Recognizing the Un-Recognized: Inter-Country Cases and Muslim Marriages & Divorces in Britain

Publication Author: 
Sohail Akbar Warraich & Cassandra Balchin
January 2006
PDF Document897.91 KB
number of pages: 
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Many thousands in the Muslim community in Britain as well as non-British spouses of British Muslims may be in marriages or undergo divorces whose legal validity is doubtful in the eyes of the English courts and authorities such as immigration and pensions. This leaves them in a ‘married/un-married’ limbo, often referred to in legal terms as ‘limping marriages’. This publication includes articles on: British Law; Laws in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan; and European and International Law.

The law and what it requires of people in order to have a valid status is clear neither to those in the Muslim community in Britain and abroad nor to UK administrative authorities, support groups, legal practitioners and commentators.



0.1 Background and Aims
0.2 Research Methodology
0.3 Contributing to Dialogue

Section 1
Mapping the Issues

1.1 Who is Affected?
1.2 The Problems Identified

Section 2
Case-Studies: The Human Cost

Section 3
The Policy Context

3.1 The Muslim Community in Britain
3.2 Social Practices Among South Asian Muslims
Regarding Marriage and Divorce
3.3 The Muslim Community and British Policy Towards Migrant Communities and Multiculturalism
3.4 Muslim Women and British Policy

Section 4
The Legal Context

4.1 British Law
4.2 Laws in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan
4.3 European and International Law

Section 5
Future Trends

Section 6
Previous Research and Existing Expertise

6.1 Family Law Matters Overlooked or Compartmentalized
6.2 “In Islam”, ‘Islamic Law’ and ‘Classical Law’
6.3 Limited Knowledge of Muslim Laws and Statutory Provisions in Muslim Countries
6.4 Expert Opinions
6.5 Are Researchers Asking the Right Questions?

Section 7
Legal Pluralism in Britain

7.1 The Demand for a Separate System for Muslims
7.2 The Male-centred Approach of the Shariah Councils
7.3 Legal Pluralism and the Muslim Community in Britain
7.4 The Failings of the Current British System
7.5 Conclusion

Section 8
Solutions for Other Communities and Elsewhere

Section 9

Annexe 1 Bibliography
Annexe 2 Key-Informants
Annexe 3 Selected Sections of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961
Annexe 4 List of Statutes and Law Commission Reports