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Landmark divorce ruling recognises Sharia law

A British court has recognised Sharia law for the first time after a judge made a landmark divorce ruling which could change the way Islamic marriage and divorce works in the UK.

Nasreen Akhter and Mohammed Shabaz Khan had married 20 years ago but only according to Sharia law and not according to British civil law.

Sharia law acts as a religious code for Muslims including matters such as marriage, divorce and financial affairs. An Islamic scholar, or a panel of scholars, hears evidence from both sides before handing down a ruling, which has no legal status.

The High Court ruled that the couple’s Islamic faith marriage conducted in a ceremony called Nikah falls under British matrimonial law despite it not being legally recognised. This means that Mrs Akhtar will be free to bring her case to the divorce court and claim a share of the marital assets where she would previously not have been able to.

Earlier this year, a report revealed that many women in Islamic marriages are unaware they have no legal protection under UK law unless they have a second civil ceremony alongside the Nikah.

The case could have significant implications for women who marry under Sharia law but not UK law. It could give them the right to divorce their husbands, split assets related to the union and divorce more easily.

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For expert legal advice on divorce and separation, including financial arrangements contact our specialist family lawyers today.

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