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Issues On Adoption

Issues Regarding Adoption in Islam

Cultural baggage, traditions and a lack of Islamic knowledge leave many Muslims to have a negative view on this noble tradition of fostering and adoption*. In a lot of Muslim countries there are many misconceptions.

This is unfortunate as there are many children needing the stability of family life that adoption and fostering would offer. There are huge numbers of orphaned children in the worn war torn Muslim world in orphanages and on the street. In the west, unbeknown to the Muslim community, Muslim children too end up in the care of the state, often escaping from abuse and neglect many relinquished Muslim children in the western world from broken up dysfunctional family backgrounds or because they have been given up by their parents (relinquishment). Despite the dire need for adoptive families for some of these children, when the issue is approached, most Muslims will immediately react and blurt out that adoption is forbidden in Islam. Even though the Prophet himself was adopted and had an adopted son!

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “…. the best house of Muslims is one where an orphan is cared for…..” (Recorded in the Collection of Sayings of the Prophet by Ibn Majah)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) further said “I and one who takes care of an orphan, will enter paradise together like this” and he raised his forefinger and middle finger jointly leaving no space between them (by way of illustration).” (Recorded in the Authentic Collection of Sayings of the Prophet by Imam Bukhari)

“I and one who takes care of an orphan, whether related to him or a stranger, will be like these two in paradise;” and the narrator raised his forefinger and middle finger to illustrate this.” (Recorded in the Authentic Collection of Sayings of the Prophet by Imam Muslim)

Muslims’ confusion and lack of understanding of around adoption plays into the hands of critics of Islam, such as Wafa Sultan, who has gained a reputation for telling untruths about Islam - often lambaste Islam saying that the Prophet himself forbade adoption for his own motivations. But this is how far from the truth. And she is known as someone who constantly does not speak the truth.

* references made to ‘adoption’ is not taken to mean replacing the father’s family name with the adopters, as is customary in the UK, but the act of permanently caring for another’s child as one’s own while preserving the lineage; this can be termed for the sake of argument, ‘Islamic adoption’ and can be accommodated within the UK adoption system. Any ref to ‘adoption’ made therefore indicates ‘Islamic adoption’ – see below.)


Legal Definition of Adoption:



Adoption is the legal act of permanently placing a child with a parent or parents other than the birth (or "biological") mother or father.


An adoption order has the effect of severing the parental responsibilities and rights of the birth parents and transferring those responsibilities and rights onto the adoptive parent(s).


After the finalization of an adoption, there is no legal difference between adopted children and those born to the parents.




The above legal definition denotes that legally the adopted child is considered to have equal rights and privileges as a birth child and they are treated the same. It becomes clear that there are three aspects within this definition which, if certain solutions are not applied, would be against the teachings of Islam;

1) Child taking on the first name of the adoptive father in place of its birth fathers first name
2) Inheritance
3) Free mixing of non-related males and females

What Islam does in the case of adoption, as well as in other things, is regulate the practice.  These are the three main issues which Islam corrects concerning the legal definition of adoption.

The current adoption system in the UK mirrors what used to happen in pre-Islamic times where adopted children would take on the adopter’s name and inheritance. Islamic guidelines were then laid down to regulate this practice and correct what was wrong.


The narration involving Aisha's, Abu Hudaifah ibn Utbah and Salim mawla Abu Hudaifa says:

Abu Hudhaifa, one of those who fought the battle of Badr, with Allah's Apostle adopted Salim as his son and married his niece Hind bint Al-Wahd bin 'Utba to him' and Salim was a freed slave of an Ansari woman. Allah's Apostle also adopted Zaid as his son. In the Pre-lslamic period of ignorance the custom was that, if one adopted a son, the people would call him by the name of the adopted-father whom he would inherit as well, till Allah revealed: "Call them (adopted sons) By (the names of) their fathers." (33.5) [3]


Today, many Muslim adopters in the West actually follow these guidelines by applying certain solutions to the western model of adoption, thereby making their adoptions ‘Islamic adoptions’ This would be best defined as:
Islamic Adoption
" The legal act of permanently placing a child with a parent or parents other than the birth (or "biological") mother or father, within the guidelines of Islam"

