Muslim marriage in the U.K: Why there’s concern for women

Following the Channel 4 Documentary The Truth About Muslim Marriage, there has been a raised awareness over the issue of many Muslim marriages in the UK failing to be recognised under British law.

A lot of Muslim marriages in the UK are Nikah only, meaning the couple have only had the spiritual ceremony and their marriage is only recognised in the eyes of Islam; not the law. This is leaving many Muslim women in tough situations if they choose to divorce their husband as under British law, they are only seen as cohabitees – not husband and wife.

“”Muslim women do not feel able to ask for a legally binding ceremony, or even a divorce, from their husband.”

Melanie Webb is a family law solicitor who has had experience in dealing with Islamic marriages in Sharia Law and the impact it can have on women in the UK. She said, “If the Muslim couple had the Islamic Marriage in this country, this is not legally binding and is therefore a huge concern for women.

“Sharia Law does not offer the same rights and status to a wife as it does to a husband. In Sharia Law, a husband has more rights over marital assets including property, investments, pensions etc, not to mention that the husband has more rights than the wife in respect of the care for their children.”

In the UK, if a husband and wife are going through a divorce both the man and woman are treated equally in regard to their finances, children and so on; most judges will try to split the couple’s assets 50/50.

According to the research conducted by those on the Channel 4 documentary, 60.1% of the 923 Muslim women questioned did not have a civil ceremony as well as a Nikah ceremony meaning 3 out of 5 of those women are not married in the eyes of the law. 28.2% did not know they were not legally married.

Zamzam Ibrahim, a 23-year-old muslim and President of the Student’s Union for Salford University said, “Because it is currently not mandatory in the UK for Muslim couples to have a civil service, people don’t do it. Some will feel that because their marriage is recognised in the eyes of God, it doesn’t matter if it is recognised by the Government as well.

“I think it’s incredibly important for women to make sure they’re protected and to look after themselves – by not having a civil service as well, women are putting themselves at risk.”

60.1% of 923 married Muslim women asked did not have a civil ceremony

In Melanie’s experience, she has found many Muslim women do not feel able to ask for a legally binding ceremony, or even a divorce, from their husband due to the fear of the repercussions from the local community. 78% of those surveyed by Channel 4 researchers said they want their marriages to be legally recognised.

For any Muslim women looking to get a divorce from a marriage that is not recognised by British Law, Melanie advised to seek help from a family law specialist. She said, “By speaking to a specialist they can establish whether they have any rights under property law, for example, that may be explored. We would also suggest that they seek advice from the Sharia Council who can also offer advice and potentially practical support in respect of the breakdown of the relationship.”


Why we seriously need to talk about sun protection

With the UK seeing high temperatures in recent weeks and people’s summer holidays just around the corner, one thing that everyone’s looking to achieve is a gorgeous, glowing tan. With freckles on your nose and colour in your skin, you feel automatically more confident and more attractive; however people are failing to tan ‘safely’ with 15,419 cases of skin cancer in 2014.

One of those diagnosed in 2014 with skin cancer was Katie Greenall. Now 21, Katie was just 18-years-old when she was diagnosed with malignant melanoma – the most aggressive and life-threatening form of skin cancer. Despite never having used a sun bed or been badly burnt, Katie’s boyfriend noticed blood on her shirt where an usual looking mole was in the middle of her back. Within an hour of the Doctor seeing Katie’s mole, she was sent into surgery for it to be removed as soon as possible after realising it was cancerous. 82% of malignant melanoma cases in women are down to major lifestyle factors or other risk factors but unfortunately Katie fell into the 18% of people who got it “out of bad luck”.

Katie said, “I always thought it would never happen to me. When I went to the Doctors that day I was thinking, ‘It’s not going to be that’ – you don’t think it will ever happen to you. You’ve got to have that mind set of putting some sun cream on because it could happen to any of us.

“Skin cancer’s sort of pushed to the side. With breast cancer and stuff, they’re more in the spotlight – but cancer’s cancer no matter what it is, especially skin cancer as it’s the largest organ of your body.”

In 2014, there were 2,459 deaths in the UK due to skin cancer; luckily Katie’s was found early enough for the Doctors to successfully remove the cancerous mole before it spread to other parts of the body which malignant melanoma has a tendency to do.

