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Muslim Marriages: Legal or Not?

Ahead of the Channel 4 “The Truth About Muslim Marriages” survey to be aired tonight at 10pm, I wish to highlight the ever increasing issue that surrounds this topic.

Being from the Muslim community myself, this is a subject close to my heart and of interest. It is also an area that can often be misunderstood and where more education is needed.

In my community, it has historically been the case that first generation British-Muslims would travel to their country of origin to enter into what would often be an arranged marriage. Such a marriage, conducted according to the civil ceremony of that country, is legally binding. The newlywed couple would both then return to live in the UK.

What I have noticed is there is now a growing trend amongst next generation British-Muslims to marry someone of their choosing who also live and work in the UK; they feel they are more compatible as they share the same views and life experiences.

Many of these next generation Muslims choose to only have a Nikah (religious ceremony). Without taking part in a civil ceremony, these religious marriages are not legally binding. As a family law specialist, I’ve supported a number of Muslim clients who have not realised their marriage is not legally recognised because they have not been part of a civil ceremony.

The Channel 4 documentary explores this increasing issue and presents astonishing data on the number of Muslims that fall into this category. Muslims married by Nikah only in this country find to their surprise that, in the unfortunate event that their marriage breaks down, they do not have the same rights as those whose marriage is legally recognised.  One serious implication is that financial relief cannot be sought through Family Courts, but has to be sought under Civil Law.

It will be interesting to see the results of Channel 4’s “The Truth About Muslim Marriages” survey to learn how many Muslims do not know their Nikah alone is not legally recognised.  Hopefully this will be the start of a conversation about the future of Muslim marriages and how important it is to couple a religious ceremony with a civil one in order to protect couple’s rights and interests.

Here at QualitySolicitors Davisons, our team of experts can offer advice and assistance for those looking to learn more about their rights under UK law.  You can contact our family law specialist Nesheela Nazir by phoning 0121 685 1234 or emailing

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