On the 28th March 2015, the Al-Mahdi Institute held a ‘Register Our Marriage’ Roadshow in association with Aina Khan from ‘Register Our Marriage’ Project to discuss the importance of Registering Marriages in the UK. It is estimated that around 80% of young British Muslims are in unregistered marriages and that this is growing rapidly. This leaves couples with no legal rights upon divorce or to inheritance and pension rights. Given the shocking deficiency in quantitative and qualitative data (coupled with the paucity of individuals bridging the divide between religious scholars and legal experts with experience of the realities of Muslim marriage), intellectual paralysis has set in. With this in mind, Ms Aina Khan, a Family Law Solicitor from Duncan Lewis Solicitors initiated such roadshows around the UK to facilitate reform by Muslims themselves, by way of ‘Ijma’ (consensus) and ‘Ijtihad’ (rational analogy).
The event started with a talk by Ms Aina Khan on the implications of not registering Marriages and its effects on couples and families along with reasons why people choose to do so. A comparison of the legal system regarding Marriage in a Muslim country such as Pakistan with the UK legal system – highlighted the flaws in the UK system which has been allowing Mosques and Religious leaders to escape their responsibility of Registering Nikaah ceremonies legally in the UK.
Possibly the most pressing need for reform is to educate Muslims on the Islamic narrative regarding having a formally recognised marriage that protects women and children. However, a important question raised was; Can we wait patiently for government and religious leaders to initiate change? Or, it is time for legal advocates and academics to step forward?
This paved the way for an interactive discussion between the attendees and Aina Khan to discuss solutions to best address the situation and the steps which need to be taken by individuals to raise awareness of theses issues. The event also benefited from BBC News coverage and was later broadcast on Midlands Today, BBC1.
As part of the ‘Register Our Marriage’ Roadshow, a set of distinctive and innovative mechanisms are to be put in place to address the situation;
a) A wide-ranging survey on Muslim marriage and divorce (launched on 30 September 2014)
b) A strong social media campaign to quickly reach the under 30s
c) A nationwide series of road shows visiting major UK cities
d) A series of webinars and blogs with ‘How To’ guides on Muslim marriage and divorce
e) Training materials for Mosques and wedding venues to register marriages
f) Disseminating the widely recognised Islamic narrative of formally recognised marriage and unequivocal financial support of wives and children (supported by leading scholars and
g) Setting up of local ‘Women only’ Sharia Councils to grant Islamic divorces to women who do not have the power of divorce given in the Islamic marriage contract
For more information on the ‘Register Our Marriage’ Project, please click here.
To view more images from the event, please click here.