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Divorce Sharia Style

Format: 1 x 49
Broadcaster(s):  Channel 4

In Muslim countries people turn to Sharia, Islamic Law, to resolve their problems. From a terraced house in East London, Britain's Sharia Council presides over hundreds of cases every year. This parallel legal system remains unknown to many people, yet the court has existed in the UK for over 20 years. This documentary follows the workings of Sharia Law in Britain, focusing on the one subject that dominates the work of the Sharia court: divorce. Presiding over the court are Sheikhs, respected members of the Muslim community with an intimate knowledge of Islamic Law. While their rulings are not recognised by British Law, for the Muslim community their judgements carry the word of God.

The Sheikhs offer help and guidance to Muslims like Imran, 27, who approaches the Sharia Court for a ruling or ‘fatwa’ that he believes can save his marriage. Imran was born in Britain but in keeping with strong cultural traditions, his family selected his bride in Pakistan. Imran says family pressure forced him to marry a woman he did not love and has almost led to the breakdown of his marriage. Women also seek advice from the Sharia Council. For example, Irum, 26, comes to the court looking for an Islamic divorce from her husband.

Delving into the human stories behind the cases and exploring the debate about whether Sharia Law should receive state recognition in Britain, Divorce Sharia Style offers a fascinating insight into London’s long-established but little-known court of Islamic Law.

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