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Press release

Muslim Parliament proposes registration of Mosques and Marriages

THE FIRST ever community initiative to discuss the issue of Islamic marriages and the role of the Mosque within the community was launched in Bury, Greater Manchester. The seminar was opened by Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, Leader of the Muslim Parliament, who emphasised the need for the family and mosques to be strengthened if the Muslim community was to move forward. Currently the practices of forced marriages, domestic violence, drugs and crime were rampant within the community, and only by strengthening these two institutions can we overcome these problems. Dr Siddiqui said we need to initiate an awareness campaign to empower young people so that they could not be forced into marriages that they did not consent to and parents to recognise that around 70% of forced marriages result in divorce. In such an event it is left to the parents to pick up the pieces. Thus an understanding between parents and children is paramount to ensure young people marry out of choice and are involved in the process.

Dr Siddiqui highlighted a new problem which had recently come to light. People have been undergoing Islamic marriages without registering unaware that without this registration the marriage is not recognised as valid under British law.

Part of the solution was to register mosques as a place of civil marriage. The process is simple and easy. Once the mosque has been registered as a place of marriage it is no longer necessary for couples to go to a registry office for the civil formalities, both procedures can take place at the same ceremony at the mosque.

An important part of any marriage ceremony involves ensuring neither party is acting under duress. The Imam or the person conducting the ceremony should ensure that the couple have had the opportunity to discuss issues such as living arrangements/working/children etc.

The Imam of Finchley Mosque, Mufti Barkatullah, highlighted the danger of getting married with no legal contract and presented a draft marriage contract. Currently there is no standard marriage contract used for Islamic marriages resulting in little protection to either party (particularly the wife) within the marriage. The draft contract highlighted the rights and duties of either party within a marriage, and emphasised that after marriage a woman does not become the property of her husband. They become a partnership and no decision affecting the family should be taken until consultation between both husband and wife in the atmosphere of mutual respect. With the changing times, it is possible that more women become the breadwinners of the family consequently reversing the traditional roles. While discussing the contract, men need to be aware that at some point in their life their wife could become the family breadwinner hence the contract should allow for this shift in power.

It was agreed that the delegates would take away the draft marriage contract and provide feedback to the organisers so that their ideas could be incorporated.

Cassandra Balchin (Project Director of Women living under Muslim laws) cited case studies she had worked on involving forced marriages, polygamous marriages and other problems facing women in particular those who had no marriage documentation. She reminded the seminar that a marriage which had taken place with no registration was not legally valid under UK law therefore although a nikkah ceremony may have been performed by an Imam unless the marriage was registered there was no valid marriage. Furthermore, the woman would not be recognised under UK law as being a wife and would not be given the legal protection and associated economic and social benefits given to married couples.

Participants of the seminar came from Lancashire and further afield including Cardiff, Birmingham, Bradford and London. Participants included Imams, members of mosque committees, community leaders and women’s groups. The Muslim Parliament plans to hold similar round table discussions up and down the country.

04 March 2004




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