“If no one noticed the blood on my shirt, I would not have known. I felt completely normal.”

There are two other main types of skin cancer which are more common than malignant melanoma; basal cell carcinoma (a cancer of the basal cells at the bottom of the epidermis) and squamous cell carcinoma (a cancer of the keratinocyte cells in the outer layer of the skin). Basal cell carcinoma is responsible for 75% of skin cancers. These types of cancers are typically caused by sun exposure as the UV rays damages the DNA in a persons skin cells. There’s also the issue of your tone of skin as those more fair skinned – blondes and red heads typically – are more at risk of sunburn. Getting sunburnt just once every 2 years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer. For more information and support, click here

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Signs and symptoms to look for to make sure your moles/freckles and healthy and normal

Whilst the sun gives us vitamin D, which is an important part of the human body, it also gives off UV rays which can be seriously damaging . The chances of you getting burnt depend on the strength of the UV rays where you are. Throughout the UK today, the UV rays have been around 6 or 7 which is ‘high’ or ‘very high’ on the Met Office scale; click here to see for yourself. Cancer research advises that you protect your skin from the sun when the UV index is 3 or above. Another thing to take into account is that the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm in the UK.

Whilst getting a tan is great and you think the horrendous sunburn you’ve got will “turn into a tan tomorrow” – is damaging your skin so severely for a tan worth tripling your risk of skin cancer? Sunburn doesn’t have to be as extreme as peeling or blistering, if the skin is pink or red, it is sunburnt. Sunburn can also cause premature ageing as well. Is it worth looking 10-years-older than you are just for the sake of a bit of colour to your skin?

When the weather is lovely, it is inevitable you will be wanting to go outside to sit in the sunshine which is fine as long as you enjoy the sun safely. Ways you can do this are as follows:

  • Spend time in the shade throughout the day, whether this be inside, under a parasol or in a tent
  • Cover yourself up for parts of the day with clothing, wear a hat to protect the face and head and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes – it’s possible (but very rare) that people get skin cancer in their eye as well as the skin
  • Sun cream! Make sure you put enough on, that you put it on frequently (even those “once a day” types), use it along side shade and clothing for ultimate protection and don’t store sun cream in hot places as the heat can ruin the creams protective chemicals

Glamour magazine has recently raved about these SPF friendly products (hover over the pictures for details):


So don’t be that idiot with a t-shirt tan line the colour of a tomato this summer. Enjoy the sun safely because life long damage isn’t worth a temporary tan.

Confessions of an over-thinker

To ‘overthink’ is to think about something too much for too long – from why didn’t my friend text me back, to what do I want to do with my life? It’s an on going cycle of thoughts churning when most of the time it’s all over nothing.

Example number 1: friendships

If you don’t text back within half an hour, we will think you’ve either died or you hate us. We’ll be staring at our phone like we’re waiting to find out if you’ve survived surgery when you had a 50/50 chance of survival… when really we’re just waiting on a reply if you want to come out tonight. Whilst we’re sat there wondering if you’ve had a car crash, you’re probably just in the shower.


Example number 2: relationships

Don’t get me started- if relationships aren’t a trip to anxiety-ville, I don’t know what is. Being in a generation of playing “hard to get” is hell to an over-thinker. Does he like me, does he not? Is he speaking to someone else? Does he even want a girlfriend? Did the date go OK? Did I have something in my teeth? He heard me fart didn’t he? I swore it was silent. Etc.

Then when you’re actually in the relationship, it doesn’t get much better. Every small thing you do it a sign to us. He wants to go out with the lads this weekend… to probably bitch about me. His mum definitely hates me. He’s not text much today, he definitely wants to break up… but he was just on his Xbox.


Example number 3: the battle with trying to sleep

Ah, 10:30pm, maybe I should head off to sleep. 3 hours later you’re still laid there questioning things from the purpose of life to what you should wear to your Grandma’s birthday this weekend. Our brains. don’t. turn. off.

family guy

Example 4: being a sarcastic bastard

Do you know how hard is it to be queen of sarcasm but on then overthink the sarcy comment you made. You’ll be bringing the banter and drop a sarcastic line that blows everyone away – next thing you know you’re thinking about the comment several days later wondering if it a bit harsh and if they knew you were joking. Argh! It quickly goes from giggling at your own savage-ness to rocking back and forth in your room thinking about what a bad person you are.


