In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation—may He extol the Messenger in the highest company of Angels and send His peace and blessings upon him—likewise upon his family, Companions, and true followers.
Dear brothers and sisters! My words in this blessed hour are about an important issue entitled, WORLD ORPHANS DAY: STOP DEVOURING, STEALING OR MISMANAGING THE PROPERTY OF ORPHANS.
Respected brothers and sisters! As Nigeria joined rest of the world to commemorate World Orphans Day 2022, on Monday, November 14, 2022, our center, Nagazi Islamic Center, lamented the neglect of orphans across the country by government at all levels and Nigerian citizens.
The issues affecting orphans are unbearable as they seem to have bleak future as they are not included in the scheme of things.
As you know, these category of vulnerable children in society have been our top priority in our planning and activities as Muslims.
Dear servants of Allah! Tragically, millions of children all over the globe have become orphaned for many reasons: war, famine, displacement, disease, poverty, hunger, religious and ethnic crisis, terrorism or armed banditry. To make sure that they are not forgotten, once a year there is a special day dedicated just to them: World Orphans Day, which falls on the second Monday of each November.
This special day has been put in place in order to draw attention to the plight of the world’s orphans, and so on this day, people are encouraged to actively participate in helping raise awareness, support, and funding for motherless and fatherless children worldwide. A noble cause if there ever was one!
My beloved people! Anything you can do to help could make a world of a difference to an impoverished orphan, so please take some time to figure out what you can do and get to it! You could, for example, organise an event to raise money. There is also the possibility to sponsor an individual child in an orphanage of your choice in a particularly poor part of the world or to invest in education programmes that aim to give orphans a new start in life. There are many ways to help orphans and this annual day aims to bring those ideas to as wide an audience as possible.
Great servants of Allah! Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported in their Sahih on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Avoid the seven major destructive sins. The Companions said: O Allah’s Messenger! What are they? He said: To join others in worship along with Allah, to practice sorcery, to kill the life which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause (according to Islamic law), to eat up Ribah (usury), to eat up an orphan’s wealth, to give back to the enemy and fleeing from the battlefield at the time of fighting, and calumniate the chaste, innocent, believing women.”
Let us recognise the concept of orphans, their good treatment, the virtue of taking care of them, and the prohibition of wasting their money and savings.
Now let me ask, who is the orphan?
The orphan in Shari’ah is the one whose father died while he did not reach the puberty age, however he is not called an orphan after reaching the puberty age. Hanzalah Al-Maliki (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“There is no orphanhood after puberty for males, and a girl is not considered an orphan after menstruation.”
So, the word “orphan” reported in the Qur’an and the Sunnah means the one whose father died without reaching the puberty age either a male or female [i.e. The puberty age is almost 14 years old].
Of the things that cure the wounds of orphans in the Muslim society is that our Lord willed that our Prophet (Peace be upon him) be an orphan, however he was reared perfectly by his Lord whom Allah addressed in the occasion of reminding him of Allah’s Favour saying:
“Did He (Allah) not find you (O Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him) an orphan and gave you a refuge?”
Also some Companions were orphans, such as: Abu Hurairah and Az-Zubair Ibn Al’Awwam etc.
Again some famous great scholars of Islam were orphans, such as: Imam Bukhari, Imam Al Shafi`i, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Imam Ibn Al Jawzi, Imam Al Awza`i, As-Suyuti, Ibn Hajar and Ath-Thawri. It is enough merit for them that they were reasonable people, leaders in guidance, celebrities in piety, lights in darkness, and like suns among people.
The child who has lost his father or his parents is subject to eating his money, negligence, and aggression, therefore the Islamic Shari’ah assigned great rights to orphans and commanded people to take care of them, neglecting them is one of the major sins (Alkaba’ir), and giving up this right shall lead to the spread of crimes in society. Allah Almighty says:
“Did He not find you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) an orphan and gave you a refuge? And He found you unaware (of the Qur’an, its legal laws, and Prophethood, etc.) and guided you? And He found you poor, and made you rich (self-sufficient with self-contentment, etc.)?” [Surah Ad-Duha: 6 – 8]
Dear brothers and sisters! Benefits gained from these Qur’anic verses show that an orphan needs three matters rapidly in his life without delay: An abode to shelter him, good rearing, and money which is spent for him. So, the verses stress three things: Housing, expenditure, and rearing. The Qur’anic verses addresses the nation saying: O nation, secure housing to every orphan to live in, money to spend from, and good rearing and education so as not to go astray and be wretched. The Qur’anic verses came to look after orphans from the psychological and the social aspect to grow up straight; so the verses commanded people to honour and show kindness to them and prohibited suppressing, scolding, and humiliating them. Allah the Most High says:
“Therefore, treat not the orphan with oppression” and the word “oppression” is full of psychological and physical pressure, humiliation, and lack of dignity as reported by Ibn Munzir in Lisanul-Arab.