Islamic guidelines to adoption relateing  to the 3 issues identified above:

1) Preservation of lineage/birth fathers first name
2) Shariah compliant rules of inheritance
3) Rules regarding mixing of non-related males and females

Muslim adoptive parents are free to name their adoptive child any first name they wish. However Islam forbids the practice which occurs frequently in modern day adoption which is for the adopted child to take the name of the adoptive father. In Western tradition a child takes the fathers surname, were as in Islamic tradition the child’s last name will be its father’s first name.
 Read on - God Almighty advises Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him), concerning his adopted son Zayd (may God be pleased with him):

"And Allah did not make your adopted children your biological sons. That is only your words coming out from your tongues. And Allah says the truth and He guides you to the right path. Call them with reference to their biological fathers. It is more just in the sight of Allah." (Surah 33:V4)

When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) adopted Zayd, his last name was unknown so he gave Zayd his first name as Zayd's last name - "Zayd ibn Muhammad." (ibn = son of)

As in Muslim tradition a child’s last name is his or her fathers first name. As Zayd's biological fathers first name was eventually known he was after the revelation of this verse known as Zayd ibn Haarith - Haarith being the first name of Zayd's biological father. In the case were a child’s biological parents names are unknown, prominent Islamic scholars such as Shaikh Suhaib Hasan of the Islamic Sharia Council London allow the last name of the adoptive father to be given to the adoptive child as a last name.

As is the case with adoption, likewise, this is the case also for a woman in marriage, it is forbidden for her to take her husbands name, as to preserve her lineage. However most Muslims are ignorant of this and follow western tradition were the wife would take the surname of her husband and at the same time condemn pious Muslims for adopting. Although taking your husband’s surname is an integral part of marriage in the western tradition it would be ridiculous for any one to claim the practice of marriage is forbidden in Islam!

In actual fact claiming something is forbidden (haram) and halal (permissible) is only God's prerogative and to do this with out authority and evidence form the scriptures is tantamount to making partners with God as the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) explained himself. He explained the Jews & Christians take their priests and monks as God's besides God, the companions asked the Prophet how? He replied, “do they not make which is permissible forbidden and that which is forbidden permissible”. The well known Islamic principle articulated by ibn Taymeyiah, "everything in the worldly affairs is permissible as long as there is no text which forbids it".

In Malaysia and Indonesia it is believed that if child is born out of wedlock, he may not lead the prayers. There is no evidence for this in the Quran or the prophetic sayings. Rather Islam teaches that any person regardless, of wealth, status or lineage may lead the formal prayers. In actual fact Islam does not attach any stigma whatsoever to a child which has had a special upbringing.

2) Inheritance

Although an Islamically adopted child is not automatically entitled to inherit from its adoptive parents, this is easily compensated for. Other family members who would have a right to inherit, such as birth children and other family who are entitled, must receive their share as per shariah proportioning. The adopted child can not inherit from this. However, there is provision for an adopted child out of the one-third ratio of assets that can be allocated to a non-inheritor. In addition, the child can be compensated by the adopter helping the child financially during their lifetime.

3) Free mixing

Islam teaches that it is forbidden for a women or man to be alone with a member of the opposite sex who is not related to them. This can be sidestepped if the child adopted is under 2 and breast feeds (suckles) from the adoptive mother. Sheikh Suhaib Hassan has suggested the age limit be removed, though breast need not be used directly, milk can simply be expressed into a bottle or container for the older adoptive child. As there texts from the hadith which illustrate older children/ adults being able to benefit from breast milk relationship. This would be a solution to the number of children waiting in the care system who might be older, as there is greater harm of them being adopted out of their faith if we do not adopt them. There are many resources on the web on adoptive breastfeeding.

One may refer to this instresting brief article reading Milk Kinship on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk_kinship for further reading.

Many people think women who have never given birth can not produce breast milk, however with the correct guidance it is certainly possible. As a side note many people attempt to critisze Islam for the need of two women witnesses. As for breast feeding it only requires the mothers word herself.

