Islam and the System


A couple of weeks ago I came across a news story about a Muslim family whose children were permanently removed from their custody, due to allegations of abuse. Child Protective Services placed the children in a Non-Muslim foster home despite requests that they be placed with relatives or a family who shared their religious and cultural beliefs. Word of this spread quickly and upset many. I will refrain from commenting on the case since I am unaware of all the details. However, as a Muslim woman who spent five years of her life living with non-Muslim foster parents, I’ll admit this article struck a nerve with me. Now more than ever, I feel it is necessary for our Ummah to take a stand. We need more Muslim foster parents.

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There are far more Muslim children in the system than we realize or care to admit. This is a serious problem, especially when we consider the placement options that are available. The shortage of licensed Muslim foster families has caused the majority of these children to be placed in non-Muslims homes. In most cases, they grow up without any Islamic guidance, are prevented from establishing Islamic habits, and their pursuit of Islamic knowledge is quite often discouraged. Many children are actively influenced to leave Islam.

Although five years of living with non-Muslims was an invaluable experience for me, it was also a very challenging. It seemed as if, in each of the seven homes I lived in, my foster parents were on a mission to “save me”. Suddenly, every incident that led to me being in the system was related to Islam and the supposed hate it propagated. I was naïve and led to believe that Christianity was going to wash away all the hurt and hostility I had bottled up. I was baptized in a church and, for three years, lived a Christian lifestyle.

I share my experience with you so that you can see it through my eyes. Alhamdulillah, I was able to come back to Islam; I was lucky Allah had guided me,  but this wasn’t until after I emancipated myself from the system. At the age of 18, I moved back in with my family and began to realize that truth could only be found in Islam.  Without them knowing, the community of Muslims directly surrounding me helped me realize this. Any ounce of doubt that I had in the message given to me while I was a foster child was removed from my heart. Looking back on the situation, I feel confident in saying that, had I been placed in a Muslim foster home, things would have been different.

As previously stated, I truly feel that I am extremely blessed; things could have ended much differently. This is why I feel it is important for Muslim families to become foster parents. It is our duty as Muslims, to protect our youth from losing their religion. Allah has entrusted us with His creation. These children are influenced by the families they are placed with. They are naïve and we are obligated to guide them as He has guided us, and provide for them as He has provided for us. I beg of you, let not our children go astray.

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18 Comments

  1. Maryam says:

    subhanAllah! jezak Allahu khayran this is so important!

    • Salaam,

      I think this is a general problem for Muslims living in a non-muslim environment. We have similar problems in Germany. There are many so called Muslim families that don’t take of their offsprings. The Jugendamt (State Child Protective Service) can take away your child if they assume there is child abusement which is called “Kindeswohlgefährdung”. I think although the Jugendamt may act properly in many cases, we must think about the Non-Muslim foster homes that these children are going to be placed in. And the German Muslims (mainly of Turkish and North African origin) don’t have an adequat alternative. Maybe a reason for this could be that Muslim families don’t want a na-mahram person to dwell in their homes? I think we have to focus on this topic.

      • Anon says:

        The Jugendamt is an evil political orgatisation in Germany that has the sole function to steal children from non-german families and to bring them up as Germans with the German lack of morals. They are in fact subjected to a process known as Germanization.

        This problem has been taken up with and discussed with the European Parliament but due to the then German President and large German block in the parliament Germany was spare sanctions on the part of the European Union for thier evil practices.

        All foreigner in Germany must work together to resist the evil practices of the German Jugendamt.

        In the end only Allah is going to be able to remove this evil in Germany that affects hundreds and of thousands of foreign familes in Germany.

        It is the duty of every foreigner to put pressure and and to spread the word around the world of the blatant viollation of fundamental freedoms and human rights being systematically carries by the German Regime and its state organs such as the Jugendamt and the German family courts.

  2. usman says:

    Salaam, this post just goes to show that Muslims must diversify activities we are involved with. (Heir are so many modes of American life we are neglecting. However I believe the future is bright for us atleast socially, with the permission of Allah.

  3. Hatim says:

    Subhan’Allah, I was just thinking about this subject recently.

    I think a lot more information needs to be provided to our community on this subject.

    For example…

    What does a family have to do to become qualified?

    Do they choose who stays with them (boy/girl, age, religion, etc)?

    Maybe a short foloow up article with a list of resources will be helpful.

    Jaza khallah khair.

