Muslim family law: British-Bangladeshi Muslim women and divorce in the UK

Uddin, Islam (2018) Muslim family law: British-Bangladeshi Muslim women and divorce in the UK. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This socio-legal study investigates the phenomenon of Islamic divorce in the UK. The background to the research problem is situated in discussions on Muslim women’s rights in topics such as Shariah law, multiculturalism and legal pluralism. These may echo concerns that classical interpretation of Muslim family law (MFL) follows patriarchal practices that discriminate against Muslim women, whilst civil law is committed to gender equality as promoting social progress. The debate regarding the diasporic Muslim communities in Britain focuses on concepts such as multiculturalism and legal pluralism. Critics of MFL argue against policies that accommodate group rights and contend cultures socialise members to their designated status, with oppressive practices hidden in the private and domestic spheres, and specifically in the use of Shariah councils. Proponents, by contrast, argue for religious freedom, among other grounds. Many agree that further empirical research is required on the subject.
This study addresses this empirical gap. The central research question asks, ‘how do British-Bangladeshi Muslim Women (BBMW) pursue divorce in the UK?’ and investigates the choices women made, as well as the role of experts, religion and culture in influencing decisions. It uses a phenomenological-inspired methodology, with data collection involving 27 in-depth interviews with BBMW, 12 interviews with experts, participant observation of Shariah Council hearings, and document analysis. Thematic analysis of data produced findings with conclusions applicable to the British-Bangladeshi Muslim community and to a wider field including legal practitioners and mediators, academics, policy-makers and others. The insights gained reveal the strong influence of religion and culture in establishing norms, dictating the importance of nikah, and in establishing the marriage, whilst the taboo of divorce hindered women from divorcing and affected them moving on, post-divorce. The community avoided professional mediation and viewed family disputes as a private matter. The diversity of Islamic opinions caused further confusion suggesting a need for a specific information reference point for British Muslims. The women displayed a multifaceted approach in dealing with civil and Islamic divorce, and utilised the different systems to their benefit, forming new mechanisms of securing religious divorce without the use of Shariah councils.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
Item ID: 25636
Depositing User: Vimal Shah
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2018 13:46
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2019 23:08
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/25636

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