‘Upon this world and the next. And they ask thee concerning the orphans. Say: ‘Promotion of their welfare is an act of great goodness. And if you intermix with them, they are your brethren. And Allah knows the mischief-maker from the reformer. And if Allah had so willed, He would have put you to hardship. Surely, Allah is Mighty, Wise.’ (2:221)
Assalamu ‘Alaikum Warahmat Allah Wabarakatuh,
I was listening to the radio the other day and the presenter mentioned that last year sixty babies were adopted in the UK. I did not really think too much of it, until tonight. The tweeter Morafi tweeted that 1.6 million children have been left orphaned in Afghanistan due to conflict. What struck was not the 1.6 million figure, but that sixty babies were adopted in the UK. Odd, I know, but I thought to myself: If in one of the richest countries in the world only sixty babies were adopted, what chance do the orphans of Afghanistan have of finding stable homes? As a Muslim, that thought struck a chord within me and led me to my keyboard and this post.
The break down of the UK statistics is that in 2010 only 60 babies were adopted from a pool of 2,450 babies who were put up for adoption (a fall of ten from 2009). Even more staggering is that in 1976, thirty-five years ago, 4,000 babies were adopted. The total number adoptions in the UK of all orphans stands at 2,050 orphans adopted from a possible 65,520 babies and children in care.
What saddened me the most was not just that only 60 babies were adopted, but that we, the Muslim community comprising of almost 3 million people in the UK, could not find at least a hundred or two hundred or three hundred or even 2,450 homes for orphaned babies (or the money to pay for those homes).
On an emotional level, each lover of the Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) should find great anguish at such statistics given that beloved Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was an orphan (yateem) himself. Our attitude towards orphans, as Muslims, is a reflection of our love for Islam and humanity in general. Take, for example, the reaction of the Holy Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to the daughter of Hadrat Zayd b. Haritha (radi Allahu ‘anhuma) when he had been informed that she had lost her father:
Subhan Allah, the Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) knew the feeling in the heart of a child who no longer had a father. His heart was inclined towards the quintessential reaction the Muslim heart should have towards an orphan, or a child who looses his or her parent(s). This incident is intensified by the fact that Hadrat Zayd (radi Allahu ‘anhu) was brought up like a son (not-biological) by the Holy Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), just as Hadrat ‘Ali (radi Allahu ‘anhu) was.
And so I cannot help but feel that something must be wrong if our heart do not also incline towards the orphans (our heart refers to the collective Muslim heart). And by inclination I do not talk of sympathy; I mean why do our hearts not incline to do something to help these children. If not take them into our own homes, then to support the orphan fund in the Jama’at or wherever and whenever we find a suitable appeal? Whenever many of us sit with our families or among friends, why is it that if the subject of adoption comes up people look at one another with the facial expression: Novel idea, but be serious – that’s not going to happen.
From personal experience, I can honestly say that to have orphans in one’s family is like having shining lamps in and among you. The blessing and joy of having an orphan in your family truly has no measure, not known to man anyway. Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu ‘anhu) reported that the Holy Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“The best house among the Muslims is the house in which orphans are well treated. The worst house among the Muslims is the house in which orphans are ill treated. I and the guardian of the orphan will be in the Garden like that,” indicating his two fingers. (Imam al-Bukhari, al-Adab al-mufrad)
My beloved Hudur (ayyadahu Allah ta’ala bi-nasrihi al-‘aziz) has talked about this subject on many occasions. For me, Hudur (ayyadahu Allah ta’ala bi-nasrihi al-‘aziz) captured the subject in one particular Sermon when he said:
Orphans should never be made to feel that due to their deprivation they could not fully realise their potential or that if their parents were alive they would have been one of the high achievers. Whether the care of orphans is undertaken by individuals or on a communal level, their education and training and supervision is the responsibility of those who are in-charge of their care. This care should continue until such time that the orphans reach a marriageable age.
Hadrat Abu Bakr b, Hafs (radi Allahu ‘anhu) reported that the great Companion, Hadrat ‘Abd Allah b ‘Umar (radi Allahu ‘anhuma): ”…would not eat unless an orphan was at his table” (Al-Adab al-mufrad).
In closing this post, let me leave you with a plea; please encourage all the Muslims and non-Muslims, you come across to have that desire in their hearts that they should help the orphans in whatever way their circumstances permit. The Jama’at has an Orphans Fund for those who can contribute and each and every country has its own formal proceddures for adopting children. I call upon each of us, myself first and foremost, to re-establish the pristine Islamic community mentioned by Hadrat Hasan b. ‘Ali (radi Allahu ‘anhuma) who stated:
“I remember a time among the Muslims when their men would shout (to remind their families), ‘O family! O family! (Look after) your orphan! Your orphan! O family! O family! (Look after) your orphan! Your poor person! Your poor person! O family! O family! (Look after) your neighbour! Your neighbour!’ Time has been swift in taking the best of you while every day you become baser.” (Adab al-Mufrad)
May Almighty Allah protect all of the orphans and enable each country to reduce the number of children who grow up into adulthood never having had a mother or father figure in his or her life.
- For the ”Rights of Orphans,” listen to another Khutbah on the subject by my beloved Hudur ayyadahu Allah ta’ala bi-nasrihi al-‘aziz here
- Interesting fact about Al-wasiyyat: ”These funds shall also be used to help such orphans, poor and needy people, and new converts as do not have sufficient means of livelihood (The Will, pg.27).