How Sahar Daftary’s death fall exposed polygamy in Britain
The death of a model who learnt that her husband was already married has shone a light into the murky world of Muslim polygamy in Britain.
Sahar Daftary, 23, fell 150ft from the twelfth storey of a block of flats where she had gone to collect her belongings at the home of a businessman whom she had married in a religious ceremony last year.
Her husband, Rashid Jamil, 33, was arrested on suspicion of murder but bailed by police after they found no evidence that the death was anything other than an accident or suicide.
Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, the head of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, told The Times: “This story is very common, unfortunately. We have tried to plug some of the holes in the whole system, but unfortunately our clerics do not live on this planet.
“They don’t understand. For them, controlling the sexuality of the woman is far more important than justice, so we have this problem.”
Ms Daftary, a Sunni Muslim from London whose family comes from Afghanistan, was crowned Miss Face of Asia in a beauty contest last year. She was found critically injured by the apartment block in Salford Quays near the Manchester United football ground on Saturday. She had been helping with make-up at a fashion show in the city but left early to collect clothes from Mr Jamil’s home.
Ms Daftary also wanted to arrange an Islamic divorce from him. She had undergone a Muslim wedding ceremony in Brentford, West London, only to learn later that her husband already had a wife.
Her sister, Mariya Massumi, a hairdresser, said: “A few months after they got married we had a phone call from Narissa Amjad, and she said she was Rashid’s wife. We were very shocked and we confronted him.” Relatives learnt that Ms Amjad, 29, a marketing executive, was expecting a second child by Mr Jamil.
Islam traditionally allows husbands to take up to four wives at a time.
Dr Siddiqui said some British Muslim clerics performed polygamous marriages. The ceremonies are unrecognised by law. Clerics let husbands end marriages by saying “I divorce you” three times. Ex-wives have no rights.
Ahmad Thomson, a barrister and founder of the Association of Muslim Lawyers, said that polygamous marriages could work in Britain if all parties were open and in agreement. But he added: “Sometimes the husband has tried to keep the earlier marriage secret. When the second or third wife finds out, it’s devastating.”
By its very nature, Islam makes it difficult for Muslims to integrate.
Yet regardless of what “Islam traditionally allows,” Muslims who live in non-Islamic countries must obey the laws of the land. We can not have Muslims decide which laws they will and will not follow based on their adherence to Islam.
It is also a mistake to allow Muslims to operate Shariah courts in non-Islamic countries. The very name, “Muslim Parliament of Great Britian” betrays the desire of certain Muslims to establish a parallel society.
Death-plunge Muslim model ‘had told police of sex attack’ as family claims: ‘It wasn’t suicide’
A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Police told the London Evening Standard: “Police received a report of sexual assault in May 2008. An investigation was launched but the victim refused to co-operate further.”
Mr Jamil, who has been branded a womaniser by Miss Daftary’s family after he wed the 23-year-old in an Islamic ceremony while still married, was arrested on suspicion of murder but was later released on bail.
A close friend of Miss Daftary, who asked not to be named, said: “Sahar went to the police about six months ago after she split with Rashid. She thought she was being followed and walked into a police station near the apartment in Salford Quays to lodge a complaint.
“He was very possessive of her and she said that he told her that he had people watching her.”
Miss Daftary had been in Mr Jamil’s home city of Manchester for work but was persuaded to go to his flat after he offered her an Islamic divorce.
Her sister Mariya Massumi, 34, said Miss Daftary had previously tried to get Mr Jamil to sign divorce papers but he had not agreed.
Ms Massumi said: “On the way up to Manchester, Sahar was arguing with Rashid on the phone but then he acted nicely and promised to sign the divorce papers.”
The family, having released pictures of Miss Daftary’s marriage to Mr Jamil at the Holiday Inn in Brentford last December, now claim the union was never registered.
They have also insisted she would not have killed herself and had ‘everything to live for’.
But they also claimed her marriage had been a sham and her husband was a womaniser.
Meanwhile his second wife, a lawyer by whom he has an 11-year-old daughter, said she had left the former curry house boss because of his drinking and womanising.
It is also unclear whether Mr Jamil’s third marriage was ever legally recognised under English law.