said, “Dower is a sum of money or other property which the wife is entitled to receive from the husband in consideration of the marriage.”
KINDS OF DOWER: – Dower may be divided into two kinds:-
1.Specified dower: -This kind of dower is further divided into a) Prompt dower b) deferred dower.
- i)SPECIFIED DOWER: – If the amount of dower is stated in the marriage contract, it is called the specified dower. Dower is settled by the parties to the marriage either before the marriage or at the time of the marriage or even after the marriage. If the parties to the marriage attained the age of puberty and are of sound mind they are competent to settle themselves the amount of dower. Guardian can settle the amount of dower provided that at the time of settlement of dower the boy is still minor or lunatic. Specified dower is again sub divided into:-
Prompt dower: – It is payable immediately after marriage on demand. Ameer Ali, a wife can refuse to enter into conjugal domicile of husband until the payment of the prompt dower. 2. Prompt dower does not become deferred after consummation of marriage. 3. It is only on the payment of the prompt dower the husband entitled to enforce the conjugal rights.4. Prompt dower is payable on demand.
Deferred dower:-It is payable on dissolution of marriage either by death or divorce. 2. The wife is not entitled to demand payment of deferred dower. 3. The widow may relinquish her dower at the time of her husband’s funeral by the recital of a formula. 4. The interest of the wife in the deferred dower is a vested one and not a contingent one.
- Customary Dover:-When the amount of the dower is not fixed in the marriage contract or even if the marriage has been contracted on the condition that she should not claim any dower, the wife is entitled to proper dower. The amount of proper dower is settled by female members of the father’s family such as her father’s sisters.
Determination of Proper Dower: – the proper dower is regulated with reference to the following factors:-
- i) Personal qualification of wife, her age, beauty, fortune, understanding and virtue.
Ii) Social position of her father’s family.
Iii) Dower given to her female paternal relations.
- IV) Economic condition of her husband.
- v) Circumstances of the time.
There is no limit to the maximum amount of proper dower under the Sunni Law but under theshia law the proper dower should not exceed the 500 dhirams. This amount was fixed in the
Marriage of Fatima the Prophet daughter. In the shia Muslims it is therefore considered a point of
Honour not stipulate for a sum higher than the sum of dower fixed by the Prophet for his
Legal Significance of Dower in Muslim Law :-The following are the legal significance of Dower in Muslim Law:-
- The reason of its significance lies in the protection that it imparts to the wife against the arbitrary exercise of the power of divorce by the husband.
- Dower is a right of the wife is fundamental feature of marriage contract and has a pivotal place in the domestic relation affecting the mutual rights.
- According to Muslim Law on the dissolution of marriage the wife can claim her dower money. It may be higher or it may be low depends upon on the source of income of the husband.
- Legislature has given the power to make law providing that, the court will not be bound to award the amount of dower according to marriage deed (Sec. Of Oudh Law Act.1876). but only such sum as shall be reasonable with reference to the means of husband and the Iddat of the wife as held in a case of Adul Rehman v/s Inayati Bibi-1931.
- Another Significance of Dower is to place a check on the capricious use of divorce on the part of husband.
- To impose an obligation on the husband as a mark of respect of the wife.
- To provide for her subsistence after the dissolution of her marriage so that she may not become helpless after the death of the husband or termination of marriage by divorce.