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‘Muslim marriages not recognised by law’ claims BBC

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A BBC investigation has uncovered an alarming loophole in a growing number of UK Muslims’ marriages which make the unions unrecognised by British law.

Couples taking part in an Islamic ceremony, without the necessary civil ceremonies, are not technically married in the eyes of the British courts, meaning any provisions made in wills, taxes and other financial and personal matters are currently void as couples have no marital rights.

Ms Shaheeda Khan was interviewed by the broadcasters after discovering her traditional Islamic wedding ceremony, or the ‘nikah’, had no legal bearing in the UK.

“I had to show a marriage certificate when I was enrolling at university,” Ms Khan told reporters. “It was then I realised I didn’t have one and it came as a big shock to me.”

Ms Shaheeda, using an alias to protect her identity, said she told her partner of the problems but he refused to register their union, instead leaving her homeless and abandoned. Aina Khan, a prominent Asian lawyer, claimed that such cases are not uncommon in the UK.

“The problem is extremely widespread and it’s an increasing time bomb because it’s affecting mostly young Muslims, who are under 30 or in their early 30s,” said Ms Khan.

“Because the couples only have co-habitant rights, it is extremely expensive and complicated to use the law to get the individuals any justice once the marriage ends.”

The ‘nikah’ is not recognised under British law as a legal marriage, while a Church of England ceremony is automatically recognised by the courts. But for Muslims, as with many other religions, it is the religious ceremony that is paramount.

Certain mosques do require that couples obtain a civil marriage certificate before ‘nikah’ and those looking to declare their union should seek advice over the legal requirements needed to recognise their marriage under UK law.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

February 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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