Q: Many families ask to assume the guardianship of an orphan child from the orphanage in Al-Dammam. Some people hesitate when they are told that those children are of unknown parentage. They fear that they would not receive the same reward as assuming the guardianship of an orphan as the Prophet (peace be upon him) urged the Muslims to do. We would like Your Eminence to clarify the Islamic view and the reward of raising foundlings, (Part No. 14; Page No. 255) so that people would foster them and let them feel the warmth of family which they lack.

A: A foundling child is considered an orphan as they lost their parents. They need even more care and concern than those of known parentage as they do not know any of their relatives and so have no one to resort to when necessary. Therefore, the reward of sponsoring a foundling is the same as sponsoring an orphan. This is based on the general meaning of the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him): I and the one who sponsors an orphan will be like these two in Paradise. He (peace be upon him) pointed with his index and middle fingers and he separated between them. (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). However, sponsored children should not be named after the persons who will raise them and they should not be added to their family identity cards. This is because the act will cause mixing descents, loss of rights, and committing what Allah (Exalted be He) has prohibited. A guardian should know that once orphans reach the legal age, they are Ajanib (lawful for them to marry) and therefore, it is not permissible for a guardian to be in privacy with them and it is not permissible for a woman to look at a man or vice versa unless the sponsored child was breastfed by the woman. Therefore, they become Mahram (unmarriageable relative) for her, as well as her daughters, and her sisters. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.