The colonial court records between 1800 to 1939 in India show the existence of excessive dower, which were usually paid at the dissolution of marriage to discourage divorce. Supporting this view of excessive dower as a useful device, Mitra Sharafi argues that inflated dower and divorce law protected Muslim women against instant divorce, making it too expensive for husbands to use it. Further, according to her, British judges enhanced women's rights to dower and divorce by pronouncing rulings in favour of a high amount of dower to protect the women against the one-sided authority of men to divorce. Contrary to the view of Sharafi, this thesis will argue that inflated dower did not protect the rights of women against instant divorce and undesirable marriage, and British judges did not really work to better the lives of Muslim women. To prove so, we shall firstly argue from the court cases that it was challenging for women to prove divorce on the husband's denial of divorce in order to avoid the payment of dower. Secondly, it was almost impossible for women to get rid of their undesirable marriage, as divorce was impartially dependent on their husbands. Thirdly, Muslim women were often deprived of their unpaid prompt dower due to the rigorous application of colonial law of limitation by British judges. Furthermore, the abolition of the office of Muslim legal experts from the colonial courts in 1864 deprived Muslim women not only to avail the interpretation of Islamic law but to benefit from the diversity and flexibility of Islamic law in obtaining their right to dower and divorce.
Arab & Islamic Civilizations Department
MA in Arabic Studies
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
Committee Member 3
Library of Congress Subject Heading 1
Arabic and Islamic Civilizations
The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy. The author has granted the American University in Cairo or its agents a non-exclusive license to archive this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study, and to make it accessible, in whole or in part, in all forms of media, now or hereafter known.
Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval
Not necessary for this item
(2020).A critical analysis of dower (mahr) in theory and practice in British India through court records from 1800 to 1939 [Master's Thesis, the American University in Cairo]. AUC Knowledge Fountain.
Tirkey, Sunil. A critical analysis of dower (mahr) in theory and practice in British India through court records from 1800 to 1939. 2020. American University in Cairo, Master's Thesis. AUC Knowledge Fountain.