Explain the concept of dower under Muslim law.
What is dower and discuss the types of dower under Muslim law.
In Muslim religion, it is generally said that marriage is contractual in nature and dower is paid as consideration by one party to another party. But actually, dower should not be confused with consideration because both are different from one another. According to Section 25 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, if consideration has not been paid by one party to another then in such a case an agreement is considered void but on the other hand, if the dower has not been paid by one party at the time of marriage, it does not render the marriage void or invalid.
In Muslim religion, dower is basically that amount or property which is agreed to be paid by husband to his wife at the time of marriage in the consideration of marriage. It is a sum of money or other property which the wife is entitled to receive from her husband. Here the word “consideration” is not same as given under Indian Contract Act, 1872. In Muslim religion, it is an obligation imposed upon the husband as a mark of respect to the wife.
In the case of Abdul Kadir vs Salima[I.L.R (1886) 8 ALL 149 (157)], it was said that, “Dower under Muslim law is a sum of money or other property promised by the husband to be paid or delivered to the wife in consideration of marriage and even where no Dower is expressly fixed or a mentioned at the marriage ceremony, the law confers the right of dower upon the wife.”
Under Muslim law, Dower is very important because it protects the wife from the arbitrary exercise of power of divorce by the husband. In Muslim religion, husband has vast powers to give divorce to the wife, so the dower plays an important role to check upon the capricious exercise of husband of his power to dissolve the marriage at any time. Moreover it gives a financial support to the wife and if husband gives the divorce to her then she can sustain after divorce with the amount of Dower.
In Muslim law, Dower can be classified into two kinds:-
• Specified Dower
• Customary Dower
- Specified Dower:- If the amount of dower is ascertained in the marriage contract, it is known as specified dower. It may be ascertained by the parties either before the marriage or at the time of marriage or even after the marriage. Specified dower can be subdivided into two categories:-
• Prompt Dower
• Deferred Dower
Prompt dower is that dower which is payable immediately after marriage on demand of wife. According to Muslim law, a wife can refuse to allow her husband to have a matrimonial intercourse until the payment of prompt dower. If marriage has been consummated then after consummation, prompt dower does not become a deferred dower and even after consummation, she can file a suit for the recovery of a prompt dower. On the other hand deferred dower is that dower which is payable on the dissolution of marriage either by death or a divorce. According to Muslim law, wife is not entitled to demand payment of deferred dower but husband can treat it as a prompt dower and pay even before the dissolution of marriage.
- Customary Dower:- When the amount of dower is not fixed in the marriage contract or if wife solemnizes the marriage on the condition that she will not claim the dower, then after the solemnization of marriage, the wife is entitled to customary dower and it is a determined after analysing various factors the like:- • Personal qualification of wife, her age, beauty etc.
• Social position of her father’s family
• Dower given to her female paternal relations
• Economic conditions of her father
In every religion, marriage is a social institution and every female gives the consent for marriage on the faith that her husband will support her throughout her life. But if due to any reason, their marriage is broken then to protect the girl from destitution and vagrancy dower is given to her by her husband.