Child adoption in Islam – Kafala

This post is in reply to the following article I read today in The Guardian:

Iran lawmakers pass bill allowing men to marry adopted daughters


Adoption, or legal adoption per se, is not allowed in Islam. I remember hearing this during a Friday Sermon: Adopted child does not become your (legal) son or daughter, so there’s no legal rights in inheritance or any marital laws etc. apply. Similarly, once the child grow up, he/she will become ‘na-mahram’s (marriageable) for the adopting family. Adopted children, unless they have been breast-fed by the adoptive mother, have historically been considered marriageable (‘na-mahram’) to the adopted family. Though, you’re highly encouraged to support orphans.

Kafala (like Fostering):

Most Muslim-majority states do not currently permit legal adoption. Instead, laws permit a system of guardianship (‘kafala’), which resembles foster-parenting, but is more stable. Kafala is defined as “the commitment to voluntarily take care of the maintenance, of the education and of the protection of a minor, in the same way a parent would do for a child.

Ruling on Adopted Child:

The people in jahiliyyah used to treat an adopted child as the real one in all respects. Just like the way we call ‘mun boli behan (sister), or ‘mun bola bata’ (son), etc. The Holy Qur’an condemned this practice and the following verses were revealed:

“And Allah did not make your adopted children your sons. That is only your words coming out from your tongues. And Allah says the truth and He guides you to the right path. Call them with reference to their (real) fathers. It is more just in the sight of Allah.” (Quran 33:V4)

This shows that the declaration of adoption does not change realities, alter facts, or make a stranger a relative, or an adopted child a son or daughter. A mere verbal expression or figure of speech cannot make the blood of a man run through the veins of the adopted child, produce natural feelings of affection found in normal parent-child relationships, or transfer the genetic characteristics, or physical, mental, or psychological traits. Islam believes in justice, the rights of adopted child, adopter and so on.

Rights of Orphan:

In Islam, the right of inheritance is based on biological relationship:

“Those related by blood are more entitled to (inherit from) each other in the Book of Allah.” (Quran 8:75) 

In case of the rights of the orphan children, Allâh is very severe; for example, He says:

“Those who `swallow’ the property of the orphans unjustly, are actually devouring fire into their bellies and they shall enter the burning fire.” (Quran 4:10) 

General Conditions for Marriage:

It is well-known that the Quran specifies those relatives who are forbidden in marriage (4:23). In Islamic law, those that one is prohibited to marry are known as unmarriageable kin. The status of unmarriageable kin occurs by one of three means: marriage, kinship, or milk-foster relationship (having been breast-fed). Adopted children, unless they have been breast-fed by the adoptive mother, have historically been considered marriageable (non-mahram) to the adopted family. Therefore marriage between a child reared through kafala and biological children of the family is legal under Islamic law.

Raising Orphans a Pious Deed:

Having said this, however, taking care of orphan is a noble act in Islam, and the man who does it will be rewarded by being admitted to Paradise. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once said:

“I and the one who raises an orphan, will be like these two in Paradise (and he pointed his middle and index fingers)”

 Logical reasoning:

Some of the wisdom in this law, that I could think of:

1. Haven’t we heard about the gangs who smuggle/sell newborns from Russia and other countries to rich parents, albeit legally, turning it into a big business ? Just like the organ transplant need, turning into a evil practice of organ selling. 
2. People adopting child, just to gain legal advantage in their own legal proceedings (eg inheritance cases etc.).
3. Receiving wealth of adopted child, if somehow that arises. 
4. To protect the (inheritance) rights of biological children of the adopter

Response to the news:

I wonder, why the western MSM have to teach the world, and waste time trying to find problem in Islamic rulings, through their short sighted (human) wisdom, when they themselves are struggling to manage marital life. Shouldn’t they ponder and accept the result of their man-made rules, which resulted in breaking records of rapes, divorces, adultery, incests, unmarried females, lack of interest in marriages, and so on, in their societies. Why can’t they omit an opportunity, that reinforces their Islamophobia agenda or Iranophobia agenda?


There is an infinite wisdom in each and every teachings of Islam, sometimes beyond human’s apprehension. There are rulings which prescribes a person’s minimum age for  (eg puberty, etc.). It’s abnormal for a parent to marry their adopted child, but there’s no restriction. There are defined criteria and rights for both the adopters and the adoptee. Similarly, no marriage is valid unless both parties (husband and wife) agree, along with the witness and guardian.


Sources and further readings:


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