Orphans are those members of the community who lost their father or both the parents before reaching the age of maturity and become alone in the world or society. In Islam, there is a great emphasis on the rights of Orphans. From the very beginning, Islam always enforced people to provide protection, care, love and respect to Orphans. In Qur’an, many verses are emphasizing methods that how to treat Orphans. Allah says:
فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْيَتَامَىٰ قُلْ إِصْلَاحٌ لَّهُمْ خَيْرٌ وَإِن تُخَالِطُوهُمْ فَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ الْمُفْسِدَ مِنَ الْمُصْلِحِ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَأَعْنَتَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
“Concerning the world and the Hereafter. They ask you about the orphans. Say, “Setting right (their affairs) for them (is) best. And if you associate with them then they (are) your brothers. And Allah knows the corrupter from the amender. And if (had) willed Allah surely He (could have) put you Indeed, Allah (is) All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:220)
The pure and true religion of Allah ordered its member to have mercy and to be merciful towards all creatures. An orphan is a person who has lost his father or both his parents before the age of maturity. The Prophet (PBUH) was an orphan too and as such, orphans hold a special place in Islam. Anyone, whom Allah (s.w.t) has chosen to be the guardian of an orphan must be steadfast and must give these rights to the child. The orphans are among those who need mercy and they ask from us to deal with them in a good way. Allah says:
وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا مَالَ الْيَتِيمِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْئُولًا
“And (do) not come near (the) wealth (of) the orphan, except with what [it] is best until he reaches his maturity. And fulfil the covenant. Indeed, the covenant will be questioned.” (Surah Al-Isra 17:34)
Parents are one of the greatest blessings of Allah (SWT). Losing anyone or both of them is such a loss that it’s beyond count. When parents, leave, all the love and kindness in the world leaves. Or at least the orphans think so. It is because parents are shade in the hardships, in difficulties and in hard times. When this kind shade is gone, only the scorching heat of reality remains. And the orphans have to live in it.
Here are some rights of orphans in Islam:
- Be merciful to orphans Allah will make good your affairs
- Spend your wealth in charity and give the orphans
- Harshness to orphans is a sign of a non-believer
- Take care of the orphans and be good to them
- Fearing Allah in the orphan’s money
- To stand for justice for them
- Give children an education
- Organise proper shelter and accommodation
- Feeding, dressing and providing for his necessary need
- True believers are devotees to Allah in everything they do
- Provide proper health care and immunisations to children
- Provide support who have been victims of conflict or disaster
The believers are protectors of one and other. So when we find those in need, such as the orphans and the widows, we should strive to help them. Below is are some reminders of the rewards for doing so. Allah says:
“Whatever ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good, -(Allah) knoweth it well.” (Surah Al-Baqara, 215)
A parent can never be replaced, but as Muslims, we can still give these children the best we can. Allah knows why he chose to make someone an orphan, and why he chooses you to be the guardian of that child. Have faith and remember that Allah is ever seeing, all hearing of what we do. Indeed, there is a great reward for taking care of an orphan.
Some may think that it is a common sense that we should treat orphans with mercy:
- The right to being raised: Every child holds the right to being raised by either a mother (if alive) or by any responsible person who will serve as a guide. It entails caring for the child both emotionally and physically. Children must be nurtured, loved, care for.
- The right to inheritance: If the parents of the orphan left behind the property, the guardian of that child must keep it until the child is of age, and give it to him. consuming the property of orphans incurs the wrath of Allah.
- The right to child support: This includes the right to education, clothing, feeding, shelter, and healthcare.
- Cared for and maintained: Concerning the world and the Hereafter.
- Not spending the wealth that the orphan has outside the purpose of life: The wealth that the orphan has must be used only for the life of the orphan. We must not use it for ourselves because it breaks Allah’s rules.
- Honoured and not humiliated: Islam forbids to be bad to the orphans. Whether it is degrading, humiliating, abusing, rebuking, punching, being arbitrary and other bad behaviours to them. It is because we are the same as a human and have the same degree in the eyes of Allah. He alone never humiliates His people and it is recommended for us to do so. Moreover, the orphans have already lost too much of their life.
Here are some examples of the teachings of the Holy Quran regarding orphans:
- “…Come not near to the orphan’s property, except to improve…” (Quran, 6:152)
- “And they feed for the love of ALLAH, the poor, the orphans, and the captive” (Quran, Al-Nisa.8)
- “Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire and they will be burned in ablaze.” (Qur’an. Al-Nisa. 10)
- “Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a Fire into their bodies: They will soon be enduring a Blazing Fire.” (Quran, 4:10)
- “But when He tries him and restricts his provision, he says, “My Lord has humiliated me.” No! But you do not honour the orphan.” (Al-Fajr 89:16-17)
- “Have you considered him who calls the judgment a lie? That is the one who treats the orphan with harshness.” (Quran, 107:1-2)
In case there are some orphans happen to inherit wealth, as in the case of the death of wealthy parents. Islam as a universal way of living that covered all aspects of life, did not leave it up to the caretaker to abuse the wealth of the young orphan -or orphans. The caretaker is warned to be careful, honest and just about the orphan’s wealth and how to spend it to the orphan’s benefits.
More Rights of Orphans in Islam
Here is presented more rights of orphans in Islam.
- Protect themselves and self-defence
- Play and do activities that they want
- Freedom of religion and perform it
- Has their privacy
- Gain health access
- Get a living and don’t work
- Same in the eyes of Islamic and national law
- Has a role in Islam and the country’s development
Keep a close check on orphans until they reach a marriageable age, then if you perceive that they have sound judgement hand over their property to them. Do not consume it extravagantly and precipitately before they come of age. Those who are wealthy should abstain from it altogether. Those who are poor should use it sensibly and correctly. They must be taught good Islamic morals, disciplined and taught to differentiate right from wrong. This is to ensure that the child grows up to become a good member of society who will benefit the people around him positively. Allah says:
بَلْ إِيَّاهُ تَدْعُونَ فَيَكْشِفُ مَا تَدْعُونَ إِلَيْهِ إِن شَاءَ وَتَنسَوْنَ مَا تُشْرِكُونَ
“Nay, Him Alone you call and He would remove what you call upon Him if He wills, and you will forget what you associate (with Him).” (Surah Al-An’am 6:41)
In Islam, re-marriage of widows has been greatly emphasized. At the same time, it has also been often stated that people, who bring up orphans, are very dear to Allah (SWT). This should give a very good idea, as to what is the reward for someone who gets married to a widow and supports her children from her deceased husband. That’s all the rights of orphans in Islam. Hope we will appreciate their rights more and become a better Muslim. Finally, it is a part of righteousness to spend your wealth on them: Allah says:
وَآتُوا الْيَتَامَىٰ أَمْوَالَهُمْ وَلَا تَتَبَدَّلُوا الْخَبِيثَ بِالطَّيِّبِ وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَهُمْ إِلَىٰ أَمْوَالِكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حُوبًا كَبِيرًا
“And give (to) the orphans their wealth, and (do) not exchange the bad with the good, and (do) not consume their wealth with your wealth. Indeed, it is a sin great.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:2)
We should love everyone for the sake of Allah (SWT). A penny we spend for the sake of Allah (SWT), He promises to return us 10 times more of it in this world and seventy times in the hereafter. The same measure, or probably more, go for love and care. If you want to gain the mercy of ALLAH, want to soften your heart, want forgiveness, want that ALLAH listen to your prayers, and for all these things you just have to show love, care and mercy towards orphans.