Shariah Adoption Laws: Incompatible with American Law and Society

Yesterday’s Washington Post‘s feature story, “Muslim orphans caught between Islam and the West“– about Muslim orphans who cannot find adoptive homes because of Islamic law– highlights once again the incompatibility of shariah with U.S. law and societal norms. The heart-wrenching story explained the tragedy of Muslim children from war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq who cannot be permanently placed with American families, even if they are lucky enough to be resettled in the U.S. as refugees.

The reason is shariah (Islamic law), which states in unequivocal terms, “Adoption is unlawful in Islam when it means giving a child one’s own name; a share of one’s estate division, and so on.” [Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller), Book K, “Trade,” section k28.4 (pg. 450).] As the Post story pointed out, the Islamic prohibition on permanent legal adoption of Muslim children even by Muslim families is based primarily on the supreme importance of blood lineage for purposes of inheritance within Islam. That doctrine explains why Muslim children cannot be adopted by Muslim families, but does not address the ban on adoption by non-Muslim families.

In the American legal system, U.S. courts typically MAY consider religion as an element in adoption and post-divorce custody cases in the context of the traditional Western legal concept of “best interests of the child” but do not always do so and are not legally obligated to do so. Not so under Islamic law, where the best interests of the child have no relevance whatsoever: shariah dictates that no Muslim child may be permanently legally adopted by anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim. That is why, as the Post rightly notes, Muslim orphan children are left “with little chance of finding a permanent Muslim home in America.” Because of shariah. Because of Islamic law.

It is curious to consider the Vision, Mission, and Objectives of the Muslim women’s group cited in the Post story, The Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE). Despite what would appear to be excellent credentials among its Members and Shura Council, which include lawyers, professors of Islamic studies, and self-described Qur’anic scholars who seek to “articulate in the language of Islamic law”, the WISE Mission Statement still speaks of “interpretations” of Islam’s “legal and religious texts,” “principles of gender equality,” and “pluralism inherent in Islam,” all of which they must know is completely antithetical to Islamic doctrine, law, scripture, and practice. They surely must realize that none of their shura council debates can have the slightest influence on what are held by all established Muslim authorities, historically and currently, to be the immutable foundations of the Islamic faith.

So it is with a fair deal more realism that Ingrid Mattson, professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut (and former president of the Islamic Society of North America, which the Department of Justice listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007-8 Holy Land Foundation terror funding case), found herself constrained to cite a largely irrelevant historical excuse for why Islam banned adoption. Mattson, who is close to the Obama White House, knows perfectly well that shariah will never permit the adoption of Muslim children by non-Muslim families, so she fell back on ancient and outmoded Muslim concerns that adopted Muslim children (and their property) could be exploited by the adoptive family.

Less realistic, or perhaps just less honest, is the comment of Najah Bazzy, cited by the Post story as “a nurse and founder of Zaman International, a humanitarian service group in Dearborn, Michigan”. Bazzy is a Muslim of Arab heritage and so she, too, surely must know better than what she told the Post reporter,

“No one is going to convince me that Islam makes no allocation for this. Either somebody is not interpreting it right, or it needs to be reinterpreted.”

Unfortunately for Bazzy and WISE, but especially sadly for the orphaned Muslim children, Islamic law once again demonstrates its incompatibility with American law and societal practice: “Adoption is unlawful in Islam…”

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