Many incidents happen in societies which make so many children orphans, Incidents such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, or smaller events. Thus, the issue of taking care of these orphan kids becomes a challenge that should be dealt with. Many of these children may be sent to orphanages by the government.
And they keep waiting for some family to adopt them and take care of them. But, there are many parents who cannot give birth to a child and they wish to adopt one and make their family bigger. Some parents may have children of their own, and they want to adopt a child to help and take care of him/her.
This text explains the rulings of adopting a child according to the Islamic law.
There are four major differences in Islamic law between adoptive and biological children:
1- Adopted children are better to be named after their biological parents. If they are named after their adoptive parents, the foster parents should not precisely introduce them as their own child. (This is forbidden (Haram) since it is a lie.)
2- Adopted children do not automatically inherit from their adoptive parents. Unless it is mentioned in the parents’ will.
3- When adopted children become mature (Baligh) they will become of the marriageable kin (non-Mahram) to their adoptive family (parents, brothers/ sisters, uncles/ aunts).
4- The property of an adopted child (provided by his/her biological parents or family members) belongs to him/ her. Adoptive parents will keep it as mere trustees.
Islam has careful considerations towards orphans. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) himself had adopted a child and was fed by an adoptive mother during the first two years of his life.
It is narrated by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that “‘ The one who sponsors an orphan and I are like these two in Paradise.’ Then he joined his index and middle fingers” .
Orphans are so important in the eyes of God that Allah says in the Holy Quran “Indeed those who consume the property of orphans wrongfully, only ingest fire into their bellies, and soon they will enter the Blaze.” (4: 10)
There are specific rules in Islam with regards to adopting children.
In Islam, biological parents and the family lineage are of great significance. So, child adoption must not occur in a way that children lose their filiation. It is essential to keep in mind that according to Islam, filiation will be inherited from biological parents. Thus, by making a child adoption contract, the adoptive family will not be the child’s filiation.
According to Islamic law, child adoption is forbidden (Haram). But child protection (Kifalah) is highly recommended. By child adoption we mean, accepting a child and considering him/her as the adoptive parents’ real child. By child protection, we suggest that the child is being taken care of by his/ her foster parents. And at a suitable age, he/ she will be informed of his/her real filiation.
Thus, there is no problem in accepting a child as his/ her protector (Kafil). It becomes problematic when adopted children are not told the truth about their biological parents. It is understandable that it would be hard to tell any child that he/ she is not a family’s real child. But, consultations can help parents to find a proper way of telling the truth to their adopted child.
Besides, it is highly recommended in Islam to protect and support orphans, which means giving them financial and spiritual support in all aspects of their lives.
One of the points that Islam has in this regard is that the adopted children are of unmarriageable kin (non-Mahram). So when they grow up, they may face problems within their adoptive family.
Also if the adopted child is not aware of his/her real identity, there would be a chance of him marrying a marriageable kin (Mahram) of his/her biological family line without being aware of that. In Islam, like every other Abrahamic religion, it is forbidden to marry a marriageable kin (Mahram) [ii].
There is a tradition in some cultures that women do not feed their own children. Instead, they choose a wet nurse to breastfeed the child. The child who is breastfed from another woman, for a specific duration, will become of marriageable kin (Mahram) to the woman and her family.
Thus, if the adopted child is under two years old, and if the adoptive mother or her sister or her mother can breastfeed the child for a specific duration, a Foster (Ridha’) relationship will be created. As a result, the child will become of marriageable kin (Mahram) [i]. But the rulings with regards to inheritance is still the same.
[i] For exact information about foster (Ridha’) you should refer to your own source of emulation (Marja’ taqlid)
[ii] Read more about marriageable kin (mahram) at http://salamislam.com/content/who-are-mahrams-islam/4
- Humairi, Abdullah bin Ja’far, Qurbul Isnad, p. 9, hadith 315, Aalul-Bait (a.s.) Institute, Qom, first edition, 1413 A.H.
- Chapter Yousuf. verses 23 - 32
“Allah made for you mates from your own selves and appointed for you children and grandchildren from your mates, and We provided you with all the good things. What, do they believe in falsehood while they deny the blessing of Allah?” (16:72)
If you are married, you might have experienced how a successful marriage plays an important part in our lives. Marriage in Islam is the cornerstone of the family and the only relationship that effectively prepares us for the community; so, if it is thought upon carefully and wisely, it will result in the well-being of the society as well as each individual.
Unlike some religious denominations that encourage celibacy as a means of salvation and great virtue, there is no monasticism in Islam . Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says in this regard: “Marriage is my way (Sunnah), Whoever turns away from it is not ‘among my followers’” .
With regard to marriage in Islam, he has also stated: “There is no better structure founded in Islam other than marriage” .
According to a narration from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), marriage in Islam is considered as half of a Muslim’s religion:
“One who marries has already fulfilled half of his religion, therefore he should fear Allah for the other half” .
