Care of Orphans as Commanded by Al-Hasib

Huzur (atba) gave a discourse on the care and upbringing of orphans in his Friday Sermon today.  Huzur (atba) recited the following Quranic verse:

‘And test the understanding of the orphans until they attain the age of marriage; then, if you find in them sound judgment, deliver to them their property; and devour it not in extravagance and haste against their growing up. And whoso is rich, let him abstain; and whoso is poor, let him eat thereof with equity. And when you deliver to them their property, then call witnesses in their presence. And Allah is sufficient as a Reckoner.’ (4:7).

Huzur (atba) said last week he drew attention to a Quranic commandment which, when put in practice with fear of God, is a guarantee for peaceful society.  As the commandment ended on a mention of the Divine attribute of Al Hasib (The Reckoner) therein is a lesson for every Muslim that if they do not abide by expressing the greeting of security, safety and peace [Assalamo Alaikum] they will be held accountable. Huzur (atba) said carrying on with the same subject matter the second significant commandment is not only important for honouring rights of mankind but is also central to eradicating hatred from society and in spreading peace.  As cited in the aforementioned verse, this commandment also ends on the mention of Al Hasib, thereby cautioning believers.  The verse begins by mentioning ‘testing’ of orphans. Huzur (atba) explained this connotes that you should be mindful of the education and training of the orphans who are entrusted in your care.  Do not be negligent of them considering them alone in the world. Just as you keep a check on your own children from time to time, check on the educational and training progress of the orphans.  Do not differentiate between the way you arrange for the academic training of your own children and theirs.  Keep an eye on their special interests and aptitude and try to enhance their natural capacities, providing them with relevant opportunities.  Orphans should never be made to feel that due to their deprivation they could not fully realise their potential or that if their parents were alive they would have been one of the high achievers.  Whether the care of orphans is undertaken by individuals or on a communal level, their education and training and supervision is the responsibility of those who are in-charge of their care.  This care should continue until such time that the orphans reach a marriageable age.  Once reaching adulthood one can look after oneself.  If the education and training of childhood has been sound, one will become a useful part of society. Huzur (atba) explained that the verse illustrates that simply reaching a certain age does not necessarily make an orphan capable to look after the property of his parents.  It is also important for him to be sound of mind and this should be ascertained.  If the young person appears fine in education and general deportment then the property should be entrusted to him;  it is rightfully his. However, if in spite of reaching adulthood, he does not have the mental astuteness to take care of the property, then the property should be supervised and the orphan should be given spending money in accordance to his expenses.  While growing up, he should be explained monetary intricacies.  Some individuals are simple in certain matters but have a good acumen of money-matters.  People may call them simpleton but they have the ability to do good business.

 

 

Those who are in-charge of the orphans do not have a free reign in spending the funds left by the parents.  It should all be fully accounted for and handed over to them upon reaching adulthood.  Many a time people keep the property of orphans under their control in spite of their reaching of age.  If there is any ill-intent, it will be held accountable.  A further safeguard has been put in place to prevent any arrogation of orphan’s inheritance in the term ‘falyasta’fif’ (let him abstain). This signifies that even the thought of taking something from the property of the orphan should be shaken off for it is a satanic thought.  The expenditure of the upbringing of the orphan should be met by the person in-charge of his care no matter how much inheritance there is.  However, if the person in-charge does not have the means to support the orphan, for his upbringing he may spend out of the property/funds left by the parents.  This should be done with utmost diligence and all accounts should be kept. It should not be that money is also taken for the running of the house or money is taken for the utilities expense incurred by the orphan.  Huzur (atba) said there are some ill-intentional people like this.

 

 

Relating Hadith Huzur (atba) said a man asked the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) that he did not have any funds but he was the carer of an orphan.  He was enjoined that he should use from the orphan’s inheritance neither being spendthrift nor niggardly, neither should he use the orphan’s inheritance to enhance his own property nor should he use the orphan’s money to save his own.  Another Hadith relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that if one spends on an orphan while being well-off or spends while not being well-off, when the orphan reaches adulthood and wisdom he should be returned the money with full accounts.  But it is better if the orphan’s inheritance is invested in business and is enhanced.  Huzur (atba) said if a person of limited means cares for an orphan, he has to give an account of every penny spent out of his inheritance.  It is enjoined that when giving an account of their property witnesses should be called so that the orphan does not harbour any grievance.  Huzur (atba) said it is possible to harbour suspicion in such matters; also some people sow the seed of suspicion in the guise of sympathy.  Therefore, in light of human nature God has commanded that witnesses should be called.  Huzur (atba) said this would save the carer from any trouble and the orphan from entertaining any ill-thoughts.  Huzur (atba) said this verse enjoins seven fundamental aspects of taking care of orphans:

 

     

  1. Test the understanding of the orphans, that is, pay attention to their education and training and keep an eye on their progress.

