Rights of adopted children in inheritance


Does an adopted child have a right to inheritance just like a real son or daughter?
Naturally, a deceased parent can leave what they like in a will (2:180), but suppose a man dies suddenly without leaving a will, would the adopted son/daughter get the same as a real son/daughter?


To arrive at the Quranic verdict for this matter we review the following:

The verses which speak about inheritance speak of the shares of "awladakum" (your children), for example the male double the female:

God instructs you regarding 'awladakum' (your children); the male gets the share of two females. ………….. after the payment of a will that he may have left or debt.

On the other hand, the verses which speak of the adopted children use the word "adiya’akum" (your adopted children) as in 33:4:

Nor did He make your 'adiya’akum' (adopted sons) your real sons.

We also read in 33:4 that adopted children can never be real sons, and thus would not have the same rights as real sons.

You shall call them (the adopted children) after their fathers. 33:5
These words contain a very important meaning, they tell us that an adopted child will never be a full son to the adoptive father, but that first and foremost he is the son of his own father and that is why he retains the name of his real father. The adoptive father is only doing a righteous service to this child but can never be his real father. As a result, the adopted son would not be entitled to rights which are only given to genetic sons and daughters.

The relatives are more worthy of one another in God's Book. 8:75
These words also tell us that blood relations have more rights to one another than other people.
From the above it is clear that adopted children do not have an automatic right to inheritance in the Quran. However, the command in 2:180 to write a will for the "aqrabeen" (close ones) allows anyone to leave what they like in their will to an adopted child.
The word "aqrabeen" (close ones) which is used in 2:180 means the close ones, they can be blood relations, or very close life long friends or adopted children and so on. This word is distinct from the words "zhi al-qurba", which are used in other Quranic verses such as 2:83, and which speak only of the genetic relatives.
The choice of "aqrabeen" in 2:180 is another example of how very accurate and deliberate the words of the Quran are. If God had used the words "zhi al-qurba" (genetic relatives) in 2:180 then adopted children would not get anything, not even in a will.

We must also remember that there is no limit set by God to what a person can leave in his/her will, and that whatever is left in a will must be paid out before any other monies are distributed.