A Melbourne law firm has hired Australia's first sharia consultant - an imam to advise Muslim clients on how to observe Islamic legal codes alongside Australian law.

Sheikh Mohamadu Nawas, a member of the Australian National Council of Imams, will work particularly on commercial contracts and disputes between Muslims, plus separation agreements, divorces, wills and pre-nuptial agreements.

Earlier attempts to have Australian law recognise sharia principles or to establish a sharia court in Australia have proved controversial, with Muslim women's groups strongly opposed.

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