CAIRO - A father has lost his bid to bring up his children as Muslims after a Scottish court ruling that they should be raised with Christian values by their mother, a decision that won flaks for denying the children a basic part of their identity and inflaming hostility between followers of different religions.
"The day-to-day circumstances of the children should dictate what is in their best interests, Dunfermline Sheriff Ian Dunbar said, The Herald Scotland reported on Monday, November 5."I have therefore reached the conclusion that it is not in the best interests of the children that a specific issue order be made that they be brought up in the Muslim faith.
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The Muslim father, originally from Egypt, moved to Scotland in 2002 after marrying a Scottish woman.
Giving birth to three children, a daughter and twin boys, the couple split up in 2002.
The three children have Muslim names and were first raised as Muslims with their parents, as their mother was not a practicing Christian.
The boys were also circumcised in Edinburgh when they were six months old according to Muslim beliefs.
When the mother separated from her Muslim husband, she began to take the children to church and Sunday school.
I have no doubt at all that if the parties had children in Egypt they would have been raised as Muslims, Dunbar said.
"But the children were born in Scotland and are being raised here with their mother as their primary carer.
That is a change of circumstance which has some bearing on what may or may not be in the best interests of the children, he said.
In this case the children are living in a Christian household with a Christian mother, the sheriff added.
Dunbar argued that no order should be made, given that the children's mother is Christian and they attend a non-denominational school which celebrates Christian festivals.
"They are at the school which has a Christian overlay because of participation in Christian events such as Christmas and Easter.
The sheriff ruled the children should continue being raised with Christian values by their mother and be taught about Islam when they visit their father.
Ruling in favor of one faith, critics criticized the verdict for initiating an identity crisis for the children who would be torn between their father and mother.
"If the children are going to be brought up by the mother, then they should be allowed to do this in terms of peaceful co-existence, Mona Siddiqui OBE, professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies at Edinburgh University, told The Herald.
Siddiqui lamented that the ruling would mean denying children from one side of their identity.
"The issue here isn't what the court has decided, the issue now is how the parents are going to make sure the children don't feel that they're bereft of one side of their identity.
"The court has made a decision where the court has the right to award custody to any parent, which is very different to an Islamic country where much of the time the right of the custody goes to the father, so I think the real problem is not what the court has decided but the responsibility of both parents now to not let their own hostilities deny the children both sides of two very rich cultures.
In Islam, Muslim parents are urged to treat children with respect and to nurture, love and educate them.
Islam gives children many rights and is concerned with their spiritual, physical, and emotional well being.
Muslims are ordered to offer children physical needs, such as food, drink and sleep as well as taking care of their children's emotional and spiritual needs.
Muslims believe that God has created human beings with the ability to think and reflect upon what is right and wrong and given us the freedom to choose our own paths.The path of righteousness is not always the easiest to take, but the rewards are clear for those who use their natural intellect.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net