Adopted Child

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An adopted child (Arabic: الطِفل المتِبَنّی) is a person who is adopted by someone other than his or her real parents as their child. Adoption has a long history and the Qur'an has mentioned its history before Islam and also at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an. The Prophet (s) too had adopted a son named Zayd b. Haritha. Arabs considered rulings similar to those of one's biological children, but Islam rejected some of them including inheritance and mahram relationship.


An adopted child is a person who is adopted by someone (other than his or her real parents) as their child. In jurisprudential terminology, adoption refers to the instance when a person, based on claim and without any proof of parent-child relationship, adopts the child of another person as his/her child; whether their relationship with their parents is unknown such as an "abandoned child" (luqayt) or their relationship with their parents is known such as an orphan.

Historical Background

Adoption has a relatively long history. This tradition was common before Islam, at the Age of Ignorance and also among developed nations of that time such as Byzantine and Persia as well as in Iran before the attack of Arabs. In pre-Islamic Arabia, adoption or "tabanni" was common among different tribes. Also, an adopted child inherited from the adopter and marriage with the adopted child's spouse was forbidden for the foster father.

In the Qur'an

Revelation of verses about adoption shows that it was common at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an.

The Qur'an refers to the history of this practice in two places with the sentence, "Maybe he will benefit us, or we will adopt him as a son". The first instance is Qur'an 28:9, when the Prophet Moses (a) was taken from water, the wife of Pharaoh (Asya) told him this sentence about Moses (a). The second instance is Qur'an 12:21, when the ruler of Egypt bought Joseph (a), told this sentence to his wife Zuleikha about Joseph (a).

Also, in Qur'an 6:74, the father of Prophet Abraham (a) is considered his foster father as the Qur'an says, "When Abraham said to Azar, his father", but since he was Abraham's (a) uncle or his mother's husband, it can be understood that Azar had adopted Abraham (a) as his child.

Some exegetes consider adoption an example of the compact mentioned in Qur'an 4:33, "those with whom you have made a compact."

Another point is that Arabs mentioned adoption about God as well. Some verses of the Qur'an refer to this issue, such as: Qur'an 2:116,[1] Qur'an 10:68.[2] Also, some verses reject adoption for God, such as: Qur'an 17:111,[3] verse Qur'an 19:92[4] and Qur'an 21:26.[5]


Islam rejected adoption in the form and rulings as one's real child which were common at the Age of Ignorance. The Qur'an explicitly rejected it in Qur'an 33:4, "nor has he made your adopted sons your [actual] sons. These are mere utterances of your mouths".

The Qur'an clearly rejected the three rules resulting from adoption, i.e. blood relationship (nasab), mahram relationship and inheritance:

Blood relationship

In Qur'an 33:4, the blood relationship in adoption and naming (relating) the adopted to a person other than one's real father are rejected. Also, in fiqh-related hadiths, the lack of proving blood relationship between the adopted and the adopter is clearly mentioned. In the jurisprudential works, different effects are mentioned for a blood relationship between a child and his blood relatives; but, some believe that in Islam, only some of them (mahram relationship, inheritance and marriage) are not accepted, while others (including Child Custody, religious guardianship, financial support between the parents and the children (nafaqa), riba between a father and his son, etc.) exist.

Mahram relationship

In Islam, only three causes lead to mahram relationship namely blood relationship, marriage and breastfeeding and adoption does not lead to mahram relationship. Qur'an 33:36–40 indicate non-existence of mahram relationship between the adopted and the adopter and permissibility of marriage with them after divorce.


With the revelation of verses 4 and 40 of Qur'an 33, it is rejected to think of an adopted child as a real child. The effects of adoption such as inheritance were also rejected by this verse.


  1. And they say, ‘Allah has taken a son. Immaculate is He!
  2. They say, ‘Allah has taken a son!’ Immaculate is He! He is the All-sufficient
  3. ‘All praise belongs to Allah, who has neither taken any son, nor has He any partner in sovereignty,
  4. It does not behoove the All-beneficent to take a son.
  5. They say, ‘The All-beneficent has taken offsprings.’ Immaculate is He! Indeed, they are [His] honored servants.