Maintenance Of Wife Under Muslim Law


The husband’s obligation to maintain his wife arises in the following two circumstances:

  • On account of status arising out of a valid marriage, and
  • On account of pre-nuptial agreement entered into between the parties to the marriage, or between the parents in case both the parties or one of them is a minor.

Read – Difference Between Dower And Dowry

The husband’s obligation to maintain his wife is mandatory under the Muslim Law.

He has to take care of all her needs and expenses.

Obligation arising out of status

A Muslim husband is bound to maintain his wife even if she is rich, and notwithstanding that husband  is without any means.

“The maintenance of wife comprises food, shelter, clothing and lodging that is a separate house or at least a separate room which can be locked, for the well to do also a servant; she is not obliged to bear any part of the expenses of the matrimonial establishment, according to Schacht.”

The wife’s right of maintenance is a debt against the husband and has priority over the right of all other persons to receive maintenance.

A Muslim husband is bound to maintain his wife of a valid marriage, and not the wife of a void marriage or irregular marriage.

Only in case when the husband is bound to maintain his wife of an irregular marriage only when the marriage is irregular for want of witnesses.

It is immaterial that the wife is rich or poor, Muslim or non- Muslim, young or old, enjoyed or unenjoyed.

Read – Revocation Of Gifts Under Muslim Law

The wife has also the right to pledge the credit of her husband for providing herself with maintenance.

The husband’s obligation to maintain his wife exists so long as the wife remains faithful to him and obeys all his reasonable orders. But a wife does not lose her right of maintenance of she refuses to access to him on some lawful grounds for example if the husband is cruel towards her or the marriage cannot be consummated owing to the husband having not attained puberty, etc.

Quantum of maintenance

There is a difference of opinion among Muslim authorities as to the amount of maintenance a wife is entitled to receive from her husband. It seems  that under Hanafi law, the rank and financial position of both the parties are to be considered ,while under the shadow law, only that of the wife, and the amount of maintenance is to be determined on the basis of wife’s requirements of condiments, food, clothing, residence, service and implements of anointing, due regard being also had the to the custom of her equals among her own people in the same city.

It appears that the wife is also entitled to a separate apartment for herself, free from the intrusion of any person other than her husband.

Maintenance under Ante- nuptial Agreements

Certain ante -nuptial and post-nuptial agreements can be entered into between the spouses under Muslim Law. Thus, a wife may validly stipulate that in case the husband ill- treats her, takes a second wife or keeps a concubine, she will be entitled to live separately and claim maintenance against the husband.

The wife is also entitled to the special allowance known as the name of kharch -i-pandan, guzara or mewa-khori.


The husband under Muslim Law is under the compulsory obligation to maintain his wife and take care of her necessary expenses and to look after her all needs irrespective of the fact that whether she is rich or poor, enjoyed or unenjoyed, etc.


Content Writer, Law Corner, B.A.LL.B(Hons), 5th Semester, Unity Law and PG college

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