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Case studies of Muslim family law and Islamic marriages in Britain

In the British Muslim community today we have many examples of suffering and unhappiness in families caused by a lack of clarity and understanding about the rights and responsibilities of the spouses.

This page includes real-life stories of people who have suffered on account of not having proper documentary proof of their marriage.

No piece of paper can force people to behave decently towards each other – that is a matter for the individual conscience and the society to address. Yet having a written nikah marriage contract or even better having a registered civil marriage may help alleviate some of the suffering that shows through these stories and that is currently being experienced by many hundreds if not thousands of couples by ensuring essential details are agreed and recorded in writing.

Soraya’s story

Soraya, 28, is from Birmingham and studying pharmacy.

“The first time his family asked for my hand in marriage was during my exams. I wasn’t ready for that commitment during such a stressful time, so they agreed to come back. Like me he was educated, brought up in Britain and practiced law. He sounded liberal and I thought we had something in common. So I said yes. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for…

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Aisha’s story

GS: ‘One day I received a call from a revert (former non-Muslim). She said, “My husband has disappeared, abandoned me. I want help to have a divorce.”
GS: ‘Was your marriage through a nikah  or a civil ceremony?
Nikah”, she said.
GS: ‘Do you have the certificate?
“No. My husband had it and he has gone away.”
GS: ‘Who was the qadi?
“A friend of my husband.”
GS: ‘Do you remember who the witnesses were?
“They were all friends of my husband.”
GS: ‘There was no way we could help her…’

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Leila’s story

‘A very intelligent woman telephoned asking for help.

‘She said, ‘I was married through an Islamic ceremony.  I knew it was not recognized. My husband and family insisted: “Let us first marry in the eyes of Allah. Perhaps later on we can have a civil ceremony as well.”

‘After the marriage she reminded him of his promise. He said “We are only married a couple of months ago. Let’s see if it works out then we will.” So after that, she knew she was on trial…

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