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Islamic Ideology ( 31 Dec 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Adoption In Islam: Why It Is Illegitimate

By Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi

Translated from Urdu by Raihan Nezami


An honourable Delhi court has recently suggested during the hearing of a Muslim woman’s plea that adoption is an inevitable reality irrespective of Muslim Personal Law’s rules and regulations. It ruled that an adoptee should be given all rights equivalent to a biological child. As adoption is illegitimate is Islam, this ruling is an absolute violation of Muslim Personal Law.


The government had brought “Adoption Law” on 23 May, 1972 in Rajya Sabha with the statement of the then minister for law Mr. H.R Gokhle that it was an important step towards the uniform civil code. According to the article 13 (2) of the bill, “The adopted child would be considered like a biological child in all matters, even in the case of father’s death without a will; the adopter would be considered like his real father equivalent to a lawful biological father from the date of adoption order. The relation of adopted child with the family of his birth would be considered void and it would be considered valid with the adopter’s family from the same date.

Islamic organizations protested against the anti-Islamic ruling with all their might and Muslim Personal Law Board was formed at the historic convention held in Mumbai on 27/28 Dec.1972. After this vehement protest, this issue was temporarily kept in cold storage, but this Pandora’s box has again been opened. Our honourable courts keep attacking Muslim Personal Law Board from time to time. The issue of adoption is clarified with the following Aayat-e-Kareemah.

According to the Quran-e-Kareem, “Allah Kareem has not made for any man two hearts inside his body. Neither has He made your wives whom you declare to be like your mothers’ backs, your real mothers [Az-Zihar is the saying of a husband to his wife, “you are to me like the back of my mother” i.e. you are unlawful for me to approach], nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. That is but your saying with your mouths. But Allah says the truth, and He guides to the (Right) Way. (Surah al-Ahzab; Verse-4)

Muslim scholars are divided in their opinion over the revelation of this Aayat-e-Kareemah. Baghvi and Ibn-e-Abi Hatim have copied this statement from Mujahid - that the Aayat-e-Kareemah was revealed in connection with Abu Mu’ammar Jameel bin Mu’ammar Fahri who was a cunning person. Al-Quraish thought he had two hearts as he too, had this confusion and used to say, “My one heart stops me and the other orders” (Tafseerul Baghvi: 316/1). According to Ibn-e-Kaseer, this revelation is approved by Hazrat Ibn Abbas (RA), Akramah, Jamadah (RA), and Ibn-e-Jameer (Tafseer Ibn-e-Kaseer: 615/3). This Aayat-e-Kareemah exposes the falsehood of Abu Mu’ammar’s claim.

According to Hazrat Ibn Abbas (RA), another revelation certified by Ahmed bin Hanbal, Mustadrak and Hakim etc. is like this; once the prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) was leading the prayer and by chance he committed a “Saho”. The rebellions told, “The prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) has two hearts, one heart is with us (devotees) and the other is with his companions”. (Tirmizee; 348/5), Hasdees No 3199, certified by Ahmed bin Hanbal: 267/1, Hasdees No 2410, Mustadrak: 450/2, Hasdees No 3555). The rebellions’ claim has been denied by the above given Aayat-e-Kareemah.

Some prominent scholars (mufassareen) have asserted that this Aayat-e-Kareemah was revealed in connection with Hazrat Zaid (RA) who was adopted by the prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). The Quran-e-Kareem had forbidden doing this by this Aayat-e-Kareemah. The first part of the Aayat-e-Kareemah conveys that Allah Kareem has not produced two hearts likewise; He has not legalized two fathers. Ibn-e-Kaseer has called this revelation “favourite and authoritative”. (Tafseer Ibn-e-Kaseer: 615/3)

This Aayat-e-Kareemah has three parts; the first part has rejected the opinion and claim of period of illiteracy – that a person possesses two hearts; the second part denies the irrational custom that if someone compares his wife with his mother; his wife will be forbidden or illegal for him. It is called “Az-Zihar” in Fiqh explained in Surah Mujdalah.

There was another custom in the Age of Ignorance (Jahiliya). If someone adopted a child, the latter was considered his real son and he got equal rights in the wealth and property. This was practiced by the Arabian people. They behaved with the forbidden (illegal) women in solitude in the same manner as they did in case of an adopted child. After the Aayat-e-Kareemah (Surah al-Ahzab; Verse-4) was revealed, the wife of Abu Hazeefa (RA) asked the prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) that they called Salim (RA) their son, as Abu Hazeefa (RA) loved him very much. It is wrong in the light of this Aayat-e-Kareemah (Surah al-Ahzab; Verse-4). The prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) asked her to feed him her own milk and make him “Mahram” for her. (Ibn-e-Kaseer 615/3)

According to another tradition, this Aayat-e-Kareemah was revealed in connection with Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA). He belonged to Bani Kalab and was being sold in the market of Akkaz. A famous Sahabi, Hakeem bin Huzzam (RA) bought him for his father’s sister Hazrat Khadeeja (RA), paying four hundred Dirham. She presented Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA) to the prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) as a gift after she was married to him (pbuh). Hazrat Zaid ‘s real father came to the prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) searching for his son. He (pbuh) left the decision on Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA) who preferred to stay with him (pbuh). Later on, he (pbuh) adopted him and his marriage was solemnized with Umm Aiyman (RA) who became the proud parents of Hazrat Osama (RA). One of the factors that makes Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA) distinguished is that his name is mentioned in Quran-e-Kareem (Zarqani: 245/3).

The prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) had great affection for him. Imam Bukhari has copied the Hadees Shareef from Hazrat Bara ibn Aazib (RA) in Munaqib-e-Zaid, he (pbuh) used to say to  Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA), “You are my brother and friend” (Majmaul Bukhari: 960/2, Hasdees No 2552/12).

As a proof for the prophet’s (pbuh) love for Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA) and his son Hazrat Osama bin Zaid (RA), Imam Bukhari has mentioned this Hadees Shareef in Munaqib-e-Zaid from hazrat ibn Umar (RA), “Once the prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) sent a delegation under Hazrat Osama bin Zaid (RA), some people objected to it. He (pbuh) asserted on this occasion, “You have worked under the leadership of Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA), the father of Hazrat Osama (RA), I (pbuh) liked him (RA) the most among the people, after him (RA), I (pbuh) like (Hazrat) Osama bin Zaid (RA) (Bukhari: 1365/3, Hasdees No 3524).

Another incident in connection with the love and affection of the prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) towards Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA) is also quite famous. The son of Hazrat Zaid (RA) was of black complexion in contrast to his father’s colour. The people used to say, Hazrat Osama (RA) is not the son of Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA), this hurt him (pbuh) a lot.

According to a tradition ascribed to Hazrat Aaesha (RA), copied by Imam Bukhari, Once a “Qaef” (foreteller) said on seeing their feet who were wrapped in the same bed-sheet, “ Their feet are quite similar.” (Saheeh Bhukhari: 1365/3, Hadees No 3525). The prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) became extremely glad listening to this. He (pbuh) had adopted him due to this excessive love. The people started calling him Hazrat Zaid bin Muhammad in place of Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA). That is why Abdullah bin Umar (RA) says, “We used to call Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA) with the name of Hazrat Zaid bin Muhammad until this Aayat-e-Kareemah  (Surah Al-Ahzab: 5)  was revealed.

The Quran-e-Kareem says, “Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers: that is more just with Allah. But if you know not their father’s (names, call them) your brothers in faith and Mawalikum  (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 intends. And Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Ahzab: 5)

It clarifies that adoption is not legal in Islam as it is in the Hindu religion. In the words of Allamah Aalavi, “Authenticating an adoptee like the son is one of the acts which neither has any base in Shariat, nor in worldly affairs” (Ruhul Ma’ali: 150/2). Qazi Abu Bakar Jassas (RA) explains the meaning of this revelation, “Adoption has no authentic justification, and it is a meaningless and fake assertion” (Ahkamul Quran: 222/5)

The Quran-e-Kareem says, “Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers: that is more just with Allah. But if you know not their father’s (names, call them) your brothers in faith and Mawalikum  (your freed slaves). And there is no sis on you concerning that in which you made a mistake, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intends. And Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Ahzab: 5) 

