Welcome to the Islamic Sharia Council. The Islamic Sharia Council was formed to solve the matrimonial problems of Muslims living in the United Kingdom in the light of Islamic family law. (Islamic Sharia Council Registered Charity No: 1003855). The council comprises members from all of the major schools of Islamic legal thought (mad’hab) and is widely accepted as an authoritative body with regards to Islamic law.
The Islamic Sharia council was established in 1982 in a meeting attended by various scholars representing ten mosques in the UK.
The main function of this council is to guide the Muslims in the UK in matters related to religious issues as well as solving their matrimonial problems.
As Muslims normally conduct their marriages both Islamically (known as Nikah ceremony which is conducted by an Imam at any mosque or Islamic Centre), and by registering with the civil authorities, this council deals only with the Islamic Nikah.
- Civil marriages are dissolved by the British Courts and not by the Council.
- The Council does not intervene in civil marriage contracts.
- The Council is a Welfare and Non-profit making Charity.
The Objectives of the Council are:
- To be of assistance to Muslims in the UK by:
- 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.
- To educate the public generally regarding Islam and to dispel negative stereotypes.
The Council is concerned with Muslim family issues which covers Marriages, Divorces and Inheritance issues.
The Founding Organisations / Centres:
- London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, London.
- Muslim World League
- Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, UK
- UK Islamic Mission
- Da’watul Islam, UK
- Jamia Mosque & Islamic Centre, Birmingham
- Islamic Centre, Glasgow
- Islamic Centre, Didsbury, Manchester
- Jamia Masjid Hanafiya, Bradford
- Muslim Welfare House, London
The scholars representing these centres 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 have secured civil divorces for their clients have found recourse with the Council regarding also securing Islamic divorces for their clients.
A group of concerned Muslim scholars and field workers among the Muslim community, met together in mid-1982, at the Central Mosque of Birmingham and decided to establish “The Islamic Shari’a Council”.
An open invitation was given to other scholars and Islamic Institutions who did not attend the initial meeting. 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. The concept of the Council was the brainchild of the late Syyed Mutawalli Ad Darsh (Imam of Regents Park Mosque at the time) and Dr Suhaib Hasan (current Secretary of ISC).
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.
To date, the Council has dealt with over 10,000 cases. 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 cannot 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.
Status of Nikah and Civil marriage
There are many activists who wish to abolish Sharia Councils as an un-necessary diversion. They fail to realise that Muslims consider marriages to be a religious contract. They will invite an Imam to officiate at and bless their marriage ceremony. They will cohabit only when the religious ceremony (Nikah) has been performed. Any cohabitation outside Nikah will be seen as a terrible sin.
Some Muslims will then have a Civil marriage, but this will be treated as a supplementary occasion rather than the actual marriage. It has however, been noted that most Muslim marriages in the UK are Nikah-only. So if the marriage then ends in a divorce, Muslims will wish for a religious divorce as well as a Civil divorce.
Some observers have claimed that Muslims who have a Nikah-only believe this gives them rights under Civil law. Unfortunately, the facts do not fit this claim. Muslims are absolutely aware that their Nikah ceremonies do not confer Civil marriage status to them. There is no confusion on this issue. They choose not to have a Civil marriage for a variety of reasons and cannot be coerced to have Civil marriages.