It is out of God's infinite mercy and justice that He guards the weak and the helpless. God expects the believers to have the same sense of compassion and justice. Quran contains many reminders and commands to regard the children with integrity, nourish them with love, and protect them by all means until they become mature physically, mentally and emotionally to stand for their rights and speak for themselves.
God knows most parents love to support their kids and provide them with the best for a good life. He used this instinct of love in their hearts to motivate them to be both charitable and equitable to other kids as well. An example is that integrity and righteousness are to be observed in situations of witnessing the execution of wills on behalf of dependent children. God informs the believers that they will be paid back for this righteousness in the form of divine care and support for their own dependent kids in case they die and leave them behind:
[4:8] During distribution of the inheritances, if relatives, orphans, and needy persons are present, you shall give them therefrom, and treat them kindly.
[4:9]Those who are concerned about their own children, in case they leave them behind, shall observe GOD and be equitable.
[2:265] The example of those who give their money seeking GOD's pleasure, out of sincere conviction, is that of a garden on high fertile soil; when heavy rain falls, it gives twice as much crop. If heavy rain is not available, a drizzle will suffice. GOD is Seer of everything you do.
[2:266] Does any of you wish to own a garden of palm trees and grapes, with flowing streams and generous crops, then, just as he grows old, and while his children are still dependent on him, a holocaust strikes and burns up his garden? GOD thus clarifies the revelations for you, that you may reflect.
This reminder is not exclusively about what God has decreed to care for our own dependent children. It lists the verses that contains both obligations and manners to righteously deal with the dependent kids God brings our way - our own ones, those who are in our care or those who are in need of our guardianship and protection- until they become capable of taking care of themselves:
- Healthy parents are by instinct seeking the best for their kids. The best in the sight of God is reverencing Him (49:13). Therefore, believing parents feel obligated to raise their kids according to the standards of righteousness detailed in Quran. The wisdom of Luqmaan that he shared with his son in 31:13, 31:16-19 is an excellent educational lesson for all parents and guardians about the responsibility to teach kids the basic and necessary righteous values decreed by God.
[20:132] You shall enjoin your family to observe the contact prayers (Salat), and steadfastly persevere in doing so. We do not ask you for any provisions; we are the ones who provide for you. The ultimate triumph belongs to the righteous.
Abraham and Jacob were joining their kids rehearsing the lines of submission to God alone until their last moments:
[2:132] Moreover, Abraham exhorted his children to do the same, and so did Jacob: "O my children, GOD has pointed out the religion for you; do not die except as submitters."
[2:133] Had you witnessed Jacob on his death bed; he said to his children, "What will you worship after I die?" They said, "We will worship your god; the god of your fathers Abraham, Ismail, and Isaac; the one god. To Him we are submitters."
- Writing a will to prepare for departing this world, and to specify all the protective measures for the future of the children left behind is decreed by God as a duty upon the believers. This emphasizes how important of an obligation to plan for the continued support and provision for the dependent kids left behind. As indicated in 4:8-9, above, those who witness the execution of wills must reverence God while undertaking the great responsibility of perfectly honoring the wishes of the deceased :
[2:180] It is decreed that when death approaches, you shall write a will for the benefit of the parents and relatives, equitably. This is a duty upon the righteous.
[4:11] GOD decrees a will for the benefit of your children; the male gets twice the share of the female. If the inheritors are only women, more than two, they get two-thirds of what is bequeathed. If only one daughter is left, she gets one-half. The parents of the deceased get one-sixth of the inheritance each, if the deceased has left any children. If he left no children, and his parents are the only inheritors, the mother gets one-third. If he has siblings, then the mother gets one-sixth. All this, after fulfilling any will the deceased has left, and after paying off all debts. When it comes to your parents and your children, you do not know which of them is really the best to you and the most beneficial. This is GOD's law. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise
- Killing any human is strictly prohibited by God in Quran, but killing innocent souls who cannot defend themselves in the name of religion, or out of fear of poverty is a vicious crime and a gross sin according to God:
[17:31] You shall not kill your children due to fear of poverty. We provide for them, as well as for you. Killing them is a gross offense.
[81:8] The girl who was buried alive is asked:
[81:9] For what crime was she killed?
[6:140] Losers indeed are those who killed their children foolishly, due to their lack of knowledge, and prohibited what GOD has provided for them, and followed innovations attributed to GOD. They have gone astray; they are not guided.
- Defending the children and all those who are weak and oppressed on earth is an obligation for the believers:
[4:75] Why should you not fight in the cause of GOD when weak men, women, and children are imploring: "Our Lord, deliver us from this community whose people are oppressive, and be You our Lord and Master."
- Adopted children are also well cared for in Quran. Their genetic heritage has to be preserved for all health objectives, and they are to be regarded, nourished and cared for just like our own children:
[33:5] You shall give your adopted children names that preserve their relationship to their genetic parents. This is more equitable in the sight of GOD. If you do not know their parents, then, as your brethren in religion, you shall treat them as members of your family. You do not commit a sin if you make a mistake in this respect; you are responsible for your purposeful intentions. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
- Caring for the children is also highlighted in the divorce laws. Divorced women must wait for three months before considering another marriage to be sure they are not pregnant. If they are, it is unlawful to hide the information from the fathers. For the well being of the unborn child, a righteous woman should know that the genetic father is preferred to raise him/her and would consider reconciliation (2:228).
