An influential committee of MPs will conduct an inquiry into the relationship between sharia councils and the British legal system.
The home affairs committee of the House of Commons has announced the inquiry into how sharia councils operate in the UK.
The work will include how family and divorce disputes are resolved, and how these compare to British law.
The terms of reference will also include the extent to which sharia law is compatible with the principles of British law.
The committee will also examine the costs of using sharia councils and how they are funded; how other non-majority Muslim countries have responded to sharia councils operating in their jurisdictions; and the role that government could have in monitoring them.
Chair of the committee Keith Vaz MP said: ‘The committee has launched an inquiry into Sharia courts following much uncertainty regarding their role within communities in the UK.
‘We will be hearing evidence from both observers and practitioners of these courts, and are currently accepting written evidence on a wide range of issues, including the compatibility of Sharia courts with British law.’
The Home Office has already ordered an independent review of sharia law, chaired by Professor Mona Siddiqui, as part of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy.
Its terms of reference are to explore whether, and to what extent, the application of sharia may be incompatible with the law in England and Wales.
Thinktank The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life last year called for the Ministry of Justice to issue guidance to ensure religious and cultural tribunals comply with UK standards on gender equality and judicial independence.
Written submissions for the home affairs committee inquiry must be submitted online by midday on 20 July.