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A high court judge has decided that a couple’s Islamic marriage falls within the scope of English matrimonial law, in a ruling that could have implications for thousands of Muslims in the UK.

Nasreen Akhter wanted to divorce Mohammed Shabaz Khan, her husband of 20 years, but he blocked it, arguing that the couple were not married under English law.

Akhter and Khan underwent a religious marriage ceremony, known as a nikah, conducted by an imam in 1998.

This year Akhter, a solicitor, petitioned for divorce, saying the nikah constituted a valid marriage. Khan, a businessman, wanted to prevent Akhtar from bringing a case for a divorce settlement to court, and said they were married only under sharia or Islamic law.

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