Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Adoption & Islam

An interesting and provocative piece by Daniel Ibn Zayd in Dissident Voices, responding to this piece in the Daily Beast about Islam and adoption, which I posted about here:
As an adoptee who has returned to his birthplace of Lebanon, I have been actively watching the rise of this trope [Islamophobia and adoption] in the media, on online forums, as well as in private online exchanges for the past seven years. In 2009, for example, the AP reported on a couple trying to adopt from Egypt. Compared to the crime of this couple and the corruption of government officials there, it is nonetheless Islam that bears the burden of opprobrium in the article: Adoption in Egypt is defined as being “snarled in religious tradition”. This became a contentious discussion on the web site Canada Adopts, where the given of the argument was basically how to get around these Islamic invocations, as if they somehow were to blame for the legal transgressions of the would-be adopters, painted as virtuous Samaritans.

For another example, we need go to Pamela Geller’s web site Atlas Shrugged. Here the tables are turned on would-be adoptive parents of Moroccan children who would be required to maintain the child’s Muslim faith. Ms. Geller describes this as some evil Islamic fifth column in the making, despite the fact that most every orphanage on the planet is Christian-based and missionary in outlook and likewise requires that the parents be of a particular faith in order to adopt.

Similarly, in her article for The Daily Beast, Asra Nomani writes an article which implies that the orphaned children of Pakistan are being recruited by Al-Qaeda as future suicide bombers. Her answer to this problem? To undo the “antiquated, shortsighted, and regressive stricture that makes adoption illegal [within Islam].” This focus on Islam as a problem for adoptive parents who supposedly want to help the orphans of the world is quite loaded, and needs to be deconstructed on two levels, first in terms of the historical and economic/political function of adoption, and second in terms of linguistic and theologic use/misuse of the term.
Be sure to read the whole thing;  I was particularly struck by the parallels the author draws between interpretations of the Bible by the Christian Adoption Movement as justifying adoption ("God adopted us!") and interpretations of Islam that seek to do the same thing ("Muhammad was adopted!").  His exigesis of the Qur'an as (no) textual support for adoption reminds me of David Smolin's dismantling of the Biblical/theological basis for the Christian Adoption Movement. Both of which makes me think of what Inigo Montoya of the Princess Bride might say about these uses of the word adoption: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

6 comments:

HeavenstoBetsy said...

I did read the whole thing, and couldn't help noticing Daniel Ibn Zayd's claim that Margaret Thatcher said there is "no basis for society but the nuclear family".
He is wrong. What she actually said was "There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families."
No matter how one twists it, the one cannot be made to mean the same as the other.

He also states that Asra Nomani claimed in her article that Mohammud was adopted.
She didn't say anything of the sort. What she said was that the Shura Council noted "that the Prophet Mohammud was an orphan".

It seems that facts are unimportant to this person.

danielibnzayd said...

First, thanks Malinda for putting up this post about my article; I appreciate it. In terms of this comment, it can be seen as nothing more than a tactical dismissal of an entire article for paraphrasing Margaret Thatcher in a way that means pretty much exactly the same thing, and for [not willfully] misquoting Ms. Nomani's piece. Your "red herring" style: Is it learned from Fox News, or The National Review? Thatcher is so widely quoted for having said that and we know exactly what she meant, and the point of what I said still holds up. Nomani's original article was corrected in a similar matter [see the web site]; do you dismiss her writing as well? I didn't think so. Nor, I imagine, do you disagree with her [willful] misreading of the Qur'an. Define what you mean by "facts", exactly. Then we can have a discussion on this subject.

HeavenstoBetsy said...

Daniel said "In terms of this comment, it can be seen as nothing more than a tactical dismissal of an entire article for paraphrasing Margaret Thatcher in a way that means pretty much exactly the same thing"

Daniel's article claimed that Thatcher had a "maxim" that "there is no basis for society but the nuclear family". The facts do not corroborate that claim.
Anyone who might be interested in reading her actual words in context, may do so in the transcript here:
http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/106689

The transcript makes it clear that what she meant was that society isn't something separate, set apart from ordinary folk, but it is comprised of individuals ("men, women and families"), and that people, while looking after their own interests as much as possible without becoming unnecessarily dependent on others, should also help look after their neighbours.

danielibnzayd said...

"Society isn't something separate, set apart from ordinary folk, but it is comprised of individuals ("men, women and families"), and that people, while looking after their own interests as much as possible without becoming unnecessarily dependent on others, should also help look after their neighbours."

In the context of Anglo-Saxon capitalism, how is this not what I am talking about? At least be proud of your belief in social Darwinism, and the ills of society that it brings to bear, including adoption. And then defend it. Since you don't even want to acknowledge me, speaking of me in the third person, I'll repeat in a style you are familiar with: "Madame chair, I refer my right honorable gentle-lady to the comments I made a short time ago."

On Transracial Eyes, I posted the ways in which the adoptive class/dominant class will attempt to silence those who resist. It reads:

1. There is a dominant discourse which does not wish to hear resistant voices;

2. Resistant voices will be dismissed, attacked, maligned;

3. Those resisting will be attacked personally in terms of mental well-being, upbringing, etc.;

4. The dominant voice will be portrayed as the victim;

5. The dominant voice will attempt to co-opt or subsume the resistant voice.

(http://transracialeyes.com/2011/08/24/the-silencing-of-the-adoptee-voice/)

So have at it. I'm used to it. Meanwhile, Britain is suffering from Thatcherism, and now the Islamic world is being targeted by these same forces. If you deny this, then do so substantially, and not ridiculously.

HeavenstoBetsy said...

"In the context of Anglo-Saxon capitalism, how is this not what I am talking about? "

For the last time, because "There is no basis for society but the nuclear family" is not what Thatcher said. "Context" is a red herring. She didn't say it.
You have *reinterpreted*, not "paraphrased" that passage, and the result is a gross distortion. Why bother to "paraphrase" at all when you could have quoted directly from source? Maybe because your revisionist version supports your agenda in a way that Thatcher's original words would not.

Another thing, according to you, this supposed "maxim" is "widely quoted".
It is true that the phrase "There is no such thing as society" is widely quoted. But the only place where "There is no basis for society but the nuclear family" can be found is on your blog.

Finally, if you had suggested that the subtext to her message was that certain social programs and support systems which had played an important part in keeping people and families together, had to be sacrificed in order to realize maximum economic efficiency, I would be more inclined to take you seriously. While I believe she actually meant what she said in the way that she expressed it, I also think that it was her way of "softening up" her audience to the swingeing benefit cuts and privatizations of public companies that came to characterize her term as prime minister.
Such an interpretation would be more in line with what many left-leaning people, myself included, would tend to think of as Thatcherite policy.

Reading between the lines is one thing.
Reading into them what's not there is quite another.

On a lighter note: http://www.habermas.org/truth03.jpg

danielibnzayd said...

Reinterpreted? Are you truly suggesting that it is possible to take one sentence that came out of Margaret Thatcher's mouth and divorce it from every thing she said, did, enacted, and wrought against the British people? There's about as much subtext in her message as a sledgehammer blow between the eyes. She knew exactly what she wanted to be done, and she knew exactly how to do it. Destroying communal ties is what capitalism aims to do. What have I missed here? Where is the "great distortion"? Please define the "great distortion". Or better yet, please don't.

A lighter note? The ineffectual postmodernists of whatever ilk, removed from reality, enable neo-liberals with their bourgeois idiocies, and you call this "a lighter note"?

I wish I knew at this point what "a lighter note" even was.