Imams Must Come Up With Islamic Solutions for Foster Children

Undoubtedly, leaving our Muslim children at the mercy of non-Muslims will have a serious effect on their belief. I have problems with some of my colleague Imams who don’t consider what I call ‘Modernization’. By this I mean, not applying the principle of ‘Badeel’ - Abolishing and Substituting’ –  when educating our communities and the Muslim ummah as a whole. I believe it is high time Imams start looking at sensitive and controversial issues confronting Muslims as well as Islam outside the box, in order to come out with a better and lasting solution.

With regard to adoption, the question now is, is it an issue of ‘Mahramism’ or the issue of preventing illegal contacts with the opposite sex? Critical analysis will show that it is all about preventing illegal contact with the opposite sex and not about mahram. For example: Aren’t the two children born by the same parents mahrams to each other? If so, why then did Prophet Muhammad (Sallal Laahu Alaihi Wasallam) command us to separate their beds at the age of ten?

As Imams, we should always try to have substitutes for our children in whatever we forbid them. Because even when Allah forbade Al-Azlaam - divining arrows, He substituted it with Al-Istikhaarah – special du’a for guidance. This is because He says: “We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent? Q: 2:106

I remember listening to one of my colleague Imams during a visit to his masjid while he was speaking about ‘Adoption In Islam”. Considering the environment as well as the implication of condemning adoption in America, we should realize the government is calling families to be selfless by adopting poor children who might need a family to live with. Instead of condemning adoption in its totality, the Imam considered what in the adoption system is called ‘Open Adoption’, which is an agreement between adoptive parents and biological parents that addresses continuing contact between biological parents and the adopted child. This can be from regular letters to frequent visits. Though it is called adoption, it doesn’t alter the legality of the adoption.

In this type of adoption, the parents of the adopted child choose an adoptive family for their child – they may be Muslims or even relatives, choose the amount of contacts they want with adoptive family as their child grows, keep the adopted child in contact with other siblings of the biological parents.

The selfless act of placing their child for open adoption is to give him the best life possible. And knowing who his parents are helps the child to develop and maintain his lineage and identity – reasons why Islam abolishes adoption. The adoptive family in this open adoption serve as guardians and care takers, which in Islam is called ‘Kafaalah’ “…….and put her in the care of Zakariyyah” Q:3:38

The above definition of adoption may therefore mean that, the biological parents can get back their child anytime they need.

After listening to this perfect khutbah, I said to myself, won’t the open adoption be a perfect substitute for Muslims who want to adopt and take care of others children as well as earn a living? After all, the Prophet Muhammad was foster cared along with Abdullah Bin Al-Harith and his two sisters Aneesah Bint Al – Harith and Hudhaafah Bint Al-Harith. And also Abu Sufyaan Bin Al-Harith Bin Abdul Mutalib.

We must create solutions for taking care of children whose parents cannot take care of them instead of deterring Muslims from taking in foster children and leaving them at the mercy of non-Muslims foster parents or on the street. It is high time we have an Islamic system of foster care whereby the children can be separated into girls and boys facility, the same way we separate among our ‘biological’ children - who are mahrams to one another, as we are commanded by Prophet Muhammad (Sallal Laahu Alaihi Wasallam). Muslims should also support the proposed federal legislation known as the ‘Amer Act’ which allows children taken by Child Protective Services the right to live with other family members, instead of being exposed to environments that differ with their upbringing.

Imam Firdaws Ladan is the Imam of the Ibn Taymiyyah masjid in Prince George's County, Maryland.