The Chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, Maulana Sarfraz Madni has said that “MINAB welcomes the opportunity created by the Panorama programme to put the record straight on Shariah Councils."

In this context we should like to emphasise that Shariah Councils are voluntary bodies which function by agreement of parties to a dispute. No person, male or female, can be forced to appear before a Shariah Council nor do the Shariah Councils have any legal powers of enforcing their conclusions or their suggested remedies. A party who feels aggrieved or dissatisfied with decision or conclusion of a Shariah Council is free to seek remedy from Civil Courts.

It is our view that Shariah Councils perform an essential and effective role for the Muslim communities in the United Kingdom. The assumption that such Councils are “forced” upon Muslim women has no evidentiary foundation. On the contrary there is overwhelming evidence of women being the main users of the Shariah Councils by their own will.

Shariah Councils have been in existence for many decades in the UK but their standards in delivering equitable conclusions in cases brought before them can vary. Most of such Councils carry out their functions of applying the Shariah personal law in matrimonial disputes with good sense and reason. The varying degree of standards of the Shariah Councils is not due to the Shariah law that they seek to implement but due to culture based contamination of the Shariah Law as well as poor personnel in some of these Councils.

The MINAB recognises that the current system of Shariah Councils requires reform in the following ways:

  1. The Councils should operate under a community led and community driven system of self regulation.
  2. Only those Councils that agree to adhere to the self regulatory scheme upon which there would be due process of consultation, would be given a “licence” to operate by the self regulatory body.
  3. Members of the national self regulatory body should consist of elected representatives and scholars nominated by national Muslim organisations with assured participation of women. The national self regulatory body should be independent and should have no role in matters of theology. It should only operate to improve good governance of the Councils and devise means to make their processes transparent and fair, bearing in mind all the relevant laws under the English Law.
  4. That those who sit in “judgment” in Shariah Councils should receive induction and on-going approved and adequate training in judge craft and that each Shariah council panel should include at least one female.
  5. That all decisions of certified Shariah Councils should be in writing setting out reasons and copies of such decisions should be logged centrally with due regard for privacy and Data Protection Act.

In order to improve their institutions, MINAB as a community led national organisation knows that the Muslim communities are willing to engage in partnership with other faith based communities as well as the civil society and political establishment.We would hope that once the agreed system of self regulation comes into being, of which we have just described a skeleton hereinabove, the political parties would give positive consideration to:

  • Make appropriate changes in the relevant legislation to give equal status to the conclusions/ recommendations of Shariah Councils in individual cases with that of the Beth Dins.
  • Support measures to harmonise and synchronise the relevant legal processes in the civil family courts with those of Shariah Councils.

MINAB is willing to lead on public consultation on reforms of the Shariah Councils along the above lines. The MINAB would consult with national Muslim organisations, scholars of repute from all denominations of Islam, representatives of Shariah Councils and such government departments as are appropriate. Reforms that have the backing of stakeholders are bound to improve community cohesion and integration. Reforms will provide much needed fair and equal system of justice - the corner stone of British society.”

 

For information or support please contact  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Notes to editors:
  1. The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) is the national representative body of all UK Muslim denominations. It was set up to promote good governance in Mosques and Imam Training Institutions through a process of self regulation.
  2. MINAB is a unique body of different Muslim denominations working together with a membership of some 600 plus Mosques and Training Institution. Our role is critical in bringing all groups and denominations together to help create a better, safer and harmonious society for all.
  3. We are a charity registered under the laws of England and Wales.
  4. MINAB is a community led independent body, non-sectarian in its outlook, representing the diversity of Islam with no role in matters of theology and is broad based with an accountable system of representation.
  5. MINAB recognises the importance of all communities working to foster community cohesion and to speak out against all forms of extremism.