Islam prohibits adopting children. Period. Adoption in the technical sense is not allowed in Muslim Shriah law. This is because Allah does not like this gesture of adopting orphan children. Muhammad Rushed Ridha states, “Allah prohibited adoption in Islam and annulled all the judgements pertaining to adoption. The most important one of which was the prohibition of the wife of the adopted son to the fostering father as though he is the natural father. So Allah commanded his prophet to marry Zainab Bint Jahsh in order to abolish pagan custom (Fatawa al-Imam).” Al-sabuni states, “As to Zainab Bint Jahsh, the Messenger of Allah married for no higher wisdom than to abolish the heresy of adoption (A-sabuni).”
I don’t know, how in the world Allah could dislike such noble deeds. I am not sure what percentage of Muslims actually knows this divine law. I do admit that I never knew this and, I was stunned when I first learnt this from a real Mullah. How and why was this noble custom among human being prohibited? We shall learn this history later in this essay.
Pre-Islamic Arab Custom: Adoption of orphan/helpless child was a very popular and moral practice amongst pre-Islamic Arabs. By adopting orphan/helpless child, they used to consider adopted child as their own. And they used to pass onto them the adopter’s genealogy and name, his investment of them with all the rights of the legitimate son including that of inheritance and the prohibition of marriage on grounds of consanguinity.
Post-Islamic Custom: The all-wise legislator of Islam willed to undo the above mentioned Arab practice of adopting children. The divine legislator willed to give the adopted sononly the right of a client and co-religionist. For that reason a verse was revealed: “God did not make your adopted son as your own sons. To declare them so is your empty claim. God’s word is righteous and constitutes true guidance. (Q.33: 4).” It follows from this revelation that the adopter may marry the ex-wife of his adopted son and vice-versa. Thus Muhammad married Zainab in order to provide a good example of what the All-wise legislator was seeking to establish by way of rights and privileges for adoption. In this regard God further said: “After a term of married life with her husband, We permitted you to marry her so that it may hence be legitimate and morally blameless for a believer to marry the wife of his adopted son provided that wife has already been divorced. That is God’s commandment which must be fulfilled (Q.33: 37).” Who, among the Arabs, could implement this noble legislation and thereby openly repudiate the ancient traditions? The truth is, however, that Muhammad was the exemplar of obedience to God; his life was the implementation of that which he was entrusted to convey to mankind. His life constitutes the highest ideal, the perfect example, and the concrete instance of his Lord’s command (M.H. Haykal, page-296-297).
Those who are Muslims and are obedient to the Qur’an will not have adopted sons.
By Syed Kamran Mirza