020 3372 5125 Email us today
Enquire today

For Muslim couples in the UK who are contemplating divorce from an Islamic marriage under Sharia law, there is often confusion as to the implications of doing so, and how this compares to an English law divorce.  In this article, we will explain some of the unique aspects of divorce under Sharia law, and how specific issues can be overcome.

What is a nikah contract?

Under Sharia law, marriage is entered into with a contract which defines the rights and responsibilities of both parties.  One of the main aspects of this nikah contract is the commitment by the husband to pay his wife a dowry – a demonstration of his commitment, honour, respect, and desire to be married to her.  The contract may also layout where the couple will live, provision of specific responsibilities, and whether the wife has the right to initiate divorce.  

What is the role of the Islamic Sharia Council (ISC)?

The ISC is a UK charity which exists to help resolve marriage related issues by the application of Islamic family law.  As such, the ISC only deals with Islamic marriages, not English civil marriages, and will ultimately make the decision regarding whether a certificate of divorce should be issued.

Crucially, the ISC will typically seek to effect a reconciliation between parties seeking divorce, acting in the role of arbitrator.  In some cases, they may insist that specific conditions be met by either party, which if not adhered to may then lead to the granting of a divorce.  

What is the Sharia law position on divorce?

The rules and rights pertaining to Islamic divorce can seem quite complex to the uninitiated; firstly, let’s consider the grounds for divorce.

The ISC defines the following as being grounds for divorce; whereby the:

  • Husband suffers specific physical defects
  • Husband accuses the wife of not being chaste.
  • Husband is not traceable.
  • Applicant embraces Islam, but the husband refuses to do so.
  • Husband ill-treats the applicant or fails to fulfil his marital obligations or does not maintain her, despite having the means to do so.
  • Husband doesn’t divorce his wife for one of the reasons mentioned, when so ordered by an ISC judge.

In addition, there are several forms of divorce which depend on whether it is the husband or wife who is initiating the process:

When divorce is initiated by the husband

Talaq: Divorce is most commonly initiated by the husband (a process referred to as ‘talaq’) and by doing so (either verbally or in writing), he is deemed to have broken the contract and hence must ensure his wife receives all of the dowries she is due.

Under this process, there is a defined waiting period of three months (‘Iddah’).  Talaq requires the completion of an ISC talaq application form and the full payment of the dowry owed.  Once the divorce is granted, either party can request a talaq certificate.

When divorce is initiated by the wife

There are three variants of divorce if it is the wife who initiates the process; these are as follows:

Khula:  Khula applies where a divorce is initiated by the wife, and the parties agree on the divorce.  The husband can request the wife return her dowry as she is deemed to be the breaker of the contract (assuming he was not at fault).

Faskh: If the husband is considered ‘at fault’, the wife may apply for divorce by providing evidence her husband did not fulfil his marital responsibilities, e.g. by not providing support, a separate home and conjugal rights to his wife.  She may also argue that specific conditions in the nikah contract were not met – in this case, the ISC may grant a conditional divorce, and if the conditions remain unmet, full divorce will be granted.

Tafreeq: Where the wife separates and seeks the services of ISC due to oppression by her husband. The relevant authority will then dissolve the marriage contract through a process of annulment.

Are there potential conflicts between a civil law and Islamic divorce?

In some cases where a couple are married both under English civil law and also Sharia law, conflicts may occur if a husband agrees to the civil divorce but not the religious divorce.  In such situations, the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002 (DRMA) makes it possible for the English Court not to grant a decree absolute until the Islamic divorce is in place. In practice, given the power of the ISC to dissolve the marriage based on the husband seeking a civil divorce, invoking the DRMA may not be required.

In summary

This article only covers the essentials of Islamic divorce, and as such, anyone considering or facing such circumstances should seek legal advice from a legal practitioner specialising in Sharia family law.  Unlike English civil law, a number of options and considerations must be taken into account when proceeding with the dissolution of marriage under Sharia law. By seeking expert guidance before matters proceed too far, you can save yourself considerable anxiety, cost, and time, and, most importantly, achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children.

If you require detailed legal advice about Islamic divorce or any other Sharia law matter, please call us on 0808 168 6042.  We are a Legal 500 firm.  

Please call us on 020 3372 5125 or get an online consultation




    Contact our experts in Family Law
    Director & Head of Family Law
    For legal advice
    call us today
    020 3372 5125
    Or complete our online enquiry form to make an appointment




      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      Dealing with Rakhi was more like having In house counsel than hiring a law firm
      So Rakhi Singal of RVS has just handled my divorce, it was a very complex case and I came to Rakhi at the very last minute on a friend’s recommendation. My case was a mess and I stood to lose everything.

      Dealing with Rakhi was more like having In-House counsel than hiring a law firm, she does not approach her clients as a cash machine like many law firms do, she works with you to manage and minimise your costs and de-escalate conflict rather than throw wood on the fire.

      She took a huge personal interest in my case, she was always available on the phone, very quick to respond to emails and is very honest and trustworthy.

      My ex had huge spending power and used a team of high profile solicitors against me, Rakhi literally saved me from complete ruin and helped me get a very fair deal with me spending 6 times less than my ex on legal fees.

      Thank you, my new family and I will be forever grateful!!!!
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      Rakhi’s passion for her profession supersedes the norm
      On dealing with a very stressful and emotional situation involving my young child. I was personally directed to Rakhi Singal. From the very outset of my situation, Rakhi identified the immediate difficulties I faced and offered me a sympathetic and rational approach to my situation, ensuring that she had a full understanding of my issues and concerns. Rakhi’s approach to my case was monumental and customary to my needs and that of my child, which was a fundamental point for me.

      The communication and support I received in and outside of court was nothing short of extraordinary. Rakhi’s passion for her profession supersedes the norm and is clearly demonstrated through her results.
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      Really impressed with Rakhi’s dedication to our case
      Could not be more pleased with the results!

      I approached RVS solicitors as they were highly recommended and now I completely understand why. Soon as I contacted Rakhi I knew I wanted to use her, she was so professional and easy to get along with. I was faced with clients who were refusing the pay invoices, Rakhi immediately reassured me that she was able to help me and recoup these costs. She dealt with the whole process very professionally.

      Really impressed with Rakhi’s dedication to our case and her knowledge and experience on dealing with the case. She communicated with us throughout the process, providing me with regular updates. Thank you so much, I cannot vouch for her work enough and RAW Invites are happy for you to continue to act for all their matters in the future.
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      Very detailed advice, friendly and approachable
      Excellent service for my wife's spousal visa from Lusine: very detailed advice, friendly and approachable. Also flexible in contact by email and provided an excellent cover letter.
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      She is professional, intelligent, hard worker and cheerful!
      I highly recommend Dr. Lusine Navasardyan, as she is professional, intelligent, hard worker and cheerful, she helped us from the beginning of our case until the very end, when she prepared a strong bundle with over 385 pages, which helped us get a successful victory in our Asylum case . I strongly recommend her as I really appreciate all the professional work that she has done . Many thanks to her.
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      She has been very professional and a reliable person
      Dr. Lusine has been working on my case. She has been very professional and a reliable person. She was always attending to my queries and she has always been very friendly throughout my case.
      What Our Clients
      Say About Us
      Testimonials
      She is very professional while creating a friendly and comforting relationship with her clients
      I am very happy with the level and quality of service I got from Dr. Lusine Navasardyan. She is very professional while creating a friendly and comforting relationship with her clients. The service from Lusine was professional,efficient and well organised. Lusine worked extremely hard at resolving my all issues while getting the best result.
      Latest News