Sharia marriage law to be adopted to ensure Muslim weddings are properly registered, women rights protected

A sharia marriage law will be introduced to ensure that all weddings of Muslim couples celebrated in mosques are properly registered.

Ministers want to give legal protection to tens of thousands of Muslim women whose marriages have no official status and who can be denied divorce or lose all they have in the event of a break-up.

The plan follows an inquiry last year by Islamic expert Mona Siddiqui, which said that women who marry in mosque ceremonies can face ‘discriminatory practices’.

Some are presented with bills for thousands of pounds by husbands they want to leave, it said.

A rule that Islamic marriages must be registered may also help investigations into terrorist incidents because it would ensure the availability of marriage details on those who figure in inquiries.

Details of a new law are to be made public in the spring, says a paper from Communities Secretary James Brokenshire.

The plan will go ahead despite objections, during a consultation, that regulation of Muslim marriages ‘will infringe upon the rights of faith groups’.

Some mosques are registered so that weddings can be held there with official recognition, after the couple have been issued with a licence. But other mosques are not registered and the marriages contracted there can remain unofficial.

The new law is expected to say that mosques must ensure a civil marriage ceremony is conducted alongside the Islamic wedding.