Dower definition is that it is inherent in the concept of Muslim marriages and it is an integral part of it also.
According to Abdur Rahim, Dower(Mehr) is either a sum of money or other forms of property to which the wife becomes entitled by marriage. It is not a consideration proceeding from the husband for the contract of marriage, but it is an obligation imposed by law on the husband as a mark of respect for the wife, as is evident from the fact that non-specification of Mehr at the time of marriage does not affect the validity of a marriage.
Read More: Essentials of Valid Marriage.
Objects of Dower:
The payment of dower(mehr) is enjoined by the law merely as a token of respect for its object (woman). As a fundamental feature of Muslim marriage, it is so important that it is not mentioned at the time of marriage, the law will presume it. The objects of mehr are many such as: –
- To improve an obligation upon a husband
- The subject of respect towards wife
- To offer protection to the wife and
- As a deterrence upon the husband’s absolute power of pronouncing divorce upon the wife.
Dower(Mehr) in Islam:
In the Holy Quran, Allah Almighty says;
And give the women their Mehr in good cheer. Then, if they give up some of it out of their own sweet will, you may have it to your advantage and pleasure. (Surah Nisa 4:4).
Capacity to Enter into Contract for Mehr:
The parties or their agents can enter into the contract of mehr, but parties must be adult and sane. On behalf of minor or person of unsound mind, the guardian can enter into a contract.
Kinds of Dower:
Dower(Mehr) can be classified into different types as, for the purpose of determination of amount into specified, proper or a present and for the purpose of determining the time for its payment into prompt and deferred.
It is the Mehr which is payable on demand and is payable immediately after marriage if demanded by the wife. She can demand it before entering into a conjugal relationship. The payment of Mehr can be postponed with mutual consent of parties.
It is postponed till a specified time or dissolution of marriage either by death or divorce. A wife cannot demand it before a specified time or during the subsistence of a marriage and this Mehr binds the husband during his lifetime and his estate after his death. If at the time of marriage, it is not specified which part of Mehr is prompt and which deferred, then Sunni Law treats ½ as prompt and ½ as deferred and Shia Law regards whole as prompt.
Difference Between Prompt and Deferred Dower:
|Prompt Dower||Deferred Dower|
|It becomes due at once after solemnization of marriage||It becomes due only after happening of specified event or dissolution of marriage|
|It becomes payable immediately after demand by wife at any time||Demand by wife does not make it prompt|
|Wife is entitled to recover it at any time during the subsistence of marriage||Cannot be recovered before the dissolution or stipulated time|
Specified Dower (Mehr-e-Musamma):
This is the Mehr which is fixed at the time of marriage. This fixation can also be either before or after marriage. In case any part of specified dower is illegal, the remaining part will be presumed to be specified and where whole specified is illegal then proper dower will be payable.
Proper Dower (Mehr-e-Misl):
It is the Mehr of the equals of wife and for it, many factors are considered such as: –
- Social position of woman’s family especially her father,
- Local custom,
- Personal qualifications of wife,
- Mehr settled on wife’s female paternal relations,
- The wealth of husband etc
Under Shia Law, proper dower is regulated as per nobility of birth of wife; the custom and mehr of wife’s relations but such mehr must not exceed Mehr-e-Sunnat. It is usually payable when Mehr is not specified at the time of marriage.
Comparison Between Shia and Sunni Law:
|Shia Law||Sunni Law|
|No minimum amount of dower fixed||Hanafis fix it at 10 dirhams and Malikis fix it at 3 dirhams|
|If the amount is fixed and not mentioned whether it is prompt or deferred, whole shall be considered prompt.||In such a case, half will be prompt and half will be deferred|
|An adult and sane wife can forego her dower||A wife cannot forego her dower at the time of nikkah|
|Proper dower should not exceed the amount of Mehr-e-Sunnat||No such restriction under Sunni Law|
It is concluded that dower definition is that it is the right of a woman which is either a sum of money or another form of property given to which wife is entitled by marriage.