Is Adoption Allowed or Haram In Islam?


Legal adoption is haram and explicitly forbidden in Islam. However, Muslims can care for a child other than their own, provided they follow Islamic guidelines.

Table of Contents:

1- Is It Haram to Adopt a Child?
2- Why is Adoption Considered Haram?
3- What does the Quran Say About Adopting a Child
4- Fatwa About Adopting a Child
5- How Adoption Works in Islam: The Islamic Way of Adopting a Child
6- Rules of Adoption in Islam
7- Adopting an Illegitimate Child in Islam

1- Is It Haram to Adopt a Child?

Adopting a child is considered haram in Islam. Muslim scholars unanimously consider conventional / legal adoption haram, an understanding they derived from Islamic evidences, including the Quran and Sunnah.

We have discussed supporting evidence and cited sources in the sections that follow.

2 – Why is Adoption Considered Haram?

Dar-al-Ifta, a renowned Islamic institute, clarified that adoption is haram because Allah (SWT) forbids claiming another person’s child as your own. They cited Quranic verses and Ahadith as evidence. Moreover, the authority mentioned that Islam deems all consequences of adoption invalid too (source).

Adoption is haram because Islam forbids us from changing a child’s lineage.

Legal or conventional adoption involves claiming a child as your own, changing their lineage (and thus their right to inherit). The majority ruling is that it is haram to adopt a child (source).

3 – What does the Quran Say About Adopting a Child

The following verse is from Surah Al-Ahzab:

“… nor does He make your adopted sons into real sons. These are only words from your mouths, while God speaks the truth and guides people to the right path. Name your adopted sons after their real fathers; this is more equitable in God’s eyes—if you do not know who their real fathers are [they are your] ‘brothers-in-religion’ and protégés.”

[Qur’an 33:4-5]

Dar-al-Ifta discussed how this verse emphasizes that Muslims sponsoring orphaned children should not attribute the children to themselves, and that orphans should be attributed to their biological father instead (source).

4 – Fatwa About Adopting a Child

Dar-al-Ifta’s ruling on the matter of adopting a child is as follows (source):

“Based on this, the responsibility of sponsoring an orphan in Islam includes all the responsibilities and duties of adoption except changing lineage, which Islam prohibits, and its ensuing consequences.”

Dar-al-Ifta

Islamweb.net also issued a fatwa on the matter (source):

“Adoption (To legally make another person’s child your own regardless of whether that child’s parents are known or unknown) a child is completely Haram in Islam.

Allah Says (interpretation of meaning): {Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just with Allâh. But if you know not their father’s (names, call them) your brothers in faith and Mawâlîkum (your freed slaves).} [33: 5].

But, if one adopts a child, without changing his name, just to educate him and take care of him since this child has no guardian or because he is poor, then this is permissible. The reward is greater if this child is an orphan.


Islamweb

So, adopting a child is haram according to the majority opinion of Islamic scholars.

However, Islamweb emphasizes that caring for a child that is not your own, without legally adopting them, is a good act.

5 – How Adoption Works in Islam: The Islamic Way of Adopting a Child

Legal adoption is considered haram by Islamic scholars and is explicitly forbidden in the Quran.

However, Islamic authorities mentioned that Muslims could care for children without claiming them as their own.

Moreover, Muslims can also foster children.

Islam Q&A, an Islamic authority site, comprehensively discussed the Islamic way to care for children other than your own (source).

Here’s the criteria of adopting a child in accordance to Islam.

  1. Before taking responsibility for the child’s care, you need to be prepared to look after them properly. Otherwise, failing to properly care for the child invites punishment from Allah (SWT) rather than reward.
  2. The child’s lineage cannot be changed, and so need to always attribute them with their biological parents.
  3. A child in your care that is not your own is a foster child if the adoptive mother breastfeeds him/her. If fosterage is established, the child is similar to your own biological children in regards to nikkah and hijab rules. However, the child is still not eligible to inherit from you; he or she can only inherit from their natural parents.
  4. If the child is not breastfed, fosterage is not established. In this case, if the child is male, the adoptive mother and her female children will have to wear hijab around him once he reaches puberty.

    If the child is a girl, then the rules of hijab apply too once she reaches puberty (check out our recent post to learn more about whether is is haram to not wear hijab)
  5. If the child has wealth of his/her own (e.g. inheritance from their biological parents), you must keep it safe for them. If necessary, you can spend the child’s money to fulfil their needs.

6 – Rules of Adoption in Islam

Although legal adoption is forbidden in Islam, there are rules for taking care of a child that is not your own. These rules include those for fosterage, hijab and nikkah, inheritance, and general care.

