In Selected Opinion

By Raymond Ibrahim –

A little known, though highly controversial, Islamic teaching is back in the news.  According to a Feb. 21, 2023 report, Turkey’s highest religious (and therefore Islamic) institution, Diyanet,

opened a special section on its fatwa website about earthquakes and answered the question of “Can children of earthquake victims be adopted?” The fatwa stated that it is not right for foster families to treat adopted children like their own children and that “there is no barrier to marriage between the adopter and the adopted child.”

The fatwa mounted criticism on social media and many public figures reacted against the Diyanet’s response.

Journalist Fatih Altaylı also reacted to the Diyanet’s fatwa on his Twitter account, saying: “We understand that you are really perverts, but what are you doing in an institution like the Diyanet? Perverts. Go into the porn industry. Don’t pollute the institution established by [founder of modern Turkish Republic] Atatürk to give people proper religious knowledge with your perverted imagination.”

Diyanet responded by opening a lawsuit against the journalist for “insulting our presidency and its employees with derogatory expressions.”

The controversy amounts to this: Islam bans adoption; and Islam’s clerics, as they often do, are trying to find a loophole.  Rather than adopt, a man may “marry,” concluded Diyanet, a destitute child of his choosing, and that is halal—a win-win for all involved, and in keeping with Islam’s ban on adoption.

This ban is more prevalent—Canada adopted it—and negatively impacts more lives, than might be assumed.  In fact, two days ago, and one week after the above report from Turkey appeared, on Feb. 27, 2023, Coptic Solidarity, which focuses on the plight of Christian minorities throughout the Middle East, especially Egypt’s indigenous Copts, launched an “online grassroots campaign” dedicated to arguably the most infamous adoption related case in the Muslim world.

Nearly five years ago, a Coptic Christian priest heard cries emanating from inside his empty church.  He discovered a newborn baby boy, apparently abandoned by a mother who bore him out of wedlock.  The priest entrusted the babe to a childless couple from his congregation.  Considering that they had for nearly 30 years been praying for a child, they joyously embraced the boy as their own and baptized and named him Shenouda, a popular Coptic name.

For the next four years everything went well.  Shenouda became the pride and joy of his adoptive parents’ lives. Seeing him as a “gift from God,” they spared no care or expense on his upbringing.

Then the Egyptian state learned about this otherwise happy development and seized the 4-year-old child from his loving parents’ arms and sent him to an orphanage.

As with Turkey, adoption is illegal in Egypt; but there are state-approved ways—loopholes—for families to take custody of orphan children.  In Shenouda’s case, however, although the adoption ban was initially cited, it soon became clear that another strange Islamic doctrine was behind the government’s seizure.  Islam teaches that every human is born as a sort of prototypical Muslim (until their parents conform them to their own religion).  Accordingly, because the religious identity of Shenouda’s biological parents is unknown, he must be considered Muslim; and entrusting Muslim children to non-Muslim parents—infidels—is strictly forbidden.

Since being transferred to an overcrowded and underfed orphanage, the child was “returned” to—that is, forced into—Islam.  He was issued a birth certificate marked “Muslim” under religion and stripped of his formerly Christian name and given an acceptable Muslim one, Yusuf.

Meanwhile, logic suggests that Shenouda was born to a Christian mother—or at least to a mother who thought Christians would best know how to raise her unwanted child.  Otherwise, why abandon the babe in a church?

Note: If you’d like to help reunite the child Shenouda with his adoptive parents, click here and join the Coptic Solidarity petition to Congress.

At any rate, such are the unknown casualties of Islamic law: whether destitute children from earthquake ravaged regions must be turned into “spouses” before they are taken care of, or whether destitute orphans must be stripped away from loving adoptive parents because they are Christians, here is yet another example of human suffering in the name of sharia.


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