Who are entitled to maintenance under Mohammedan Law?

Generally in all holy books, a person is liable for maintenance of his wife, children, old aged father-mother etc. No person can go away from this liability merely on the grounds of poverty, illness etc. However, there are differences in the manner of maintenance in different religions or laws. Maintenance is a legal liability as well moral liability.

Definition– It is derived from Arabic word. “Nafqah” which literally means “what a person spends over his family”. In legal sense maintenance includes three things

(i) Food.
(ii) Clothing.
(iii) Lodging.

This has also been ratified by Mulla, “Maintenance includes food, raiment and lodging.” (Mulla’s Principles of
Mohammedan Law. Note 369) . A Muslim is under an obligation to maintain following persons

  1. His Descendants.
  2. His ascendants,
  3. His collaterals, and
  4. His wife

In other words it may be said that the following persons are entitled for maintenance in Muslim Law-

(i) Wife,
(ii) Sons, Daughters,
(iii) Grand sons, Grand daughters,
(iv) Father-mother,

  1. Wife- The wife’s right to maintenance has priority over the rights of all other persons to receive maintenance-
    a. During continuance of marriage.

(i) Husband is bound to maintain wife whether wife is
1. Muslim or Non-muslim
2. Poor or rich
3. Young or old but not too young to be unfit for marital intercourse.
(ii) Maintain wife even if wife has property or income and husband is poor.
(iii) The wife will get maintenance by husband so long as
1. Wife is faithful to husband
2. Obey his reasonable orders
3. Attain puberty- i.e. age fit for conjugal rights.
(iv) Maintenance under S/ 125 CrPC 1973- A husband is compelled to make monthly allowance not exceeding Rs.500/- per month as magistrate think fit.This arrangement of maintenance is under personal law and for
the period of marital life.

  1. After dissolution of marriage.
    The arrangement of maintenance of divorced woman is different to the arrangement of maintenance of other women. In this regard, the case of Mohammad Ahmed Khan Vs Shah
    Bano Begum (A.I.R. 1985 SC 945) is a good example.
  2. Descendants– Father’s liability to maintain is children is absolute and is not affected by indigence so long as he can earn, even if they are in mother’s custody. He shall maintain-
    a. Minor child of either sex
  3. Unmarried daughter
  4. Married daughter if she is poor
  5. Adult son if he is infirm

– If unmarried daughter or minor son refuses offer to live with
father she cannot claim maintenance without reasonable
– If father is poor or infirm, mother is bound to maintain
children. But she is entitled to recover expenses from father,
when circumstances permit.
– If parents (both) fill, duty of grand parents to provide fro
their maintenance.

Section 3(1)(B) of the Muslim Women (Protection of right ofdissolution of Marriage) Act, 1986 did not in any way affect the rights of the minor children of divorced Muslim parents to claim maintenance from their father under section 125 of the CrPC till they attain majority or were to maintain themselves and in the case of
woman, till they were married.
– Under CrPC 1973- a son is entitled to claim maintenance
upto age of 18 years.

  1. Ascendants-
    Every child’s liability to maintain whether child is male of female, adult or minor who has sufficient property is responsible to provide maintenance. In respect of maintenance to parents, Mulla had laid down
    – If the condition of children is good, then they are bound to maintain their parents even if the parents are earning.
    – The son is bound to maintain his mother even if he is in
    critical condition.

– The son although poor, if he earns something, then he shall
be bound to maintain his parents who do not earn anything.

– If no children or children are indigent, liability is on grand-
children to provide maintenance.

– Where father is weak and infirm and has no means to earn,
it is duty of children to provide maintenance to step mother.

  1. Other Relatives– All persons who are in ‘easy circumstance’ are bound to maintain their poor relations who are within prohibited degrees by consanguinity in proportion to the shares which they would inherit at the time of death of such poor


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