Maintenance of Wife under Muslim Law

Last Updated at: Oct 30, 2020
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A PIL has been filed recently in the Supreme Court seeking uniform grounds of maintenance and alimony for all citizens, irrespective of gender and religion. The plea has sought directions to declare that the discriminatory grounds of maintenance and alimony are violations of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution. 


Under Mohamedan law, it is the duty of the husband to maintain his wife, whether she is Muslim or not, rich or poor. Unless she has deserted her husband, she is eligible to receive alimony. However, in case the desertion is on account of cruelty on the husband’s party, he is still bound to maintain her. The question of maintenance may arise in the following cases:

Continuance of Marriage:
The husband is bound to maintain his wife so long as she lives with him and is faithful to him. Any agreement in a marriage contract that the wife is not entitled to maintenance is void. If the husband neglects or refuses to maintain his wife without any lawful cause, the wife may sue him for maintenance. She may apply for an order for maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, in which case the court may order the husband to pay maintenance.

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 Under Muslim law, a husband is obliged to maintain his wife and family, and the term maintenance signifies the amount he is liable to pay for the same. The term used for maintenance under Muslim Law is called nafaqa and it comprehends food, raiment, and lodging, The wife is entitled to maintenance from husband, despite the fact that she has means to maintain herself.


On Dissolution of Marriage:
After divorce, the wife is entitled to maintenance during the period of iddat (nine months). If the divorce is not communicated to her until after the expiry of that period, she is entitled to maintenance until she is informed of the divorce. The wife has the first right, greater than any other persons, to maintanace.

On Death of Husband:
A widow is not entitled to maintenance during the period of iddat (four lunar months and ten days after the death) consequent upon her husband’s death.