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How Islamic Law Applies in the UK

Posted Jun 20, 2008 7:44 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Although many people don't realize it, Islamic law is being applied on a daily basis in the United Kingdom.

That's because Muslims who wish to live their lives in compliance with the Shariah code voluntarily turn to local councils of scholars for rulings, usually on marriage and divorce issues, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The British courts apparently will then enforce such agreements—again, based on the couple's agreement that both are willing to be bound by a Shariah council's decision.

"It is known that English judges are willing to accept agreements like this that are reached in Sharia courts, as long as it has been put into proper form," paralegal Mohammed Siddique tells the newspaper. He advises a Shariah council in northern England about British legal requirements.

Although the British courts are available to all residents, many Muslims prefer to go to an Islamic tribunal for religious reasons—and it can also be less expensive to do so, Suhaib Hasan, who sits on a Shariah council in North London, tells the Times.

"A woman can get a divorce from the civil court, but she will still come to us," he says. "Why? Because she has to satisfy her conscience as well. And in this way, we are providing a service to the Muslim community, and complementing the British legal system."

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Cultural Clash Pits Islamic Law Against Canadian & U.K. Traditions"

ABAJournal.com: "Archbishop Ignites U.K. Firestorm With Support of Islamic Religious Law"

ABAJournal.com: "OH Dowry Ruling is Appealed; Important Muslim Marriage Issue"

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