By Ghulam Ghaus, New Age Islam
22 February, 2014
“The Supreme Court's ruling, stating personal law can't prohibit Muslims and other minority faith members from adopting children under the secular Juvenile Justice Act, is a positive move forward”, says Times of India in its editorial page on 21st February 2014. This liberty of Adopting and giving up kids for adoption is permissible in Islam. The purpose of bringing them up and taking care of them is indeed a blessed deed. This is more encouraged in the case of orphans.
The Qur’an renders legitimacy to adopting a child by calling it a favour:
· “And, (O Beloved, recall) when you said to him (Zayd Bin Harithah) whom Allah had favoured and whom you (too) had done a favour: ‘Keep your wife (Zaynab) with you in the bond of marriage and fear Allah” (33:37)
The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had adopted Zayd Bin Harithah. The verse above calls the same prophetic attitude ‘favour’. It is important to note that both the Qur’an and Sunnah have appreciated the procedure of adopting a child.
The following authentic Hadith lays emphasis on taking care of orphans:
· “I and the one who sponsors an orphan are like this in Paradise.” Then he joined between his index and middle fingers.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5304)]
However, according to the Quran, the child does not become a real child of the adoptive parents, and thus he will be called by the name of his biological father. This is because Islam does want to do justice, saving biological lineage.
The Qur’an says:
· “Call them (the adopted sons) after their fathers’ (names). That is most just in the sight of Allah. So if you do not know their fathers, then they are your brothers in the Din (Religion) and your friends. And there is no sin on you for what you said by mistake, but (that will be surely a sin) which your hearts intend. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Ever-Merciful” (33:5)
This verse came to abolish the pre-Islamic procedure of calling the adopted child by the name of the adoptive parent. Thus, Zayd was again called Zayd bin Harithah and not Zayd bin Muhammad (pbuh). It should be noted that this change in the name could not decrease the inordinate affection between the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his adopted son, Zayd bin Harithah.
Adopting a child in Islam means that all the rules which apply between blood relatives are still valid. According to Islamic law, the adopted child cannot marry his or her real siblings. After being adopted, he or she will still be non-Mahram to the adoptive parents.
A case of adoption we find where the adopted child becomes Mahram to the adoptive family. This is only when the child is below two years of age and also breast-fed by the adoptive mother. This is called a foster relationship (Riza’i).
Despite that the adopted child will inherit from his real father and not from the adoptive father. This is with no exception to the case of Riza’i child. However, the adoptive parents have the option of bequeathing up to one-third of their total estate to non-inheritors. The Qur’an says:
· “If the relatives (other than heirs) and the orphans and the indigent are present on the occasion of the division (of inheritance), give them also something out of it and say to them good and nice words”.
Here the Qur’an has devised an unprecedented example of balance, taking care of the orphans and the indigent that also include adopted children.
However, the adoptive parents cannot at any cost deprive their real children of the right to inheritance given by Islam; neither can they leave their adopted child in the lurch as after their death he may be helpless.
From the Islamic point of view, Muslims should not feel any problem with regard to the Supreme Court’s ruling under the secular Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act. The Act does not force a Muslim to adopt a child but leaves him with the liberty of sticking either to the secular route or the personal law. The court said, "The Act does not mandate any compulsive action by any prospective parent. It added saying the Act left such a person "with the liberty of accessing the provisions of the Act, if he so desires. Such a person is always free to adopt or choose not to do so and, instead, follow what he comprehends to be the dictates of the personal law applicable to him."
To sum up, the Act has taken a very good step towards enriching the abandoned lives in a very balance way. It left its ruling up to the choice of a Muslim and thus becomes identical to Islamic law. The personal law, too, should welcome and hug such a humanitarian act of adoption, just as the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) devised it for all humanity. Modern Muslims and scholars are also focussing on change in our attitudes towards adoption. Ms. Asra Nomani, for instance, concluded her article on the subject some time ago with the following words: "As with so many contemporary societal challenges in the Muslim world, we must rise to the highest levels of reason, compassion and lovingness, helping our most vulnerable and indeed plucking them from the grasps of militants and giving them “Sweet Homes.”
A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Ghulam Ghaus is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background. He has completed the classical Islamic sciences from a Delhi-based Sufi Islamic seminary Jamia Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Zakir Nagar, New Delhi with specialization in Tafseer, Hadith and Arabic. He completed his Alimiat and Fazilat respectively from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow and Jamia Manzar- e- Islam, Bareilly, U.P. He has graduated in Arabic (Hons) and is pursuing his M.A in Arabic from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.