There are two quite famous beliefs in connection with the revelation of the concerned Aayat-e-Kareemah.  The assertion of Abdullah bin Umar (RA) has been mentioned earlier with reference of Bhukhari approved by Ahmed, another statement is mentioned in Tafseer-e-Mazhari with reference of Wari; this Aayat-e-Kareemah was revealed after the incident related to Sahla bint Sohail Begum Abu Hafeezah. This rewayat of Wari is told by Hazrat Ayesha (RA). (Tafseer-e-Mazhari: 199/9)

The prohibition of adoption in Islam is approved by the incident concerned with Hazrat Zainab bint Najas (RA), the first wife of Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA), later on she was married to the prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). The people had great objection to it as the marriage with the wife of an adoptee was banned according to the custom of age of illiteracy. They blamed that he (pbuh) had married the wife of his son, Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA).

In response the Quran-e-Kareem says, “The prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) is not the father of any of your men, but he is the messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets. And Allah is knows everything” (Surah Al-Ahzab: 40).

 Hazrat Ayesha (RA) said, this Aayat-e-Kareemah was revealed after objection on remarriage of Hazrat Zainab bint Najas (RA) with the prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). The list of women, with whom marriage is prohibited, is given in the Aayat-e-Kareemah of the last “Ruku” of fourth part of the Quran-e-Kareem. It includes “And the wives of your real sons” (Surah Nisa: 24).

The wives of both real (nisbi) and milk-fed (radhai) sons are included in this order; the description of real son is present in the Quran-e-Kareem, and the matter of milk-fed (radhai) son is clarified by this Hadees Shareef. “The marriage is prohibited with the wives of milk-fed (radhai) son just like in the case of real (nisbi) son” (Muslim: 1069/2, Hadees Shareef: 1445)

Now it is clear with the mentioned Aayat-e-Kareemah and Hadees Shareef. Had the adopted son got any significance in Islamic Shariat, their wives, as well as the Nikah with the divorced wife of an adopted son too, would have been banned in Islam. There is no reference in the Quran-e-Kareem or Sunnat in this regard directly or indirectly to argue in its favour. In contrast, the remarriage of the first wife of Hazrat Zaid bin Haris (RA) with the prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) proves the insignificance of adoption in Islam, confirming that it is an artificial or man-made verbal relation.

There is another objection that the Quran-e-Kareem does not signify adoption on the ground that “It is your verbal assertion”. On the other hand, in certain matters of relations and legitimacy or illegitimacy, the verbal assertion is of great importance. The Nikah is only based on verbal assertion and acceptance which validates an illegitimate object to establish the matrimonial relation. It is also acceptable in the matters of distribution of property among heirs. The verbal assertion is acceptable in one case and in the matters of adoption, it becomes vague and meaningless. This objection can be erased, if we accept that the person who confirms Qaul-bil-Afawah is the same who discards it. But neither he has fully confirmed, nor disapproved.

It is a human mistake of our understanding, the authentication of any matter by verbal assertion should not be implemented in every situation by human conscience. The same method is inauthentic in other situation, but we should not start arguing or objecting to it. Both orders are given in different situations and context. They are quite different in nature, though having uniformity of matters; so the orders in different situations are quite different. That is why Fuqaha say that “assumption” in the matters of “Nus” is unacceptable.

It is clear to everyone, verbal assertions and promises are not authentic everywhere. If I call someone’s wife mine, is it acceptable and valid? It needs explanation to find out, as to why is it acceptable in some situations and not in others?

It can be understood easily, if we consider it deeply. The confidential matters which have no practical existence can be approved by assertions and promises, but the matters based on realism only cannot be dealt with verbal promises, but a practical base will be created for it. The matrimonial relation is not based on realistic act; it is made obligatory due to necessity with certain stern orders. It is not a biological relation. The adoption is not a matter of confidence and contract but related to affection, and attachment with blood. So, assumption is not justified in all matters.

Source: The Hindustan Express, New Delhi

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