Subject : How do Families Deal with Children of Unknown Descent whom they have Custody of ?
Fatwa Number : 558
Date : 21-03-2010
Classified : Current Issues
Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

How should families that take custody of children of unknown descent deal with them at teenage and after they reach puberty? What is the proper mechanism for overseeing the behavior of families that embraced Islam and took custody of a Muslim child?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may his peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

At the beginning, I would like to express my gratitude to families that take custody of children of unknown descent , and I would like to stress that it isn`t permissible to regard them as the fruit of an illegitimate relationship because this accusation is unfounded, and it is wrong to stigmatize innocent children as such. In fact, it is the duty of our community to be kind to them. Moreover, families that take custody of such children perform a collective obligation for which they will receive the reward equal to that of being guardian to an orphan.

As regards how should the families taking custody of those children deal with them, the Mahram (Unmarriageable)-non-Mahram (Marriageable) relationship is determined by one of the following factors: lineage, suckling, and marriage (e.g. a person`s mother-in-law). Other than this, a man becomes a non-Mahram to a woman, even if she had raised him. Similarly, a woman becomes a non-Mahram to a man who had raised her; therefore, guarding modesty should be observed by these families when bringing up children of unknown descent. Accordingly, a man is allowed to see only the face and hands of the woman, whether she is the one who had raised him, or he is the one who had raised her. Similarly, a woman isn`t allowed to see the Awrah (Private parts) of the man, whether he had raised her or she had raised him. Therefore, meeting in private with these children isn`t permissible, as reflected in the following Prophetic tradition: "Whenever a man meets a woman in private, the devil will join them." {At-Tirmizi graded it as Hasan}. This is also reflected in the story of Prophet Joseph with the wife of Al-Azeez.

Although our community is full of honorable individuals, there are lots of wicked-sinners who would commit incest; therefore, the Law-giver solved this by setting up the following jurisprudential rule : "Prohibition of what may lead to committing sins."

Concerning the issue of new Muslim converts, it is imperative to exercise caution when allowing such families to take custody of the children of unknown descent; therefore, it doesn't suffice that these families are registered in government records as Muslim; rather, they must abide by the rules of Islam. This is because a natural mother and father are denied to take custody of their own children if they were wicked-sinners who can`t be trusted with teaching their children the true religion of God, Islam. Having said this, how could we trust a family, who isn`t originally Muslim, to raise the above children according to Islam?!!

Accordingly, it is the duty of the Ministry of Social Development to oversee the affairs of these children-on behalf of the ruler- be they in Jordan or abroad.

Moreover, a child of unknown descent, who lives in a community of Muslims and non-Muslims, is considered a Muslim; therefore, it is imperative that we make sure that he learns true Islam, so his custody must be taken by a family that preserves his religion, life, and dignity.

As regards the orphan who has family members, it is their duty to be his guardians and provide for him, as ruled by a Sharia judge.

In addition, it is the duty of all members of society to take care of these children who have no helper but Almighty Allah. Allah Said in the following Qudsy Hadith (What means): "My wrath has heightened against those who do wrong to ones who have no helper but Me" {At-Tabarani}.

Therefore, if Allah The Almighty Has Got Angry with those who have done wrong to the weak, then He will definitely Be Pleased with those who are kind and fair and Make them Enjoy a sense of dignity. And Allah Knows Best.



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