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Nikah Marriages and Divorce

At Brethertons we have a team of lawyers who are experienced in a variety of languages and cultures. Our own Layan Sarhan, Legal Assistant in our Children & Domestic Abuse team, has written this blog discussing Nikah Marriages in the UK.

What is the Nikah?

The Nikah is defined to be a binding contract that both involved parties enter, outlining their rights and responsibilities to one another. Upon entering the marriage, three elements are required to be satisfied: the consent of both parties, an offer from the groom (a dowry also known as a ‘mehr’) and an acceptance from the bride.

What is the Legal Position in England and Wales?

Under the laws of England and Wales, Nikah marriages are not lawfully recognised unless the couple has a civil ceremony, and the marriage is registered at the Civil Registry. If this

has not taken place, the marriage is not legally binding and  the parties are regarded as cohabitees under English Law. However, if a Nikah took place in a foreign country that follows Sharia Law and recognises Islamic marriages, in countries including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the marriage is considered valid and there is no requirement to register.

Who can make an Application?

Both the man and the woman are permitted to attain an Islamic Divorce. A Talaq is when the husband initiates the process of divorce and this will only end the marriage under Islam.

When a husband begins the process of Talaq, he is required to pay ‘Haq Mehr’. This is defined as the agreed sum of money or gift that is given to the wife in the event of a divorce.

The Process of a male-initiated Islamic Divorce (Talaq):

  1. An application to the Islamic Sharia Council (ISC)
  2. Mediation
  3. The Talaq
  4. The Waiting Period also known as the Iddat Period
  5. The Divorce Certificate is Issued

A Muslim wife is able to pronounce an Islamic Divorce through Khula; whereby both parties have provided mutual consent to the divorce. This will typically involve the wife returning the Mehr. If the wife is unable to gain consent from the husband, the wife can consider the process of a Faskh to attain a divorce.

A Faskh (an annulment) can dissolve an Islamic marriage by either an Islamic Court, or a Sharia Council. A Faskh is pursued in cases whereby there is no mutual agreement or consent, or when the marriage has broken down completely and the husband refuses a Talaq.

If the marriage has been registered in the UK, separate legal protocols under English Law will need to be followed for the marriage to be dissolved. Conflict can arise if one party is in agreement of a civil divorce and not a religious one.


If you need assistance in any of the topics discussed above, or any aspect of Family Law we want to assist you and we are here to help. We will always aim to achieve the most satisfactory outcome that is possible. We will continue to advise you throughout the court proceedings.

The Family team here at Brethertons LLP are here to answer any questions that you may have.

Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01788 579579 or 01295 270999 or at

Alternatively, please contact Simon Craddock, Partner in our Family team, directly on or on 01295661430.

Simon Craddock is a Partner in our family law department.  Simon is A member of the Ministry of Justice Hague Applicant Panel since 2001 and a Resolution accredited specialist in Private Children Law and International Abduction Law. Simon is also a founding member of the Child Abduction Lawyers Association (CALA). To contact Simon for more information about his role in this landmark decision, please phone 01295 661430 or email