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14FEB2020: Islamic marriages invalid in UK

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 14th February 2020 22:14

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-51508974


A court has reversed a judgment from two years ago which found that a couple who had an Islamic wedding ceremony could legally divorce.

The High Court ruled in 2018 that the couple's Islamic "nikah" ceremony fell within English marriage law.

But the Court of Appeal has now said it was an "invalid" non-legal ceremony.

Judges said the fact they intended to have a further civil ceremony meant they must have known their Islamic marriage had no legal effect in the UK.

The Attorney General appealed against the original court decision.

The case involved the divorce of Nasreen Akhter and Mohammed Shabaz Khan, who have four children.

The couple had an Islamic wedding ceremony in a west London restaurant in 1998 in the presence of an imam and about 150 guests, but no civil ceremony subsequently took place, despite Mrs Akhter repeatedly raising the issue.

They separated in 2016 and Mr Khan tried to block his wife's divorce petition two years ago on the basis they had not been legally married in the first place.

'Sharia law only'

Mrs Akhter argued their Islamic faith marriage was valid, as was her application for divorce, and that she was entitled to the same legal protection and settlement offered in the UK to legally married couples.

Her application for divorce was analysed during a trial in the Family Division of the High Court and Mr Justice Williams delivered a written judgment in the summer of 2018.

He ruled that since the couple held themselves out to the world at large as husband and wife, Mrs Akhter was correct and their union should be recognised because their vows had similar expectations to that of a British marriage contract.

He added the marriage fell within the scope of the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act, despite Mr Khan arguing the marriage was "under Sharia law only".

Justice Williams said Mrs Akhter was therefore entitled to a decree of nullity.

The Court of Appeal overturned that decision on Friday and said the marriage was "invalid" under English marriage law.

It explained the wedding was "a non-qualifying ceremony" because it was not performed in a building registered for weddings, no certificates had been issued and no registrar was present.

"The parties were not marrying under the provisions of English law", the appeal judges said.

Neither Mrs Akhter nor Mr Khan played any part in the appeal proceedings.

Pragna Patel, director at Southall Black Sisters, a not-for-profit organisation, said: "Today's judgment will force Muslim and other women to turn to Sharia 'courts' that already cause significant harm to women and children for remedies because they are now locked out of the civil justice system."

A government review into Sharia law in 2017 said Muslim couples should be required to take part in civil marriages in addition to Muslim ceremonies to bring Islamic marriage legally into line with Christian and Jewish marriage.

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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 14th February 2020 23:13
Interesting concept.

If a couple is married in a religious ceremony, who is entitled to dissolve it?
Either the religious marriage is accepted as a "common" valid marriage, thereby accepting "common" methods of dissolution or they're not.
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#3 [Permalink] Posted on 14th February 2020 23:27

In Need of Teaching wrote:
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In America it is not common to just have Islamic marriages, apart from Reverts and those who have more then 1 wife.

In UK and Europe, it is extremely common so I believe that this is a bad move for Sisters who are trapped and picked upon by unscrupulous men as they will now need to resort to shabby and unprofessional Shariah courts. There are many of these underground organisations running in UK and they will be licking their lips as business is coming their way.

Not good for British Muslim women at all. Those who ruin women will continue to take wives like trophies and Government has complicated the issue. I understand why Conservatives have done this because they do not wish to give credibility to "Shariah law" etc but at the end of the day, it will be women who will suffer.


 
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#4 [Permalink] Posted on 14th February 2020 23:31
Muadh_Khan wrote:
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I agree.
That's why I didn't specify Islam.
Either a religious ceremony is valid as common and thereby subject to common dissolution or they're not.
To avoid discrimination, they will need to address this point as it pertains to all religions.
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#5 [Permalink] Posted on 14th February 2020 23:49
Muadh_Khan wrote:
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Quote:
It explained the wedding was "a non-qualifying ceremony" because it was not performed in a building registered for weddings, no certificates had been issued and no registrar was present.

I missed this sentence on my first read.
This is troubling. The imam should have been certified, according to the law, to conduct marriages and the appropriate paperwork filed and any other legal niceties should have been covered.
If the above didn't happen in the US it would not be a valid marriage, but it would have nothing to do with any religion.
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#6 [Permalink] Posted on 15th February 2020 14:44
In Need of Teaching wrote:
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Wild thought.
In the US, the wife would probably sue the imam for performing an invalid marriage and win.
I wonder if that could be done to pressure the husband to divorce her under Sharia.
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