A case is currently before the Central London County Court which could bring UK law, in part, in line with sharia law. The case relates to mahr or “bride price” which is a gift or a promise of a gift made to the wife by the husband. It consists of an agreement made shortly before the couple’s marriage, either verbally or in writing. Under sharia law a wife can claim her full mahr either during the marriage or upon its dissolution.

Nazma Quraysha Brishty made a claim in the county court against her ex-husband and former parents-in-law for the full payment of her mahr, worth approximately £55,000. Upon separation from her husband, Brishty had been paid £5,005, the value of the mahr written in their Islamic certificate of marriage. Brishty claims however, that before and at the wedding ceremony, an oral agreement was made for the larger sum. Her former in-laws subsequently refused to pay the remaining sum.

If the court rule in favour of Brishty, a precedent will be established that UK county courts can deal with cases involving mahr. Such a decision would enable women to demand the full payment of their mahr, as is required under sharia law.

The judgment on this case is awaited.