In adoption, a pesron (or a couple) takes parenting responsibility of another person (orphans or helpless child) and permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities which include right to inherit and pass on adopters’r genealogy and name. In many cases, when a couple adopts a orphan they consider that child as their own. It’s an honorable institution and very popular among pre-Islamic Arabs who used to consider adoption as a noble deed. And indeed it is.
But how Islam came to prohibit (ban) this noble custom? More appropriately, why all knowing Allah has banned this practice?
Background: Even Mohammad has adopted children before he recieved his ‘so called’ Prophethood from Allah. His wife Khadiza had a male slave servant, Zayd b. Harith, and she along with Mohammad had adopted this male slave. It happened when Zayd’s father and uncle came to buy his freedom from Khadiza and she agrees to manumitt him. But Zayd refuses manumitting and chooses to stay with Khadiza and Mohammad. On this, Tabari writes:
The Prophet having witnessed this, took Zayd out to the Hijr and said, "O all those who are present, witness that Zayd becomes my son, with mutual rights of inheritance." When Zayd's father and paternal uncle saw this, they were satisfied and went away.. .... Zayd b. Harithah was thus called Zayd b. Muhammad until God revealed Islam. (The History of al-Tabari: Biographies of the Prophet's Companions and Their Successors, translated by Ella Landau-Tasseron [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1998], Volume XXXIX (39), pp. 9)Even hadith of Sahih Bukhari says Zayd b. Harith was called Zayd b. Mohammad, implying Prophet Mohammad as father and Zayd as his son.
We used not to call Zaid bin Haritha the freed slave of Allah's Apostle except Zaid bin Muhammad till the Qur’anic Verse was revealed: "Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers. That is more than just in the Sight of Allah." (33.5) (Sahih Al-Bukhari; Vol. 6, Book 60, # 305)He adopted Zayd. Mohammad became Prophet Mohammad. And Prophet moved to Medina along with his followers. As a father to Zayd, he asks for the hand of Zaynab Jahsh on behalf of his adopted son, who along with her brother refuses marriage to Zayd b. Mohammad and then this verse was revealed:
033.036 (YUSUFALI): It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.This is what Tafsir Al-jalalayn says with regard to this verse:
This [verse] was revealed regarding 'Abd Allah b. Jahsh and his sister Zaynab, whose hand the Prophet had asked for in marriage, but meaning on behalf of Zayd b. Haritha. They were loathe to this [proposal] when they found out [that it was on the latter's behalf], for they had thought that the Prophet (s) wanted to marry her himself. But afterwards they consented because of the verse. Thus the Prophet (s) gave her in marriage to Zayd.....As time passes and every one is living their own life, Prophet one day goes to house of Zayd, it will be good if one reads what Tabari (Greatest and steemed Muslim historian) writes:
"In this year the Messenger married Zaynab bt. Jahsh. "Allah's Messenger came to the house of Zayd bin [son of] Muhammad. Perhaps the Messenger missed him at that moment. Zaynab, Zayd's wife, rose to meet him. Because she was dressed only in a shift, the Holy Prophet turned away from her. She said: 'He is not here. Come in, you are as dear to me as my father and mother!' Muhammad refused to enter. Zaynab had dressed in haste when she heard that the Prophet was at her door. She jumped up eagerly and excited the admiration of Allah's Messenger, so that he turned away murmuring something that could scarcely be understood. However, he did say overtly, 'Glory be to Allah Almighty, who causes hearts to turn!'" (Page 1)
When Zayd came home, his wife told him that the Messenger of God had come to his house. Zayd said, "Why didn't you ask him to come in?" He replied, "I asked him, but he refused." "Did you hear him say anything?" he asked. She replied, "As he turned away, I heard him say: ‘Glory be to God the Almighty! Glory be to God, who causes hearts to turn!’" So Zayd went to Muhammad. 'Prophet, I have heard that you came to my house. Why didn't you go in? Perhaps Zaynab has excited your admiration, so I will leave her.'" (Page 2)
"Zayd left her, and she became free. While the Messenger of Allah was talking with Aisha, a fainting overcame him. When he was released from it, he smiled and said, 'Who will go to Zaynab to tell her the good news? Allah has married her to me. Then the Holy Prophet recited [Qur'an 33] to the end of the passage. Aisha said, 'I became very uneasy because of what we heard about her beauty and another thing, the loftiest of matters - what Allah had done for her by personally giving her to him in marriage. I said that she would boast of it over us.'" (Page 3)(In fact, Zaynab did boast about this by saying to Prohet’s other wives:“You were given in marriage by your families, while I was married (to the Prophet) by Allah from over seven Heavens.”)
