Mr. Justice Mahmood (in Abdul Kadirv. Salima, (1866) 8. All. 149) defined the term dower as under:
“Dower, under the Muhammadan law, is a sum of money or other property promised by the husband, to be paid or delivered to the wife in consideration of the marriage, and even where no dower is expressly fixed or mentioned at the marriage ceremony, the law confers the right of dower upon the wife.”
The amount of dower may be fixed either before, at the time of, or after marriage. The wife is competent to relinquish her dower, provided she has attained puberty at the time of the relinquishment.
Recently, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board unveiled a “model nikahnama”, under which it is suggested that payment of mahr (or mehi) should be in terms of gold and silver, instead of money. The reasoning given by the Board is simple: If a bride is promised Rs. 30,000 as mehr, what remains in the value of Rs. 30,000 ten years later?
According to the Board, mehr paid several years after the marriage loses its value if paid in currency notes because of devaluation of money. “We advise that mehr should be in gold and silver, so that the devaluation problem gets tackled on its own”, observed the Board.