Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
A single man adopted a daughter at ten years old. She is now 18 years old. He father visits her home alone, and she lives with her biological mother’s brother. The father paid for the home and paid for all its costs. The father takes her out for picnics and shopping with his wife and biological child, and sometimes they go out alone, just like father and daughter.
The father feeds the daughter food, and the daughter oils her father’s beard and hair and sleeps on his chest. The father says she is his daughter, and this will not change, this is how it will always be. Is this acceptable in Islam?
Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for asking about this and for wanting to put Allah’s pleasure over your own.
Caring for an Orphan
Caring for an orphan is a tremendous act of goodness and one that will bring one close to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) on the day of Judgment. Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) 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. [Bukhari]
Mahram (Unmarriageable Kin)
Shaykh Faraz Khan mentions, “The key principle to remember when understanding the fiqh of adoption is that the adopted child is not deemed a relative of the new caretakers at all; rather, the child is simply under their care. As established by the Quran and Noble Sunna, the child must retain his lineage despite his new upbringing.”
Allah Most High states, “[…] Nor does He regard your adopted children as your real children. These are only your baseless assertions. But Allah declares the truth, and He ˹alone˺ guides us to the ˹Right˺ Way. Let your adopted children keep their family names. That is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers, then they are ˹simply˺ your fellow believers and close associates. There is no blame on you for what you do by mistake, but ˹only˺ for what you do intentionally. And Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Quran, 33:4-5]
In Islam, a mahram relationship is established through blood or nursing. If you were not nursed by a woman who is your foster father’s mahram, your foster father is not your mahram; therefore, physical touch, seclusion, removing your hijab, and so forth will not be allowed with him.
This is a delicate issue, and I recommend you have this conversation with him if he is open to it. Regardless of the outcome, always focus on worshipping Allah as best as possible and eliminating the haram and makruh (disliked) from your life to the best of your ability, and ease will follow by the grace of Allah.
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.