MPs have been told that Sharia law officials are operating across the country in an underground manner.
The head of an organisation set up to standardise the administration of Islamic law in the UK said, currently,Sharia law bodies, which are unofficial and unregulated, are performing marriages and handing out divorces as well as potentially doling out punishments.
Dr Ahmad Al Dubayan, who is chairman of the UK Board of Sharia Councils, said that is was simply impossible to be able to say how many sharia “councils” were currently in existence in the UK.
He said the practice was currently hidden, with councils operating everywhere, including out of shop basements.
One suggestion, from an earlier Think Tank report is that there are some 85 sharia councils, but Dr Al Dubayan said that could be nothing more than a guestimate and it was not possible to say what the picture was in reality on the ground.
Addressing the Commons Home Affairs Committee as an inquiry started into the administration of sharia law, Dr Al Dubayan was just one of a number of witnesses called upon to give evidence.
There were also women’s group representatives, support groups for the victims of domestic violence and Islamic scholars who were questioned about whether women could ever receive equal treatment to men in such courts.
Supporters of sharia councils say that trying to ban them completely will simply force them underground.
Naz Shah, who is Labour MP for Bradford West, was herself a bride at 15 when she was forced into an arranged marriage.
She urged MPs not to “throw the baby out with the bath water” when coming to their conclusions, because many Muslim women found they could turn to sharia councils in times of need, including to escape abusive relationships.
The MP said that trying to stop sharia law councils from operating at all could be seen to be Islamophobic.
Vice chair of the UK Board of Sharia Councils, Mizan Abdulrouf said the launch of the inquiry had already provided a “kick up our backside” to make sure standards improved and to ensure that those going before sharia councils were given proper counsel beforehand.
However, he did acknowledge that there were bodies operating across the UK which called themselves councils but were not recognised by the board.

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He is a freelance journalist who has actively worked on various environmental issues. He had covered the Clean Water Act amendments and the Superfund legislation which ultimately became the basis for the Clean Air Act which was promulgated in 1990. After that, he also covered the Food Quality Protection Act which was promulgated in 1996. As a freelance environmental reporter he also delved into the oil issue in North Dakota which altered the energy portfolio of the nation. He is also passionate about the various climate changes occurring around us and has reported about the harmful effects of global warming on the environment.