A High Court judge has declared that an interfaith marriage from Pakistan is valid in England and Wales.
In K v A, the wife of the couple was a Sunni Muslim who was born in England, while her husband was of the Ahmahdi faith. This branch of Islam, founded in 1889, has some doctrinal differences with mainstream Sunni Islam.
In 1974, Pakistan declared that Ahmahdis were not to be recognised as Muslim. As a result, they could not refer to their places of worship as mosques or call themselves Muslim without the threat of criminal sanctions.
Due to this law, any marriage between an Ahmahdi and a Muslim is regarded as an interfaith marriage. Under Islamic law as applied in Pakistan, such marriages are treated as invalid.
However, Mrs Justice Roberts noted that, under English law, the issue was not what customs were observed, but “whether the parties had the status or capacity to contract a valid marriage”.
Despite Pakistan’s attitude to interfaith marriage, the couple had been able to register their wedding with local authorities in the country. The judge said that “a formal document which has been completed in all material respects” was presented to the High Court as proof. She added that friends and family of the couple did not consider the marriage “as anything other than a binding contract”.
Therefore, Mrs Justice Roberts concluded that the couple’s marriage was valid in England and Wales. Referring to Dicey, Morris & Collins on the Conflict of Laws, she noted that Rule 73 states a marriage in another country is valid in Britain if it is recognised by the country it took place in.
To read the full judgment, click here.
Photo by bm1632 via Flickr