On February 6, 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria. This earthquake was followed by another almost as powerful, and over 10,000 aftershocks. The death toll from these earthquakes has now surpassed 50,000 people, and many children in the region are now orphans.
Many have applied to adopt these children; however, Turkey’s religious authority, the Diyanet, caused an uproar when they released a statement explaining that Islam does not fully recognize adoption and actually allows parents to marry their adopted children. The Diyanet promptly removed the statement from their website and said those criticizing them were taking its advice out of context.
The concept of adoption in Islam is different from that in Western nations. The Qur’an repeatedly says that Muhammad is the perfect Muslim, so a Muslim should imitate Muhammad to practice Islam correctly. This is how the concept of adoption was established in Islam.
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 adoptive family’s name. In Islam, the child retains his biological name.
The adoption example for Islam comes from the life of Mohammad. Zayd bin Hâritha (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 a 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 a new revelation from Allah: 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.
Since Muhammad received the revelation that adopted sons are not real sons, even in the West today, Muslims cannot fully adopt children.
For the Christian, Galatians 4:4-5 reveals that God has chosen to speak of us as adopted and being children by the new birth. God sees us now as joint heirs with Christ. For this reason, Christians see adopted children as their very own. Since this is a foreign concept in Islam, pray that God will override their traditions and make way for Muslim children without parents to be released and welcomed into godly homes where they can learn of and receive the truth of the gospel of Christ.