August 1. In a landmark ruling, a high court judge declared that a Muslim wife could divorce her husband and claim his assets, despite the fact that they married in an Islamic ceremony called a nikah, which is not legally recognized in Britain. In a written ruling, Mr. Justice Williams, who heard the case in the family division of the high court in London, concluded that the marriage fell within the scope of the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act because the couple had expectations similar to those of a British marriage contract. The decision came after Nasreen Akhter divorced her husband, Mohammed Shabaz Khan, who attempted to block her separation on the basis that they were not legally married according to English law and only under Sharia law. Previous cases involving nikah marriages concluded that they were legally non-existent, meaning that spouses had no redress to the courts for a division of matrimonial assets if a marriage broke down. The ruling will make it easier for women who are married under Sharia law to divorce their husbands and split their assets. The ruling also appears to enshrine two parallel justice systems — British law and Sharia law — in Britain.