Fostering, Islam and Me
The letters lying on the floor by our front doors each morning can change the direction of a day. Sometimes a larger than expected electricity bill can set us off course, a postcard from a friend on holiday can brighten an otherwise dull morning, but some letters are life-changing. My family recently received one such letter: A piece of paper that changed nothing in our relationships but, at the same time, changed our future together. The letter was from my local authority informing us that, after almost 3 years, my foster daughter now has a legal, permanent home with us.
In public places and wherever we go, my foster daughter and I have to endure the inquisitive looks of others as they try to work out what kind of relationship we have. I am after all (what looks like) a brown practising Muslim female with a headscarf in the company of a White teenage girl. Over time, we both learned to ignore the looks and carry on regardless. We ignored the looks of others because deep down we both know that what we share is far deeper than any box that society has created for us.
I soon realised that my faith as a Muslim does not clash with ANY of my duties and role as a foster parent! On the contrary, fostering as a Muslim has given me not only the opportunity to change the life of a child but also break down some of the taboos and deep misconceptions within the Muslim community.
The long-term stability of having a permanent, loving home, even after she reaches adulthood, will give her the foundation that every child and young person deserves and needs, and that so many children sadly lack. Having a loving family, moral guidance, and a safety net can never be underestimated and can change the course of a person’s life.
As a foster parent, I take great pride in being able to give a home, however temporary, to a child or young person in need of stability and care. The Prophet Muhammed, Peace be upon Him, said: “The best house of Muslims is one where the orphan is cared for” and himself cared for and accepted Zayd, known as “the Beloved messenger of God,” as part of his household and family”
The teachings of Islam and the life of Prophet Muhammed, Peace be Upon Him, put great importance on caring and reaching out for the most vulnerable in our society. The Holy Quran teaches us that orphans and vulnerable people are our responsibility in the eyes of God and that we have a communal moral obligation to ensure that homeless, parentless, or children without the love and care of a stable home are loved and provided for, both practically and emotionally.
"في الدنيا و الآخرة و يسئلونك عن اليتامى قل اصلاح لهم خير و ان يخالطوهم فاخوانكم و الله يعلم المفسد من المصلح و لو شاء الله لاعنتكم ان الله عزيز حكيم "
الاية ٢٢٠ سورة البقرة
“In (to) this worldly life and the Hereafter. And they ask you about the orphans. Say “The best thing is to work honestly in their property, and if you mix your affairs with theirs, then they are your brothers. And Allah knows him who means mischief (e. g: to swallow their property) from him who means good (e.g: to save their property). And if Allah had wished, He could have put you into difficulties. Truly, Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise”
Holy Quran- Al Baqara verse 220
The life-changing letter that sat on the floor by our front door did not change the way I feel about my foster daughter, nor the fact that our home is her home and always will be. The change was validation: Seeing the words on that letter meant that she will always have a family and a place where she belongs. An emotional moment as we both sat on the sofa reading carefully every line and slowly absorbing its content. Without any words, we both realised that this is exactly what we have been longing for: an end to uncertainty.