The case for the term "Islamic Adoption" rather than Adoption or Fostering (Kafalah)
Where as the definition of adoption has 3 main problematic elements, fostering refers to temporary carers, the best definition for Muslims to describe their adoption would be "Islamic Adoption."  This would be best defined as:
Islamic Adoption
" The legal act of permanently placing a child with a parent or parents other than the birth (or "biological") mother or father, within the guidelines of Islam"


Dr B Philips position on Adoption

Islam encourages adoption ... adoption is a wonderfull thing ... Prophet Muhammad (saw) praised those who adopted ...
 see the whole of the video below .....

Imam Abu Eesa Niamatullah position on Adoption

Adoption is not just permissible but is one of the communal obligations of our age

We applaud the efforts of social services, as well as the efforts of Muslim foster parents who make this huge sacrifice in their lives to help other people.

As from an Islamic point of view, then the following conditions need to be ensured:

1. The child’s family name (or original father’s name) must be maintained for the child. The first name can be changed. Other names can be added (such as Muslim sounding names for example, if one believes that the child will benefit from this later in their community). In the absence of the father’s name, then the mother’s name or something clearly associating the child with its original parents must be maintained.

2. Once the child becomes post-pubescent, it must observe the full Islamic etiquettes of Hijab. This means that there should be no khalwah (isolation) between the male adopted son and the mother at such an age, and vice versa for the adopted daughter and father. This ruling is even more emphasised for any “siblings” already in the household.
It should be noted that there is potentially some flexibility here if the adopting parents are particularly old in age for example 60s or 70s. This ruling would require a fatwa. 
Also, if the children are adopted whilst they are under the age of two years old and then breastfed by the adopting mother, there is no need for any rules of Hijab to be applied later on in life because the parents have now becomes Mahrams to the adopted child.
As for the position of a few of the scholars that even children over the age of two can be breastfed to establish this Mahram relationship, then this requires a fatwa for its permissibility in specific scenarios. There are ahadith that can be interpreted to allow such an action but the majority of the scholars disallowed the breastfeeding of children over the age of two.

3. If there are already children in the household, the adopting Parent is not obligated to spend the same portion of the adoptive child but there is a unanimous recommendation from the Scholars that the Parent should do so to avoid fitnah and sin. The adopted child cannot inherit from its adopting family but the child is eligible to receive a sum of money not more than a third of the total inheritance in the form of the Wasiyyah.

:::::::::READ ON :::::::::: True Events related to Adoption in Islam ::::::::::::::::::

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the revelation of

Surah Al-Kauthar

Community attitudes/negative stigma are some of the reasons why Muslim adopters nowadays feel that family and community members are negative about their wish to adopt is because they feel that there is a stigma attached to infertility and the absence of a biological child to continue the family tree etc. The revelation of this surah challanges such attitudes.

Surah Al-Kauthar (chapter. 109) the shortest chapter of the Quran only three verses long:

1. Verily, We have granted you (O Muhammad Al-Kauthar (a river in Paradise);
2. Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only).
3. For he who makes you angry (O Muhammad), - he will be cut off (from every good thing in this world and in the Hereafter).

According to some scholars Surah Al-Kauthar was revealed by Allaah to Prophet Muhammad because  the non Muslim Arabs used to ridicule him and call him  "abtar" the one who is cut off. This was so as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had no son and they would mock him saying he had no son and no one to continue his work or who would inherit from him. 
Al-Kauthar teaches us that although Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was not granted the blessing of a son, Allaah will bless him in the next life with a greater reward for his patience regarding this by Allaah's grace the lake of Al Kauthar. And this would be the same for any Muslim who is patient in similar circumstance. And Allaah knows best.


