Embracing the Orphan: A Pillar of Compassion in Islam
In the rich tapestry of Islamic teachings, caring for orphans emerges as a fundamental practice deeply embedded in the moral and ethical principles of the faith. Caring for orphans is not merely encouraged but is considered a cardinal commitment, reflecting a believer’s true faith and belief in Allah’s Oneness (tawhid).
Defining an Orphan in Islam
In Arabic, an orphan, or ‘yatîm,’ is typically defined as a child (under the age of puberty) who has lost their father.
However, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), and other groups label any child who has lost one parent as an orphan. In this approach, a maternal orphan is a child whose mother has died, and a paternal orphan is a child whose father has died. A double orphan is a child/teen/infant who has lost both parents.
The Quranic Perspective on Orphans
The Quran mentions the yatîm at least 25 times, often aligning their care with believers’ moral and ethical responsibilities. Allah places the orphan in a continuum between our parents, close relatives, and the indigent, emphasising the importance of keeping them in our minds and our economic support.
"They ask you, O Prophet, what ways they should spend charitably. Say to them: Whatever good offering you spend is to be for your parents, and nearest relatives, and orphans, and the indigent, and the needy wayfarers. And whatever good you do, God is, indeed, all-knowing of it." (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:215)
The Divine Virtue of Orphan Care
Allah elevates caring for an orphan to divine virtue, aligning it with the lofty ethics of parental obedience and the obligations of daily ritual prayer and yearly Zakat alms. Caring for an orphan is a tangible manifestation of the pure belief in God, putting faith into action in the world.
Orphan Care: A Moral Vision in Islam
Allah identifies orphan care as a defining component of righteousness, categorising it into five general categories, each demanding specific convictions and actions. Orphan care is listed high in the second category, which involves giving one’s cherished wealth to charity. Without fulfilling the duties of this second grouping, one’s righteousness remains deficient.
Protecting the Wealth of Orphans
Islam mandates the protection of an orphan’s wealth, instructing the community or orphan guardian to use it judiciously for their benefit, conserve it, and hand it over to them upon reaching maturity. Allah commands:
"Moreover, restore to orphans their wealth when they attain maturity. Nor shall you substitute your tainted wealth for their wholesome wealth. Nor shall you consume their wealth with your own wealth, for it is, indeed, a great offense" (Surat Al-Nisa’, 4:2).
A Special Reward for Sponsoring an Orphan
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) promised a special and everlasting reward, the Garden of Delights in the Hereafter, for those who sponsor an orphan, stating:
"I and the one who sponsors an orphan shall be in Paradise like these two” — (and he raised his index finger and the one next to it, holding them together, barely separate) (Bukhari).
Allah’s Care for Orphans
Allah reminds us of His care for orphans through the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Hhim), who was himself an orphan. This divine care is a reminder and an injunction for believers to uphold all orphans’ physical, social, and psychological needs and worldly rights.
Muslim Aid Australia: Paving Paths for Orphans in Islam
MAA’s Orphan program allows donors to administer the teachings of our Prophet (PBUH) by offering several ways to support and care for orphans. This includes individual orphan sponsorships and our global orphan care initiatives.
At MAA, we focus on keeping orphans within their families, preferably with a surviving parent or an extended family member. However, there are certain cases where we support orphans living in orphanages based on their individual situations.
How MAA Supports Orphans Globally
MAA’s Orphan Sponsorship Program is designed to uplift orphans by supporting them and their families/carers. This includes guidance in faith, food & nutrition, education, health and medical care, and shelter aid until they reach maturity. The program spans various countries, including Uganda, Palestine, Indonesia, Pakistan, Ghana, and Yemen, turning your contributions into tangible care and support for orphans worldwide. Click here to sponsor an orphan today.