A high court judge has decided that a couple’s Islamic marriage falls within the scope of English matrimonial law, in a ruling that could have implications for thousands of Muslims in the UK.
Earlier this year an independent review of sharia councils recommended that Muslim couples register a civil marriage as well as a religious ceremony to provide the women full protection under the law.
The review, instigated by Theresa May in 2016 wile she was home secretary, concluded that a majority of Muslim couples did not register their marriages under English civil law, and therefore “some Muslim women have no option of obtaining a civil divorce”.
A survey last November found that most married Muslim women in the UK had had a nikah and almost two-thirds had not had a separate civil ceremony.
My experience of 25 years as a lawyer specialising in Islamic marriage and divorce is that this is not only a major problem but a growing problem. My anecdotal evidence suggests that in the last five years the proportion of people under 40 having nikah-only marriages is as high as 80%.