The 1960s and 70s witnessed large-scale immigration of Muslims to the UK from a number of countries. This young community needed to establish a number of institutions to help meet its religious obligations, such as Masajid, Madrassahs, halal meat abattoirs, Islamic schools, Imam training academies and financial institutions. As the community settled, it was noted that many marriages were ending without any mechanisms for support, advice, or procedure. With this pressing need in mind, a conference was convened in 1982 at the Central Mosque of Birmingham and was attended by the ten leading Islamic institutions of the time. The scholars who attended the initial conference represented all major schools of law (madhahib) within Sunni tradition.
An open invitation was also extended to other scholars and Islamic institutions who were not able to attend the initial meeting to work in partnership with the founding bodies.
The main outcome of this conference was the establishment of the “Islamic Sharia Council”, which was the brainchild of the late Sayyed Mutawalli Ad Darsh (Imam of The Islamic Cultural Centre, Regents Park) and Dr Suhaib Hasan (Founder of Al Quran Society).
Names of 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
Religious divorce and Civil divorce:
Marriage is a civil contract in Islam with a religious component. The common practice among Muslims is to hold a Nikah ceremony, conducted by an Imam, before the couple may live together. This is considered to be the actual marriage and so this event will generally be celebrated lavishly. A civil marriage may also be conducted, but this is often not considered to be mandatory and will generally be a simple affair. If the marriage sadly comes to an end, the couple will wish to end both the religious and civil aspects at the same time.
In many cases, couples will have a Nikah-marriage only. They can approach family courts for residence, contact with children, financial orders and so forth, but they cannot obtain a divorce. Their only recourse is to a religious body, such as The Islamic Sharia Council. This is why it is said that Muslims marry twice and divorce twice.
The ISC today:
The ISC has been copied by many but equalled by none thus far. Our office remains a pioneering body, setting an example for professional and courteous service, engagement with wide sections of society, and innovative ideas.
We have created a detailed and systematic process for Islamic divorce (for both male and female applicants), designed to halt the common practice of verbal and hasty divorces that are often unjust and a source of regret. We also offer mediation and counselling to couples before they reach the point of no return.
British courts, academics, journalists, and solicitors will often engage with the ISC on a variety of matters and are clearly aware of the importance to faith in the lives of Britain’s Muslim subjects.
The scholars of the ISC are highly respected and have immense international reputations. Some are members of the European Council for Fatwa and Research and are leaders in the development of Islamic law in a minority setting.