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Despite the importance of marriage, Islamic Sharia law recognises that some marriages fail and that divorce should be available.
If an Islamic marriage ceremony, known as the Nikah, is performed in this country it is not recognised in England and Wales as a valid marriage for the purposes of a Court granting a divorce. For this reason some Muslims will also enter into a civil marriage in the UK, as well as the Nikah. The Nikah is a contract and the husband is required to pay the wife a dowry, which is usually a sum of money specified in the contract.
A Muslim who has entered into a civil marriage will be able to apply for a divorce in a Court in England and Wales. He or she can also apply to a Sharia Council for a divorce under Islamic Sharia law.
A Nikah conducted abroad in a country which officially recognises Sharia law however, will usually be recognised for the purposes of a divorce in England and Wales. Proof of marriage is usually proved by a marriage certificate or other legal document from the country where the Nikah ceremony was performed.
Different rules apply under Sharia law for divorce depending upon whether the husband or wife is the petitioner. A husband can divorce his wife unilaterally by pronouncing “talaq” three times. This might happen without the involvement of a Sharia Council but the parties may decide to obtain a certificate confirming that the talaq has taken place.
A wife cannot, under Sharia law, unilaterally pronounce a talaq and will have to apply to a Sharia Council. The rules may vary from one Sharia Council to another, depending upon which Islamic school of thought it follows. In general, the wife would be granted a “khula”.
Once the Sharia divorce has taken place, a wife may claim any unpaid dowry, which may also be claimed as part of the divorce proceedings under the law of England and Wales.
If you were married under Sharia Law and would like to speak to Shakeel about how your position in relation to getting divorced please contact Shakeel on 020 8956 2655 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.