Muslim law recognizes marriage as a civil contract. Since there can be no contract without consideration and the consideration which is taken in a Muslim marriage is called dower. Mulla defines dower as a sum of money or other property which the wife is entitled to receive from her husband in consideration of marriage.

Importance of dower is that it affords the protection to the wife against the arbitrary exercise of power of divorce by the husband. This concept is also acts as check on the husbands extravagance while having more than one wife.

There are mainly four kinds of dower:

  1. Specified dower
  2. Proper dower
  3. Prompt dower
  4. Deferred dower


  1. Specified dower: As the word suggest specified dower means dower fixed by both the parties either before the marriage or at the time of the marriage. Under Sunni law, specified dower must not be less than the value of 10 dirhams, the money value of 1 dirham (today) being equivalent to about twelve or thirteen rupees. The wife is entitled to this minimum amount even if the specified dower is less. On the other hand, Shia law does not prescribe any specific lower amount to be paid to the woman. And the maximum amount of the dower in both the Sunni and Shia law is not provided for. But what needs to be asserted is that the payment of dower is on the basis of the economic background of the man. And hence, a poor man shall be liable to pay only as much amount of money or property as much he is able to.


  1. Proper dower: Under the contract when the amount of dower is not fixed at the time of marriage then it is called proper dower. The amount of dower settled upon the female members of the father’s family such as her father’s sister.” This type of dower is also known as customary dower. It is also believed that even if the parties had decided that no dower shall be paid to the wife, later she can decide what shall be the proper dower to be payable to her. It also needs to be asserted that proper dower is not decided n the basic of the earnings or ability of the husband.


  1. Prompt dower: The dower which is payable immediately on demand. The dower may be realized by the wife before or after the consummation of the marriage. In case if the prompt dower is not paid then the wife has the right to refuse to live with her husband.” The prompt dower is usually paid just before the marriage or as soon as the marriage is over. This dower is required to be paid before the consummation of marriage is made. Hence it can be said that the man has the right to restitution of conjugal rights only after the payment of dower is carried out. Therefore, it would not be wrong to infer that the dower is a pre-condition to right to conjugal rights.


  1. Deferred dower: the dower which is payable on dissolution of marriage is known as deferred dower either by divorce or by the death of the husband. This dower is also known as Muwjjal. Dissolution of marriage is under two circumstances. First is death of the husband. When the husband of the women dies, the women is entitled to pay an amount of dower. So the wife can either decide the amount of payment which either the man or his heirs are liable to pay to her by way of dower. Or the amount of dower is fixed between the man and woman before or after the marriage. And second is after the divorce between the parties. Under a circumstance where the marriage has not been consummated between the couple. The woman or the wife is entitled to only receive half the dower. On the other hand, if the marriage is consummated she has the right to receive the entire amount of dower. The dower should be fully paid as soon as possible should be more immediate.

Topic: Types of Dower


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