Many Muslim couples that get married in England and Wales choose to undergo Nikah but don't complete any other ceremonies. At present, the Shariah marriage law is not legally binding under the legislation of the UK. Some couples choose to register their marriage at a local registry office after Nikah. Attending a register office is the only way to record a marriage officially in the UK.
Nikah ceremonies take place in many different ways. While some couples prefer to carry out the event in their home, others prefer to do it at a mosque or wedding venue. Regardless of the location, an eminent member of the Muslim community must conduct the service. Also, the site of the ceremony doesn't have any effect on the legality of the wedding under UK laws. Unfortunately, some couples are unaware of this as they assume Nikah is recognized under UK law.
The bottom line is that Nikah is viewed as a religious event that binds two people together regarding Islamic law, not a civil marriage under UK law. If the couple doesn't participate in a civil ceremony, then their Islamic marriage contract will not hold up against any enforceable rights under the legislation of the country in which the couple stays, whether that is England, Ireland or Scotland.
In the simplest terms, the UK views those that only participate in a religious ceremony to only be cohabitees, nothing more. The couple does not have the same or equal rights as those who have completed a civil service as they gain rights as a result of being legally married.
For those who are devoted to and solely practice Islamic, the above information may not be of concern to them. Strictly practicing Muslims are usually satisfied by Islamic laws and do not require a marriage to be recognized under UK law.
Many couples also participate in Nikah ceremonies abroad. Some Nikah marriages that are held overseas in countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia could be legally accepted in the UK. However, this is usually only the case if the ceremony took place adhering to the formal laws of the country. It is true that the UK law does recognize some foreign partnerships.
Aside from a civil ceremony, there are some steps that you can complete to protect yourself and your assets. Many people choose to create a Muslim marriage contract. This is a useful written agreement, which the couple establishes at the time of the wedding. The document sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties in the relationship. The rights are valid under Islamic Law.
Although the contract is invalid under UK law, it provides proof of an Islamic partnership and each person's responsibilities, and duties are clearly set out under Islamic law.
A typical clause in a Muslim marriage contract is that the husband will not have a 2nd wife without his first wife consenting for him to do so. Crucially, the contract entitles the women to start divorce proceedings if she wishes to do so, without question and without the need to provide substantial evidence. The contract can also state that the woman is entitled to keep her financial gains including her dowry.