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Adopting under Islamic faith

In some Islamic countries adoption is governed by Shari`ah Law. This Law does not accept 'adoption' as such but offers 'guardianship', a similar provision for the caring of an orphan.


In Islam there is great blessing and reward for those who look after an orphan.  The Qur'an encourages the caring of orphans through the many hadiths - sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) - to be found:


"The best house of Muslims is one where an orphan is cared for."


"I and the guardian of an orphan will be in Paradise or Jannah like these two fingers and he joined his two fingers."  (Reported by al-Bukhari)


"Jannah is fard or wajib on the one who cares for an orphan".


However in some Islamic countries there are very strict rules and regulations that exist in relation to the treatment of orphans and abandoned children under Sharia Law.   The whole system is based on the importance of the family name in the Muslim world. 


Adoption was common in pre-Islamic times and the child would take on the name of the new family and would be considered the same as a birth child.  This custom was revised after the advent of Islam because of the importance of the credibility of ancestry and inheritance within the social system. The Quran says that each child should have the name of their original father:


" As far as adoption is concerned, I can say that according to the Shari`ah it is not allowed to deprive a child of his/her biological parents' name. You can keep the child, provide him/her good home and take good care of him, but do not give him/her your last name. Allah says in the Qur'an, "He (Allah) has not made your adopted sons as your sons. Such is only your speech by your mouths. But Allah tells you the truth and He shows you the right way. Call them by the names of their fathers, that is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers' names, call them your brothers in faith or your friends. There is no blame on you in whatever mistakes you made in this matter, but what counts is the intention of your hearts. Allah is oft-Forgiving and most Merciful." (Al-Ahzab: 4-5) (Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi)


Adoption has thus been replaced by fostering/guardianship/kafala. Kafala literally means sponsorship, but comes from the word meaning 'to feed'. Thus it is the promise to undertake without payment the upkeep, education and protection of a minor, in the same way a father would for this son.


For practical  reasons in the UK, you may have to give the child your name but it comes with the understanding that you are only their guardians. Children should be made aware that they are not your biological children and you are not their biological parents. The children should be told the name of their birth father.


On an inheritance note, as opposed to adoption where a child has full inheritance rights, under guardianship law, the children will not be mahram to you, to your spouse and to your own sons and daughters. They will also not inherit anything from your property, unless you offer something through the provision of the will.


 "When a person puts his hand of compassion on the head of an orphan, for every hair (that his hand touches) of that orphan he will receive a blessing from Allah." (reported by Ahmad)


Thanks to Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi for this interpretation

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Who are the children waiting to be adopted?

Find out here with the first in our International Adoption Dream series. 

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