An orphan is a child who has one or two deceased parents. In our society, an orphan is seen from an eye of hatred and is thought as weak and inferior. As Islam is the kindest and just of all religions, it forbids us to do so. In Islam, it is the right of a child to be protected, taken care of physically, psychologically and emotionally. And these rights don’t change when they become orphans. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) was himself an orphan. There is great importance set in the Quran and Sunnah (the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH)) in the treatment of the orphans.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And do good to parents, relatives, orphans and the poor.” [Al-Qur’an 2:83]
Injustice and oppression to orphans brings severe punishment in this world as well as in the Hereafter. In the same way kind and gentle behaviour towards them earns countless rewards in this world, as well as in the Hereafter. Especially blessed by Allah are those who protect the orphans and take the responsibility of being guardians to them. Numerous traditions have been recorded concerning this. A few of these are quoted below.
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq says:
“One who maintains the orphans, Allah makes Paradise Wajib upon him, in the same way as he makes Hell Wajib upon those who usurp the property of the orphans.”
Islam as a universal way of living that covers all aspects of life and does not leave it up to the caretaker to abuse the wealth of the young orphan -or orphans. The caretaker is warned to be careful, honest and just about the orphan’s wealth and how to spend it to the orphan’s benefits. Allah says:
“…Come not near to the orphan’s property, except to improve…”[Al-Qur’an 6:152]
“Have you seen him who belies the religion? He is the one who harshly rebuffs the orphan and does not urge the feeding of the poor. So woe to those who do prayer, and are forgetful of (the true spirit of) their prayer, those who show off and deny help to others.”[Al-Qur’an 107: 1-7]
Contrary to such offensive treatment, Qur’anic morality demands tolerant and compassionate treatment of orphans as expressed in the verse,
“And be good to parents, relatives, orphans and the poor”. [Al-Qur’an 2: 83]
Believers meticulously observe this command. Their conscience and understanding of humanity entail the protection of orphans who need help and care, and the meeting of all their spiritual and material needs. Believers never oppress orphans, expect them to appreciate their kindness or strive to obtain any material or spiritual benefits from them. On the contrary, they protect their rights and adopt the best possible attitude. Their strong sense of what is right, their profound fear of Allah and their compassion account for this meticulousness.
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said,
“I and the one who looks after an orphan will be like this in Paradise,” showing his middle and index fingers and separating them. [Sahih-Bukhari]