     

  2. This attention to their education and training should continue till they attain adulthood.

     

  3. When they are capable of looking after their property, it should be promptly returned to them.

     

  4. The inheritance of an orphan should only be spent on him.

     

  5. It is certainly not warrantable for a well-off person to take from the orphan’s inheritance for his upbringing.

     

  6. When made a carer of an orphan, a person of meagre means has permission to take appropriate expenses from the orphan’s inheritance.

     

  7. When his property is returned to an orphan, witnesses should be called, so that neither the intention of the carer slips nor the orphan harbours any suspicion.

     

The verse concludes on the reminder that God is watching over all the time and everyone will be called to account.

 

Huzur (atba) said the Holy Qur’an carries many other commandments regarding good treatment of orphans and safeguard of their property.  As in Surah Bani Israel:

‘And come not near the property of the orphan, except in the best way, until he attains his maturity, and fulfil the covenant; for the covenant shall be questioned about.’ (17:35).

Huzur (atba) said this verse also cites the commandment of the earlier verse, however, here a ‘covenant’ is also mentioned. Hadhrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) elucidated that this covenant is in fact the responsibility of the upbringing, nurturing of the orphan and safeguarding his property.  It is an obligation on people and society as a whole that as long as an orphan is not capable of looking after his property they should do it on his behalf.  If the orphan is an Ahmadi then it is the responsibility of the Jama’at.  Huzur (atba) said this is not a favour on the orphans; rather it is the obligation of an Islamic society and it is the right of an orphan.  As God has placed this obligation on Muslims and in their capacity as believers He takes a covenant from them that if they do not fulfil their obligation He will hold them accountable.  This is the same subject as cited in the first verse.

 

 

The Holy Qur’an states:

‘And give to the orphans their property and exchange not the bad for the good, and devour not their property with your own. Surely, it is a great sin.’ (4:3).

Huzur (atba) said here too the same subject is repeated.  If one was to mix an orphan’s property with one’s own property for gain then one’s pure earning will become haram (forbidden) due to the ill-intention and earning property that is haram is a grievous sin.  God states in the Holy Qur’an:

Surely, they who devour the property of orphans unjustly, only swallow fire into their bellies, and they shall burn in a blazing fire.’ (4:11).

Huzur (atba) said thus is the teaching of Islam. It safeguards the disadvantaged in life with great intensity.  The main aim is pleasure of God for which a believer endeavours, indeed should endeavour.

 

 

Huzur (atba) said these commandments are not only for the orphans with property.  The general instruction is that their upbringing and training is the responsibility of society.  If they have inheritance even then their education and training is your responsibility and along with this their property should be looked after.  The incentive to care for orphans should not be their inheritance but their orphan-hood.

 

 

Huzur (atba) said this verse is a further warning to establish the rights of orphans:

‘And let those fear God who, if they should leave behind them their own weak offspring, would be anxious for them. Let them, therefore, fear Allah and let them say the right word. (4:10).

No one knows when death can overtake one.  The thought of leaving one’s own children as orphans should move us into thinking about the welfare of orphans.

 

 

Huzur (atba) said at times the matter is reversed when grandparents consider over-indulgence as suitable upbringing and training of orphans.  The objective is to bring them up in a manner that they become the best part of society.  Orphans can lose their potential due to inferiority complex.  They should be brought up in a manner that they become the best in society.   Their upbringing should neither be too strict nor too lenient; it should be like one brings up one’s own children. The right of an orphan is the same as that of a child with parental support.

 

 

The Quranic verse:

‘Upon this world and the next. And they ask thee concerning the orphans. Say: ‘Promotion of their welfare is an act of great goodness. And if you intermix with them, they are your brethren. And Allah knows the mischief-maker from the reformer. And if Allah had so willed, He would have put you to hardship. Surely, Allah is Mighty, Wise.’ (2:221)

does not merely signify commandment about an orphan with inheritance, rather it denotes orphans of all social standing.

 

 

A Hadith relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said,

‘a person who puts a compassionate hand on the head of an orphan boy or girl merely for the sake of God will be rewarded with virtues in exchange of every single hair on the head on which his sympathetic hand was placed. A person who treats an orphan boy or girl with kindness and favour will be with me in Paradise like these two’

and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) indicated to his two joined fingers.  Thus is the status of one looking after an orphan.  God has given him the glad-tiding of Paradise.  The Companions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) used to strive with each other to look after orphans for they were avaricious to have a place in the feet of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) in Paradise as well.

