Family law solicitors at Slater and Gordon have noticed a huge increase in the number of Muslim women approaching us. They are looking to understand their legal position regarding the validity of Islamic marriage contracts which were executed nationally and internationally.
The significant majority of Muslim women who contact us are not aware of their legal position. They simply do not know if they are legally married in this country. By contacting us, they have done the right thing because we provide clients with the best legal advice under English or Welsh Law and can help them with many other legal aspects of their lives.
We often work with respected Sharia Councils to obtain tried and tested, excellent solutions for clients who approach our Islamic Legal Services department. There is a huge disparity in terms of quality between the various Sharia councils operating within the UK.
I was recently asked what advice I would give to the Muslim women described in this Daily Mail article about Sharia Councils. To them I would say the following; first and foremost, understanding your legal position is the most important thing. There are lots of remedies the courts in England can offer to clients in a similar situation to the women discussed in the article.
An Islamic marriage is legally recognised in England, depending on where it was performed. You are able to issue civil divorce proceedings but still adhere to Sharia Law. It is possible to comply with the various additional religious law issues, which need to be considered when dealing with an Islamic divorce.
What we must highlight from the Daily Mail piece is that the Islamic Sharia Councils are voluntary bodies offering assistance to people who want to mediate in accordance with Sharia Law. They are not courts nor can they provide any legal advice.
We explained how religious councils can only operate in an advisory capacity in our previous blog: Do Sharia Brides Need Extra Legal Rights?
If you need legal advice on Islamic divorce in the UK or Sharia Law you should contact the Islamic Legal Services team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers. For an initial consultation, you can call us on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.
Kaleel Anwar is a family and divorce solicitor who heads the Islamic Legal Services department at Slater and Gordon.