Allah Almighty dispraised those who humiliate, rebuke, and push orphans so that they would not gain their due rights:
“Have you seen him who denies the Recompense? That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly), And urges not on the feeding of Al-Miskin (the needy).”
The meaning of “repulses the orphan” is pushing him harshly to prevent him from gaining his rights. The word “repulses” is amazing because it includes all the meanings of dismissal, negligence, harshness, violence and all features of injustice which orphans face in society.
The verses of the Glorious Qur’an gave great care to the financial rights of orphans so as not to be reliable to loss and usurping their money, and assigned for them many resources to take money therefrom such as: Charity and Zakah (poor-due). Allah Almighty says:
“And gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to Al-Masakin (the needy).”
Allah the Most High says about inheritance:
“And when the relatives and the orphans and Al-Masakin (the poor) are present at the time of division, give them out of the property, and speak to them words of kindness and justice.” [Surah An-Nisa’: 8]
Allah Almighty says about the spoils of war/war booty/Ghanimah:
“And know that whatever of war-booty that you may gain, verily one-fifth (1/5th) of it is assigned to Allah, and to the Messenger, and to the near relatives [of the Messenger (Muhammad)], (and also) the orphans.” [Surah Al-Anfal: 41]
Respected servants of Allah! In order to take care of orphans, there are three cases:
- A rich orphan whose father died and left him some money. In this case, his mother, his uncle, his grandfather, or anyone of his relatives undertake him to preserve his money and invest it. In this case, an orphan needs a good rearing because he has secured housing and money.
- A poor orphan whose father died without leaving something to him, and that needs money and rearing.
- A poor orphan whose parents died without leaving money, in this case one of his relatives or one of the benevolent should take care of him because he needs housing, money, and rearing.
It is not valid either from the Shari’ah side or by nature to deprive those orphans twice, once from the kindness of their mother and father and from the compassion of the society. Allah Almighty says:
“But he has made no effort to pass on the path that is steep. And what will make you know the path that is steep? (It is) Freeing a neck (slave, etc.) Or giving food in a day of hunger (famine), to an orphan near of kin.” [Surah Al-Balad: 11-15]
Imam Ibn Kathir said in his Qur’anic exegesis (Tafsir):
“But he has made no effort to pass on the path that is steep” means: Should not he follow the way that leads to salvation and goodness?
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever wipes the head of an orphan for the sake of Allah, he shall have deeds as much as hair he passed his hand over.”
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that a man complained to Messenger of Allah the hardheartedness of his heart, so the Prophet said to him: If you want to soften your heart, feed the needy and wipe over the heads of orphans.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“If anyone invites an orphan to his food and drink then Allah will admit him to paradise there being not even a semblance of doubt about it unless he commits a sin that is unforgivable.”
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) 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. He separated between his fingers to show the difference between the one who does so and Prophets. The meaning of the one who looks after orphans is the one who sponsors them by housing, money, and rearing whether a grandfather, a grandmother, a mother, a parental uncle or aunt, or a maternal uncle or aunt, and a relative or non-relative. Looking after orphans includes trusted charitable societies where people pay money to spend on orphans until they grow up. Imam An-Nawawy said:
“This is a virtue that is given to a person who looks after orphans by spending from his own money or the money of orphans.”
The meaning is: The man who marries a woman who has young children and looks after them whether from his own money or from their money shall be a companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) in Paradise.
The one who looks after orphans must maintain their money and do not spend it except in things that benefit orphans because of Allah’s Saying:
“And come not near to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he (or she) attains the age of full strength.” [Surah Al-An’am: 152]
So, a guardian should endeavour to develop the money of orphans by commerce. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Deal with the orphan’s money so as not to be eaten up by Zakah.”
Zakah is destructive to saved money, so if a person does not use money in commerce, Zakah will reduce it.
One of the major sins (Alkaba’ir) is to waste orphan’s money whether by not preserving them, not to seek it, or eating it falsely. Allah Almighty says:
“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!” [Surah An-Nisa’: 10]
When the big brother eats up the right of his younger brothers who have become orphans after the death of their father and deprived their sisters, they shall drink from a boiling water on the Day of Recompense. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“O Allah, I declare inviolable the rights of two weak ones: The orphans and women.”
