Dowry or Mahr under Muslim Law

Dowry or Mahr under Muslim Law

Mahr is a payment in the form of money or possession by the husband to the wife, paid or promised to pay at the time of marriage, which legally becomes her property. Mahr is usually offered in money, but it can be anything on which bride agrees upon, such as furniture, jewellery, property, etc. Mahr is typically specified in the marriage contract signed during an Islamic marriage.

Marriage in Muslim Law gives a flat out energy to the husband to separation his better half. It likewise enables the husband to have various wives. This frequently brings about a urgent circumstance for ladies since they are left without any way to bolster themselves. Mahr mitigates this issue to certain degree. Thusly, Mahr is critical for adjusting the privileges of the couple. Mahr is an outright necessity of a Muslim marriage thus regardless of the possibility that Mahr is not determined at the time of marriage, the law will assume it by uprightness of the agreement of marriage itself. Regardless of the possibility that a lady stipulates to swear off the Mahr, her statement will be invalid.

Mahr is an essential requirement of a muslim marriage, and so, it is obligatory for the husband to pay it to the wife on the marriage. A wife has a right to demand Mahr from husband.  She must be paid out of the property of the husband. Thus, it can be said that Mahr is a kind of debt upon the husband incurred in marriage

Legal rights of wife on non-payment of Mahr:

  • Husband is to pay it to the wife before the consummation of marriage. Unless it is paid, the wife has right to resist the marriage with the husband.
  • Wife has the right to sue heirs of husband for payment of dower.
  • If the wife is in possession of husband's property, she has a right to retain it until dower is paid.
  • Dower is a vested right and not a contingent right. Thus, even after the death of the wife, her heirs can demand it.
  • If the dower is deferred, the wife is entitled to it upon dissolution of marriage either due to divorce or due to death.
  • If dower has not been agreed upon at the time of marriage, courts can decide the amount of dower by taking financial status of the husband, age of wife, cost of living, property of wife, into consideration

The right of wife to her dower puts her in a similar position as that of other creditors. Just like other creditors, she must be paid out of the property of the husband. Thus, it can be said that Mahr is a kind of debt upon the husband incurred in marriage. However, at the same time, payment of Mahr is not a charge upon the estate of the husband, unless an agreement is made to that effect.



Sunni Law

Shia Law

Minimum of 10 dhirams for specified dower.

No minimum limit. 

No maximum limit for proper or specified dower.

Dower above 500 dhirams is considered abominable but legal.

If dower was not decided or marriage was done on condition that no dower will be paid, dower shall be payable if marriage is dissolved by death irrespective of whether the marriage was consummated or not.

Dower shall be payable only if the marriage was consummated in this case.

An agreement that no dower shall be payable is void.

Such an agreement by sane and adult wife is valid.

In absence of a contract, only a reasonable part of the dower is considered to be prompt. Rest is deferred.

Whole of dower is presumed to be prompt.


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