Zachariah had Yahya (John) (peace be upon them) when he was very old due to prayers, invocation and dua to Allah
 In Surah Al Maryam chapter 19 of the Quran, Allaah tells us the beautifull prayer of Zachariah, read below:

1. Kaf- Ha-Ya-'Ain-Sad.
[These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur'an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings].
2. (This is) a mention of the mercy of your Lord to His slave Zakariya (Zachariah).
3. When he called out his Lord (Allah) a call in secret,
4. Saying: "My Lord! Indeed my bones have grown feeble, and grey hair has spread on my head, And I have never been unblest in my invocation to You, O my Lord!
5. "And Verily! I fear my relatives after me, since my wife is barren. So give me from Yourself an heir,
6. "Who shall inherit me, and inherit (also) the posterity of Ya'qub (Jacob) (inheritance of the religious knowledge and Prophethood, not the wealth, etc.). And make him, my Lord, one with whom You are Well-pleased!".
7. (Allah said) "O Zakariya (Zachariah)! Verily, We give you the glad tidings of a son, His name will be Yahya (John). We have given that name to none before (him)."
8. He said: "My Lord! How can I have a son, when my wife is barren, and I have reached the extreme old age."
9. He said: "So (it will be). Your Lord says; It is easy for Me. Certainly I have created you before, when you had been nothing!"
10. [Zakariya (Zachariah)] said: "My Lord! Appoint for me a sign." He said: "Your sign is that you shall not speak unto mankind for three nights, though having no bodily defect."
Ibraheem (peace be upon him) had Ishaq when he was very old (Angels came down to inform him of the “good news”)
In Surah As-Saffat chapter 76 of the Noble Quran we are told the prayer of Abraham to Allaah:
 100. "My Lord! Grant me (offspring) from the righteous."
101. So We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing boy.
 Furthermore in Surah Al-Hijr chapter 15:
52. When they entered unto him, and said: Sal�man (peace)! [Ibr�him (Abraham)] said: "Indeed! We are afraid of you."
53. They (the angels) said: "Do not be afraid! We give you glad tidings of a boy (son) possessing much knowledge and wisdom."
54. [Ibr�him (Abraham)] said: "Do you give me glad tidings (of a son) when old age has overtaken me? Of what then is your news?"
55. They (the angels) said: "We give you glad tidings in truth. So be not of the despairing ones."
56. [Ibr�him (Abraham)] said: "And who despairs of the Mercy of his Lord except those who are astray?"
 Also in chapter Adh-Dhariyat(51)
 28. Then he conceived a fear of them (when they ate not). They said: "Fear not." And they gave him glad tidings of an intelligent son, having knowledge (about Allaah and His religion of True Monotheism).
29. Then his wife came forward with a loud voice, she smote her face, and said: "A barren old woman!"
30. They said: "Even so says your Lord. Verily, He is the All-Wise, the All-Knower."
Chapter Al-Furqan (25)
 74. And those who say: "Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun" (pious - see V.2:2 and the footnote of V.3:164)."

A blood child is not be all and end all. It’s the relationshp and rightenouness of a child that’s more important
Nuh's son did not accept Islam and died as a disbeliver
When Noah saw his son drowning, he called out to God, saying:My Lord! My son is of my family! And Your promise is true and You are the Most Just of Judges! (Hud, 11.45)God Almighty replied to Noah:O Noah! He is not of your family. For his conduct is unrighteous. So ask not of me that of which you have no knowledge! I give you counsel lest you should act like the ignorant! (Hud, 11.46)
Loot's wife did not embrace Islam and died as a disbeliever also
Reasons for Adoptions occur for many reasons.

The obvious reason could be the death of both birth parents, and the orphans left behind are put up for adoption rather than being fostered. Another reason could be where a child is found abandoned and the birth parent is never traced. Where birth parents are still available, the birth parents may place their child for adoption because they are unable to adequately care for the child, because they are have failed to receive the resources they need to parent, or because they are pressured by their own parents or others. Adoptive parents may wish to adopt due to infertility, compassion for adoptees and to avoid passing on inheritable diseases. Birth familyChildren fall into three groups according to the reason for their adoption: relinquished infants (15%), those whose parents had requested adoption in complex circumstances (24%), and those children required by social services and the courts to be adopted (62%). Adoptive ParentsThe reasons why people want to adopt children vary, as well. The inability to biologically reproduce is a common reason, often due to infertility. After adopting, some parents face judgement over the validity of their parenting and may feel pressure to "prove" themselves causing them to increase their parental involvement. A study, evaluating the importance of biological ties for parental investment indicates strengths in adoptive families. The data was part of a detailed survey called the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation and the American Educational Research Association. It suggests that parents who've adopted may invest more time in their children than others.[18]