Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltut
Our today's children are the basis upon their shoulders the building of society is based in the future. They are the men of the future and as much effort you exert in rearing and behaving them as the status and power of the nation will be. However, if they are neglected, deviation styles shall seize their hearts and the nation shall become unbalanced and weak in the face of confronting powers.
An orphan is one of the children who lost his father and one who supports him. He lost the heart which used to be kind to him, and the soul which encompasses and cares for him to empower his nerves, increase his organs, expand his chest, and make life smile to him. He had lost all those by the death of his father and fate left him for distress, distraction, and deprivation. So, he is in dire need to special care from the Most Gracious and the Most Compassionate Himself to rescue him from this loneliness and make him happy. He needs a wise legislation and a generous will from a Merciful Lord to protect himself and money and consider him a working man in life and not an idle who beg of his living and become a burden on his nation or a bad person who spreads his poisons over other children.
For these reasons, Islam -the Qur'an and the Sunnah- commanded Muslims to pay attention to orphans, exhorted to rear them and protect their lives and money. The Glorious Qur'an had paid great attention to orphans since it began to come down until Allah completed the religion and legislation. When the revelation interrupted in Makkah and the Prophet (peace be upon him) felt that Allah has forsaken him, thereupon Allah (Glory be to Him) revealed to him: "Did He not find you (O Muhammad peace be upon him) an orphan and gave you a refuge?" [Surat Ad-Duha: 6].
Then He asked him to show gratitude for this blessing and the gratitude would be showing kindness to orphans "Therefore, treat not the orphan with oppression." [Surat Ad-Duha: 9]. The Qur'an which is revealed in the Makkan period paid great attention to orphans and made the contempt of orphans and neglecting their affairs one of the signs of disbelieving in the Day of Recompense. "Have you seen him who denies the Recompense? * That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly)." [Surat Al Ma`un: 1 - 2]. Moreover, He made caring for orphans one of the Ten Commandments that were not abrogated in any religion and was regulated with faith in one course. "Say (O Muhammad peace be upon him): Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from." [Surat Al An`am: 151].
Until He says: "And come not near to the orphan's property, except to improve it, until he (or she) attains the age of full strength." [Surat Al An`am: 152].
People's souls got affected by these Makkan commandments which came concerning orphans and became in embarrassment whether to isolate them from their children in eating and drinking for fear that touching anything from their money and properties or associate with them and eat something of their money and properties? What should they do? They sought for something to get them out of this responsibility which burdens their shoulders, thereupon Allah's Saying was revealed: "And they ask you concerning orphans. Say: "The best thing is to work honestly in their property, and if you mix your affairs with theirs, then they are your brothers. And Allâh knows him who means mischief (e.g. to swallow their property) from him who means good (e.g. to save their property)." [Surat Al Baqarah: 220].
Allah explained to them that associated with them along with justice and reform is one of the requisites of human and religious brotherhood. Then Surat An-Nisa' came to pay more attention to them and paved the way before them by asking for Allah's Fearing and maintaining the ties of kinship and showing that all the people were created from one single soul. So, orphans should be treated as one treats his own brothers and relatives, their money should be protected, they should be reared and well-behaved, and beware of neglecting them. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "And give to the orphans their property and do not exchange (your) bad things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by adding it) to your substance. Surely, this is a great sin." [Surat An-Nisa': 2]. He also says: "And try the orphans (as regards their intelligence) until they reach the age of marriage; if then you find sound judgment in them, release their property to them, but consume it not wastefully and hastily, fearing that they should grow up, and whoever (amongst guardians) is rich, he should take no wages, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable (according to his labor). And when you release their property to them, take witness in their presence; and Allâh is All-Sufficient in taking account." [Surat An-Nisa': 6].
These were some Ayahs which show the great interest of the Qur'an with orphans regarding their money and rearing. Many Hadiths were reported regarding praising the people who take care for orphans and giving them their rights. The Prophet (peace be upon him) correlated between those people and him in Paradise to enjoy its blessings because they treated orphans well. "Whoever raises three orphans, is like one who spends his nights in prayer and fasts during the day, and goes out morning and evening drawing his sword in the cause of Allah. In Paradise, he and I will be brothers like these two sisters, and he held up his forefinger and middle finger together.""The best house among the Muslims is the house in which orphans are well treated. The worst house among the Muslims is the house in which orphans are ill treated. I and the guardian of the orphan will be in the Garden like that, indicating his two fingers." As for that woman whose husband died while she is pretty and of a lofty position, and he left orphans whom she took care for and refused to marry for their sake, her reward will be with Allah and she will gain a high position in Paradise. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "I am and the woman who lost her beauty [for the sake of her orphan children] are like this in Paradise [and pointed with his middle and forefinger]. This is the guidance of Allah regarding rearing children who will build the Muslim society. O guardians, beware of neglecting orphans and beware of the wrath of Allah, and know that neglecting them will lead to the harm of the society but rather to the entire nation. People are on a ship that is moved by waves, ups and downs, and there is no protection from Allah except those whom He bestowed mercy, and Allah does not show mercy except to those who obey His Commands and follow His Guidance. Those who rear orphans should recall the jealousy of Allah for orphans and to recall that one day he would leave his children and people will do in them as he does to others. "And let those (executors and guardians) have the same fear in their minds as they would have for their own, if they had left weak offspring behind. So let them fear Allâh and speak right words. * Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire!" [Surat An-Nisa': 9 - 10].