Adoption and its Islamic Rulings

Adoption is a common practice today, especially in advanced societies. Fortunately, this has been in practice within the Islamic community for centuries. Adoption is one’s ability to legally take someone else’s child and bringing the child up as one’s own. Similarly, in an Islamic context, the same rule applies and on the condition that the child’s welfare becomes your responsibility entirely until the child grows up as a matured an independent individual.

The Prophet ﷺ adopted a slave and raised him as his own. The Rasul was quoted as saying that a person who cares for an orphaned child will be in Paradise with him and he motioned to show that they would be as close as two fingers of a single hand.

But in the Islam there is a whole different view point regarding adopted children. In Surah Al-Ahzab of the Holy Quran Allah said:

“…Nor has He made your adopted sons your (biological) sons. Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths. But Allah tells (you) the Truth, and He shows the (right) Way. Call them by (the names of) their fathers; that is juster in the sight of Allah. But if you know not their father’s (names, call them) your brothers in faith or your trustees. But there is no blame on you if you make a mistake therein. (What counts is) the intention of your hearts. And Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:4-5)

Here we remind persons who have adopted kids in their custody that the child’s lineage should never be hidden from the child and the bond between the child and biological relatives should not be be severed.The relationship between the guardian and adopted child under Islamic law has a specific ruling, which is totally different from the law associated with adoption today. Some of the rulings are as follows:

#1.An adopted child retains his or her own biological family name (surname) and does not change his or her name to match that of the adoptive family.

#2.An adopted child inherits from his or her biological parents, not automatically from the adoptive parents.

#3.When the child grows, members of the adoptive family are not considered blood relatives and are therefore not Muhrim to him or her. (Muhrim is a specific legal relationship that regulates marriage and other aspects of life). Meaning, members of the adoptive family would be permissible as possible marriage partners and rules of modesty exist between the grown child and adoptive family members of the opposite sex.

#4.If the child is provided with property/wealth from the biological family, adoptive parents are commanded to take care and not intermingle that property/wealth with their own. They serve merely as trustees.

These rules make it clear that the adoptive parent shouldn’t over reach beyond their boundaries, for they are only caregivers and trustees to someone else’s child. No mater how the love the child, they are not their parents.

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