    • Holly Garza says:

      Asalaamu alaikum waramatulahi wa barakatu

      Some of the rules and requirements are you have to be at least 18 or 21, pass a background check, as well as everyone in your house, You also have to take some basic training have a safe, clean, and healthy environment and pass a CANTS test.

      You’ll be asked about your experience in raising children, your approach to discipline, and maybe even your willingness to work with “difficult” children. (like which child won’t be after that!) You can usually ask for a certain age, even race and sex of the child you would prefer and are entitled to review the child’s history.

      There are a lot of regulations but these are just some I know of offhand, try google and ask.

  4. Abdifatah says:

    subhanAllah what an amazing story and bring up an important issue that we need to face. I would really like to see our leaders in our communities here to make this an issue and campiagn for it. Imam Suhaib inshaAllah if you can it would be nice to see some scholarly perspective on this.

    May Allah guide and help us All. ameen
    Ma’salaam

  5. Analy says:

    SubhanAllah. Before this article, I have never even put a thought into the foster care system…sadly, I don’t think I was alone either. This article definitely opened my eyes. We say we are brothers and sisters in Islam, but we would never let our brothers and sisters go through such sorrowful experiences. We need to step up our game….Alhamdulilah, this article was Step 1 for me.

    JAK for sharing.

  6. Arif says:

    Subhanallah, this really opened my eyes! I’ve never even thought about this reality! May Allah bless you for such an important message to us all! More research needs to be done about this so that we can educate ourselves and our communities about this serious issue.

  7. J says:

    Subhan-Allah. A very touching story.

  8. Important issue! says:

    Jazakom Allah khairan.. This article makes me wonder, are any Muslim organizations actively organizing to systemically address the issue of Muslim children in foster care? Its my understanding that certain legislation exists for American Indians to first be fostered by people in their tribe, and other legislation where African American children can be fostered by African American families.. it would be great if such favorable culturally-sensitive policy was in place for Muslim children.

  9. SisAnon says:

    Very important issue, jazakallah khayr for sharing your experience with us. Al Jumuah had an excellent article on the need for Muslim foster parents in one of their magazines last year, which really brought to light for me that this is a crisis which needs to be addressed. I have the same question as the commenter above: are there any Muslim organizations that work to address this issue and recruit Muslim foster parents?

  10. American Sis says:

    I see all the above discussion about how we should find out about becoming foster parents to Muslim children….this drives me crazy about our PASSIVE community. CAIR, mosques and other organizations should read their state laws, a simple GOOGLE will do and be informed.
    First of all, most calls regarding abuse or neglect are made anonymously and are rated by importance and have time statutes, like 48 hours to respond, which is the initial assessment. When CPS or the police or any government come to your door, you are not obligated to answer or talk. The government may only enter your home or take an individual from your home with a warrant. A warrant is issued by a judge and is presented with a specific name or item on it. It does not allow officials to see the whole house or speak with everyone.
    In cases of CPS, a judge won’t issue a warrant. If you open the door and find an investigator, end the conversation right there. They may return with police or come back multiple times. Keep a video or tape recorder at the door and record all interaction thereafter. You will be surprised at how they back off. If they can, they will visit your children before you suspect a call was made. There are rules for this too. They will ask leading questions and ask about what type of food you have at home, how the child is punished and furnishings. It is your option to send a letter in writing to your child’s public school stating your objection that your child speak to any state or federal representatives without legal representation or their parents present. You can also tell your children not to answer personal or intrusive questions about their home lives, including school questionaires. This is difficult with young children as the officials are trained and they invite a teacher or staff member to sit in the interview that a child is comfortable with. Public school is obligated to comply with the interview, private school is discretionary in California, I believe.
    Child Protective Services is big business and they get alot of money per bed they fill. They do not have to take into consideration your cultural or religious rules. In fact, you can be dubbed abusive because you deny your children food and water in Ramadan or sleep on the floor, etc. Once they get you in the loop, if you miss one requirement, you can lose your children.
    My suggestion is for parents to be involved in school, meet teachers, join PTA and attend parent teacher conferences. Explain Ramadan before it begins and represent Islam. Give the school baklava and sweets during your holiday’s. How we represent ourselves may be the most important thing we ever do.
    Never speak with authorities without representation.