Example number 5: attempting the “fuck it” lifestyle

Knowing you’re £-500 but find a pair of jeans on Asos you simply love and order them on impulse. Then you worry about it for 3-5 working days until they arrive and send them straight back knowing you don’t have £35 to spare. Or, thinking “fuck it” and go out with your friends despite the fact you have a 9am lecture tomorrow then spend the whole night out thinking about how you should be in bed right now. Damn it.



So over all, an over-thinker will never be a care-free person who all of a sudden decides to pack up their bags and travel the world or something – well actually we might do but we would overthink it, panic and unpack our bags immediately…

How to Help Anxious Friends

In the year 2013, there were 8.2 million mental heath cases in the UK alone. One of the 8.2 million was probably a friend of yours – they may have openly told you about it, or you may have put two and two together yourself. Helping someone with anxiety can be hard if you have no experience in doing so, so here are some tips on showing that you’re there for them. 


Firstly, try to understand what “anxiety” actually is. Do your research and try to understand what your mate is going through! Every human being will come across a feeling of ‘anxiety’ in their lifetime, but someone who suffers the mental disorder of anxiety has an abnormally anxious response to some day to day situations which most people would find just fine.

AnixetyUK define an anxiety disorder as the following: “Anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger and is often called the ‘flight or fight’ response. This process involves adrenalin being quickly pumped through the body enabling it to cope with whatever catastrophe may come its way. The problems arise when this response is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, or indeed is generated when there is no danger present.” 

anxiety 1.png

Secondly, check up on them. A simple text will mean a hell of a lot to them. Knowing you’ve got a friend there if you’re needing to talk is a great feeling as mental illness can cause a large sense of loneliness. Many people with a mental illness are reluctant to bother friends and family with their issues to prevent coming across as a burden, so if you text or call them first they won’t feel that way. Even if they don’t want to talk about anything, it’s nice to know someone is there and thinking of you.

As Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower says, “I’m both happy and sad at the same time and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Thirdly, still ask them out with you. Unfortunately, people with anxiety often don’t want to go out much, but the invite still means a lot. Even though you’re 90% sure they’ll decline, by still asking them it makes them feel wanted. Also, anxious people may need a bit more persuasion to go out – try to gently encourage them to come out with you if you know it is something they’ll probably enjoy, without pressuring them into it.

Fourthly, expect mood swings. Sometimes your friend will be on Cloud 9, other times they’ll be unbelievably sad and often they won’t actually know why. As Charlie says in Perks of Being a Wallflower, “I’m both happy and sad at the same time and I’m trying to figure out how that can be.”  There will be times when your anxiety-filled friend will just want to be off grid for a bit, other times they’ll be happy to come and socialise.

Fifthly, don’t ask obvious questions or say obvious comments. Some things can really sting for an anxious person. In my opinion, the worst ones are “What do you have to be anxious about?” – well this is the issue isn’t it, it wouldn’t be an anxiety disorder if I was anxious about normal things. Also, “Just be happy!” – if it was that bloody easy I would be but unfortunately my brain and thoughts aren’t currently letting me.

Lastly, try to be non-judgemental. As the video above shows, those ‘dramatic’ feelings they get are genuine. Anxiety can cause you to drown in your thoughts making the anxiety swallow you up. This is why people are reluctant to speak to people about how they’re feeling because they think people will think they’re being overdramatic – the more empathetic and approachable you are to your friend, the more likely they are to talk to you.

Overall, anxious people are sensitive beings and need a little extra looking after compared to some of your other friends. As well as the negative aspects of it, there are positives to being friends with an anxious person; they’re extremely thoughtful and very empathetic meaning they are great listeners. To distract them from their own anxieties, they like to help others. It’s not all that bad being friends with a nervous Nelly.

