Adopting a child according to Islamic laws
By: Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani
Question: My wife is sterile, and I love children very much. I do not want to die without leaving righteous descendents after me. I spoke with my wife about marrying a faithful girl who would be as her friend and assistant so that Allah may grant me good offspring, but she refused and was about to attack and kill me.Several weeks passed until our relation was restored to its natural state. I then suggested to her that we might look for an orphan and adopt him as our son, if it was acceptable to her. She accepted, but I do not know whether she was sincere or she just accepted out of courtesy. Nevertheless, how should we go about finding an orphan? How can we be sure that he is not illegitimate?
The answer: In the first part of the problem, the wife should understand the truth and submit to the verdict of the Sharia, which is the verdict of Allah, Who has given man the right to marry two, three, or four wives (on condition that he will treat them all fairly and equally) in normal cases, then how about if the first wife is in a state like that of your wife?
Let this wife be sure that when Allah sees her submit to His judgment, He will grant her goodness that will make her happy in this life and in the afterlife. If her husband does get married, whether she agrees to it or not, let her beware of the whispering of the Satan, who is the bitterest enemy of man.
In the story of Sara, the wife of Prophet Abraham (a.s.), there is a big similarity to the story of this tried wife. Sara was sterile. Prophet Abraham (a.s.) got married to Hagar. Sara became jealous of Hagar with the jealousy of unfaithful women. Therefore, Allah punished Sara by granting Hagar a good son whose name was Ishmael (a.s.), who was the forefather of our Prophet Muhammad (S) and the millions of sayyids throughout these past fourteen centuries after hijra, whereas Sara has gone without any mention.
As for the second part of the problem, if you agree on adopting an orphan, this will be a great deed if you carry out its conditions.
The Prophet (S) said, as narrated by Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.), ‘Whoever adopts an orphan until [the orphan] becomes secure from his needs, Allah will assure Paradise to him for it just as He assures Hell to the eater of an orphan’s property.’
The Prophet (S) also said, ‘The best of your houses is a house in which there is an orphan treated kindly, and the worst of your houses is a house in which there is an orphan treated badly.’
He also said, ‘Whoever shares his food and drink with an orphan so that the orphan becomes secure from his needs will be in Paradise.’
As for the matter of looking for an orphan who is not illegitimate, this matter has its own method that requires personal efforts and great accuracy, and in some countries, certain official places can help you out. I pray to Allah to make you and your wife successful in doing good deeds.
 Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 75 p.4.
 Al-Hikam az-Zahira an an-Nabiy wa Itratihi at-Tahira, p.212.