Protection of orphans and the poor in the Qur’an

The mercifulness of believers may also be observed in their approach to orphans. The noblest of attitudes that must be shown to orphans, who need the care and interest of others because they have lost their parents, are made explicit in the Qur'an. One of the exemplary attitudes believers meticulously adopt is "to do good" to orphans and "never to treat them harshly".
In societies in which the values of the Qur'an are not observed, no system has been devised to protect the rights of orphans or to secure their future. Protection, such as it is, depends upon the conscience of the people. For this reason, some ill-intentioned individuals may try to benefit from the lack of experience and ignorance of these children. Indeed, having no one to protect their rights, orphans can readily become subject to abusive treatment at the hands of those who have taken it upon themselves to care for them. Such people may expect orphans to feel gratitude because they have taken them under their wing or they may reproachfully remind them of the kindnesses they have done them. On the other hand, subjecting them to a different kind of treatment, they may oppress these children in both the physical and the spiritual sense. Nevertheless, Allah prohibits subjecting orphans to harsh treatment and condemns those who mistreat them:
Have you seen him who denies the religion? He is the one who harshly rebuffs the orphan and does not urge the feeding of the poor. So woe to those who do prayer, and are forgetful of their prayer, those who show off and deny help to others. (Surat al-Ma'un: 1-7)
Contrary to such offensive treatment, Qur'anic morality demands tolerant and compassionate treatment of orphans as expressed in the verse, "(be good to) orphans and the very poor. And speak good words to people". (Surat al-Baqara: 83) Believers meticulously observe this command. Their conscience and understanding of humanity entail the protection of orphans who need help and care, and the meeting of all their spiritual and material needs. Believers never oppress orphans, expect them to appreciate their kindness or strive to obtain any material or spiritual benefits from them. On the contrary, they protect their rights and adopt the best possible attitude. Their strong sense of what is right, their profound fear of Allah and their compassion account for this meticulousness.
Improving the situation in life of orphans and bringing them up as decent individuals:
…They will ask you about the property of orphans. Say, "Managing it in their best interests is best". If you mix your property with theirs, they are your brothers… (Surat al-Baqara: 220)
As is implied in the above verse, Allah advises believers to bring orphans up as decent individuals. Believers show keenness to take this responsibility upon themselves and do their best to educate them in the best way possible.
However, the most important responsibility of a person who takes a child under his protection is to instill in him the noble values of the Qur'an and to make him regard Allah with due appreciation. That is because these are the most important issues that guide the individual to truth and salvation. A child develops moral sense in the light of the knowledge he acquires in his early years and is accordingly prepared for his eternal life in the hereafter. For this reason, this is the most important issue to which a believer pays attention while an orphan under his care is being educated. He does his utmost to ensure that he or she has superior values as a believer. No doubt, this is only made possible by his living by the values of the Qur'an himself. Abiding by Islamic ethics ensures that orphans grow up into decent, intelligent, hard-working individuals.
Allah issues a stern warning to those who misappropriate the wealth of orphans:
People who consume the property of orphans wrongfully consume nothing in their bellies except fire. They will roast in a Searing Blaze. (Surat an-Nisa': 10)
In compliance with the above verse, believers who assume the responsibility for an orphan do not spend that orphan's personal wealth for their own needs or expect anything in return. On the contrary, giving them priority over all others, they protect the rights and wealth of such orphans as are entrusted to them by Allah.
Being meticulous about protecting the wealth of an orphan entrusted to one's care is something peculiar to those who are sincere in their faith, who have a high standard of morality and who grasp the understanding of mercy described in the Qur'an, especially since a guardian is granted the authority to spend the wealth of an orphan. Not spending a penny for one's own personal needs out of a property entrusted to one—despite having the authority to spend from it is truly a matter of conscience. In the Qur'an, Allah advises the wealthy guardian to behave decently in this matter. If the guardian in question is poor, then he is allowed to spend within the due limits specified in the Qur'an. Allah warns that, "devouring" the wealth of the orphan is a grave sin.
Give orphans their property, and do not substitute bad things for good. Do not assimilate their property into your own. Doing that is a serious crime. (Surat an-Nisa': 2)
Fearing Allah and His grievous punishment in the hereafter, believers carefully conserve the wealth of orphans until they reach intellectual maturity. When orphans grow old and mature enough to exercise rational and healthy judgement, believers hand over their property to them. The conditions of this are specified in the Qur'an as follows:
Keep a close check on orphans until they reach a marriageable age, then if you perceive that they have sound judgement hand over their property to them. Do not consume it extravagantly and precipitately before they come of age. Those who are wealthy should abstain from it altogether. Those who are poor should use it sensibly and correctly. When you hand over their property to them ensure that there are witnesses on their behalf. Allah suffices as a Reckoner. (Surat an-Nisa': 6)
(For further reading, see Harun Yahya “The mercy of believers”)
2007-05-01 13:08:50

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