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A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Shariah Law in the UAE

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Shariah Law

The legal landscape of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a unique amalgamation of federal laws, free zone regulations, and Shariah law. As one of the primary sources of legislation in the country, Shariah law has a significant influence on various legal sectors, including family law, inheritance, commercial transactions, and finance. As a result, understanding and navigating Shariah law in the UAE is crucial for businesses and individuals seeking to ensure compliance and protect their rights. Al Kabban & Associates, a leading UAE law firm, offers specialized legal services relating to Shariah law, providing expert advice and support to clients navigating this complex area of legislation.

In this article, we aim to provide an informative overview of Shariah law in the UAE, highlighting its key aspects, influence on various legal sectors, and the growing popularity of Shariah-compliant transactions in the region. By understanding the principles and implications of Shariah law, businesses and individuals can make informed decisions, safeguard their interests, and successfully navigate the diverse UAE legal landscape.

Shariah law is derived from various Islamic sources, primarily the Holy Quran and the Sunnah (teachings and practices) of the Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H.). In the UAE, Shariah law plays a significant role in shaping the legal framework, particularly in matters relating to personal status, inheritance, and family disputes. In addition, the nation’s commercial and financial sectors have increasingly adapted to Shariah-compliant transactions, resulting in the rapid growth of Islamic finance and banking, real estate, investments, and insurance.

With a proven record of excellence in diverse legal fields, Al Kabban & Associates has the expertise and experience to guide clients through the intricacies of Shariah law in the UAE. Our knowledgeable legal professionals provide tailored Shari’ah-compliant advice and solutions in various legal sectors, including family, inheritance, commercial transactions, and finance.

Shariah Law in Family Matters

Understanding the role of Shariah law in family matters is crucial for individuals seeking to resolve personal status disputes in the UAE:

1. Marriage: Shariah law governs various aspects of marriage, including the consent of both parties, the necessity of witnesses, and the requirement for a dowry (mahr) offered by the husband to the wife. Islamic marriages must be registered with the UAE authorities to be legally recognised.

2. Divorce: The procedures and grounds on which divorce can be sought under Shariah law are distinct from those found in other legal systems. Approaches such as talaq (unilateral divorce by husband), khula (initiated by the wife), and mutual consent-based divorce (mubarat) are available under Islamic law.

3. Child Custody and Guardianship: Shariah law outlines specific rules concerning child custody and guardianship post-divorce. Typically, mothers are granted custody until children reach a certain age. At the same time, fathers retain guardianship rights, including the responsibility for the child’s financial support and decision-making in matters related to education, healthcare, and religion.

4. Maintenance and Alimony: Under Shariah law, husbands are obligated to provide for their wives financially during marriage and following divorce. Spousal maintenance (nafaqa) is determined on a case-by-case basis and can include provisions for housing, clothing, medical expenses, and daily needs.

Shariah Law in Inheritance and Succession

The rules of inheritance and succession under Shariah law are markedly different from those found in other legal systems:

1. Fixed Shares and Residuary Shares: Shariah law prescribes specific shares of inheritance for different categories of heirs. Fixed share heirs, such as spouses, parents, and children, receive predetermined portions of the estate, while residuary heirs inherit the remaining assets.

2. Wills and Testamentary Dispositions: Islamic law permits individuals to dispose of up to one-third of their estate through a will, while the remaining two-thirds must be distributed according to the Shariah-based rules of inheritance. Non-Muslims, however, are allowed to draft wills according to their home country’s inheritance laws.

Shariah-Compliant Commercial Transactions and Finance

The growing demand for Shariah-compliant transactions and financial products in the UAE has led to an increased focus on ensuring adherence to Islamic principles in the commercial realm:

1. Islamic Finance and Banking: Shariah-compliant financing instruments, such as ijara (leasing), mudaraba (partnership-based investment), and murabaha (cost-plus sale), offer interest-free alternatives to traditional financial products, in line with the Islamic prohibition of riba (usury).

2. Takaful Insurance: Shariah-compliant insurance policies, known as takaful, are grounded in the principles of mutual risk-sharing and cooperation. Premiums are placed in a pool, from which claims are paid, and any surplus funds are distributed among policyholders, creating a transparent and equitable insurance model.

3. Sukuk Bonds: Shariah-compliant bonds, or sukuk, represent an alternative to traditional fixed-interest bonds. Underlying assets back Sukuk and provide investors with proportional ownership of these assets, generating returns through profit-sharing or rent rather than fixed interest payments.

Legal Considerations and Implications in the UAE

Navigating the complex interaction of Shariah law with the UAE’s legal framework requires a nuanced understanding of both systems:

1. Shariah Courts and Civil Courts: Personal status disputes involving Muslims are typically handled by Shariah courts, while civil courts have jurisdiction over matters involving non-Muslims. In some cases, involved parties may request the application of their home country’s laws in family law matters.

2. Shariah Law and Free Zones: Shariah law also has implications within the UAE’s numerous free zones. In certain instances, free zone authorities may refer Shariah law-based personal status disputes to the UAE courts for resolution.


The UAE’s unique legal landscape, integrating both federal laws and Shariah law, presents complexities and challenges for businesses and individuals navigating various legal sectors. By understanding the key aspects of Shariah law and its implications in areas such as family law, inheritance, and commercial transactions, parties can ensure compliance with UAE laws and protect their rights effectively.

Al Kabban & Associates is a top-notch law firm in the UAE. Collaborate with us to benefit from expert legal insight into Shariah law in the UAE. Discover how we can support you in navigating the intricate legal landscape within the UAE. Contact our team of skilled legal professionals today to discuss your Shariah law-related requirements!


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