Source: Byline Times
Dating websites offer Muslim men the chance to meet a second wife online – but the practice causes financial stress, trauma and heartbreak for families, the Byline Intelligence Team reports
“It’s a matter of betrayal, lies, deceit… this is what I’ve been going through,” says Aysha (not her real name). “I have had five miscarriages… and the loss of that is nothing compared to what he did to me.”
Aysha is describing how she felt after learning that her husband, Mohib, had secretly married another woman. Because the couple married under Islamic Sharia law – which allows multiple marriages – but did not obtain a UK civil marriage, Aysha now lives in a legal limbo.
Mohib began his affair in 2017, when Aysha was pregnant with their second child. He now splits his time between his second wife Samira and Aysha and their children.
Aysha is not alone. In the UK, it is believed that there are hundreds of Muslim women whose husbands have secretly married second wives. It has become a sub-culture within Muslim British communities, and men are able to get away with it by only registering one marriage under civil law, and then having multiple Islamic marriages (known as nikah).
Bigamy, the practice of marrying more than once while already married, is illegal under the Offences against the Person Act 1861. But because these multiple marriages are not legally recognised, they do not count as a bigamous offence.
The practice leaves women with little legal protection and no financial support should they choose to leave.
Register Our Marriage is a campaign founded by solicitor Aina Khan in 2014 to address the issue of unregistered religious marriages. While few records of Islamic marriages exist, a 2017 survey of almost 1,000 British Muslim women showed that more than 60% of British Muslim women had a nikah-only ceremony.
This was challenged in 2018, when the High Court ruled that a nikah between Nasreen Akhter and Mohammad Shabaz Khan should be considered a legal marriage in the UK. However last year, the Court of Appeal overruled the decision and declared a nikah had no legal effect. It ruled that Akhter and Khan’s marriage “was a marriage entered into in disregard of certain requirements as to the formation of marriage” and should be regarded as a “non-qualifying ceremony”.
Suggested Reading by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times, for the best understanding of personal religion in the 21st century
My main suggestion to the open minded readers is to read on and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”
Firstly, I want to share the top three paragraphs about secularism from Wikipedia:
Secularism is the principle of seeking to conduct human affairs based on secular, naturalistic considerations. It is most commonly defined as the separation of religion from civic affairs and the state, and may be broadened to a similar position concerning the need to remove or minimalize the role of religion in any public sphere. The term has a broad range of meanings, and in the most schematic, may encapsulate any stance that promotes the secular in any given context. It may connote anticlericalism, atheism, naturalism, or removal of religious symbols from public institutions.
As a philosophy, secularism seeks to interpret life based on principles derived solely from the material world, without recourse to religion. It shifts the focus from religion towards “temporal” and material concerns.
There are distinct traditions of secularism in the West, like the French, Turkish and Anglo-American models, and beyond, as in India, where the emphasis is more on equality before law and state neutrality rather than blanket separation. The purposes and arguments in support of secularism vary widely, ranging from assertions that it is a crucial element of modernization, or that religion and traditional values are backward and divisive, to the claim that it is the only guarantor of free religious exercise.