What do you think the reason is? What are the important benefits to which marriage is linked?
Looking into it from different aspects, one might find various reasons for getting married, like money, popularity, religion, beauty, etc. But the religion of Islam focuses on the more spiritual aspect of this holy covenant, i.e., peace, security, and affection:
“And of His signs (God’s signs) is that He created for you mates from your own selves that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you. There are indeed signs in that for a people who reflect” (30:21).
The other aspects that make marriage in Islam a necessity in humans’ life are as follows:
As mentioned in the verse of Quran above, marriage in Islam, in the most suitable way, is the source of emotional comfort to us. Quran also says:
“It is He (God) who created you from a single soul, and made from it its mate, that he might find comfort with her” (7:189).
When you get married, the first thing you promise your spouse is to care for her/him, to meet his/her emotional needs. That is what makes you fall in love with your life companion and lets the two of you experience love, affection, mutual understanding, peace of mind, and happiness.
Regarding this matter, Imam Sadiq (AS) has said:
“Whenever a man’s love for his wife increases, his faith increases in quality” .
Humans naturally possess a sexual instinct which is a significant and strong desire. Everyone feels the urge to have a partner for fulfilling their sexual needs in a safe and serene environment, which will help them grow and reach high levels of perfection and satisfaction.
Abstaining from marriage often results in physical and mental disorders. Doctors from Georgia State University in a study published in 2001 found that those who choose to be celibate are frequently afflicted with feelings of anger, frustration, self-doubt and even depression .
The religion of Islam not only recognizes the sexual needs of human but also strongly recommends marriage as the only legal way of fulfilling this desire.
Human beings are social creatures, who like all other beings, have urges which lead to starting a family of their own and reproduction. In this regard, Quran says:
“The originator of the heavens and the earth, He made for you mates from your own selves, and mates of the cattle, by which means He multiplies you…” (42:11).
Based on this verse, Children are the results of marriage in Islam that make the procreation of humankind continue. They also play an important role in stabilizing the family foundations. Islam gives a great deal of emphasis to both marriage and bringing up faithful and virtuous children since they are considered as building blocks of a healthy society.
Apart from that, marriage shields the whole society as well as every single individual from lots of evil deeds. It has been narrated from Prophet Muhammad that, when a person gets married at a young age, Satan will become angry since she/he has guarded two-third of his/her religion against him . Married people are less involved in socially destructive acts like any extramarital affairs.
From the Islamic perspective, marriage is not merely a means of legalizing sexual relations. In fact, it unites the existence of the man and woman as a couple, brings them together and makes them complementary to each other.
The peaceful and secure environment that the husband and wife live in is the best place to practice self-control, selflessness, and self-purification. Pious couples always invite one another to goodness. They are also a source of encouragement in preventing each other from committing sins and performing the obligatory acts of worship, which eventually makes them have a respectable and honest life forever.
It has been narrated that once the Prophet (PBUH&HP) went to Imam Ali (AS)’s and Lady Fatimah (AS)’s house after their wedding. He asked Imam Ali (AS) how he found his spouse. Imam replied: “I found Zahra (AS) as the best help in worshipping the Almighty Allah.” The Prophet (PBUH&HP) then asked Fatimah al-Zahra (AS) the same question, and she replied: “He is the best husband” .
We learn from this narration that one of the main purposes of marriage is actually what Imam Ali (AS) has mentioned, i.e., serving Allah. When a man and a woman get married, the two become one. The bond between them mirrors the unconditional love between The Creator and us, and this is the ultimate experience a true believer always seeks to have.
- Al-Qadi al-Nu'man, Daim al-Islam, v. 2, p. 193, h. 701
- Bihar al-Anwar, v. 103, p 220.
- Wasa 'il al Shiah, vol 14, p 3.
- Wasa’il ul-Shi’a, Vol. 14, p 5.
- Wasa’il, vol 20. p 24, H 24931.
- Navader (Ravandi), p 12.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol 43, p 117.
Although we keep hearing and reading criticisms about people who live a routine life with no specific changes, there are still not many people who experience huge changes in their lives. Most people in this world live a conventional life. They go to school, then university, then they find a job and get married and form a family.And all of those critics of such ordinary lifestyle, only suggest minor changes for breaking the routine. For example, they may recommend you to change your diet or listen to a happy song in the morning. But does anyone recommend you to rethink your ideologies, and see if it is not working properly for you, then think about a new set of ideas?! Some people in the world are brave enough to see if the present ideology is not working well for them, then they search and find a better one; people who embrace Islam as their new religion are amongst those.Becoming a Muslim could be a long process in one’s life, and it will definitely have huge consequences for the convertperson. Converts will have to let go of the past routine life and go through different experiences in all aspects of their lives such as friendship, job, family and the whole lifestyle.In this short text, we will only point out one of the major changes that married converts may experience; what happens to their marriage after converting to Islam if one of the spouses converts to Islam.