If the parents mutually agree to go with the divorce, the divorced mothers shall nurse their infants for two full years. 2:233 reflects the utmost care of those helpless infants while parents are finalizing and going through their divorce. Maintaining an amicable relation between divorcees and providing all means of comfort and support for the divorced mother will be reflected in the care for the child and his/her well being:
[2:233] Divorced mothers shall nurse their infants two full years, if the father so wishes. The father shall provide the mother's food and clothing equitably. No one shall be burdened beyond his ability. No mother shall be harmed on account of her infant, nor shall the father be harmed because of his infant. (If the father dies), his inheritor shall assume these responsibilities. If the infant's parents mutually agree to part, after due consultation, they commit no error by doing so. You commit no error by hiring nursing mothers, so long as you pay them equitably. You shall observe GOD, and know that GOD is Seer of everything you do.
- It is noteworthy that both marriage and divorce are based on choice and mutual agreement of both parties, the man and the woman (2:221, 4:24, 2:33, 4:35). A certain level of wisdom and maturity is needed to reach for agreements and to make decisions. The claim documented in man-made history books of Hadith& Sunna that prophet Muhammad married a nine years old child cannot be validated in the light of Quran. That myth is a direct violation of all the divine ethics to guard for the children and to preserve their innocence as in (24:58). It is also against the divine DECREE for a man and a woman to mutually agree with marriage or divorce.
- Forcing girls to be prostitutes is a betrayal of morality decreed in Quran (24:30-31) and is prohibited by God:
[24:33] ...You shall not force your girls to commit prostitution, seeking the materials of this world, if they wish to be chaste. If anyone forces them, then GOD, seeing that they are forced, is Forgiver, Merciful.
- Orphans are placed in the spot light when it comes to caring for needy and helpless children. Among the eligible categories that is ranked right after our parents and the relatives to receive our charity is the orphans. This charity to feed and spend from our provisions on the orphans is mentioned by God in seven different verses ( 76:8, 90:15, 2:177, 2:215, 4:8, 8:41, 59:7). However, bringing them up as righteous candidates of the community, honoring them just like our own family members, and sympathizing with their fragile emotions and wounded hearts due to the loss of their parents is decreed by God in another six verses (89:17, 93:9, 107:2, 2:83, 2:220, 4:36). Another important aspect of caring for the orphans is guarding their money and properties until they become eligible to manage them on their own. This is emphasized in five other verses (6:152,17:34, 4:2, 4:6, 4:10). Wronging our souls and cheating them out of their own rights because of their helplessness or dependence while observing such a duty is an abomination with a shameful and miserable penalty:
[4:10] Those who consume the orphans' properties unjustly, eat fire into their bellies, and will suffer in Hell.
The story of Moses and the knowledgeable servant of God in chapter eighteen and what this servant did to protect the treasure left for two orphaned boys sets a powerful reminder for us to go out of our ways, above and beyond, in protecting the rights of the orphans:
[18:82] "As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city. Under it, there was a treasure that belonged to them. Because their father was a righteous man, your Lord wanted them to grow up and attain full strength, then extract their treasure. Such is mercy from your Lord. I did none of that of my own volition. This is the explanation of the things you could not stand."
4:127 is another verse that re-emphasizes and commands us to fear God in dealing with both boys and girls orphans. It also highlights the importance of being equitable to orphaned girls when they are ready to get married. Lack of guardianship should not be a justification for any form of abuse:
[4:127] They consult you concerning women: say, "GOD enlightens you regarding them, as recited for you in the scripture. You shall restore the rights of orphaned girls whom you cheat out of their due dowries when you wish to marry them: you shall not take advantage of them. The rights of orphaned boys must also be protected as well. You shall treat the orphans equitably. Whatever good you do, GOD is fully aware thereof."
The only ground for polygamy in Quran is to care for orphaned kids when marrying their mother is deemed best for them.. This is conditioned by the man's ability to be absolutely equitable in dealing with more than one wife. It is evident from all the above 20 mentioned verses about orphans that regarding them and stepping in to provide for them is an obligation for all righteous believers that could be fulfilled without the need to marry their mothers. It is only logical to conclude that the Most Merciful is offering this one option in specific situations or in certain unfair societies when a father figure for the orphans is needed and deemed as the best remedy to spare them any kind of injustice or mistreatment.
[4:3] If you deem it best for the orphans, you may marry their mothers - you may marry two, three, or four. If you fear lest you become unfair, then you shall be content with only one, or with what you already have. Additionally, you are thus more likely to avoid financial hardship.
In conclusion, the divine morality in Quran sets the highest standards of ethics and compassion. God, the Most Merciful, the Source of true Justice, speaks on behalf of all the children and stands for their rights. Utmost care, love, protection and honor are granted to all dependent kids - orphans, adopted kids, needy children of the community and our own children. As parents, guardians and community members, raising helpless children as dignified and righteous submitters is a sign of our reverence of God and a validation of our belief in Him.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.