“Muslim women’s right to happiness under threat” – Letter by Kavita Ramdya (in response to Dr. Suhaib Hasan’s first-person column “I’m a Sharia Judge”. Dr. Hasan is a judge with the Islamic Sharia Council and, in his column, asks that divorce decisions made by sharia councils be recognised by British law)
Published: September 26, 2009
Publication: “Financial Times”
From Kavita Ramdya
Sir, I shudder to think of the repercussions for Muslim women if British law recognises decisions made by Sharia councils (“I’m a Sharia judge”, FT.Com, September 19). Sharia law dictates that when a woman requests a divorce and the husband disagrees, the judge will “emphasise reconciliation” and “she has to return the dower to him”, whereas a man can divorce his wife by simply repeating “I divorce you” in front of two witnesses.
Muslim women who seek divorce are subjected to an interview process, pressured to remain married and risk losing quite possibly their only financial wealth by being forced to return their dower.
In the past, it was critical that individuals marry and remain married in order to preserve the safety and stability of a clan, tribe, family fortune, or even an alliance between countries.
Since then, marriage has evolved. It is now the primary method with which to pursue happiness and fulfilment. Muslim women in Britain are cognisant of the fact that they have the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.
For Sharia judges to question a woman’s motivates for divorce and pressure her socially and financially to remain in an unfulfilling and possibly dangerous marriage is antiquated at best and deadly at worst. Decisions made by Sharia councils have no room in British law.