Adoption: Is it prohibited in the Quran?
By: A. Muhammad

What is the position of the Quran regarding adoption? Is adoption prohibited by God in the Holy Quran, or is it allowed?
According to a large majority of Muslim scholars, adoption is prohibited in Islam. The aim of this article is to verify this claim in the light of the Holy Quran.

When we look into the prohibitions set by God in the Quran, as well as all the things God wants us to refrain from, we note that all of them, without any exception, are worded in straightforward and unambiguous words.
The following are examples of prohibitions as well as unrighteous acts that God instructs us to refrain from:

Prohibited for you are the carrion, blood, the flesh of the pig and what has been dedicated to other than God. 5:3
2- Do not go near the money of the orphan except for what is best. 6:152
3- Do not go near adultery; it is an immorality and an evil path. 17:32
4- Do not kill 6:151
5- God has made trade lawful, and prohibited usury 2:275
6- Do not marry the mushrikeen (2:221)
7- Do not take the disbelievers as allies (4:144)
8- Do not spy, nor backbite one another (49:12)
9- Do not withhold the testimony. Anyone who withholds a testimony is sinful at heart. (2:283)
10-Do not corrupt in the land (7:56)
11- Do not have sexual intercourse with wives during menstruation (2:222)
12- Do not aggress. God does not like the aggressors. (2:190)

The above were just examples of how every single Quranic prohibition or instruction above contains either the word
"prohibited" or the word "do not". This clarity of the Quranic prohibitions is of great importance regarding the subject of this paper. Such clarity is one of the reasons as to why God describes the Quran as straightforward, clear and unambiguous:

An Arabic Quran
without any crookedness so that hopefully they may be reverent. 39:28

A.L.R. A Book whose verses have been
perfected, then detailed from One who is Wise, All-Aware. 11:1

The following three verses that speak about adoption will be the subject of our research:

God did not place two hearts in any man's interior, nor did He make your wives, whom you estrange by equating them with your mothers, your actual mothers, nor did He make your adopted sons your real sons. These are but the utterances of your mouths, but God speaks the truth and He guides to the path.

You shall call them after their fathers. This is more equitable in the sight of God. If you do not know who their fathers are, then call them after your brethren in religion and those close to you. There is no blame on you for what you do by mistake, but only for what your hearts deliberately intend. God is Forgiver, Merciful.

When you said to the one upon whom God had bestowed favour, and you bestowed favour, "Hold on to your wife, and reverence God," and you hid inside yourself that which God decreed to be known; you feared the people, when it was God who is more worthy for you to fear. Then when Zeid dissolved his union with her, We had you marry her to confirm that no blame falls on the believers for marrying the wives of their adopted sons, if the latter have dissolved their union with them. God's command is to be carried out.

An important observation we derive from the three verses is that we do not see the words
"prohibited" or the words "do not" in any of them in connection with adoption.
As per the first section above, we have seen that all prohibitions and commands from God to desist or abstain from certain acts are worded with one of the two phrases: "prohibited" or "do not". Adoption is clearly not prohibited nor discouraged in the verses above.
God will hold people accountable to obeying His law that is detailed in the Quran, and so it is essential that God's law is given in clear words rather than hidden, disguised or ambiguously worded ways.

A.L.R. These are the signs of the Book and a clear Quran.

1- We read in 33:5 the following words:
You shall call them after their fathers. 33:5

Some scholars claimed that these words prohibit adoption. This is not so. All they prohibit is giving the adopted children the names of those who adopt them, but they do not prohibit adoption. The reason for which God gives this instruction is given in the verse before it.
The words in 33:4 say that God did not "make your adopted sons your real sons."
What these words mean is that adopted sons can never be the genetic sons, and so they should be given the names of their real fathers.
This instruction is related only to the name the child is given and not to the legality of adoption.

In the same verse we read the words "your adopted sons". The fact that God used these words is in itself admission that adoption is permissible and was never prohibited.
Had adoption been prohibited, God would not use the words "your adopted sons" without indicating that it is not permissible.

