Adopting Children in Islam – The Pemanent Committee, Fataawa Islaamiyyah

Question :

All praise be to Allah and may blessings and peace be upon the Messenger , his family and companions. To commence : The Permanent Committee for Islaamic Research and deliverance of legal rulings has looked into the question posed by the Executive secretary of the Punjabi assembly for the welfare of children to his Eminence, the President of the administration of the Islamic research, deliverance of rulings, propagation and guidance committee. The question was then referred to the General secretariat for the board of Great scholars numbered :2/86 dates 15/1/1392 Hijriy.

The questioner seeks information pertaining to the rules and principles concerning the rights of an adopted child regarding inheritance.

Answer :

1. Adoption was known in the days of ignorance before the message of our Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhe was salaam. The adopted son would be ascribed to his foster father, inherit from him, allowed to be in seclusion with his wife and daughters and his foster fathers wife would be forbidden to him in marriage. On the whole the status of an adopted son was that of a begotten one in all affairs. The Prophet sallallahu alayhe was salaam adopted Zayd Ibn Haarith Ibn Sharaaheel al-Kilaby before the message of Islaam, and he used to be called Zayd Ibn Muhammad. This form of pre-Islaamic adoption continued until the third or fifth year after the migration to Madeenah(Hijraah).

2. Then Allah ordered to ascribe adopted children to their fathers from those whose loins they originated, if they are known. If their original fathers are unknown they are considered brothers in the religion and as freed slaves to those who adopted them. He, glory be to Him forbade that a child should be ascribed to it’s foster in descent and forbade the child from attributing itself to other than it’s real father, except by a slip of the tongue in error , for there is no blame in that. He, glory be to Him, verified that this ruling is pure justice due to it entailing truth in speech, preservation of lineage, honour, and the reservation of financial rights to those who are more deserving.

The Most High said :

“….nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. That is but your saying with your mouths. But Allâh says the truth, and He guides to the (Right) Way.Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just with Allâh. But if you know not their father’s (names, call them) your brothers in faith and Mawâlîkum (your freed slaves). And there is no sin on you if you make a mistake therein, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allâh is Ever Oft¬Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Ahzab 33:4,5)

Furthermore the Prophet sallallahu alayhe was salaam said :

” Whoever attributes himself to other than his father or ascribes to other than his manumator(the person who frees a slave), then the continuous curse of Allah is upon him”. [Narrated by Abu Daawood.]

3. At His termination of adoption, glory be to Him, ( that is the false acclaiming of son-ship), He terminated those rules that were linked with it in the pre-Islaamic period that had continued into the early stage of Islaam.

a) He terminated inheritance between the adopted and the foster guardian by means of this false son-ship. He made it that each one should be charitable to the other in their lifetimes, and that a deserved share be bequeathed to the other from the deceased that does not exceed a third of his wealth. The Sharee’ah has clarified the laws of inheritance and the deserving heirs in detail without a mention of the adopted or his guardian amongst them. He, the most High, has also mentioned in general those who are to inherit of distant relatives out of kindeness to kin. The Most High said :

“…..And blood relations among each other have closer personal ties in the Decree of Allâh (regarding inheritance) than (the brotherhood of) the believers and the Muhajirûn (emigrants from Makkah, etc.), except that you do kindness to those brothers (when the Prophet Sallallahu alayhe was salaam joined them in brotherhood ties)….”(Al-Ahzab 33:6)

b) Allah has permitted the adopted son to marry the wife of his guardian after his term with her ends and this was forbidden in the pre-Islaamic period. He started with His Messenger in this to be the stronger in its legislation and tougher in terminating the custom of the people of the pre-Islaamic period in forbiddeing this. The Most High said :

“…..So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them). And Allâh’s Command must be fulfilled. (Al-Ahzab 33:37)

So the Prophet sallallahu alayhe was salaam married Zaynab Bint Jahsh by the command of Allah after Zayd Ibn Haarithah had divorced her.

4. From the preceding , it is clear that the termination of adoption is not the termination of human emotions and Islamic rights such as brotherhood, love, keeping ties, and good treatment, and all that it linked with prestigious morals. It is recommended to do good deeds, as follows:

a) A person is allowed to call he who is younger than him with the words ” O my son…” in treating him with kindeness , gentleness and making him feel loved, so that he may become friendly and listen to his advise or carry out his need. likewise, it is allowed for a person to call who is older than him with the words “…O my father..” out of respect for him and seeking his compassion in order to recieve his kindness , advise and help. Good manners can spread in the society and relationships between its members can strengthen due to this and all can feel a general feeling of brotherhood in faith.

b) The Sharee’ah has encouraged cooperation in doing good and increasing the fear of Allah . It has been recommended for people from all walks of life to love and treat eachother well. The Most High said :
“……Help you one another in Al¬Birr and At¬Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. ….. (Al-Ma’idah 5:2)

Also the Prophet sallallahu alayhe was salaam said :
” The similitude of the believers is their love, compassion and kindness between one another is like that of a body, if a limb complains , the rest of the body collapses with fever and restlessness.” [Narrated by Ahmad and Muslim].

He sallallahu alayhe was salaam furthermore said :
” The believers amongst themselves are like a structure, parts of it srengthen others”
[Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidthee and Nasaaee.]

This includes the caring of orphans, the poor, those unable to work and those whose fathers are unknown by tending , raising, and treating them well. So that society may not contain those who are wretched and neglected for they could afflict the Ummah due to their bad upbringing or rebel for having felt the harshness of society and its neglect. It is upon the Islamic governments to establish centres for the disabled , orphans, abandoned children, those who have no families and those who fall under the rulings of these categories. If the treasury of the government does not suffice the needs of such people, assistance can be sought from the affluent of the Ummah, the Prophet sallallahu alayhe was salaam said :

” Any believer who dies and bequeaths wealth, let his heirs whoever they may be inherit from him, if he bequeaths a debt or loss , then let his creditors refer to me, for I am his sponsor”. [Narrated by Bukhari]

May Allah bless and send peace upon the Messenger , his family, and companions.

The Pemanent Committee [Fataawa Islaamiyyah 4/497]
Islamic Fatawa Regarding the Muslim Child
pgs 172-175

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