Islamic Faith marriage not valid in English law, appeal court rules

  • The British appeal court ruled Islamic faith marriage is no longer valid in English law.
  • It means Muslim women have no legal compensations right like property, home, and pensions after separation or divorce.
Islamic faith marriage

The British appeal court ruled Islamic faith marriage is not valid in English law. It is a setback for thousands of Muslim women in England who have no matrimonial right after the divorce. Earlier, the Islamic marriage known as Nikah was valid under English marriage law. However, the judgment overturned the earlier ruling. Appeal court ruling invalided Islamic marriages as ‘non-marriages’ within British matrimonial law. It means Muslim women have no legal compensations right like property, home, and pensions after separation or divorce.  Thousands of Muslim families undergo Islamic marriages believing it a lawful marriage in England.

Nevertheless, now they have to go for additional British matrimonial law ceremony. According to a survey in 2017, all Muslim women had nikah as Islamic faith marriage. Only one third go for a separate civil ceremony.

Charles Hale QC of a family firm 4PB condemned the appeal court ruling. He stated the judgment means absolutely no rights at the end of the marriage, no assets, and maintenance rights in the husband’s sole name.

The high court case initiated in 2018 between Mohammad Shabaz Khan and Nasreen Akhter. They underwent an Islamic marriage at a restaurant in 1998. An imam as per routine conducted their nikah in front of 150 guests at a restaurant in London. Later on, their marriage relationship broke down. Nasreen Akhter petitioned for the divorce. Shabaz Khan argued, they did not marry under British law. The high court several times heard the case and both parties to deal with the case under civil ceremony. Despite Nasreen Akhter’s numerous efforts to persuade the case, Shahbaz Khan denied to go through with the legal process.

The case hearing Justice at London high court, Justice Williams, concluded the matter. He considered the marriage under the British Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The act describes three categories of marriage. One is a valid marriage, second is void marriage, and the third is non-marriage. Valid marriage end with the decree of divorce. Void marriage end with the decree of nullity, while the non-marriage cannot legally end as the marriage does not exist.

Attorney general went against the high court ruling in the appealing court. Three family judges of the appeal court overturned the high court ruling. They declared Islamic faith marriage not valid in British law. They stated the state does not have a human rights obligation over religious marriage.

The judgment is a real blow for all Muslims living in England and has brought disappointment for Muslims women across England. The judgment created uncertainty and insecurity for women, which is a greater matrimonial and financial risk for them. It will create ambiguities among Muslim marriages in England. It is also against the multicultural concept of England. Where they protect the rights of their multicultural and multinational population, Muslim women would feel more insecure after this judgment.

About Khalil Ahmed

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