Source: giphy

July 2016: The Month of Terror and Hatred

One hundred and sixty five. That’s how many incidents of terrorism and hate crimes have taken place cross the globe all in the small space of 4 weeks. From Bangladesh, to France, from Iraq to Japan – terror is sadly becoming apart of our daily lives.

Whether it’s a single life taken or 300+, innocent people’s lives are being lost at the drop of a hat. The question on everyone’s minds is who and where is next? These are just a few of the many devastating things that have taken place this month – some of which you probably didn’t even know happened.

Evil attacks the weakest,” – Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

01/07/16 Dhaka, Bangladesh:

“Islamic militants” opened fire in a local bakery. They were armed with machetes, pistols, & crude bombs as well as taking hostages (both locals and tourists). 29 people were killed, including 20 of the hostages taken and two police officers. 50 were also injured.

02/07/16Jalalabad, Afghanistan:

A suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted a tribal leader. The blast of the bomb killed two civilians and injured 18. This was suspected to be done by the Taliban.

03/07/16 Baghdad, Iraq:

During Ramadan, one of the five Pillars of Islam, “Islamic State” conducted coordinated bombings across Baghdad consisting of a car bomb and a roadside bomb. The attack killed more than 300 people, injured more that 225. This incident is the second worst bombing attack in Iraq following the 2007 Yazidi communities bombings.

04/07/16Saudi Arabia:

In the space of one day, three suicide bombing attacks took place in Saudi Arabia; one in Jeddah, one in Qatif and one in Medina. All the attacks were conducted by so-called “Islamic State”. In Jeddah and Qatif there were no fatalities other than the bombers themselves, but in Medina 4 civilians were killed and five were wounded.

syrian war

05/07/16Um al-Housh, Syria:

“Islamic State” kidnapped 40 people and killed them all after they tried to escape.


Terrorism is a psychological warfare. Terrorists try to manipulate us and change our behavior by creating fear, uncertainty, and division in society.” – Patrick J. Kennedy

07/07/16Balad, Iraq:

At least 56 people were killed and around 75 injured after “Islamic State” stormed Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi, a holy place for Shia Muslims. The militants set off car bombs, had suicide bombers on foot and several gunmen as well. The Shia pilgrims were celebrating Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan.

14/07/16Nice, France:

As crowds celebrated Bastille day, a 19 tonne truck ploughed through the crowds watching the fireworks on Promenade des Anglais. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel killed 84 people and left 303 injured.

16/07/16Tal Abta, Iraq:

Five people were burned alive in a cage by “Islamic State” after being accused of spying and working with Iraqi police.

17/07/16 Louisiana, USA:

Gavin Long, a man linked with organizations to do with black separatism and the the sovereign citizen movement (who the FBI class as “domestic terrorists”), shot six police officers. Three of the officers who were shot died.

As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” – Nelson Mandela

19/07/16Nampala, Mali:

This attack was an armed assault against the Malian Army base. 17 government soldiers were killed and 35 were seriously injured. Three different groups claimed joint responsibility for the attack; Macina Liberation (a Mali based Islamic militant group), Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (who aim to overthrow the Algerian government to create an Islamic state) and the ethic Peul militant group (‘National Alliance for the Protection of the Peul Identity and the Restoration of Justice’).

22/07/16Munich, Germany

An 18-year-old boy (Ali David Sonboly) opened fire in the Olympia shopping mall killing ten people and injuring 35. He later shot himself in the head – his motives are still under investigation by German police.

23/07/16Kabul, Afghanistan: 

Shia Islamists (an ethnic minority in Afghanistan) were protesting against the ‘Afghanistan: Energy Supply Improvement Investment Program’ and their mega power project when a twin bombing occurred by “Islamic State” killing 80 people and injuring 260. The attack was the deadliest attack in Kabul since 2001.

26/07/16Sagamihara, Japan 

19 people were killed and 26 others injured when  Satoshi Uematsu conducted mass stabbings in a care home for disabled people. He believed that it should be legal to kill people with severe disabilities.

27/07/16Qamishli, Syria 

Today, a terrorist detonated a van bomb killing 44 civilians and injuring 170 at checkpoint.


In the process of writing this piece, I had to frequently edit it changing the number of attacks that have happened. That’s how quickly & often these things are taking place.

