Islam, June 2003,



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Formal Adoption and Women’s Work

 Adil Salahi


Arab News

Q.1. It has always been my dear wish to take an orphan girl into my family, but the law in my country does not allow this except through formal adoption. My husband is opposed to this on grounds that adoption is un-Islamic. Is there a way out?

Q.2. At the time of my marriage I made it clear to my husband that I wish to be always in work. He did not object. However, now he is saying that I should not work because it is ‘un-Islamic’ for a Muslim woman to work except in cases of financial difficulty. This has been a cause of friction in our family. Please advise.

(Name and address withheld)

A.1. Islam encourages looking after orphans of both sexes. The Prophet mentions very high reward for people who take good care of orphans and bring them up as they would bring up their own children. However, formal adoption is not allowed in Islam. It is forbidden, as the Qur’an makes clear. You may refer for this purpose to Verses 4 and 5 of Surah 33, which make clear that God does not approve of anyone claiming a child as his own when that child is born to different parents. The verses include an order to call such children after their own parents. If their parents are unknown to us, then we treat them as brothers or sisters in Islam, but not as our own children.

Such are the Islamic rulings and they are clear in their import. What is strongly disapproved is the claim that a certain child is called after an adopting father, or given the name of the adopting family. This is a fraud, and Islam makes it unlawful. But this does not stop Muslims from looking after orphan children. In fact they are strongly recommended to do so. But they should let those children keep their own names. Laws in different countries may make things very difficult for a family which wants to look after a certain child. For example, I know the case of a family who wished to look after an orphan girl and was keen to stick to Islamic teachings. The difficulties they had to encounter were enormous. Their task was made pretty impossible. They had no option but to leave the country where they were living, and get the child registered as their own before returning to their place of living with that child. No longer did they have to face any bureaucratic rigidity of the type that makes life difficult. They informed the child of their true relation with her when she was able to understand. There was no difficulty in the matter. Do we blame them for doing what they did? They simply tried to overcome unreasonable difficulties and look after a child that had no one to look after. God will certainly reward them according to their intention. They had no desire to disobey God’s rules. You may be able to approach the difficulty in your country in a different way. You may need to seek advice. A sympathetic government official may be able to understand the Islamic requirements and suggest to you a way of meeting them while taking an orphan girl to look after. But I encourage you to seek some way of carrying out your plan. May God reward you generously for it.

A.2. If your husband had agreed to your working at the time of marriage, then he may not withdraw this commitment without a very good reason. To claim that it is un-Islamic for a woman to work is wrong. Some of the Prophet’s women companions had their own work, and he did not object. A woman who was in her waiting period after her husband had died asked the Prophet whether it was permissible for her to supervise the work in her farm. Some of her relatives objected to her doing this. The Prophet told her to attend to her work, adding: “You may have a chance to give something in charity or do some other good.” If a man is married to an educated woman who has a good job, or to a skilled woman who does some skillful work, like dress making, farming, or some handicraft, it may be highly beneficial to the family if she continues with her work, even though the income is not of paramount importance. The fact that the woman enjoys self-fulfillment as a result is very good for a better family life.




Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).

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