Who was God addressing when He gave the instruction, "You shall call them after their fathers"? It can be shown that these words can only be directed to those who have in fact adopted children. The reason is that in a scenario where adoption is forbidden, and hence there are no adopted children, all children and orphans would automatically carry the name of their father (if that is known). No one would have the authority to give them their own names, and so, such a command would in that case be unnecessary.
However, if adoption is permissible, then the adopting parent would have the authority to give the child the name he chooses, and that is why God is addressing the adopting parent with the instruction of naming the child after the real father.

Further evidence that adoption is accepted by God, and that it was never prohibited, is found in the following words:

We had you (O Muhammad) marry her to confirm that no blame falls on the believers for marrying the wives of their adopted sons, if the latter have dissolved their union with them.

The fact that God is setting a rule that is applicable to the previous wives of adopted sons indicates that adoption is approved by God. If adoption were prohibited, there would not be lawful
"adopted sons" and "wives of their adopted sons". Ultimately, God would not issue a law to regulate the affairs of a category of people that is unlawful to exist.

When we dig deep into the reasons behind the prohibition of adoption by such scholars, we come across that they call "problems" that would arise if adoption were allowed to happen.
As it happens, such problems are derivatives of other invented rules and laws that were never authorised in the Book of God, so let us review those:

Problem 1
Some scholars claim that adoption is prohibited because it would cause a problem when the adopted son grows up to be a young man.
In a family setting, the wife and female members do not need to wear hijab within the household. This is fine while the adopted son is still a young boy. However, after the son reaches puberty, it would be unlawful (they claim) for the mother and sisters to appear in the home in front of him without the hijab.
As we know, the hijab was never a requirement authorised by God in the Quran, thus this so-called "problem" is in fact a derivative of another un-Quranic law. This is a case of one manufactured law giving birth to another manufactured law.
For the details of the hijab, please check this page: Women's dress code

Problem 2
The second problem that they propose that would ensue if adoption was allowed is that adopted children do not have a right of inheritance in the Quran, and so if adoption is allowed, such adopted children would be given a right that is not theirs to have.
Once again, this problem is a manufactured problem.
It is correct that adopted children do not have an immediate right of inheritance, this is because of the following:

1- The words in 4:11 give automatic rights of inheritance to
'awladakum' (your children).
2- The words in 33:4 say:
Nor did He make your 'adiya’akum' (adopted sons) your real sons. 33:4

In other words, since adopted children can never be real sons, they do not have an immediate right to inheritance.
This should not be a problem in any way simply because God allowed every person to write a will for "the parents and the close ones" (2:180).
The word used in 2:180 is "al-aqrabeen". This is not the same as the word "dhuwi al-qurba" which is also used in the Quran.

"al-aqrabeen" means the close ones, they could be family or otherwise.
2- "dhuwi al-qurba" means the blood relations.

God was careful to use the word
"al-aqrabeen" in 2:180 to allow every testator to leave money for anyone close, which could be a blood relation, friend, neighbour and so on.
What is also important to note is that God gave the will priority in payment. When a person dies, the first payments to be made are the will of the deceased and any debts owed. After those are paid, if any money is left, it is then distributed as per the guidelines in 4:11, 4:12 and 4:176.
In those verses we read the words:

After the payment of a will that he may have left or a debt.

When it comes to the estate of a testator, God never placed a maximum percentage that the testator may bequeath in his/her will. The imposed restriction of "no more than one third" is non-Quranic, and therefore unlawful.
The Quran instructs all people to write a will equitably:

A will should be written equitably.

In effect, as long as the testator writes the will equitably, he is free to leave to the adopted son or daughter any portion of his wealth.
Needless to say, the law of God is always fair and never harbours any problems in its application. The so-called problems the scholars speak of are products of other non-Quranic laws and rules that are manufactured and that are equally non-existent in the Holy Quran.