Is he regarded as sponsoring an orphan if he simply pays money to a charity that sponsors orphans?

I
sponsor an orphan through Jama’iyyat al-Birr in Jeddah, paying 200
riyals a month which is given to the mother of the child through them.
I am not responsible for anything else concerning the child apart from
paying this money. Is this what the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) enjoined when he said, “I and the one who sponsors
an orphan will be in Paradise”? Please advise me, may Allaah reward you
with good.

Praise be to Allaah.
 

Firstly: sponsoring an orphan is one of the righteous deeds
which Islam encourages us to do and tells us are among the means of entering
Paradise, and indeed of attaining the highest positions therein. There is
sufficient encouragement for the believer to do these actions in the words
of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “I and the
one who sponsors an orphan will be in Paradise like these two” – and he
gestured with his forefinger and middle finger, holding them apart.
Al-Bukhaari, 5304. 

Ibn Battaal (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “It is a
duty for the one who hears this hadeeth to act upon it, so that he will be
with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in
Paradise.” (Quoted by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Baari, 10/436. 

Secondly: spending money on an orphan is something that is
encouraged in particular. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) said: “This money is fresh and sweet. Blessed is the wealth of the
Muslim, from which he gives to the poor, the orphan and the wayfarer” or as
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said it.
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1465; Muslim, 1052. 

But this spending is not the be-all and end-all of the
sponsorship that is encouraged in Islam, for which a person is promised a
high status in Paradise, rather it is just one kind and one aspect of
sponsorship and kind treatment of the orphan until he grows up. Rather
sponsorship in the complete sense means looking after him, guiding him with
regard to his religious and worldly affairs, educating him, and treating him
kindly until he is no longer regarded as an orphan (i.e., when he reaches
adulthood). Ibn al-Atheer said: “The sponsor is the one who takes care of
the orphan’s affairs and brings him up.” Al-Nihaayah, 4/192.  In
Riyaadh al-Saaliheen, al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) defined the
sponsor of an orphan as being the one who takes care of his affairs. The
commentator on this book said: (that means) his religious and worldly
affairs, by spending on him, clothing him, etc. Daleel al-Faaliheen,
3/103. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Sponsoring
an orphan means taking care of his religious and worldly interests, teaching
him and guiding him etc with regard to religious matters, and taking care of
his food, drink, shelter and other worldly concerns. Sharh Riyaadh
al-Saaliheen, 5/113. 

The religious and educational affairs of the orphan both come
under the heading of sponsorship; it is not only the matter of material,
worldly interests. Indeed, these (religious and educational interests) are
more important, just as a father’s educating and disciplining his children
is more important than his simply spending on them. Shaykh Ibn Sa’di said –
concerning a man educating his children: When you feed them, clothe them and
train them physically, you are fulfilling their rights for which you will be
rewarded; by the same token, when you train them spiritually and impart
beneficial knowledge to them, and guide them towards good morals and manners
and warn them against the opposite, you are also fulfilling rights which are
even more important.” Bahjat Quloob al-Abraar, 128. 

This is the true sponsorship of an orphan, bringing him up
like one’s own son, which is not limited to feeling compassion for him and
being kind to him, and teaching him and disciplining him and educating him
in the best manner. Fayd al-Qadeer by al-Manaawi, 1/108. 

Al-‘Iraaqi (may Allaah have mercy on him) wondered whether
this was the reason why the one who sponsors an orphan would be close to the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in Paradise. He
said: “Perhaps the reason why the one who sponsors an orphan will be so
close to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in
Paradise is because a Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) is usually sent to people who do not know about Allaah and the true
religion, so a Prophet is like a sponsor, teacher and guide for them, and
the one who sponsors an orphan is taking care of one who does not understand
his religion, or even his worldly affairs, so he guides him, teaches him and
disciplines him. (Quoted by al-Haafiz in al-Fath, 10/437. 

Moreover, limiting it to spending, especially when the orphan
is far away, deprives the sponsor of one of the means of softening the heart
and meeting needs, which is embracing the orphan and treating him kindly.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Bring
the orphan close to you, wipe his head and give him some of your food, for
that will soften your heart and fulfil your need.” Al-Silsilah
al-Saheehah, 854. 

The point is that the best way of sponsoring an orphan is for
a man to bring him in with his own children, and raise him as he raises
them, and spend on him as he spends on them. 

If the sponsor cannot afford to spend on the orphan, or if
the orphan has enough wealth to be independent of means, and a man brings
him in with his own children, this is good, even if it is lower in status
than the first suggestion. This is one of the greatest types of sponsorship,
and serves one of its greatest aims. Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on
him) said: “This virtue is attained by the one who sponsors an orphan from
his own wealth or from the orphan’s wealth under legitimate shar’i
guardianship. Quoted by Ibn ‘Alaan in Daleel al-Faaliheen, 3/104. 

If a man has wealth from which he can spend on an orphan, as in the
case of the person asking this question, then he is doing something
very good in sha Allah, and it will be sufficient to protect him from
the fitnah (trial, temptation) of wealth and stinginess. And it will
fulfill the condition stipulated by the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him): “… from which he gives to the poor, the orphan and
the wayfarer.” But this is not sponsorship in the fullest sense, for
which a person is promised closeness to the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) in Paradise. But if he has a pure and
sincere intention he may achieve thereby that which he could not attain
by his deeds. It was narrated from Anas (may Allaah be pleased with
him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was
on a campaign and he said: “There are people whom we have left behind
in Madeenah, but we did not travel though any mountain pass or valley
but they were with us. They were detained by some excuse.” Narrated by
al-Bukhaari, 2839.

Sheikh Al-Munajid, IslamQA

http://islam-qa.com/en/ref/47190/orphan

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