England and Wales do not apply Sharia law.  Although Muslims are freely able to take part in a Nikah (Islamic marriage contract) performed in England and Wales the ceremony is not considered a valid marriage under the law in England and Wales.  The parties are treated as if they were cohabitees on the breakdown of any relationship.

Sharia Councils operate in the UK.  Each Sharia Council applies at least one of the four recognised Islamic schools of thought:

  • Hanafi
  • Shafi’i
  • Maliki
  • Hanbali

The consequence of this is that each Sharia Council applies different interpretations of Sharia law, which may result in large disparities in the way in which Sharia Councils operate and the decisions they reach.  This means if one party is seeking a divorce they will sometimes effectively “forum shop” to ascertain what the school of thought is at each of the different Sharia Councils before making their application for an Islamic divorce.

There has been discussion as to whether Sharia law could be recognised in relation to whether there has been a marriage or divorce.  This has not happened in order to avoid creating a dual system.

However under new guidance produced by The Law Society, high street solicitors now have guidance as to how to compose Islamic Wills.  The guidance details how Wills should be drafted to fit Islamic traditions while being valid under British law.  It suggests deleting or amending standard legal terms and even words such as “children” to ensure that those deemed “illegitimate” do not have any claim over the inheritance.  It also recommends that some Wills include a declaration of faith in Allah which could be drafted at the local mosque and hands responsibility for drawing up some papers to the Sharia Courts.

The guideline document from The Law Society sets out differences between Sharia inheritance laws and the default laws currently in place in England and Wales.  In Islamic custom inheritance is divided among a list of heirs determined by ties of kinship, rather than named individuals.  It also acknowledges the possibility of people having multiple marriages.  The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class.  Non-Muslims may not inherit at all and only Muslim marriages are recognised.

Some parties have expressed concern over this move with some lawyers describing the guidance as “astonishing”.  Some commentators are concerned that this would lead to a “parallel legal system” for Britain’s Muslim community, something which thus far the Courts in England and Wales have strenuously tried to avoid.  Lady Baroness Cox, a cross-bench peer, said “Everyone has freedom to make their own Will and everyone has freedom to let those Wills reflect their religious beliefs but to have an organisation such as The Law Society seeming to promote or encourage a policy which is inherently gender discriminatory in a way which will have very serious implications for women and possibly for children is a matter of deep concern.”

The President of The Law Society, Nicholas Fluck, told the newspaper the Telegraph that the guidance would promote “good practice” in applying Islamic principles in the English legal system.

Since the publication of The Law Society guidance there has been calls for a parliamentary enquiry into the scale of Islamic law in England.

The Law Society has stated it is not promoting Sharia law and has insisted that it issued the guidelines in response to demand.  Nicholas Fluck said any suggestion that the guidance was promoting Sharia law by publishing guidance on these Wills was “inaccurate and ill-informed”.  Stating that:

We live in a diverse multi-faith, multi-cultural society…The Law Society responded to requests from its members for guidance on how to help clients asking for Wills that distribute assets in accordance with Sharia practice.  Our practice note focuses on how to do that where is it allowed under English law.  The law of England and Wales will give effect to wishes clearly expressed in a valid Will insofar as those wishes are compliant with the law of England.  The issue is no more complicated than that.

Got a question? Ask us now…

Kindly complete the form below to send an enquiry. Your message will be sent to one of our solicitors. Discretion is guaranteed.

Your Information

  • Consider including information such as: the name of your spouse (if relevant), the country you live in, the background to your problem.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Over 2000 FREE
consultations and counting…

Our free consultation can help you more clearly understand the legal issues relating your case and what your options are to move forward.

Request your free consultation

Or send us an enquiry

I had applied for a free consultation and I was contacted in a very short timeframe. Thank you so much for the insightful and thorough consultation, Kevin Danagher. You made me feel at ease and you provided clear expectations with the initial info I had provided... I have now a much better understanding on my query.

Feb 2024   Sonia Accardi

We had a very useful first consultation with Amber Matheson today. Amber took the time to understand our (somewhat complicated) set-up, and offered good, understandable advice on next steps. She followed up with a very thorough email clarifying what we had discussed. Highly recommended.

Feb 2024   Lucie

Lovely friendly experience. All questions were answered so that I understood completely.

Dec 2023   Ali Catlin

Very balanced, fair and pragmatic advice. Thoroughly recommend!!

Nov 2023   James Elliott

Henry graciously provided his time for a consultation. I found him to be highly knowledgeable, empathetic and he provided excellent advice which put my mind at ease. Would highly recommend Henry and his firm.

Oct 2023   Allan Ang

Henry Brookman went above and beyond during the free consultation, and even overran the allocated time. He provided invaluable professional advice in a courteous manner. I recommend his firm without reservation.

Sep 2023   Mario Ignatov

I only had my initial free review with Amelia yet I already feel much more strengthened in my legal and financial position. I am currently reflecting on the steps I want to take to negotiate my desired outcome of the financial settlement but, when I am ready to use the services of a lawyer, Amelia is definitely the top on my list.

Sep 2023   Nahid Toubia

I had a zoom consultation with Lauren Moir and she was incredible. Very patient, insightful and reassuring. She also advised me based on my previous conversations with another firm and also clarified various positions I am in. Highly recommend.

Aug 2023   Gary Hawes

I was very impressed with the friendly, helpful and professional service offered by Brookman Solicitors. The generous advice and knowledge offered during the initial free consultation has enabled us to have a much better understanding of our case and plan a way forward.

Jul 2023   Peter Jackson

I had a first consultation with Kevin, who very diligently and professionally provided an exhaustive overview of the divorce process and the best approach for my specific case.

Jul 2023   Giulia Matteo

Great service and excellent advice at the initial consultation. I would certainly recommend and use in the future.

Jul 2023   Tom James

Spoke to a kind solicitor this morning who took an hour of her time to talk me through some advice relating to a difficult separation.... She was clear and helpful with her advice, leaving me feeling much more confident with the process ahead of me.

Jun 2023   Luke Taylor

Mr Brookman provided very clear advice that left me with no doubt about the options and next steps. Getting specific advice with the requirements in the different jurisdictions was particularly useful so I won’t need to consult another lawyer outside of the UK

May 2023   Julian Anthony

From initial contact I found all staff extremely helpful and professional. My options were made clear, my query was dealt with in a sympathetic way. Would highly recommend Brookman Solicitors.

Mar 2023   seamus mcguinness

The initial consultation I have just completed with Henry Brookman was very informative; he was very open and honest about my situation, the legalities of the matter and the extent of how his firm could help.

Nov 2022   Kimberley Noakes

Google Reviews
Ask A Question

Contact Us

If you have questions, contact us now, we can help you.

Enquire Now

Or call us on +44 (0)20 7430 8470