Adoption and Fostering of children
from an Islamic perspective
The Holy Messenger Muhammad (may peace be upon him), the prophet of Islam, himself was an orphan at birth. He was adopted as an orphan and placed in the foster care of his wet-nurse Halimah who nurtured him with tender care and love, more than she displayed towards her own children. In light of this historical fact, Muslims are no strangers to the concept of adoption and foster care. In fact, they have before them lofty examples of these practices right from the life of the holy Messenger himself.
Having been brought up as an orphan himself, placed the Holy Messenger in a position where he was able to naturally and instinctively identify with the plight of orphan children more than others. His teachings are therefore replete with teachings and directives towards the orphan, of treating them with utmost kindness and compassion. The list of such teachings is lengthy and enumerating them in this brief article would be inappropriate. It is sufficient to quote but one saying of his: 'The home wherein the orphan is ill-treated is the worst home on earth.'
In the time of the Holy Messenger, there was hardly a home which had not taken in and adopted an orphan child. This was a normal practice in the society of his companions.
Muslims should, by virtue of the lofty example and teachings of the Holy Messenger, be in the very frontline in efforts to secure the adoption and fostering of 'abandoned' children. In fact they aught to be setting the trend for the rest of society in this matter. At the least, it is expected of them to co-operate closely with groups and bodies that are promoting these efforts.
Due to the high standards of morality and conduct required of Muslims by their religious laws, Muslim homes and families are ideally positioned to imbue and impart these exalted values to adopted children – values that will be of life long consequence to them.
A word of caution to prospective adoption families though; the humanitarian and noble practice of adopting children should never be motivated by material or pecuniary interests or intentions at all. This will destroy and demolish the very spirit of this gracious deed, leaving it as a lifeless corpse.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr.H.Bham on his launching of the periodical "Faiz" on issues relating to adoption and fostering of children. It gives me pleasure to write an article upon his request on this subject from the Islamic perspective for this 'maiden' issue of this brand new magazine. May this publication continue to enlighten the community for many years ahead.
Mufti Zubair Bayat