New guidance to dispel myths around fostering and adopting has been launched in a bid to boost the number of Muslims helping children in care.
The first Islamic Guidance Document on Adoption and Fostering in the UK aims to address a shortfall and counteract a belief held by some within the faith that they are forbidden from signing up.
The Penny Appeal, which carried out research alongside religious and community leaders to put the guidance together, estimates there are more than 4,000 Muslim children in care.
Although they could not give a figure for the number of foster and adoptive parents of the Islamic faith, the charity said it “by far” does not meet the amount of children requiring care.
Common concerns from Muslims included how adoption may jeopardise a central Islamic belief that the lineage of a family must be preserved, and the fact that fostered or adopted children are not included automatically in Islamic laws of inheritance, charity CEO Aamer Naeem said.
Mr Naeem, who said many circumstances called for a “common sense” approach, added that he is “very confident” the guidance will make a difference in the number of Muslims coming forward to adopt or foster.
He said: “This will completely remove that (notion of not being allowed to) and also amplify the message that it’s not a matter of being allowed or not allowed, it’s actually praiseworthy.”
He added: “It’s a communal obligation, meaning that actually if we don’t plug this gap, collectively as a community, we are all actually blameworthy. So it’s incumbent on the whole community to address this so that enough of the community are taking care of the problem.”
Mr Naeem said he hoped to campaign in future for local authorities to record the faiths of those signing up to care for young people, as a way to better understand and address the problem.
The guidance, funded by a £200,000 grant from the Department for Education, is endorsed by 100 leading UK imams, community leaders and social care professionals, the charity said.
Attending the launch in Parliament on Wednesday, minister for children and families Nadhim Zahawi was expected to say: “I am really pleased to see that the Islamic guidance on the Contemporary Practice of Adoption and Fostering, breaks down the perceived barriers and misconceptions that may stop the Muslim community coming forward to foster or adopt.
“This piece of guidance and the recommendations for the Muslim community and its leaders can make a big impact, not only in the Muslim community but also to the adoption and fostering sector.”