Adoption of a child and fosterage in Islam.

Question
Assalam alaikum ustadh, i have a question.
a) If adoption is prohibited in islam, then why prophet Muhammad saw adopted zayd. And in the (following the Shafi madhab) if I want to sponsor an orphan and take him or her to my home I need to adopt him that is to give him her my surname. What’s the ruling of this matter, yazakallah.
b) The second thing is that if my wife breast feeds a child for at least 5 times he will become her son and my son also is that correct?
c) So if she breastfeeds him/her he will be her child but at the same time he cannot be adopted?

Answer
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The adoption of a child/orphan in Islam is an act of great virtue and reward. It is an act which is greatly encouraged especially in the times that we live in. The Prophet ﷺ said: I and the guardian of the orphan will be in Paradise like this” demonstrating ‘this’, the Prophet ﷺ joined his index finger with his middle finger. (Bukhari).
In the Shari’ah there are laws relating to adoption which must be adhered. For the sake of brevity, I would just mention what is relevant to your question.
(a) It is not allowed to attribute the lineage of your adopted son to yourself nor is it permissible for anyone to attribute the lineage of anybody to other than his or her father. Therefore, it will be permissible for you to adopt a child as mentioned above except that the lineage of the child must be attributed to the father (parents) of the child. Registering the adopted child and giving him your surname is perfectly fine and permitted. Asserting your surname to the child doesn’t mean that you’re attributing his lineage to yourself. It doesn’t mean that you now become the real (Shar’i) father of that child. You can even call the child by the name “son” or “my son” out of love and affection to him as proven in many Ahaadith of the Prophet ﷺ.
As for the Prophet ﷺ, he adopted Zaid (May Allah be pleased with him). Prior to Islam and the beginning of Islam, the adopted son was considered a real son and his lineage would be attributed to the man who adopted him. They used to call Zaid (ra) “Zaid ibn Muhammad” Zaid, the son of Muhammad ﷺ. Allah Ta’ala revealed in Surah Al Ahzaab a verse prohibiting the attribution of lineage to other than one’s father.
ادْعُوهُمْ لِآبَائِهِمْ هُوَ أَقْسَطُ عِندَ اللَّهِ
Call them (adopted sons) by their fathers (lineage), that is more just with Allah.
Al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) narrated that Abdullah bin Umar said:

“Zayd bin Haritha, may Allah be pleased with him, the freed servant of the Messenger of Allah, was always called Zayd bin Muhammad, until (the words of the) Qur’an were revealed: ادْعُوهُمْ لِآبَائِهِمْ هُوَ أَقْسَطُ عِندَ اللَّه (Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just with Allah).”
Zaid (ra) was then called Zaid ibn Haritha (Haritha being the name of his father).
(b) As for the second part of your second question, If your wife breastfeeds the child then fosterage (radha’ah) will be established i.e. you and your wife will be the foster parents. It is important to note though, that fosterage will only be established if your wife sucked the child during the period of fostering, which is 30 lunar months. That means, if the adopted son is older than 30 months (2 ½ years), fosterage will not be established through suckling. If the child is less than 2 ½ years fosterage will be established if your wife suckles the child. Also, for the establishment of fosterage one suckle or breastfeeding according to the Hanafi school of law. As for the Shafi’e school of law Imam An-Nawawi (ra) mentions in his commentary of Sahih Muslim according to the Shafi’e Madhab, fosterage will only be established by 5 sucklings.
واختلف العلماء في القدر الذي يثبت به حكم الرضاع ، فقالت عائشة والشافعي وأصحابه لا يثبت بأقل من خمس رضعات ، وقال جمهور العلماء : يثبت برضعة واحدة
If the conditions for fosterage exist and it is established, the laws of prohibition will apply as it would with a real child. i.e. he/she will be prohibited to marry the foster parents and the children of the foster parents and their relations and hence there’s no observance of hijab. Except for the laws of Inheritance i.e. the foster child will not be able to inherit from his foster parents and their relations (and vice versa). However, a will (bequest) can be made for him.
NB: Just to clarify; even though fosterage is established, the lineage of the fostered child will not be connected to the foster parents rather to the real father (parents) of the child.
(c) As for the third part of your question, adoption and fostering are two different entities. If fosterage is established, then laws of prohibition is established whether or not the child was adopted. Also, if the child were to be adopted, and the conditions for fosterage did not exist then the rulings of fosterage will not take effect.
And finally, if the child was adopted and the conditions for fosterage exists (i.e. the child is less than 2 ½ years), and your wife suckles the child (once according to most of the Imams and 5 times according to Imam Shafi’e رحمه الله), then fosterage would be established and at the same time the child would be your fostered adopted child.

Mufti Kaleem Muhammad

Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)

www.fatwa-tt.com /www.jaamia.net