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Personal Status Issues of Muslim Minorities.

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.

Evidence of the Qur’an and Sunnah indicates that it is obligatory for all the Muslims – on the individual, community, governmental and international levels – to refer any disputes or arguments that arise among them to the laws of Allah, and to submit to Him and accept His laws. Allah Almighty says:

{فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا} (النساء:65).

(interpretation of the meaning): {But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission} (Qur'an 4:65).

As for Allowing Muslims living in non-Muslim countries to seek the help of non-Muslim courts to dissolve their disputes in cases of necessity, this does not apply to personal status issues such as marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance, etc.; provisions of such matters are clearly stated in texts of the Qur'an and Sunnah. 

Therefore, international declarations have been issued stipulating that religious minorities have the right to enjoy their own culture and to declare and practice their own religion freely, without interference or discrimination as well as to establish and maintain their own societies. International statements also call countries to take measures to create favorable conditions for persons belonging to minorities to express their characteristics, to develop their culture, language, religion, traditions and customs, except in cases where certain practices are in violation of national law and are contrary to international standards.

There are two cases of Muslims minorities living in non-Muslim countries:

1 - Muslim minorities enjoying some degree of internal independence or autonomy, either by law or treaty, or because such country was subject to Islamic rule for a period of time, such as the Muslims of India or Bosnia. Such Muslims do not face difficulties in applying the provisions of Islamic law.

2 - Muslim minorities living in countries that do not recognize other than the judicial system of the State concerned where the provisions of personal status are subjected to a unified law, such as Germany, Britain and France, or subjected to different laws, as in USA, where personal status laws vary from state to state. Muslims in such case are forced to resort to arbitration, through choosing a fair, wise and a Muslim scholar, to adjudicate on their personal status matters. This task is often carried out by Islamic centers or associations there.

After the ruling of the court of arbitration is awarded - conflicting parties must implement it, either voluntarily, by faith or by influence of society, or by referring the arbitral award to the  State's courts  to implement it.

Indeed, in many of its forms, the arbitration system is now recognized in most States and it may not be challenged unless it violates the public order or public decency of the State.

May Allah guide and safe guard us all.

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