The difference between sponsoring orphans and adopting them

Many
refugees are entering the USA from Kosova, they may be sponsored by
christain organizations. Some brothers want to sponsor the orphans by
allowing them to live in their homes and feeding them. A scholar here
said that it is Haraam to adopt someone in Islaam, and he discouraged
the people from sponsoring the orphans. My question is, doesn’t Islaam
allow us to adopt the orphans, only that the orphan does not change his
last name, nor is he considered the child of the one adopting him.

Praise be to Allaah.

There is a difference
between adoption and sponsoring orphans. 

A – Adoption means
that a man takes an orphan and makes him like one of his own children,
calling him after him, so that the orphan is not allowed to marry one of the
man’s daughters, and
so the sons of the adoptive father are regarded as brothers of the orphan
and his daughters are regarded as his sisters, and his
(the father’s)
sisters are regarded as his paternal aunts, and so on. This was one of the
things that were done during the first Jaahiliyyah, and some of the Sahaabah
carried the names of their adoptive fathers, as in the case of al-Miqdaad
ibn al-Aswad whose real father’s name was ‘Amr, but he was called ibn (son
of) al-Aswad, after the man who had adopted him.

This continued into
the early days of Islam, until Allaah forbade that, according to a
well-known story. Zayd ibn Haarithah was called Zayd ibn Muhammad, and he
was the husband of Zaynab bint Jahsh, then Zayd divorced her. 

It was narrated that
Anas said: When Zaynab’s ‘iddah came to an end, the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him)
said to Zayd ibn
Haarithah, “Go and tell her about me (that I want to marry her).” So he went
to her and found her kneading dough. He said, “O Zaynab, good news. The
Messenger of Allaah wants to marry you.” She said, “I will not do anything
until I consult with my Lord.” Then she got up and went to her prayer-place,
then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
came and entered upon her.

 Concerning this,
Allaah revealed the words (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And (remember)
when you said to him (Zayd bin Haarithah the freed‑slave of the Prophet) on
whom Allaah has bestowed grace (by guiding him to Islam) and you (O Muhammad
too) have done favour (by manumitting him): ‘Keep your wife to yourself, and
fear Allaah.’ But you did hide in yourself (i.e. what Allaah has already
made known to you that He
will give her to you in marriage) that which Allaah
will make manifest, you did fear the people (i.e., their saying that
Muhammad married the divorced wife of his manumitted slave) whereas Allaah
had a better right that you should fear Him. So when Zayd had accomplished
his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so
that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of
(the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no
desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them). And Allaah’s Command
must be fulfilled”

[al-Ahzaab 33:37] 

(Narrated by Muslim,
1428) 

B – Allaah has
forbidden adoption because it causes knowledge of people’s lineage to be
lost, and we have been commanded to preserve people’s lineage. 

It was narrated from
Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he heard the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “There is no man who knowingly
calls himself after someone other than his father but he has committed kufr.
Whoever claims to belong to people to whom he has no ties of blood, let him
take his place in Hell.” 

(Narrated by
al-Bukhaari, 3317; Muslim, 61) 

What is meant by
“committed kufr” is that he has done an act of kufr, not that he is beyond
the pale of Islam.

This may generate
hatred and resentment between the adopted son and the children of the
adoptive father, because it will cause them to lose out on something that is
rightfully theirs, which will go to this orphan unlawfully who they know is
not entitled to it as they are. 

Sponsoring an orphan
means that a man brings the orphan to live in his house, or he sponsors him
somewhere other than his house, without giving him his name or forbidding
that which is permitted or permitting that which is forbidden, as is the
case with adoption. Rather the one who sponsors an orphan is doing a
generous deed. So there can be no comparison between one who sponsors an
orphan and one who adopts a child, because of the great difference between
them and because sponsoring orphans is something which is encouraged in
Islam. 

Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning): 

“…And they ask you
concerning orphans. Say: The best thing is to work honestly in their
property, and if you mix your affairs with theirs, then they are your
brothers. And Allaah knows him who means mischief (e.g. to swallow their
property) from him who means good (e.g. to save their property). And if
Allaah had wished, He could have put you into difficulties. Truly, Allaah is
All-Mighty, All-Wise”

[al-Baqarah 2:220] 

The Messenger

(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that sponsoring orphans is
a means of being together with him in Paradise. 

It was narrated that
Sahl ibn Sa’d said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) said: “I and the one who sponsors an orphan will be like
this in Paradise” – and he gestured with his index and middle fingers,
holding them slightly apart. 

(Narrated by
al-Bukhaari, 4998) 

But we must point out
that when these orphans reach adolescence, they must be separated from the
wives and daughters of the sponsor. We should not do good with one hand and
do evil with the other. We should also note that the one who is sponsored
may be an orphaned girl and she may be beautiful and may become attractive
before adolescence, so the sponsor must watch his sons lest they fall into
doing haraam things with the orphans, because this could happen and be a
means of causing mischief which it will be difficult to put right. 

We encourage our
brothers to sponsor orphans, for this is something that is rarely done
except by those whom Allaah has made righteous and caused them to love good
and feel compassion for the orphans and the poor, especially our brothers in
Kosova and Chechnya who are faced with hardship and difficulties. We ask
Allaah to relieve them of their distress.

 And Allaah knows
best.

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