Is adoption allowed in Islam?
The Qur’an does not forbid adoption and actually encourages parents to care for orphans and foundlings. A consistent message in Islam is to treat orphans better than their lives were before their adoption. In fact, the Prophet himself was an orphan and even adopted an orphan named Zayd, who was treated with love and kindness. However, the Qur’an states that even if parents raise orphans as their own children, the parents must be transparent to their children about their background. Given this, many Muslim jurists agree that non-Muslim parents are allowed to adopt Muslim children as long as these children are raised Muslim.
“Found He you not an orphan and He gave you refuge?” (Qur’an 93:6)
“So as for the orphan, do not oppress [him].” (Qur’an 93:9)
“Allah has not made as your own children those you call after your name. Such is only the speech of your tongues. “But Allah tells you truth and He guides to the right path. Call them after the names of their real parents. This is more just in the sight of Allah. If you do not know their real parents, they are simply your brethren” (Qur’an 4:5)
The Prophet’s Sayings
“… one who spends on and raises an orphan will be together in Paradise [with me] ….” (Burkhari)
Unfortunately, in countries such as Syria and Morocco, there are strict limitations on adoption. Critics of adoption often express concern about the inheritance rights for a biological child over those of an adopted child, while others fear that non-Muslims would deprive adopted Muslims of a proper Muslim upbringing. Contrary to these concerns, Islamic law has often integrated non-sharia norms whenever they are more appropriately aligned with public interest.
The Qur’an clearly states that the best interest of the child is of utmost importance during the adoption process. Therefore families considering adoption must refrain from obscuring the adoptive child’s biological lineage and create just division of wealth among biological and adoptive family members.
Today, Muslim majority countries such as Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh allow adoption with certain restrictions. In Pakistan, the Edhi Foundation has adoption services that date back to 1949. Every year, the foundation handpicks orphaned children for stable, loving families. To date, the Edhi Foundation has placed over 23,000 children with families. The Edhi Foundation provides a strong model for leaders and lawmakers to follow. Since war and poverty have created millions of orphans worldwide, it is necessary to lift restrictions on adoption, granting babies and children the opportunity to live in healthy, happy families.
Islamic sources support the act of ethical and legal adoptions. “Islam” literally means making whole, sound, safe, and peaceful. Through adoption, many current socio-economic issues facing children today across the globe can be alleviated, creating more peaceful and educated generations. Therefore, making orphans safe, whole, and at peace is absolutely integral to Islam.
Yusra Gomaa, Sarah Sultan, Christina Safiya Tobias-Nahi
The Fatwa Department Research Committee. “Who says Islam prohibits adoption?” IslamToday. N.d.