But before directly going to the main topic, let’s see what the rules of marriage in Islamic jurisprudence are?
The main verse in the holy Quran that discusses the marriage of believers with non-believers says:
“Do not marry idolatresses until they embrace faith. A faithful slave girl is better than an idolatress, though she should impress you. And do not marry [your daughters] to idolaters until they embrace faith. A faithful slave is better than an idolater, though he should impress you. Those invite [others] to the Fire, but Allah invites to paradise and pardon, by His will, and He clarifies His signs for the people so that they may take admonition” (2:221)
Therefore in Islam, as described in the other Abrahamic religions, it is prohibited to marry a man or a woman who does not believe in God. In another verse Allah says:
“Today all the good things have been made lawful to you—the food of those who were given the Book is lawful to you, and your food is lawful to them—and the chaste ones from among faithful women, and chaste women of those who were given the Book before you, when you have given them their dowries, in wedlock, not in license, nor taking paramours…” (5:5)
Therefore, from the above verses, besides other verses and narrations, Muslim jurists have concluded the following rules for interfaith marriages:
Rules of Marriage for Muslim Men
A Muslim man is not allowed to marry, neither permanently nor temporarily, a non-Muslim woman who is not among the followers of the books (Ahlul Kitab); Christians and Jews.
A Muslim man is allowed to marry a Christian or Jewish woman. However, based on precaution, it is obligatory to refrain from marrying a non-Muslim woman in permanent marriage. The reason behind it is that Muslims do not deny the preceding Abrahamic religions, but they know Islam as the most complete and the last divine religion.
Rules of Marriage for Muslim women
A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man at all, neither permanently nor temporarily .
As you see the rules of marriage for Muslim women is much stricter than those for men. The reason behind it goes back to the verse that says “Men are the managers (protectors) of women, because of the advantage Allah has granted some of them over others, and by virtue of their spending out of their wealth…” (4:34)
The Islamic belief is that in married life, men have authority over women, and Islam will not allow a non-Muslim man to have authority over a Muslim woman.
In Islam, the responsibility of providing for the family is on man’s shoulder, and women have no responsibility in this case. Men are also responsible for protecting the religion of their family: “O you who have faith! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel will be people and stones…” (66:6)
Now that we are familiar with the basic rules of marriage in Islam let’s see what happens to a person who has already been married and then decides to embrace Islam. Is his/her marriage to his/her non-Muslim spouse still valid?
When a Man Converts to Islam, What Happens to His marriage?
When a married man converts to Islam:
If his wife is from the followers of the book (Ahlul Kitab), Christian or Jewish, the marriage remains valid, and they do not need to remarry according to Islamic law . This is because of the respect that Islam has for the preceding religions, although it is the final religion sent by God.
If the wife is an atheist, the marriage will be void automatically. However, according to the ruling (fatwa) of Sayed Ali Khamenei, even the atheist woman needs to keep the waiting period (iddah)[i]. If during that period (3 months) she decides to convert to Islam the marriage will continue .
But what happens if the man doubts that his wife has accepted Islam as her religion truly? The Muslim jurists say that if the non-Muslim woman only recites the two testimonies (Shahadatain) for the sake of marriage, the Islamic treatment would be applied to her as long as she does not say or do anything that would contradict her declaration of the faith .
When a Woman Converts to Islam, What Happens to Her Marriage?
“O you who have faith! When faithful women come to you as immigrants, test them. Allah knows best [the state of] their faith. Then, if you ascertain them to be [genuinely] faithful women, do not send them back to the faithless. They are not lawful for them, nor are they lawful for them, but give them what [dowry] they have spent [for them]…” (60:10)
When a married woman converts to Islam:
No matter if the husband is an atheist or a Christian or Jewish, the marriage will automatically be void UNLESS the husband accepts to convert to Islam too. If at the time that the woman is keeping her waiting period (iddah) her husband embraces Islam, their marriage is considered standing, and there is no need to renew the marriage .
If Both of the Married Couple Convert to Islam
In a marital relationship, when both spouses decide to embrace Islam, no matter if they are both followers of the book (Ahlul Kitab) or both are not followers of the book (non-Ahlul Kitab) or one is the follower of the book (Ahlul Kitab) and the other one is not, if the marriage that took place among them is valid according to their custom, such marriage is considered valid and there would be no need to recite the marriage formula anew .
It is understandable that both man and woman will experience such hard circumstances for their new beliefs. Maybe that is why Allah in a chapter called “Divorce” indicates:
“… Whoever is wary of Allah, He shall make for him a way out [of the adversities of the world and the Hereafter], and provide for him from whence he does not count upon. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. Indeed Allah carries through His commands. Certainly, Allah has ordained a measure [and extent] for everything.”(65: 2, 3)
[i] The period a woman must observe after the death of her spouse or after a divorce, during which she may not marry another man.
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 4, pg. 103, the book of marriage
- Sayed Ali Khamenei, Istifta
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 4, pg. 103, the book of marriage