Most people are surprised to learn what Islam teaches about adoption
We recently studied John 1:12-13, a verse that explains how we have been adopted into God’s family as His children. We also touched on the fact that your Muslim friend’s relationship with Allah looks nothing like the Father-Child relationship we have with Yahweh.
Now we can go deeper in our study about adoption in Islam. This will help us understand our Muslim friend’s perspectives on various areas like family, marriage, children, and even on Allah.
What does Islam teach about adoption?
In order to understand the history of adoption within Islam, we must start with the man who started Islam– Muhammad. Muhammad claimed to be the final prophet that God sent to the world with a final and new message that all should submit to and follow.
During that time, in the Arabian Peninsula (current Saudi Arabia) adoption was practiced and accepted among the tribes. Muhammad was 25 when his employer, a wealthy 40-year old caravan merchant, Khadijah, proposed to him and they got married. She gave him a slave, Zayd ibn Haritha, who was 10 years younger than him, as a wedding present. No matter how hard they tried, Muhammad could not have a biological son from Khadijah nor from any of the wives he later acquired.
During this time, Muhammad started to regard Zayd as his own son. One day after a specific incident, he gathered his followers on the steps of the Ka’aba in Mecca where legal contracts were agreed and witnessed, and declared: "Witness that Zayd becomes my son, with mutual rights of inheritance." From that day Zayd became known as Zayd ibn Muhammad (reference).
Later on in Muhammad’s life, this adopted son got married to Zaynab, Muhammad’s second cousin. She was a beautiful woman and Zayd loved her dearly. After a few years, Muhammad desired his son’s wife, and he was suffering greatly from his desire.
When Zayd knew that his father desired his wife, he reluctantly divorced her so he would not be killed or harmed. After Muhammad’s marriage to Zaynab, criticism spread that Muhammad married his adopted son’s wife. To silence them, Allah gave Muhammad orders to abolish adoption altogether and never call any children you take care of by your own family name.
“...Nor has He [Allah] made your adopted sons your sons.... Call them by (the names of) their fathers, that is better in the sight of God.” Quran 33:4-5
To this day, Muslims do not adopt children because it is against Islam’s rules. If there is an orphan child in the care of a family, he or she is still never legally or officially part of the family, and they will not receive any inheritance.
How does banning adoption affect Muslims?
Having children is part of fulfilling one’s faith in Islam. A couple who cannot have children face various social ill-treatments, especially the wife. Any wife who does not produce children to her husband feels threatened to be divorced. To try to prevent this, many wives will ask their husbands to marry another woman to produce children. Muslims claim that avoiding adoption keeps the family lineage clean and clear and preserves the wealth of dynasties.
What does the Bible teach about adoption?
We are called to apply the biblical principle surrounding adoption into God’s kingdom to earthly adoption of a child. It is one of the many ways that we can reflect God’s unconditional love to those around us. Adoption makes the child a member of the adopted family in every way possible, and it is permanent. Earthly adoption is supposed to mirror how God has adopted us into His heavenly family.
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12-13
“In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…” Ephesians 1:5
How can you talk about this with your Muslim friend?
Talking about adoption is actually a great way to open up your Muslim friend’s eyes to the way God loves them! Your goal does not need to be to change their mind about earthly adoption. Focus instead on the ways adoption teaches us about the characteristics of God and the love He has for us, and explain that this is the basis of your beliefs on adoption.
Here are a few ways you can get this conversation started:
- Draw from a personal experience you might have with adoption and share a story. Then tell how this story can mirror God’s adoption of us.
- Explain the relationship you have with God, how in addition to being a Christ-follower, you are also a child of God and He is your Heavenly Father! Share a story of the intimacy you have experienced in this relationship!
- You can explain the ways that God has stepped into a parental role in your life, especially if He has helped fill the hole of an absent mother or father.
- You can use a story about adoption from the news or social media to spark a conversation about adoption! Share the story with your Muslim friend and then transition into asking them about Islam’s teachings on adoption.
Pray that your Muslim friend’s heart can be opened to hear the truth of what God has in store for them, and be ready to answer their questions or patiently wait to hear more from them in another conversation, if they need time to think! The invitation to be adopted by God is one of the biggest gifts we’ll ever receive, and your Muslim friend needs to hear about it.
Dear Lord, thank you for adopting me into your family as one of your children. Please allow me to share this wonderful gift with my Muslim friend, and open up their heart to hear it! Amen.