Muslim Women and Forced Marriage in the United Kingdom

Aisha K. Gill, Taher Hamed

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Forced marriage affects numerous communities within the UK and has far-reaching effects for both individuals and the wider society. This paper attempts to address this issue from an Islamic jurisprudence standpoint. While the paper provides a comparative-contrastive account of key discussions between Muslim jurists (fuqahā’) from the four Sunni schools of law regarding coercion (ikrāh) and its effect on the marriage contract, it pays particular attention to the Hanafi school of law’s position and ways in which its jurists’ reasoning dissents from that of the majority of Sunni jurists. This paper collates the pertinent information, focusing on the effect of coercion (ikrāh) and on the pivotal issues of consent (riḍā) and choice (ikhtyār). It also considers recent UK legislation and established personal status laws in several Muslim countries. We conclude that forced marriage is incompatible with the objectives of Islamic law and has no reliable basis in its sources, highlighting that the function of the guardian (walī) is to protect the interests of the ward, rather than to exercise authority over those under his guardianship. We suggest that victims of forced marriage in the UK should be able to seek annulment via the courts rather than traditional, community-based, non-enforceable mediation.

© 2016. The attached document (embargoed until 30/05/2018) is an author produced version of a paper published in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Muslim Minority Affairs
VolumeVol. 36
Issue number No. 4.
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2016


  • coercion
  • consent
  • forced marriage
  • Islamic jurisprudence
  • Shariah

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