Having exhorted the Prophet (S.A) to be steadfast upon the message of the Quran and to shun the unbelievers and hypocrites, Sura Al Ahzab goes further in verse 4 and states:
4. Allah has not put for any man two hearts inside his body. Neither has He made your wives whom you declare to be like your mothers’ backs, your real mothers, nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. That is but your saying with your mouths. But Allah says the truth, and He guides to the (Right) Way.
Here, in the beginning of the verse a refutation is made against the statement ‘a man had two hearts’. Commentators have written that this was revealed about a man whose name was Jameel bin Ma’mar. He was a person who was considered to be intelligent and he retained whatever he heard. Seeing his outstanding memory, the Quraish said, ‘This man cannot memorize everything except that he has two hearts’. The man also claimed the same and added that his intelligence was superior to that of the Prophet (S.A). It is narrated that this man participated in the battle of Badr, and when the polytheists were defeated, Abu Sufyan saw him on a camel with one shoe in his hand and the other in his foot. After finding out that the polytheists were defeated, Abu Sufyan inquired from him why it is that he had a shoe in his hand while the other was on his foot. He replied that he thought that both were on his feet, and he did not know that one was in his hand. From that time, people realized that he was not really intelligent as he thought and he did not have two hearts. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi Vol. pg 106).
Another issue discussed in the above mentioned verse (i.e. v.4) is that of ‘Dhihar’ (Zihar). This practice of ‘Dhihar’ was common among the Arabs in the pre-Islamic days, and it meant that a person would use a statement to his wife that likened her to his mother. According to their customs, they would say to their wives, ‘You are to me like the back of my mother’. By using this statement (or any similar one which likened a person’s wife to a part of the body of his mother), they intended to state that their wives were permanently forbidden for them to live with in marriage, just as their mothers were.
Refuting the above custom, Allah says in verse 4, ‘Neither has He made your wives whom you declare to be like your mothers’ backs, your real mothers’. It means that they are wrong in thinking that their wives would be unlawful to them like their mothers if they used such statements to their wives. The law regarding this, (which has been revealed by Allah) is that in this case of ‘Dhihar’, a person’s wife will not be forbidden to him as his mother, but he will still regard her as his wife after paying a kafaarah (expiation) for having done ‘Dhihar’.
Another matter discussed in the above mentioned verse (i.e. v.4) is that of ‘the adopted son’. A common practice among the Arabs in the pre-Islamic days was that they considered their adopted sons as their own. On account of this, they gave the same share of inheritance to the adopted child as they would give to their own children. They also deemed it unlawful for a man to marry his adopted son’s wife after his death or after a divorce. People considered the adopted son to be the real son of an adoptive father and referred to him as his son. It was on account of this wrong belief, the Quraish raised an objection against the Prophet (S.A) when he married the divorced wife of his adopted son. It was in order to refute this false notion about an adopted son, that Allah declared (in verse 4), ‘Nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. That is but your saying with your mouths. But Allah says the truth, and He guides to the right way’.
Here, Allah makes it clear that adopted sons are not real sons. They are not from one’s lineage. They are simply called by the name ‘son’ due to adoption, but it does not mean that they are real sons. Hence, the rulings regarding one’s real children will not apply to those that are adopted. Allah tells us that using the word ‘son’ (for one who is adopted) is only a statement from one’s mouth which has no truth in it.
The verse ends by saying, ‘But Allah says the truth, and He guides to the (right) way’. It means that Allah speaks that which is the truth and that which corresponds to the actual facts. He reveals these teachings so that He may Guide His servants to the straight path.
While providing further guidance on the topic of ‘the adopted children’, Allah says:
5. Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just with Allah. But if you know not their father’s (names, call them) your brothers in faith and Mawâlîkum (your freed slaves). And there is no sin on you if you make a mistake therein, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Here, Allah informs us that adopted children should be called and attributed to the names of their real (biological) fathers. They should not be connected to the names of those who adopted them (as if they were their parents). Allah tells us that this teaching of calling them by the names of their real fathers is more just, truthful and more correct in His sight than connecting them to names other than that of their fathers.
The verse goes further to state that if one does not know the names of their fathers (or one does not know the real fathers), then they should be recognized, treated and considered as brothers and friends in Islam. It means that if one has adopted a child, and he does not know the real father (or his name), then he should call him brother or friend.
It is narrated from Abdullah bin Umar (R.A) that the Sahabahs used to refer to Zaid bin Haritha (the Prophet’s adopted son) as Zaid bin Muhammad (Zaid the son of Muhammad). However, they stopped doing so when Allah revealed the verse, ‘Allah has not made your adopted sons your own sons…’
The verse further states, ‘And there is no sin on you concerning that in which you made a mistake, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Ever Most Forgiving, Most Merciful’. It means that if a person mistakenly referred to his adopted son as his own, then there will be no sin upon him for this error. However, if he intentionally did this, then he will be punished for it.
One must know that Allah is Most Merciful and His forgiveness is all embracing. Hence, He forgives those who have made mistakes and is merciful to those who are repentant.
ISLAMIC GUIDELINES REGARDING ADOPTED CHILDREN
– An adopted child will still be related to his/her biological parents and other relatives. His/her relation with these relatives should be maintained and should not be severed.
– An adopted child will have no share in the estate of the deceased adoptive parents. However, they are allowed to make a bequest in favor of the adopted child, but this cannot exceed one third of the estate.