Adoption: Prohibited in Islam

Q20 :Adoption is forbidden in Islam. But according to authentic Hadiths related by Al-Bukhari, the Prophet adopted a son named Zaid. Please comment.

A20 : Both statements of the prohibition of adoption in Islam and the Prophet's adoption of Zaid are correct. The explanation of these two apparently contradictory facts lies in their chronological order. Zaid ibn Harithah was a young child when he was kidnapped by fighters who raided the living quarters of his tribe when their men were out on their business. Zaid was sold as a slave and he ended up in Makkah when he was given as a gift by her uncle to Khadeejah, who later was married to Muhammad, her third husband. At that time, he was 25 years of age. Lady Khadeejah was a rich woman who married Muhammad, having learned much about his character which filled her with admiration. At that time, Muhammad was being carefully prepared by Allah for his forthcoming mission as the last prophet to be sent to mankind. Needless to say, neither he nor Khadeejah knew anything at that time. Prophet-hood came 15 years after his marriage. Khadeejah made a gift of Zaid to her husband so that he would have a good servant. Zaid's father was full of grief when he learned of what had happened to his son. He tried hard to find out where he was carried to. Perhaps, it was a few years before he learned that Zaid was in Makkah, a slave in one of its most distinguished households. He, therefore, traveled with his brother hoping to buy his son's freedom. When they spoke to Muhammad about Zaid, they requested him to agree to sell Zaid back to them and to accept a reasonable price for him. He made them a different offer saying: "I will charge you nothing. If he prefers to stay with me, I will not part with anyone who prefers my company." They said: "This is indeed a very reasonable offer." When Zaid was called in, Muhammad asked him whether he recognized the two men. On receiving an affirmative answer, Muhammad offered him the choice of going back or staying with him. Unhesitatingly, Zaid chose to stay with Muhammad saying to his father and his uncle, "I have seen things of this man which make me keen never to part with him." When Zaid made his choice, Muhammad took him by the hand and went to the Ka'aba where he addressed the people present saying to them: "Bear witness that I have adopted Zaid as a son who will inherit me and I will inherit him." Zaid's father was gratified and he went back home with his brother. This is how the adoption of Zaid by the Prophet came to pass, long before he became a prophet. Ever since that day, Zaid was called in Makkah and everywhere else as "Zaid ibn Muhammad." This continued to be the case throughout the 13 years during which the Prophet preached his message in Makkah and in the early years of his stay in Madinah. It was later that the verses of the Qur'an which speak of adoption were revealed. These make it clear that adoption is prohibited and that every adopted son or daughter must be called after his or her real father. This automatically abrogated the adoption of Zaid who reverted to his original name, Zaid ibn Harithah, in compliance with Allah's orders. The Prophet was very kind to Zaid through their association. He arranged Zaid's marriage to his own wet nurse Umm Ayman who gave birth to Zaid's son Ussamah, whom the Prophet loved very dearly. Later on, the Prophet married Zaid to his own cousin, Lady Zainab, who only accepted the marriage to please the Prophet. The marriage was an unhappy one and Zaid reluctantly divorced Zainab. The seal on the prohibition was placed by Allah Himself when He instructed the Prophet to marry Zainab. Thus, the Prophet demonstrated practically the nullification of all adoption. Had adoption been of any significance, it would not have been possible that the Prophet marries a former wife of his former adopted son. The fact that the marriage took place and was specifically ordered by Allah left no doubt whatsoever that adoption is totally forbidden in Islam.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )