Islamic Law in U.S. Courts: Islam v. Islam (N. Mar. I. Sup. Ct. 2009): State Recognition of Islamic Marriages and Divorces

At issue in this case is the validity of a marriage performed in the Islamic tradition, where the husband sought an annulment of an initial “traditional” marriage and recognition of a subsequent civil marriage. The law of the Philippines does not require a couple to obtain a marriage certificate if their marriage is performed according to the Islamic tradition; accordingly the couple married under traditional Islamic law and obtained no certificate. In seeking annulment of that marriage and recognition of a subsequent marriage, appellant Rafiqul Islam argued that the first marriage was not official; he further argued that the union was not truly Islamic because his so-called wife was not Muslim, because the wedding ceremony was performed by a clerk rather than a religious official, and because neither party intended to enter into a marital relationship. On appeal, the Court upheld the trial court’s decision that the first marriage was a legitimate, state-recognized union, and thus that any subsequent marriage would be considered void.

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