Ruling on adoption

(Part No. 20; Page No. 344)  Fatwa no. 53 Praise be to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger, his family, and his Companions. The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta' reviewed the question submitted to His Excellency the Chairman of the Departments of Scholarly Research, Ifta', Da`wah and Guidance by the Executive Secretary of Punjab Child Welfare council, which was referred to the Committee from the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars with the No. 2/86, in 15/1/1392 /A.H. In his question, the Executive Secretary of Punjab Child Welfare Council was inquiring about the rulings regarding the rights of inheritance of an adopted child.

A: The Committee replied: 1- Adoption was known during Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic time of ignorance) before the message of our Prophet (peace be upon him). The adopted children used to be attributed to their adoptive fathers, have the right to inherit from them, and be in Khulwah (being alone with a member of the opposite sex) with their adoptive mother and adoptive sisters as they were unlawful for them to marry. To sum up, an adopted child used to have the same rights of a biological son. The Prophet (peace be upon him) adopted Zayd ibn Harithah ibn Sharahil Al-Kalby before the Revelation and he was called Zayd ibn Muhammad. Adoption remained in effect until the third or the fifth year of Hijrah. 2- Afterwards, Allah ordered that adopted children be attributed to their biological fathers. (Part No. 20; Page No. 345) If the names of their biological fathers are not known, they are fellow Muslim brothers and are the freed bondsman of the adoptive person. Allah has forbidden that the adopter naturally attributes the child to himself; moreover, He prohibited that a child be attributed to other than his biological father except if it occurred accidentally. Allah has indicated that this ruling is fair as it entails speaking the truth, protecting the lineage and honor, and preserving the inheritance rights of the true heirs. Allah states: ...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) stated: "Whoever knowingly claims to belong to anyone other than his father, he will be denied Paradise". (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah) He (peace be upon him) also said: Whoever claims to be the son of anyone other than his father, or the slave of anyone other than his master, on him will be the curse of Allah continually until the Day of Resurrection. (Related by Abu Dawud) (Part No. 20; Page No. 346)  3- By prohibiting adoption, the rulings of the Jahiliyyah regarding this matter, and which continued throughout the early Islamic era were put to an end. First, neither the adopter nor the adoptee has the right to inherit from the other and each has to do good to the other during his lifetime and after his death. The adopter may bequeath to the adoptee no more than one third of his estate. The Shari`ah (Islamic law) has indicated the rulings of inheritance and pointed out the rightful heirs in detail and neither an adopter nor the adoptee are among them. Allah has stated the rights of inheritance in general and acts of righteousness and kindness in His statement: And blood relations among each other have closer personal ties in the Decree of Allâh (regarding inheritance) than (the brotherhood of) the believers and the Muhâjirûn (emigrants from Makkah), except that you do kindness to those brothers (when the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم joined them in brotherhood ties). Second, Allah has permitted an adoptive father to marry the wife of his adoptee after the latter divorces his wife as this was forbidden during the Jahiliyyah. Allah ordered His Messenger (peace be upon him) to do so, so that it would be a strong and powerful solution to demolish the customs of (Part No. 20; Page No. 347) Jahiliyyah. Allah (Exalted be He) states: So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them). And Allâh’s Command must be fulfilled. Thus, Allah ordered the Prophet (peace be upon him) to marry Zaynab Bint Jahsh after her husband Zayd ibn Harithah divorced her. 4- It becomes clear from what has been previously mentioned that eliminating adoption does not mean banning sublime human emotions and Islamic rights such as brotherhood, love, maintaining the ties of kinship, kind treatment and all other principles that have to do with noble characteristics and inspiration to do good. First, a person may say to someone who is younger than him “O my son” as a way of showing kindness to him and expressing care and compassion, so that he may feel comfortable with him, listen to his advice or get him to do something for him. A person may also say to someone who is older than him, “O my father” by way of honoring him and softening his heart towards him so that he may receive kind treatment and sincere advice from him, and he may get his support and help. Thus, good manners will prevail in society and the ties between people will be strengthened, and all people will feel a sense of sincere brotherhood in humanity and faith. Islam encourages us to cooperate in righteousness and piety, (Part No. 20; Page No. 348) and it exhorts all people to love one another and treat one another kindly. Allah (Exalted be He) states: Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwâ (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated: The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, and empathy is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches because of fever and sleeplessness. (Related by Ahmad and Muslim) He also stated: A believer to another believer is like a wall of bricks supporting each other. (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Al-Tirmidhy, and Al-Nasa'y) This includes caring for orphans, the needy, those who are unable to earn a living and those whose fathers are not known, by looking after them, bringing them up and taking care of them, so that there will be no one in society who suffers or is neglected. This will help the Ummah (nation) to avoid the bad consequences of children being brought up in a very bad way, who may rebel against society because they feel they have been harshly treated or ignored by society. Muslim governments should set up homes for the unemployed, orphans, foundlings and those who have no one to provide for them, and those who come under the same rulings as them. If the Bayt-ul-Mal (Muslim treasury) does not have sufficient funds to care for their needs, they must seek help from those members of the Ummah who are well off. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated: “Any believer who leaves behind wealth, it is to be inherited by his kin if he has kin, and whoever leaves behind a debt or dependents, let them come to me for I will take care of them.” (Part No. 20; Page No. 349)  Related by Al-Bukhari. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.