Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Adoption: A case of deliberate forgery|
|08/21/01 at 04:48:03|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
[center]Adoption: A case of deliberate forgery
By Adil Salahi[/center]
Adoption was practised in pre-Islam Arabia as well as in many other societies. The Arabs had several reasons which prompted them to resort to adoption. Nowadays only couples who have not been able to have a child of their own would consider adoption. It is frequently the case that they adopt unwanted babies, such, as those born to unmarried women. Alternatively, they go to countries where women tend to give birth to many children and the parents are unable to support a large family.
There were other reasons for adoption in Arabia. Because of the tribal nature of the Arabian society, and the tribal wars that erupted every now and then, young men could easily be killed in battle. A man who did not have sons to support and protect him in his old age was considered extremely unfortunate. To have several sons was, for any man, a means to ensure a strong position within his tribal community.
The case of the Prophet's grandfather is well known. He was the overall chief of Makkah when, on several consecutive nights he saw in his dream someone commanding him to dig the well of Zam-zam, which was long buried down and its exact spot was no longer traceable. When he tried to fulfill the order, some people tried to prevent him because the spot identified in his dream was very close to the location where two of the Arabian idols were positioned. However, he managed to dig the well and provide the water for the population of Makkah and for the pilgrims visiting it. Soon, however, his people disputed with him the ownership of the well. He was so upset and wished so much that he had several children. At that time, he had only one son. He prayed God to give him ten sons, making a pledge to sacrifice one of them in gratitude. The rest of the story is well known, but the incident itself shows the importance which was attached in pre-Islamic Arabia to having sons to defend and protect their father. That was one reason why the Arabs, before the advent of Islam, used to adopt even grown up children.
The Prophet himself adopted a young man as his own child. That took place many years before the Prophet received his first revelations. Zaid ibn Harithah was a young boy when the living quarters of his tribe were at the receiving end of a surprise attack by hostile warriors. After looting much of the property, the attackers took several women and children prisoner, among whom was Zaid. They sold them as slaves.
After changing hands several times, Zaid was fortunate to become one of the young slaves in the household of Khadeejah bint Khuwailed. When she became the Prophet's first wife, fifteen years before he became a Prophet, she gave Zaid to him as a gift. Zaid's father heard that his son was in Makkah and he traveled in order to buy his son's freedom. The Prophet, however, declined the offer made by the father. Instead, he proposed to give Zaid a choice between freely joining his father and staying with him. Zaid, however, was clear in his mind. He chose to stay with his master, Muhammad, who was destined to become the last of all prophets and messengers. Reciprocating Zaid's gesture, the Prophet declared his adoption of Zaid as a son. From that moment, Zaid came to be called Zaid ibn Muhammad.
Islam dislikes adoption, since it is, in effect, a form of forgery based on false claims. It was many years after this event that God revealed in the Qur'an instructions to the Muslim community never to claim as their own sons those whom they know to be the children of others. A verbal claim of parenthood does not change the facts. It is for this reason that adoption is totally forbidden in Islam. As it is stated in the Qur'an: "He never made your adopted sons truly your sons. These are but figures of speech you utter by your mouths, whereas God speaks the truth. It is He alone who can show (people) the right path." (33: 4)
The Prophet has emphasized very strongly the sinful nature of adoption. In an authentic Hadith reported by Abu Tharr, the Prophet says: "He who knowingly claims to be the son of someone other than his father is a disbeliever. A person who claims to belong to a certain community when he is not one of them is sure to take up his position in hell. He who describes someone as a disbeliever, or calls him, 'enemy of God,' when he is not so, will have that description returned to him." (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad).
This Hadith shows how important truthfulness is with respect to family and community relations. Islam does not merely forbid adoption of a child by a couple, but it also forbids very strictly that anyone should claim to be the son of another when he knows that this is false. It goes without saying that all false claims, whatever they are, can only be described as forbidden. The truth is something so important that Islam does not countenance any falsehood. But of all false claims a person may make about his position, education, attitudes, marriage, the false claim of lineage with another is the most unacceptable. The Prophet describes as a disbeliever anyone who knowingly makes such a claim.
This is further emphasized by the second part of this Hadith which makes it clear that to falsely claim a relationship with a certain community ensures for the claimant a position in hell. It goes without saying that a person who is condemned to hell is the most miserable of people. If this is the result of falsely claiming to belong to a certain community, then this is a very serious affair.
As we all know, Islam does not make any distinction between people on the basis of lineage or family relations. The only criterion of distinction is that of being a God-fearing believer. Therefore, the only motivation to claim attachment to certain people must be the benefits which accrue to the claimant as a result of his claim. Since the claim is false, the benefits received as a result of it must deprive other people of their rights. Otherwise, they would not have belonged to the claimant. This is, in effect, a method leading to injustice. Islam views injustice with great repugnance. It does not allow it in any shape or form. Therefore, anything that leads to injustice is forbidden.
The last part of the Hadith teaches us not to describe anyone as unbeliever or as enemy of God, when we know him not to be so. The result of such an abuse is that the description becomes applicable to the one who makes it. What a prize one earns for describing someone who believes in God as a disbeliever!
[i]"Islam in Perspective" - Arab News - 18 February 2000[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Haniff (with 2 f's)
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