Muslim Orphans Caught Between Sharia, U.S. Law

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Islamic law is hindering American Muslims from adopting needy children. Child welfare agencies report they're having trouble finding new homes for Muslim children removed from their homes.

The problem stems from a gap between Western and Islamic law.

Muslims wanting to adopt refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq also say their faith is keeping them from adopting. Islamic law stresses the importance of direct lineage when passing on the family name and inheritance.

Instead of adoption, it emphasizes a guardianship system called kafalah that resembles foster care.

State child welfare agencies that permanently remove Muslim children from troubled homes usually can't find Muslim families to adopt them because of the restrictions in Islamic law.

U.S. Muslims have called for their leaders to re-examine Islamic teachings on adoption.

"I get all kinds of families who come to me for fertility issues. They want to adopt and they want to adopt Muslim children and I'm thinking this is a crime that they can't," said Najah Bazzy, a nurse and founder of Zaman International, a humanitarian service group in Dearborn, Mich.

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

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