  11. Analy says:

    American Sis, the issue isn’t about calls of neglect and how we can protect ourselves from talking to officials. The article and previous comments are regarding Muslim children already placed in foster homes. The issue is making sure our Muslim children are placed into proper care. If we allow them to be in a non-Muslim household, then it’s all downhill from there. It’s bad enough, or good depending on how you look at it, that they are in foster care….but the reality is that this does happen. Some Muslim children are forced to leave their homes and we need to think/have better measures on protecting them.

    However, I do agree that we live in a passive community. If we really want to do something, we are blessed to have sites and organizations to utilize. I’m just glad this topic was brought up and inshaAllah we use this to be progressive.

  12. Sandy Damrah says:

    As’Salamu Alaikum, I am sorry to say that I have been working as a volunteer in our community in Northern New Jersey for 3+ years to get a Muslim boy out of an abusive, alcoholic Christian home of elderly foster parents who already failed 2 adoptions 20 years ago. This sweet little boy was never abused or neglected by his biological parents. The system failed this family and sadly the boy is paying the price. 4 teeth missing in 1 day, a scar on his face from foster mother, scar on his stomach from ?, bruises up and down his legs many times, hit on his butt with a hair brush and hospital reported “physical abuse by foster mother”, many police reports & still they don’t want him returned to either of his parents. It breaks my heart that I found Islam 16 years ago and the system thinks they have the right to change this child’s religion. The boy said “I’m different, I’m not a Muslim, I am a Christian & Jesus died for me.” After she lied in court & told the judge that he wasn’t being taught Christianity, the lawyer for the boy (6 years old) told the judge “it shouldn’t matter to the parents what religion he is raised as”. I still hear those words in my ears and can’t believe that the system designed to protect the innocent has developed into a money-making life-threatening business to get Federal funding for state and local offices. You can help by writing to Pres. Obama & NJ Governor Chris Christie to ask for a complete investigation into the case of Abdulrahman Khalil date of birth 04.19.2004. May Allah (swt) protect him, preserve his identity, and return him to our Ummah.

  13. Nayyar says:

    Yes this happens so many times child protection agencies are not able to locate an appropriate Muslim home for the children in care and it is not considered in the best interest of the child to be placed with extended family for one reason or another as it can potentially be not safe for the child. Being associated to the profession of social care agency and having being involved with placing children with suitable foster care I am aware that sadly there are so many Muslim children who are placed with non Muslim foster carers. In the first instance every effort is made to place child to match its real family’s religious beliefs and cultural background but due to shortage of such Muslim families, it is not always possible.I am aware of a Muslim child who was a new born baby and was placed with a Hindu foster carer as no Muslim foster carers were available. The child was of course had to have his head shaved according to the sunna of our beloved prophet SAS and circumcised. It was a very upsetting experience to see this child being with a Hindu family which obviously had no real knowledge to Islam and Islamic tradition .I agree whole heatedly with the writer of this artocle and grave importance of recruiting more foster carers as so many Muslim children are lost through the system for not being able to be brought up according to Islamic way of life. The writer I must say was so fortunate to with the mercy of Allah swt to find Islam and appreciate the beauty of this Deen Allahamdullillah  but so many of our Muslim children are not so lucky. May Allah swt guide us all to his deen and our children.
    Shortage of Muslim foster carers has been recognized as a big problem within child care and protection agencies for a long time  because unfortunately there are so many Muslim children are placed in care because of one reason or another they cannot remain with their own biological parents. I am aware that there have been many efforts by the child protection agencies to recruit Muslim foster carers with some  success but it was too little and too late.  The assessment process to recruit in itself is quite comprehensive however it was made easy for foster carer to come forward and offer their services. 
    I think that potential Muslim families should actively engage in the process of recruitment and there should be a compaigne through out masajids and other Muslim community set ups to encourage people to come forward for such rewarding task.

  14. concerned muslim says:

    personaly i know alot of muslim families who are willing to to adopt kids from teh system but they dont know how to find them most of the muslim organizations in USA discourage local adoption and giude the adoptive prospects
    to go for international adoption from thier native countries. My biggest concern is even muslim fmailies are willign there is no way to find muslim children? our local
    muslim organizations should set up an information center for willing parents.

  15. Mahdi says:

    Sallam,

    I wonder if I can be put in touch with the author of the article. I have been working on a program here in Canada that is showing great promise Alhamdulillah in promoting foster care and ensuring children in care have their cultural and religious needs met. At first I though it would need to be an advocacy/lobby group approach but shortly after doing some real work discovered that a partnership was the way to go. More needs to be done and unheard voices and untold stories is what I am after if you can offer it.

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