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Sharia marriages and civil law

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Government recommends Muslim couples to register their marriages after Sharia Law review ends


In 2015, the Government ordered an independent review of Sharia Courts as there were fears over some Muslim women being discriminated against under Sharia Law. Sharia Law is the Islamic legal system and is a code for living that should be adopted by all Muslims. Muslims can turn to Sharia for guidance on how to deal with all aspects of their daily life including when there are issues over their relationship or marriage.

The review stems from concerns over reports that women were often unaware of their legal right to leave their violent and abusive husband’s.

It was also reported that if a Muslim woman wanted to end their marriage then they also faced a longer process than a Muslim man would.

One article refers to Theresa May, when she was Home Secretary, stating that there should be “one rule of law in the UK and that is the law set by parliament”. When the review took place the panel encouraged Muslim communities to acknowledge women’s rights in civil law and that Sharia councils should operate within this law. Currently Sharia councils have no legal jurisdiction in England and Wales because they only deal with Islamic Law. Whatever rule they make is not binding under civil law.

The review has now concluded with the Government recommending that all Muslim couples should register their marriage civilly in the UK either before or at the same time as their Islamic ceremony if they want to access the same rights as non-Muslims should the marriage break down. They say this will ensure that all married Muslim women will be fully protected by civil family and matrimonial law.

Currently if a Muslim couple get married under Sharia Law and they live in England and Wales, their marriage is not recognised by civil law in England and Wales. It is treated as if a marriage has not taken place. Therefore they cannot access the same financial remedies that apply to a non-Muslim whose marriage has broken down.

It has been suggested that by ensuring Muslims legally register their marriage in this country, it may help against the discrimination that some Muslim women have faced historically for example.

For further advice in relation to divorce and matrimonial law, please contact one of our Associate Solicitors, Kirsten Tomlinson on 01625 544 650 or email

We have a large team and can offer family law advice at any of our locations as follows:-


Wilmslow        01625 544650

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For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: or telephone:

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