A person adopting a foundling and giving him his name, then dying

Q: One of our relatives adopted a foundling whom he brought up, taught, and treated well. Out of compassion and in an attempt to the do right thing, he gave him his name and registered him as his own son. The man then died in Al-Zubayr and he had no children to inherit him. The adopted son, on the other hand, has now become of legal age and has joined Al-Zhahran Technical Institute. The family has discussed the suggestion of changing the foundling's name; some members suggest changing it and others are not concerned about this matter. We fear that this might lead to mixing of lineages and distortion when distributing the inheritance. Please give us the ruling of Shari`ah (Islamic law) on this matter so we can act accordingly.

A: According to Shari`ah, it is not permissible for a person who adopts a child to give him his name as if he is his own son and a member of his family, as described in the Fatwa request. This involves lying, falsehood, mixing of lineages, and represents a threat to people’s honor. This may also lead to distortion of the channels of inheritance by depriving the rightful heirs of their due or giving unentitled persons shares in the inheritance. (Part No. 20; Page No. 386) This act also leads to chaos in the sphere of relationships between Mahrams (spouses or unmarriageable relatives) and non-Mahrams, and affects issues of Khulwah (being alone with a member of the opposite sex) and marriage. It also violates the sanctities and transgresses the bounds of Shari`ah. That is why Allah (Exalted be He) has forbidden giving a child the name of other than their father. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has cursed anyone who claims to be the child or slave of a person other than their father or master. Allah (Exalted be He) says: ...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 concerning that in which you made a mistake, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allâh is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever claims to be the child of a person other than their father, and they know that person is not their father, then Jannah (Paradise) will be forbidden for them." (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, and Muslim) He (peace be upon him) also said: "If anyone claims to be the child of a person other than their father or attributes themselves to other than their own master, Allah will curse them continually until the Day of Resurrection." The person mentioned in the question made a mistake when he tried to do the right thing by giving his name to the child. Matters cannot be left as they are; they should be put right, because of the texts which state that this naming is Haram (prohibited) and because of the consequences quoted above. As for feeling compassion for the child, bringing him up, and treating him kindly, these are good actions which are encouraged in Islam. (Part No. 20; Page No. 387) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.