chapter  8
Can there be a compromise?
Australia’s confusion regarding shari‘a family law
ByAnn Black
Pages 19

Muslims in Australia have choices. Choice can lead at times to confusing and conflicting outcomes. A Muslim couple can marry according to Islamic law and have a valid nikah, which is also a state registered marriage; they can choose just the Islamic marriage; they can bypass a religious ceremony in favour of a secular one; they can cohabit without marriage; even enter a same-sex civil union. Australian Muslims are afforded the same relationship choices as other Australians: the decision is theirs to make. If they choose the unofficial shari'a route, more confusion can arise as in a land of many 'Islams' and many distinct Muslim communities. With some Muslim parties now framing their submissions using Islamic legal concepts and norms, secular judges face new challenges. Muslims also have adjustments to make when deciding whether to stay within the more familiar shari'a law paradigm or trust the secular courts or alternate between the two.