Sadly, there is negative connotation around Muslims in general due to the horrific acts of some groups. Please remember, as proven above, that “Islamic State” and other similar groups target their killings on other Muslims too.

The world is becoming an ugly place and change needs to happen. Countries must unite to fight against terrorism and hate crimes together. 


Sources:,,,,, and

Life Inside a Clinically Anxious Mind

I once read a quote online that said: “Rule your mind, or it will rule you.” which for an anxious person like myself is easier said than done.

When I say ‘anxious’ or ‘anxiety’ I don’t mean in the way Kardashians say it at the drop of a hat like, “It’s giving me anxiety,” – I mean it in the terms of a mental illness that affects 8.2 million people  in the UK alone. On a recent poll I did on my twitter account, of the 40 people who responded, 70% answered yes to the question of “do you have a mental illness yourself, or know someone who does?”.

Ok, so imagine two fire detectors next to each other and you simply light a match underneath them. One of the detectors alarm goes off, whilst the other doesn’t – you’d think the one’s which alarm is going off is faulty, right? That its alarm is going off for the smallest thing? Well, that’s what it’s like for someone with anxiety; their metaphorical anxious alarms will go off at the smallest thing, whilst for many other people it wouldn’t.


To say so many people are effected by mental health issues, anxiety and depression in particular, there’s limited general knowledge on the subject. For me personally, I have general anxiety disorder which is the issue of feeling anxious or worrying all. the. damn. time.

Common symptoms are:

  • restlessness
  • a sense of dread
  • feeling constantly “on edge”
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability

Physical symptoms are:

  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • muscle aches and tension
  • trembling or shaking
  • dry mouth
  • excessive sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach ache
  • feeling sick
  • headaches
  • pins and needles
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep  (insomnia)

So basically, it’s kind of shitty to have and can often come hand-in-hand with depression due to the low self esteem you feel because of being unable to control what your mind is thinking.

It really sucks being a teenager with anxiety, well it sucks at any age really. I mean, I’m a 19-year-old that has to weigh up the pros and cons of going on a night out because I have to analyse whether it’s worth the anxiety. What if I drink too much and feel ill tomorrow? What if it’s really crowded and I can’t move? What if the club is miles away to get to? What if I have to get a cab on my own because no-one wants to come back with me? What if people judge me for wanting to leave early and not stay out until 4am like real 19-year-old students do? etc. etc. etc. It’s safe to say you can drown in your own thoughts.

Mental health issues don’t have the same kind of recognition the way physical illnesses do, for example; if you saw someone coughing and with a runny nose you’d presume they had a cold and believe them if they said that they did. If I was to turn to someone and say, “I have anxiety,” there is no way to prove it therefore it’s difficult to a) diagnose what you have and b) to explain your feelings to people so they believe/understand it.

There’s also more empathy for people with a physical illness because you’ve either experienced it yourself, know someone who has, or know they general unpleasant symptoms of it. Those who do not have a mental illness struggle to understand it, since they’ve probably never experienced it themselves.

“An anxiety disorder is a common mental illness defined by feelings of uneasiness, worry and fear. While anxiety occurs for everyone sometimes, a person with an anxiety disorder feels an inappropriate amount of anxiety more often than is reasonable.”

Mental illness’ is a chemical imbalance in the brain, therefore it’s not so easy to cure. Yes there’s medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and counselling, but really it’s all down to will power and taking control. Say you’re scared of heights and you opt to do a sky dive, you’re facing your fears. That’s unfortunately what people with anxiety have to do to battle the dread of a certain,  unavoidable, basic, situation to be able to get by in their day-to-day life.

Sadly the NHS is pretty crap in helping with mental health issues. I had to wait the best part of 3-4 months for CBT, and when you’re struggling to even sit in a classroom environment and end up rarely attending college due to it, 3-4 months is a hell of a long wait. Did you know, between 2003 and 2013, 18,220 people suffering with a mental illness committed suicide? 

My tips for anyone suffering the above would be to firstly go see your GP. Also, push yourself to do things so you don’t sink into the routine of avoiding bad situations; it’s a slippery slope.

Here’s a corny (but extremely true) quote to end on:




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