The right to dower is an inherent right of every Muslim wife. Under Muslim law, following means of enforcement of the right to dower are available to a wife (or widow):
- Refusal of Conjugal Rights
Before consummation of the marriage, the wife is entitled to deny cohabitation to the husband till he gives her Prompt Dower on demand. A Muslim-wife can refuse to live with her husband and refuse to him the sexual intercourse so long as the Prompt Dower is not paid to her.
- Enforcement of Dower as Debt
Where the marriage has been consummated, the wife cannot enforce her claim by refusing conjugal rights to the husband. In such a situation the wife can recover her unpaid dower by maintaining an action in a court of law. She may realise it from husband in the same manner as a creditor recovers his loan.
If the husband dies, the widow is entitled to recover the amount by filing a suit against the legal heirs of the deceased husband. But the legal heirs of the husband are not personally liable to pay the dower. The dower is a debt against the estate of the deceased husband which is inherited by heirs.
- Widow’s Right to Retention
A widow, whose dower remains unpaid, has a right to retain the properties of the husband till her dower debt is satisfied, whether there is any agreement between the parties for this right or not.
Under this right if a wife has taken possession of her husband’s properties lawfully (with free consent of the husband) in lieu of unpaid dower, then she is entitled to retain that possession after the death of her husband, until her dower is paid out of the properties retained by her.