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Muslim women in Britain: The impact of segregation on unregistered Muslim marriages, effects, problems and recommendations

Ezerioha, Adaku (2023) Muslim women in Britain: The impact of segregation on unregistered Muslim marriages, effects, problems and recommendations. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Abstract or description

British Muslim women face several challenges in marriages formed by religious ceremonies – “nikah only marriage” referred to as unregistered Muslim marriages. The recent decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Akhter v Khan sheds light on the plight of British Muslim women in Britain. In this case, the court held that the nikah was a non-marriage, described the ceremony as a “non-qualifying ceremony”, and as a result they do not create a marriage or even a void marriage under English law. This study aims to investigate the reasons British Muslim women living in segregated communities in Britain irrespective of their ethnic origin are entering the “nikah only marriage” as well as Muslim women’s reasons and level of knowledge for not considering a civil marriage based on the fact that the nikah in a private home is not legally recognised in Britain.

A triangulated approach was used consisting of semi-structured interviews with thirty-three British Muslim women which focused on Muslims living in segregated communities in the cities of Birmingham (Alum rock, Bordesley Green and Sparkhill), Bradford, Leicester, and London (Walthamstow) as well as a questionnaire. A total number of one hundred and ten fully completed questionnaires were returned. The questionnaire was to complement findings from the interview process to gain a more nuanced statistical data of the reasons British Muslim women were entering the nikah only marriage.
The semi-structured interviews were analysed into themes in line with the grounded theory approach. The major themes that were identified: problem of segregation, maintaining “izzat” (honour), family and expectations: the role of parents, influence of culture, ethnicity and identity, education and awareness. The subthemes that emerged were: “civil marriage is for the whites”, issue of divorce, neighbourhood, lack of integration, obedience to the head of the family, “I paid homage to my family and the Muslim community on the day of my wedding”, “it brings shame to the family”, friendships, collectivist cultures: the impact of marriage and finally acculturation.

Using the theoretical frameworks of multiculturalism, legal pluralism and critical race theory, this research provides a new analytical understanding of Muslim marriages; and argues that problem of segregation, maintaining the izzat, the family especially the first generation of Muslim parents, influence of culture, religion, ethnicity, lack of education as well as awareness are some of the deep-rooted reasons that British Muslim women in this study are entering the nikah only marriages.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: School of Digital, Technologies and Arts > English, Creative Writing and Philosophy
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 17 May 2023 13:02
Last Modified: 30 May 2023 08:16

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