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Rights of Children Born out of Wedlock

Question and answer details
Muslim
2013/03/04
Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. In the Name of Allah I bear witness that none is worthy of worship other than Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and final Messenger. To proceed: I have two children from before I accepted Islam and they were both born out of wedlock in an unlawful relationship before I met my wife. Since accepting Islam I gained custodial rights over them but not custody. They live with me and my wife who also have two children and of course I care for and maintain them. I call them son (6) and daughter (5) and they call me father. My wife calls them step-son and daughter and they call her step-mother. I have learned that children of zina are not ascribed to the father and that there is no parent/child rights between them. They are considered orphans and there is no term as step-parent. Having said all of this back ground info., my question is what are the relations between us according to Shari`ah? Should I allow them to know they are orphans? If their birth mother wants them back though she refuses acceptance of Islam should I allow them to leave my home to live with her? If I am not considered their father than what is our duty to them and them to us? Jazakum Allah khayran.
Muzammil Siddiqi
Muhammad Iqbal Nadvi
Answer

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. 

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

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Dear brother in Islam, we commend your pursuit of knowledge and your keenness to seek what is lawful and avoid what is not. We earnestly implore Allah to bless your efforts in this honorable way.

First of all, it is to be stated that adultery and producing a child out of wedlock is indeed a most enormous sin in Islam. However, a non-Muslim who embraces Islam should be assured of the promise of the Messenger of Allah who said, “Islam wipes out all of one’s past sins.” In other words, on becoming a Muslim every single sin you had committed in the past, no matter how enormous and ugly they were, will be blotted out, and thus once again you will become like a new born, and hence free of all sins. Furthermore, Allah’s infinite compassion is such that while, upon embracing Islam, you are absolved of all of your past sins, you carry over to Islam all of the good deeds you ever happened to do in the past: It is indeed a double mercy.

Secondly, as for the child born out of wedlock, like every other child, he or she is born sinless; it does not carry the stigma of the sin of the father or mother or both. A basic principle in Islamic justice is that no one bears the blame for another’s fault. A child born as a result of an illegitimate relationship suffers no adverse discrimination on account of his parents’ sin.

Responding to the question in point, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that Islam removes the sins of the past. Since you accepted Islam, Inshaa’Allah you will receive the forgiveness for your past sins.

Since you acknowledge that those children are yours, you are their father and they are your children. They are not orphans as long as you are alive. If you want to take care of them, then you should do that, but if their mother wants them, that is acceptable.

Most importantly, try to raise them as Muslims. Because this thing happened before Islam, these children will inherit from you if they are Muslims, but if they do not accept Islam, then they will not have the rights of inheritance from you. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that a Muslim doesn't inherit from a non-Muslim and a non-Muslim doesn't inherit from a Muslim. However, you are allowed to give them a share from your will, which should not be more than 1/3 of your assets.

In this respect, the prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal Nadvi, Imam of Calgary Mosque, Alberta, Canada, and Former Professor at King Saud University, Riyad, Saudi Arabia, adds:

The children born out of wedlock deserve all the care they need as children; thus you should provide them with all the requirements and elements to make them succeed in this life.

They are not responsible for the past deeds of their parents. However, the attribution of the child’s name to the father is based on the acceptance of the father. If he approves of it, then he/she can be named after him.

Allah Almighty knows best.

 

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