British High Court Judge Recognises Sharia Islamic Marriage
The London court has recognised a traditional Islamic marriage for the first time in a divorce procedure. That will be beneficial for the female half. She can now claim a fair share of her husband’s possessions.
With the decision, Sharia has virtually become part of English customary law. It means that the family room can handle the divorce case.
Twenty years ago the lawyer Nasreen Akhtar married the businessman Mohammed Shabaz Khan, both of Pakistani origin. This was a so-called nikah, an Islamic wedding. But the two lived, according to the judge, in practice as an everyday married couple.
Thus, viewed from the common law, it was an ‘ordinary’ English marriage, and the woman has the right to divorce according to English law. That is precisely what she wanted.
The groundbreaking statement will make it easier for British Muslim women to divorce. The alternative is the walk to a sharia court, but the men there give women fewer rights in divorces.
Khan had tried to stop the divorce by claiming that they were never married under English law. The ceremony took place at the time under the leadership of an imam in a West London restaurant in the presence of 150 guests.
The judge rejected Khan’s view and determined that the retrospective view was indeed a ‘void’ marriage on paper, but that in practice they did live as spouses and also presented each other as such.
The woman, therefore, lived in the correct assumption that it was a legal marriage. It is a ‘supposed marriage’, according to the judge, and that gives the woman the same rights as with an ordinary marriage.
Most Muslim women in the UK only have a nikah and only a third complete a civil marriage to secure their rights. Many men stop the latter.