Ramadan 2013 – Day 18 – Muhammad’s Concept of Adoption

2013 Ramadan PrayerIn the 1990s the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” abbreviated to WWJD became popular among evangelical Christians in the United States. The acronym was printed on bracelets and t-shirts, as a reminder that Christians should act in the same way that Jesus did.  If a similar acronym were developed for Islam, it would be “WDMD” meaning “What DID Muhammad do?” The Qur’an repeatedly says that Muhammad is the perfect Muslim so in order to practice Islam correctly a Muslim should imitate Muhammad.

It is easy to see this when looking at the issue of adoption. In pre-Islamic Arabia adoptions were similar to western adoptions with children taking on the name of the adoptive parents and receiving an inheritance from them.  However Muhammad rejected this procedure so the western concept of adoption does not exist in Islam. Instead there is a system more akin to a foster care relationship in the west, called “kafala.” In western adoptions the child becomes a full member of the family taking on the name of the adoptive family. In Islam the child retains his biological name.

Zayd bin Hâritha (Zayd, son of Hâritha) was captured in an inter-tribal raid and sold into slavery. Upon arrival in Mecca he became a slave for Khadijah (Muhammad’s first wife.). She then gave him as a present to Muhammad when they were married. Zayd’s biological father and uncle later found him in Mecca, and wanted to buy him out of slavery. Zayd confirmed to Muhammad that the men were his father and uncle, and they offered to pay any price to Muhammad in order to free the boy. However, Muhammad offered Zayd a choice to leave with them or stay with him.

Zayd chose to stay with Muhammad so Muhammad freed him and adopted him as a son. His name became Zayd bin Muhammad (Zayd, son of Muhammad), and he was one of the first converts to Islam.

Years later Muhammad and his followers migrated to Medina. Zayd was married to a woman named Zainab and eventually divorced her.  Later during a trance, Muhammad stated that he received revelation that Allah wedded Zainab to Muhammad in heaven.

Muhammad married her, but this caused a problem for him since in their culture it was considered wrong to marry your son’s wife. Muhammad then stated he received new revelation from Allah, which said Allah did not make your adopted sons your real sons. (Sura 33:4). From this point forward an adopted son was no longer considered a full part of the family. Muhammad continued to say that Allah gave him permission to marry Zayd’s ex-wife (Sura 33:37). Zayd’s name once again became Zayd bin Hâritha.

This is how the concept of adoption was established in Islam. Since Muhammad received the revelation that adopted sons are not real sons, even in the West today Muslims are unable to fully adopt children.

Prayer Points:

In Islam, Muslims are discouraged from questioning anything within their religious texts. Pray that modern Muslims will begin to see that there is little freedom or choice within Islam.

As Christians, we are fully adopted as children of God and co-heirs with Jesus Christ. Pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to Muslims that through Jesus, they too can be fully accepted into God’s family.

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