In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
The Ruling on Raising an Orphan or a Foundling and Attributing Him to Someone Other than His Father

Dr.Ahmad Najeeb

I have been married for 12 years but I have not been blessed with children. I live in a non-Muslim country, and I want to adopt a female child to raise her with Islamic manners so that Allah the Almighty may bless her and so that she may supplicate Allah the Almighty for us after our death. However, adoption entails registering this child in my name, otherwise I will not be allowed to take the child I intend to adopt and raise. There are thousands of children without fathers in this country. For this reason, I want you to explain the legal ruling on adoption. Allah guides us all to success.

Seeking the help of Allah, the Almighty, I say:
Adoption was well-known and practiced in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance. It continued as such until its prohibition was revealed in the Quranic verse in which Allah States, "Call them by [the names of] their fathers; it is more just in the sight of Allah . But if you do not know their fathers - then they are [still] your brothers in religion and those entrusted to you." [Al-Ahzb: 5] Commenting on this verse, Al-Qurtub said in his commentary on the Qurn: "An-Nahhs said, 'This verse has abrogated the adoption that was done by Arabs before that. It is a kind of abrogating a Prophetic Tradition with a Quranic verse. Thus, Allah the Almighty has commanded Muslims to call the child whom they adopted by the name of his known father. However, if his father is not known, he is considered a freed slave of the one who freed him. Yet, if his previous master is not known then he is called as a brother in faith. Allah the Almighty Says, 'The believers are but brothers.'" [Tafsr Al-Qurtub: 14/119]
Accordingly, adoption is not permissible in any case, and it is different from maintaining orphans which Islam exhorts us to do. Al-Bukhr, At-Tirmidh, Ab Dwd, and Ahmad related on the authority of Sahl that Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "I and the one who looks after an orphan will be like this in Paradise," showing his middle and index fingers and separating them. This hadth is also related by Muslim, Ahmad, and Mlik on the authority of Ab Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him).
Imam An-Nawaw (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his commentary on Sahh Muslim, "The one who looks after an orphan is the one who cares for supporting him in terms of maintenance, clothing, refinement, bringing up, and so on. This merit is given to the one who maintains the orphan from his own money, or from the money of the orphan through legal guardianship."

Whoever is deprived of the gift of children should sacrifice to obtain the reward of Allah, Exalted be He; because this is an affliction that can never be warded off. Allah the Almighty, Says, "and He renders whom He wills barren" [Ash-Shr: 50]. If someone seeks to look after an orphan, raise him and take care of him, one will obtain a great reward in the Hereafter, and intimacy and blessings in this life. However, one should take precautions to preserve his faith by considering the following points:
It is not permissible for the one who looks after the son of another person be he an orphan, a foundling or anything else to attribute him to himself. Rather, the child should be attributed to his real father. If his real father is not known, he should be attributed to something he is known for; for example he can be called so and so, the Syrian or Egyptian, and so on. Or he may be called a brother in faith.
If there is a necessity to mention the name of his father in official documents, he could be attributed to `Abdullh or `Abdur-Rahmn. This is because all people are servants of Allah the Almighty including the father of the child.
If a man raises a girl who has not descended from his lineage or does not belong to his unmarriageable female kin by way of kinship or breastfeeding, she continues to be a foreign woman to him. She should be kept away from him after reaching the age of puberty unless she is a daughter of his wife with whom he has consummated marriage.
If a woman has raised a child who is not her real son by way of kinship or breastfeeding or is not one of the sons of her husband or one of her unmarriageable male kin, then she is not allowed to display her beauty before him after he has reached the age of puberty. Rather, she should take precautions in this regard. This hardship would be removed from her if she breastfed him herself or if he was breastfed by her sister, mother or daughter. This is because after the child has been breastfed in this way, she becomes a mother, sister or aunt of the child.

This is what I say, and success is only from Allah the Almighty, and it is He Who guides to the Straight Path.


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