(The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1997], Volume VIII, pp. 1-3)
This scandalous episode is mentioned in many other Islamic books with insignificant variations. What is certain is that Muslims can neither oppose nor deny that Prophet Mohammad did marry his daughter-in-law. The Koranic verse mentioned in Tabari’s work is the following:
Behold! Thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favour: "Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear Allah." But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear Allah. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. And Allah's command must be fulfilled. (Koran, Yusuf Ali, Chapter 33 verse 37)Lets recollect the story:
1. Prophet goes to the house of Zayd and instead of Zayd,
2. He finds Zayd’s wife and see her half naked.
3. Then he says, 'Glory be to Allah Almighty, who causes hearts to turn!’.
4. Zaynab narrates this to Zayd
5. Zayd goes to Prophet and offers to divorce her
6. Prophet says ‘no’ and any way Zayd divorces his wife Zaynab
7. And then Allah reveals a verse ordering Prophet to marry her
And this is how Tafsir Al-Jalalayn explains this verse 33:37 i.e. what Allah is telling Prophet: “But you had hidden in your heart what God was to disclose, [what] He was to manifest of your love for her and of [the fact] that should Zayd part with her you would marry her, and you feared people, would say, ‘He has married his son’s wife!’, though God is worthier that you should fear Him, in all things, so take her in marriage and do not be concerned with what people say.”
Many Muslims are troubled by this. And many Muslims try to explain this away by offering weird reasoning. But Koranic verse does not lie what this is all about.
Part of the verse 33.37 is ‘....But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest.....’.
What was Prophet hiding in his heart? And Allah is going to ensure ‘this wish’ takes place. And Allah decrees Prophet to marry Zaynab, his daughter-in-law.
All this implies that Prophet’s heart desired to marry Zaynab. But he feared what other Arabs might say about this. Like in other difficult situations he has faced, like Nakhla raid, he had to use Allah to get what he wants.
Interestingly, Allah even states reasons for Prophet’s marriage to his daughter-inlaw. The stated reason is that in future there will be no difficulty for Muslim men to marry daughters of their adopted sons!!
Adopted sons? Once the adoption takes place there is no difference between natural son and adopted son.
So, suddenly Zayd b. Mohammad becomes an adopted son of Prophet from son of Prophet.
The question that arises is was it necessary for prophet to marry his daughter in law if Allah wanted to legislate that men can marry wives of their adopted sons. He could have simply revealed a verse in this regard to his Prophet.
Interestingly, more questions can only arise when Allah bans adoption itself. So when adoption itself is banned where is the need for legislating that men can marry wives of their adopted sons and asking Prophet to marry his daughter-in-law.
God has not assigned to any man two hearts within his breast; nor has He made your wives, when you divorce, saying, 'Be as my mother's back,' truly your mothers, neither has He made your adopted sons your sons in fact. That is your own saying, the words of your mouths; but God speaks the truth, and guides on the way. Call them after their true fathers; that is more equitable in the sight of God. If you know not who their fathers were, then they are your brothers in religion, and your clients. There is no fault in you if you make mistakes, but only in what your hearts premeditate. God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. (Koran, Chapter 33, verses 4-5)
Ibn Kathir, a classical Islamic scholar, says this on this vese:< ‘nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons in fact’.>: This was revealed concerning Zayd bin Harithah, may Allah be pleased with him, the freed servant of the Prophet. The Prophet had adopted him before prophethood, and he was known as Zayd bin Muhammad. Allah wanted to put an end to this naming and attribution ...This is a command which abrogates the state of affairs that existed at the beginning of Islam, when it was permitted to call adopted sons after the man who adopted them. Then Allah commanded that they should be given back the names of their real fathers, and states that this was more fair and just.
That is, institution of adoption is simply banned in Islam.
Now what is so wrong with practice of adoption? Is there any cruelty or injustice associeatd with adoption, a noble deed? How could Allah dislike such noble practice and ban it?
Verily, same Allah has no problem when he literally sanctions slavery and sexual slavery through the verses 4:24, 23:5-6 and 70:29-30.
Same Allah proclaims that Muslims should only show enmity and hatred to their parents and brothers if they are Non-Muslims (Verses 60:4 and 9:23 and 9:114).
This whole thing rather looks like Allah is very eager to respond to satisfying carnal desires of Prophet Mohammad which fits very well with the truth that Koran is Prophet’s personal document.
(More to come on this.)