Question # 550: Who is considered an orphan within the context of Islam?
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Shorter Answer: Scholars unanimously agreed that an orphan is a child who lost his father before reaching puberty. However, they differed as to whether a child who lost his mother is considered an orphan or not. Some scholars stated that a child who lost his mother is considered an orphan.
Long Answer: Scholars unanimously agreed that an orphan is a child who lost his father before reaching puberty. However, they differed as to whether a child who lost his mother is considered an orphan or not. Some scholars stated that a child who lost his mother is considered an orphan.
Ali Ibn Abu Talib (ra) reports that he memorized from the Prophet (saws), “There is no orphanhood after puberty…” (Sunan Abu Dawood; graded da’eef). If only a child’s mother passes away, the child will not be regarded to be an orphan. (Jaami-ul-Fataawa)
Shaikh Muhammad b. Saalih al-‘Uthaimeen said: “The limit at which one remains an orphan finished at adolescence (adulthood). So, when a child reaches adulthood then he is no longer an orphan. And before the age of adolescence, he remains an orphan if his father has passed away. And if it is the case that his mother has passed away whilst his father is alive, then he is not an orphan. (Explanation of Riyaadus-Saaliheen)
Az-Zarkashi said, “It is well known that an orphan is a little one who lost his father. In humans, an orphan is a child whose father is dead, while in animals, an orphan is a little one whose mother is dead.” Al-Maawardi said: “This is because an animal is attributed to its mother, so it becomes an orphan when its mother dies. On the other hand, a human being is attributed to his father, so he becomes an orphan when his father dies.” Ibn Abi Hurayrah also said in his commentary on the chapter of Hajr: “An orphan is a child who lost both his father and mother as is unanimously agreed. Likewise, one who lost his father is called an orphan without any difference in opinion. However, there are two opinions regarding one who lost only his mother: the first is that he is considered an orphan, following the opinion that confirms the mother’s responsibility for her child.”
(The above reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by:
- Islamweb.net, a website belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar
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