Muslim Parliament logo
Muslim Parliament
The Muslim Parliament of Great Britain
Links Links go to homepage

In the media

New Sharia law marriage contract gives Muslim women rights

Muslim women are to be guaranteed equal rights in marriage under a new wedding contract negotiated by leading Islamic organisations and clerics in Britain.

Urmee Khan
Telegraph
8 Aug 2008

Hailed as the biggest change in Sharia law in Britain for 100 years, a married Muslim couple will now have equal rights. A husband will have to waive his right to polygamy, allowed under Islamic law, in the new contract which has been described as "revolutionary".

Currently Muslims in Britain have an Islamic ceremony called a nikah (a non register office marriage) which, although it is guaranteed under Sharia law, is not legally binding and does not provide a woman with written proof of the marriage and of the terms and conditions agreed between the spouses.

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, Director of the Muslim Institute and one of the authors of the contract, told The Daily Telegraph: "The document is a challenge to various sharia councils who don't believe in gender equality but the world has changed and Islamic law has to be renegotiated."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was criticised earlier this year when he called for greater recognition of Sharia in British civil legislature, a view that was echoed recently by the Lord Chief Justice Phillips.

Ann Cryer, a Labour MP who has campaigned for the rights of Muslim women, welcomed today's change, saying: "This document has been carefully researched over a four year period and I feel confident in recommending its findings to women (and men) of the Muslim Faith contemplating Marriage."

In cases of divorces, the absence of such proof, has meant that many Muslim women have been denied financial rights.

The new Muslim marriage contract does not require a 'marriage guardian' (wali) for the bride, and also makes delegation of the right of divorce to the wife (talaq-i-tafweeed) automatic.

This right does not affect the husband's right of talaq but enables the wife to initiate divorce and retain all her financial rights agreed in the marriage contract. These provisions reflect a recognition of changes in the Muslim world, including women's greater public roles, educational achievements and financial autonomy.

Drawn up by the Muslim Institute, the contract has taken four years to negotiate and create. It is supported by leading Muslim organisations including the Imams & Mosques Council (UK), Muslim Council of Britain, The Muslim Law (Shariah) Council UK, Utrujj Foundation, and The Muslim Parliament of Great Britain.

According to its authors, the new contract "brings Muslim marriages in Britain into line with positive developments in Muslim family law across the Muslim world".

Dr Siddiqui said "A lot of people come to us and the Islamic Shari 'ah Council for advice and we realised that Islamic marriage had lots of problems.

"Many Muslims in this country have a 'village' background, with Muslims from Sylhet in Bangladesh or in Pakistan where the local Imam performs a nikah, without proper registration or properly recording that such a ceremony has taken place.

"But in Britain, more marriages are breaking down and young people have said that we need to update things."

Dr Siddique outlined several cases where the cleric was a friend of the husband and there were no witnesses present.

"In many cases, Muslim men have put a woman on 'trial' to see 'if a marriage works out' and will not agree to have a civil ceremony" he said.

"One woman told me that she came home one day to find the locks had changed and there was a note saying ' your stuff is at my sisters house'.

"This contract is revolutionary and will lead the way in addressing problems that exist under sharia law. Although it is only the tip of the iceberg, it is a revolutionary step, nothing like this has happened in 100 years. The adoption of this model will change everything and force people to talk about the issues."

Religious leaders and community groups have also said the document will be useful in securing rights for Muslim women.

Dr Usama Hasan, director of The City Circle, an organisation for British Muslim professionals, said: "Too many fathers have abused their right of wilayah (guardianship) over their daughters and too many husbands have abused their right of initiating divorce for us to continue with law rooted in patriarchal societies. It is high time that Muslim women enjoy the same rights and freedoms under Islamic law as they do under present legal systems in the UK."

 

 

 

Media archive

Shariah Queries Pose Challenge

Gaza and the radicalisation of British Muslims

Law to protect the young must cover madrassas as well

This is no way to fight terror

A marriage of convenience will not do

Frustrated love and forced marriage

Changing the face of Muslim family life

New model Muslim marriage contract ‘revolutionary’ for UK women

British women who paid dearly for not registering their marriages

New Sharia law marriage contract gives Muslim women rights

Is this the beginning of a new European Islam?

Compulsory lessons urged on forced marriage and 'honour' violence

Law and principle are lost in the crazy politics of 42 days

A shaming victory - Brown 42 days

Islam's holiest city set for 130-skyscraper redevelopment

No more mosques, says senior Synod member

Muslim reformer's 'heresy': The Islamic state is a dead end

Intellectuals condemn fatwa against writers

Met 'let down' victim killed by her family

Divisions In Our World Are Not The Result Of Religion

Home secretary accused of putting off vote on terrorism bill

Muslim leader says families must help catch honour killers

Blasphemy caused by cuddly animals

Mistake to curb liberties in response to 7/7, says minister

Asim Siddiqui: Beyond Hizb ut-Tahrir

Naomi Klein: Why failure is the new face of success

Naomi Klein: The erasing of Iraq

Naomi Klein: The age of disaster capitalism

Special units to crack down on honour killing

Can Culture Be Bought In the Gulf?

Luxury timeshares on offer at Islam's holiest pilgrimage site

The shortest route to peace… is through Jerusalem

Pope and Islam - Muhammad's Sword

Pope and Islam -
Roots of rationality

Removal of men from holiday flight condemned

How Islam got political: Founding fathers

MPs fear police terror raid will hit community relations

Muslims question terror raid tactics

A pantomime in Forest Gate

Sudan’s Turabi - Muslim women can marry Christian or Jew

Faith leaders unite to champion supportive care for terminally ill

Warning on Muslim schools 'abuse'

Government urged to introduce registration scheme for religious Islamic schools

Call for national register of mosque schools

A call to protect Madrasa-goers from abuse

Abuse widespread in Islamic schools, says Muslim leader

Madrassa children ‘at risk of abuse’

Islamic schools in denial about child abuse

Muslim rally organisers tell extremists to stay away

Calls to scrap holocaust day slammed

The destruction of Mecca: Saudi hardliners are wiping out their own heritage

Britain to rebrand ethnic minorities

Live chat with the leader of the Muslim Parliament in Britain

Religious leaders braced for more faith-hate attacks

Police investigate 'backlash' attacks

Fanatics realise worst fears of Muslims

Muslims, do not be fooled by this law

Prisoners freed a year ago struggle to rebuild their lives

Muslim leaders consult other faiths for advice on stamping out abuse

Could the tsunami disaster be a turning point for the world?

Muslim men use law loophole to get a harem of ‘wives’

Novice imams must be vetted, Muslim leaders say

End these detentions

Muslim leaders blame Blair’s war on Iraq for growing alienation

End this internment now

Under siege on all sides, Muslims plead for peace

Islamic weddings leave women unprotected

Muslim leaders attack extremists' claims

Talking Point Forum interview with Dr Siddiqui

Focus on forced Asian marriages

British High Court judge condemns forced Asian marriages

Islam and the voice of reason

Passionate debate on a landmark in race relations

Leave us Muslims out of the anti-terror laws