 

By citing ‘And if you intermix with them, they are your brethren…’ the verse signifies the carer as an older brother of the kind who honours his dues.  Hence the instruction is to help them very well and in a most self-less manner.  God reminds us that He is present everywhere, thus letting us know that He knows full well who creates disorder and who brings about peace.  One’s deportment with the orphans should be to make them the best among society.

 

 

It is God’s grace that those with limited means have been given permission to spend out of the inheritance of an orphan for his/her upbringing.  However, if neither the carer nor the orphan has any means then the administration and management of the community should be contacted.  The objective is not to put anyone in difficulty.

 

 

The Holy Qur’an states about the respect of orphans: ‘Nay, but you honour not the orphan’ (89:18) and for this a warning of Divine chastisement is given.  The Qur’an also states: ‘That is the one who drives away the orphan,’ (107:3).   Huzur (atba) said this evil is indicative of the decline of a society.  It is very important to try extremely hard to eradicate this wickedness in order to create a good society because by not honouring the dues of orphans, a community loses its sense of sacrifice and it deprives the orphans from progressing.  The gap between the rich and the poor increases and rather than a peaceful society, there is chaos.

 

 

God states about those who seek His pleasure: ‘And they feed, for love of Him, the poor, the orphan, and the prisoner,’ (76:9).   Huzur (atba) said this is an illustration of the beautiful society about which God reminds us and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) also laid stress on.  A Hadith relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said a person who cares for three orphans is like one who offers Tahajjud at night, keeps fasts and does Jihad in the cause of God.  They will both be like brothers in Paradise and the Prophet indicated to his forefinger and his middle finger joined.  The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) also said that Paradise is certain for one who regularly includes an orphan of Muslim parents in his meals, unless he is embroiled in a sin that cannot be forgiven. Huzur (atba) explained that shirk (associating partners with God) is the biggest sin, other than that God gives immense reward to those who care for orphans.

 

 

Huzur (atba) said with the grace of God, our Community looks after orphans.  In Africa we look after orphans of other faiths as well.  However, today Huzur (atba) made a Tehrik (programme) with reference to Pakistan and the scheme of Yak Sad Yatama (One Hundred Orphans) which is working under the Yak Sad Yatama Committee.  Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) initiated this in 1989 in the Ahmadiyya Centenary year as a mark of thankfulness.  The scheme was to initially look after a hundred orphans.  However, this scheme has extended tremendously.  The initial plan was to keep the hundred orphans in a hostel but their relatives opted to look after them in their homes with the Community helping with the expenses.  In any case, Huzur (atba) said the number of orphans under the care of this scheme have grown immensely.  We heard the Divine commandments as ahadith regarding care of the orphans and realise the significance of the matter.  Currently, two thousand and seven hundred orphans belonging to five hundred families are being looked after in Pakistan under this scheme.  The monthly expenses of this reach between 2, 500,000 to 3,000,000 Rupees.  The funds are spent most carefully on food, education, medical treatment, marriage of young women and maintenance of any property the orphans may have.  The expenses are vast and it is felt that there is an extreme need in this fund.  The Sadr sahib of the Yatama Committee mentions this in indirect though never direct words to Huzur (atba) in his letters requesting prayers.

 

 

Therefore today Huzur (atba) made a Tehrik to all the Pakistani Ahmadis who live in USA, Canada, Europe and the UK to participate in this scheme.  What greater glad-tiding can there be for a believer than that he/she will be given a place in the feet of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).  Huzur (atba) said he has estimated that if each person of Ahmadi households of the UK, Europe, Canada and USA paid £7 to £10 per head annually towards this scheme a huge burden of the Yatama scheme can be met. £10 per year is a meager amount for people living here, however, it can play a huge role in making the future of many orphans bright.  Those who are well-off can give more.  Generally the help and support given to the orphans is of 1000 to 3000 Rupee per month.

 

 

Huzur (atba) also drew the attention of the Ahmadis in Pakistan to generously give in this fund and do this in view of the Quranic verse, ‘… for love of Him…’.  Huzur (atba) clarified that he certainly was not stopping non-Pakistani Ahmadis from participating in this scheme, they may do so as well, but he was specifically asking Pakistani Ahmadis to participate for the Pakistani orphans.

 

 

May God enable us to fulfil the rights of the disadvantaged in the society to the best of our ability and may we always be those who seek God’s pleasure.