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.
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.