Adoption

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Adoption and the Care of Orphan Children:
Islam and the Best Interests of the Child

The Digest

Muslim Women’s Shura Council
(August, 2011)

The Muslim Women’s Shura Council is a program of
the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), in collaboration with the Cordoba Initiative.

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© American Society for Muslim Advancement 2011.

About the Shura Council
The Muslim Women’s Shura Council is a global and inclusive council of Muslim women scholars, activists, and specialists. The Shura Council connects Islamic principles to society’s most pressing issues and develops holistic strategies for positive social change. To find out more about the Muslim Women’s Shura Council, and to see a list of its current members, please visit http://www.wisemuslimwomen.org/about/shuracouncil/.

Special Acknowledgements
The following women are members of the Muslim Women’s Shura Council: Afra Jalabi, Aisha Rafea, Asma Afsaruddin, Camille Helminksi, Daisy Khan, Farheen Syeed Kapra, Famile Arslan, Gonca Aydin, Hedieh Mirahmadi, Homayra Ziad, Laila al-Zwaini, Laisa Masuhud Alamia, Laleh Bakhtiar, Livia Iskandar, Margot Badran, Nadia al-Sakkaf, Necva Solak, Nevin Reda, Sabeeha Rehman, Samina Bashir, Santanina Rasul, Siti Musdah Mulia, Sophia Abdi Noor, Sumbul Ali-Karamali, Tasneem Ahmar, Tayyibah Taylor, Yamina Mermer, and Ziba Mir-Hosseini.

The Muslim Women’s Shura Council would like to thank the following in particular for their suggestions and contributions to the Adoption and the Care of Orphan Children Digest: Helene Lauffer, Mohammed Fadel, Perin Gurel, and Rachel Rossi.

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© American Society for Muslim Advancement 2011.

Adoption and the Care of Orphan Children Digest

Table of Contents

I.

Executive Summary and Objectives..………………………………………………. 4

II.

Definition of Terms………………………………………………………………………….. 5

III.

Understanding and Re-considering the Fiqh of Adoption .………………… 7

IV.

Shura Council Analysis………………………………………………….……….……….. 11

V.

Special Concerns about Adoption……………………………………………….….. 16

VI.

Conclusion and Recommendations……………………………………….………… 21

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© American Society for Muslim Advancement 2011.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
A common conception is that Islamic law forbids adoptions. However, this belief misses the complexity of Islamic law, the scope of adoption laws and practices across the world, and the overwhelming emphasis on taking care of orphans and foundlings found within Islamic sources. Contemporary adoption practices are immensely complex issues, overlapping with children’s rights, international and national laws, human psychology, economic, social, and religious concerns, and the ethics of lineage, identity, property and inheritance rights. In this position paper, the Muslim Women’s Shura Council considers whether adoption can be possible within an Islamic framework. After examining Islamic texts and history alongside social science research and the international consensus on children’s rights, the Council finds that adoption can be acceptable under Islamic law and its principle objectives, as long as important ethical guidelines are followed. This statement consults the Quran, the example of the Prophet Muhammad (sunna), the objectives and principles of Islamic law (maqasid al-sharia), Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh), and social science data. The Shura Council finds that, instead of banning adoption, Islamic sources have brought various ethical restrictions to the process, condemning dissimulation and foregrounding compassion, transparency, and justice. These restrictions closely resemble what is known today as the practice of open adoption. Therefore, when all efforts to place orphaned children with their extended family have been exhausted, open, legal, ethical adoptions can be a preferable Islamically-grounded alternative to institutional care and other unstable arrangements.

According to Islamic and universal standards of children’s rights, all children have the...
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