And the meaning of the Hadith is: Warning against the oppression of those two: Women and orphans because their weakness may tempt aggressors to oppress them and seize their rights. Therefore, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) invoked Allah to cast narrowness and sin in the heart of people who harm orphans.
In order to give orphans their money, there are two basic conditions which are: Reaching the puberty age and mental soundness. One of these two cannot replace the other, so both are required as was understood from Allah’s Saying:
“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 labour). And when you release their property to them, take witness in their presence; and Allah is All-Sufficient in taking account.” [Surah An-Nisa’: 6]
Now let me ask my brothers and sisters another very important question. What is the reality of orphans in the world?
According to the most recent UNICEF estimates for the number of orphans (age 0–17 years) globally (referring to loss of one or both parents to all causes) is 210 million, with an estimated 17.7 million orphans attributed to AIDS. In SSA alone there are close to 60 million orphans, a number that represents more than 20 percent of all children in this region. An estimated 15.2 million children in SSA are orphaned due to AIDS (UNICEF 2013); this represents 86 percent of the global burden of orphans due to AIDS.
In Nigeria, the number of orphans has increased due to insecurity issues such as violence and clashes in many parts of the country. In 2015, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development estimated that there were about 17.5 million orphans and vulnerable children in a nation of about 200 million people. That is close to nine per cent of the population. Sadly, this number has increased over the years due to violence, conflicts, communal clashes and insecurity in different parts of the country.
And according to the former Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettimah, there are 50,000 children orphaned by Boko Haram in his state. And the former Governor has disclosed that the majority of them who are taking refuge at the various internally Displaced persons (IDPs) camps in Maiduguri and environs are Girl child.
Shettimah made the disclosure at the time he was a Governor of Borno State, while officially launching the flag-off of the Nine European Union (EU) – funded projects aimed at building the resilience in conflict affected communities in Borno state.
Also Gaza war caused 1350 children to lose their parents, whereas the war in Iraq left five million orphans. What about Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Burma, Northern Nigeria etc?
There are more than 210 million orphans worldwide, and due to the lack of care with this segment, 10% of the orphans who leave shelters commit suicide, more than 60% of girls head to prostitution, and 70% of male children head to the world of crime.
Respected servants of Allah! Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“The person who strives on behalf of the widows and poor is like those who strive in the way of Allah and like those who fast in the day and pray at night.”
“A woman came to me who had two of her daughters with her. She asked me for something, but I could not find anything except for a single date which I gave her. She divided it between her daughters and then got up and left. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) came in and I told him what had happened. He said, ‘Whoever looks after these girls in any way and is good to them will have them as a veil (shield) from the Fire.'”
Umm Sa’id Bint Murrah al-Fihri related from her father that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“I and the guardian of an orphan will be in the Garden like these two (His two fingers).”
Al-Hasan reported that an orphan used to eat with Ibn Umar. One day he called for food and looked for this orphan but could not find him. He arrived after Ibn Umar had finished. Ibn Umar called for more food to be brought to him but they did not have any. So he was brought sawiq and honey. He said, “Here, have this! By Allah, you have not been cheated!” Al-Hasan said, “By Allah, Ibn Umar was not cheated!”
Sahl Ibn Sa’ad reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“I and the guardian of the orphan will be in the Garden (Paradise) like that,” indicating his forefinger and middle finger.”
Abu Bakr Ibn Hafs reported that Abdullah would not eat unless an orphan was at his table. Because the best house is a house in which orphans are well treated. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“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.”
“Be like a merciful father towards the orphan. Know that you will reap as you sow. How ugly poverty is after wealth! More than that: how ugly is misguidance after guidance! When you make a promise to your friend, fulfil your promise. If you do not, it will bring about enmity between you and him. Seek refuge in Allah from a companion who, when you mention something to him, does not help you and who does not remind you when you forget.”
Asma’u Bint Ubaid said:
“I said to Ibn Sirin, ‘I have an orphan in my care.’ He said, ‘Treat him as you would treat your own child. Beat him as you would beat your own child.'”
Awf Ibn Malik reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“I and a woman who is widowed and is patient with her child will be like these two fingers in the Garden (Paradise).”
Shumaisah al-Atakiyyah said:
“The disciplining of orphans was mentioned in the presence of Aisha and she said, ‘I would beat an orphan until he submits.'”
Dear brothers and sisters! I end my today’s sermon by saying: all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation; may Allah extol the mention of our noble Prophet Muhammad in the highest company of Angels, bless him and give him peace and security―and his family, his Companions and all those who follow him correctly and sincerely until the establishment of the Hour.
Wishing you and all your loved ones a Joyous Jumu’ah Mubarak.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: email@example.com or +2348038289761.