As the Muslims normally conduct their marriages both Islamically (known as Nikah ceremony which is conducted by an Imam at any mosque or Islamic Center), and by registering with the civil authorities, this council deals only with the Islamic Nikah.
The Objectives of the Council are:
- Fostering and encouraging the practice of the Muslim faith according to the Quran and the Sunnah.
- Providing Advice and assistance in the operation of Muslim family life.
- Establishing a bench of scholars to operate as the Islamic Shari’a Council and to make decisions on matters of Muslim family law referred to it.
- Promoting an enlightened practice of the Islamic faith by Muslims living in the UK.
The Council is concerned with Muslim family issues which covers Marriages, Divorces and Inheritance issues.
The scholars representing these centers represent all major schools of thought among the Sunnis. The Council is also widely accepted by the UK Muslim community and this is shown by the sheer volume of enquiries related to marital problems which it receives from the general UK public: additionally, a significant number of solicitors who were able only to secure civil divorces for their clients have found recourse with the Council regarding also securing Islamic divorces for their respective clients.
The scholars representing these centers represent all major schools of thought among the Sunnis. The Council is also widely accepted by the UK Muslim community and this is shown by the sheer volume of enquiries related to marital problems which it receives from the general UK public: additionally, a significant number of solicitors who were able only to secure civil divorces for their clients have found recourse with the Council by securing Islamic divorces for their respective clients.
A group of concerned Muslim scholars and field workers among the Muslim community, aware of the acute sense of alienation felt by many Muslims, when it comes to solving their personal problems, met together in mid-1982, at the Central Mosque of Birmingham and decided to establish “The Islamic Shari’a Council” to be a quasi-Islamic Court. It would apply Islamic rules in what was presented to it, of the Family problems in particular and any Islamic questions in general.
The founding meeting was attended by Muslim scholars representing the major Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence, as well as the well-known and leading personalities within the Muslim Community. After discussion, dwelling in particular upon the problems facing Muslim families as a result of obtaining judgments in their favor from non-Islamic Courts in the country, but not having the sanction of the Islamic Shari’a, it was decided to establish the said Council with membership comprising those who attended, and an open invitation to other scholars who did not attend. The Council’s verdicts were to be based upon rulings derived from the main four schools of thought together with other sources within the Sunni Tradition, as well as the literalist school.
In its early stages, the Council sought the guidance of Muslim scholars, and was satisfied that it was fulfilling an essential task in a non-Islamic society by providing a mediation and scholarly service. There was a general agreement among Muslim scholars that it is a must, in such cases, to establish such institutions to cater for the basic Shari’a needs of the Muslim community.
Currently, the Council has dealt with almost nine thousand and sixty seven (9067) cases presented to it. The majority of these cases concern divorce. In some cases the wife has obtained a civil divorce which is not accepted by the husband, who considers such a divorce to be unacceptable with no bearing upon his right as a husband. As a result, the wife does not feel completely free to enter into another marriage before obtaining an Islamic Talaq.
In many cases, the couple did not have a civil marriage at all, but simply a Nikah (religious marriage). They can still go to family courts to get orders regarding residence, contact with children and financial orders, but they can not obtain a divorce. Even when a couple have obtained a civil divorce, they would still like to have a religious divorce as well. This is because when they were married, they held both religious and civil marriage ceremonies. Muslims therefore tend to marry twice and divorce twice.