We referred to IslamicWeb’s fiqh of adoption (source) and Darl-al-Ifta’s fatwa (source) for adoption rules in Islam. The Islamic rules for caring for a child that is not your own are as follows:

  1. Legal adoption is forbidden, regardless of whether the parents of the child are known. Additionally, Muslims cannot substitute their own names for the natural parent’s names.
  2. Fosterage is only established if the child is breastfed by the adoptive mother. Moreover, the child has to be younger than 2 years when suckling, and he or she has to have suckled at least five times successfully (i.e the child has to stop suckling on their own accord, without being forced).
  3. The rules for hijab and nikkah are similar for foster child as for your own biological children. However, the child’s lineage cannot be changed, and they are not eligible to inherit from you.
  4. If fosterage is not established, the rules for hijab and nikkah are the same as for non-mahram, once the child reaches puberty.
  5. If the child’s biological parents are alive, Muslims cannot forbid the child (whether fostered or not) from meeting them.
  6. The child must be treated fairly and properly cared for.
  7. The child’s own wealth must be kept safe. Adoptive parents can spend some of the money on the child, if necessary.

7- Adopting an Illegitimate Child in Islam

An illegitimate child is one who was born outside of wedlock.

In Islam, an illegitimate child’s lineage is only attributed to his/her mother and her ancestry, and not the father. (source). This is understood from the following hadith by Prophet (SAW):

“The child belongs to the husband that is the owner of the bed. The one who commits adultery is stoned and deprived.”
(Bukhari, Buyu’, 3, 100, Khusumat, 6, Wasaya, 4, Maghazi, 53,..(source)

Questions on Islam, an authority site, clarified that ‘husband’ refers to a married man with a sound nikkah. If the child is born outside of wedlock, the intercourse is considered fornication, which is not proof of lineage.

Therefore, the man is not attributed as the father. The majority of Islamic scholars share this view (source).

So, after understanding the matter of lineage, we further investigated if the Islamic guidelines for caring for illegitimate children are different from those of legitimate children.

We discovered there is a difference regarding the laws of inheritance. According to Questions on Islam, illegitimate children and their biological mothers have a mutual right of inheritance (source).

This means that if the biological mother dies, her child inherits from her. Similarly, if the child passes away, the mother is entitled to inherit from him/her.

However, the authority site discussed how illegitimate children do not have the right to inherit from their biological fathers, contrary to Western jurisdiction. In addition, the authority site shared many supporting ahadith, including (source):

“If a man commits fornication with a free or slave woman, the child that will be born becomes an illegitimate child. He cannot be an inheritor and his inheritance is not left to anybody.” 

(see Abu Dawud, Faraid, 9; Ibn Majah, Faraid, 14; Darimi, Faraid, 45; ash-Shawkani, Naylul-Awtar, VI/66)

and,

“The Prophet (PBUH) decreed that a child whose lineage was rejected by mulaana would be an inheritor to his mother.” 

(Ahmad b. Hanbal, II, 216)

These narrations support the understanding that illegitimate children can only inherit from their biological mothers and her ancestry.

Regarding the rights of foster parents, we referred to a Q&A on AboutIslam.net. The Islamic authority site stated (source):

“If the child’s paternity is not known, then the child is not supposed to carry the name of a “suspected” nor a foster father, nor should he/she inherit from him. Thus, the legal situation is: a child carries the name of his/her mother’s family and only inherits from the mother or her family.”

AboutIslam

Thus, from this statement, we understand that an illegitimate child’s lineage cannot be changed (just as a legitimate child’s cannot). The Islamic authority discussed how the child’s only lineage is from its maternal side. Finally, the site clarifies how to treat illegitimate children (source):

“As for the social status, he/she is considered an equal individual/citizen, who should not inherit or pay for a sin, which he/she is not responsible for.”

AboutIslam

Our research did not reveal any evidence that suggests a difference in Islamic guidelines for caring for illegitimate children that are not your own.

The child’s right to inheritance changes, in that they cannot inherit from their biological father. However, an illegitimate child’s lineage cannot be altered, nor do they have the same rights to inherit from their foster parents that biological children have.

Final World

We consulted many sources and Islamic rulings. From what we learned, legal adoption is haram in Islam. However, Muslims can foster and care for children that are not their own, provided they adhere to Islamic guidelines.

Muslims receive rewards from Allah (SWT) for caring for such children, and the Prophet (SAW) emphasized the reward for taking care of orphans especially.

“The best house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is well treated, and the worst house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is badly treated.”

A saying of the Prophet (SAW), reported by Abu Hurairah (RA). (source)

If you’re looking to take care of an orphan or a child (who is not your own), we encourage you to do your own research and thoroughly understand the Islamic rulings before moving forward. Properly caring for another child is a great, kind action that Islam praises. May Allah (SWT) guide us all and protect us from sin.

Asya

Asya is a writer, academic coordinator, teacher, and mother of five. Being born a Muslim in Europe, Asya grew up learning about what foods and practices are halal, and which to avoid. When she's not working, Asya spends her free time reading, spending time with her family, and eating chocolate.

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