Muslim couples should legally register marriage before Islamic ceremony, suggests landmark review

Muslim couples must legally register their marriage before or at the same time as their Islamic ceremony to ensure they are protected by English law, a sharia law review has concluded.

The findings form part of an independent review carried out by Professor Mona Siddiqui and legal experts on behalf of the Home Office.

The panel also suggests launching an awareness campaign informing Muslim women of their legal rights, as well regulating sharia councils. The Home Office has dismissed the former, however.

The review was launched after a number of Muslim women seeking Islamic divorce reported facing discriminatory and regressive policies and were unable to divorce via the usual channels.

It said “cultural change is required within Muslim communities so that communities acknowledge women’s rights in civil law, especially in areas of marriage and divorce”.

In a statement, the Home Office said: “We will not be taking forward the review’s recommendation to regulate sharia councils. Sharia law has no jurisdiction in the UK and we would not facilitate or endorse regulation, which could present councils as an alternative to UK laws.

“In Britain, we have a long tradition of freedom of worship and religious tolerance, where many people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices, and benefit from their guidance. The government has no intention of changing this position.”

The full report can be found here.

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell Turner Garrett in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.