I will first highlight the guidance in the Glorious Quran concerning orphans. The Quran is the Word of Allah revealed to His Last Prophet and Messenger Muhammad( peace be upon him). The Prophet was THE QURAN IN ACTION according to Mother Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her). The following are few of the passages in the Quran concerning orphans.
Surah Al-Ma’un 107:1-7
Have you seen the one who rejects [the true spirit] of religion? That is he who repels the orphan. And does not advocate for the feeding of the very poor. Woe to you worshipers! Those who pray yet are heedless. Who only pray to be seen [by men]. But neglect even neighbourly needs.
This chapter gives us the expression to the prominence which Islam gives to helping the needy and uplifting the poor. Anyone who prays with no attention to helping orphans and the needy is spoken of as denying the entire religion. Here we are told that even the prayer(Salaah) is only a show, if it does not generate feelings of love and sympathy for humanity. Even if we look at Surah Al-Baqarah 2:177, we find that obligatory actions like Salaah and Zakaah are preceded by commands of charitable actions and goodwill gestures towards the close relatives and orphans.
The verse says,
It is not piety, that you turn your faces to the East and to the West. True piety is this: to believe in Allah, and the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the Prophets, to give of one’s substance, however cherished, to kinsmen, and orphans, the needy, the traveller, beggars, and to ransom the slave, to perform the prayer, to pay the alms. And they who fulfil their covenant when they have engaged in a covenant, and endure with fortitude misfortune, hardship and peril, these are they who are true in their faith, these are the truly God-fearing.
The Quran contains extensive guidelines on how to up bring the orphans and safeguard their property. It encourages the guardians of orphans to invest the property of the orphans in useful trade, so that Zakaah(Charity) will not eat up the whole wealth of the orphans and when the orphans grow up they should find themselves in a sound financial position.
The Quran says in Surah Al-Isra 17:34-35,
Come not nigh to the orphan’s property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength; and fulfil (every) engagement, for (every) engagement will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). Give full measure when ye measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight: that is the most fitting and the most advantageous in the final determination.
This is also repeated in Surah Al-Anaam 6:152.
So the Quran is giving extremely beneficial guidelines that if an orphan’s property is touched at all, it should be to improve it or give to the orphan something better than he had before. The guardian should never take unfair advantage to benefit himself and cause loss to the property of orphans. When the orphan reaches his maturity he should be paid back in full and every transaction should be made clear. The Quran contains severe warnings against the swallowing the property of an orphan. For example the Quran says in Surah An-Nisa 4:10,
Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a Fire into their own bodies: They will soon be enduring a Blazing Fire!
As I mentioned earlier that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the Quran in Action, so, whatever is in the Quran concerning the orphans was well practiced by the Prophet himself and his companions. Thus he set out the most beautiful example of reaching out to the needy. Now let us study the priceless words of The Prophet concerning orphans.
Narrated Sahl bin Sa’d(ra): The Prophet said,
I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in Paradise like this, putting his index and middle fingers together. (Saheeh Al Bukhari ::Book 73 :: Volume 8 :: Hadith 34 )
Narrated Safwan bin Salim(ra): The Prophet said
The one who looks after and works for a widow and for a poor person, is like a warrior fighting for Allah’s Cause or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all the night.
(Saheeh Al Bukhari :: Book 73 :: Volume 8 :: Hadith 35)
Narrated Abu Hurayrah(ra): The messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,
Among the muslims the best house is one where an orphan is being well treated.
A man once came to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and complained that he feels hardness in his heart. The Messenger of Allah said,
Would you like that your heart becomes soft and that you acquire what you need? Be merciful with the orphan, pat his head and feed him from what you eat. This will soften your heart, and enable you to get what you need. ( At-Tabaranee As-Silsilah as Saheehah).
These are only some of the abundant instructions by the Prophet concerning the orphans. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was himself an orphan. His father died while he was still in his mother’s womb. His mother died while he was 2 years of age. It seems Allah had decreed that His final Prophet would become an orphan at a very young age. Besides the clear injunctions within the Quran and the words of the Prophet, Muslims have a natural affinity and love towards orphans. We should care for the orphans and reach out our support to them. Let us bring a smile on their faces. Our contribution can make a great difference. Muslims are engulfed in in wars and political instability around the world. This has increased the number of orphans within us. We should get involved and not allow anyone else to mislead them in the garb of helping them. In reaching out to the orphans we will be showing true love and affection for our beloved Prophet who was also an orphan.