War has always been a disastrous disgusting affair. Men kill each other, families get destroyed, and worst of all, humanity betrays its trust, that is protecting the earth and being our Creator’s vicegerents on it. After any war, the ones who pay the price the most are widows and orphans, may Allah curse all those who take war as a ride for their sick never ending greed. Those who prefer their interest above people’s lives have always been the reason behind all evils. Hence, taking care of orphans and widows is among our major duties, every community according to its measures and best practices. Among the laws and injunctions which Allah sent in the Qur’an 1400 years ago are the following:
“Virtue is to believe in Allah, the Judgment Day, the angels, the Holy Book and the prophets, [the virtuous are those who] despite their love for money, give it away to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, the wayfarers, those who ask [for charity], and for freeing those held in slavery, and [the virtuous are those who] observe their prayers, pay Zakah, keep their pledges when they make them, and are perseverant in hardship and adversity, and in times of distress. Such are the true believers, and such are the pious ones.” [The Qur’an (2:177)]
“They ask you about orphans, say: ‘It is good to set things right for them. If you combine their affairs with yours, remember they are your brothers and sisters, and that Allah knows those who spoil things and those who improve them. Had He so willed, He could have made you vulnerable too: He is Almighty, He is Most-Wise’.” [The Qur’an (2:220)]
“Give the orphans their property, do not replace [their] good things with bad, and do not consume their property with your own, verily, this is a great sin.” [The Qur’an (4:2)]
“Keep a close check on orphans till they attain the age of marriage, then, if you find them mature and mindful, hand over their property to them. Do not consume it by wasteful spending, before they reach this age. If the guardian is affluent, let him abstain altogether, and if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable. When you hand over their property to them, call witnesses in their presence, Allah is sufficient as a Reckoner.” [The Qur’an (4:6)]
“Verily, those who consume the property of orphans unjustly are actually swallowing fire into their own bellies: they will burn in blazing Flames.” [The Qur’an (4:10)]
“Worship Allah, and join none with Him (in worship), and be kind to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near of kin, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and what your right hands possess (i.e. Your slaves): For Allah loves not those who are arrogant and those who are vainglorious.” [The Qur’an (4:36)]
“Do not treat the orphan with harshness, and do not chide the one who asks for help.” [The Qur’an (93:9-10)]
“Have you seen the one who denies my message? He is the one who drives away the orphan and does not exhort the feeding of the poor.” [The Qur’an (107:1-3)]
The above Qur’anic verses hold the following injunctions:
- Spend from your money on taking care of destitute orphans.
- Take care of the wealthy orphans and invest for them their inheritance properly.
- Orphans are your brothers and sisters, be mindful of that in your treatment to them.
- Never detract any of the orphan’s property or rights.
- Never waste any of the orphan’s property or rights.
- If the guardian is rich, he must not take any wage for investing or taking care of the orphans’ property.
- If the guardian was poor, let him assign a reasonable salary for himself with the presence of witnesses.
- Keep a close check on the orphans till they become mindful and mature enough to manage their own affairs.
- When you hand the orphans their property, witnesses must attend and confirm that the orphans have received all of their property without any deductions.
- Be kind and merciful in your treatment to orphans, do not chide them or drive them away.
Besides the previous Qur’anic verses, Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. taught Muslims a special code of conduct towards orphans, among his traditions are the following:
“Whoever wipes the head of an orphan with his hand, is rewarded for every hair his hand touches.” [Recorded by Bukhari]
“If you want to have a gentle heart, feed the needy and wipe above the orphan’s head.” [Recorded by Ahmad]
“Bring the orphan closer, wipe above his or her head, and carry him on your lap, your heart shall soften and whatever troubles you shall fade away.”
“The best house among Muslims is a house in which an orphan lives and is treated kindly, and the worst house among Muslims is a house in which an orphan lives and is treated badly.” [Recorded by Ibn-Maja]
“Whoever is assigned as the guardian on the property of an orphan, let him invest it so that it wouldn’t be consumed by Zakah.” [Recorded by Tirmidhī]
The traditions did not promulgate new laws, rather, they disseminated the seeds of kindness, love and mercy towards orphans.
With regards to widows, Allah says in the Qur’an:
“As for those who die among you and leave behind widows, [let] the widows [know that they] should wait for four months and ten days before remarrying. When they have completed this set time, you will not be blamed for anything they may reasonably choose to do with themselves. Allah is fully aware of what you do. You will not be blamed whether you give a hint that you wish to marry these women, or keep it to yourselves, Allah knows that you intend to propose to them. Do not seek to meet them in secret unless you intend to speak to them honorably and do not proceed with tying the marriage knot until the prescribed mourning period reaches its end. Remember that Allah knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him. Remember that Allah is Most-Forgiving, Most-Forbearing.” [The Qur’an (2:234-235)]
“As for those who [may] die among you and leave behind widows, let them make a bequest for their wives of a year’s maintenance without causing them to leave their homes, but if they leave of their own accord, you will not be blamed for what they may reasonably choose to do with themselves, Allah is Omnipotent and Most-Wise.” [The Qur’an (2:240)]
“Your wives shall inherit one quarter of what you leave if you are childless. But if you leave children, your wives shall inherit one eighth, after the payment of any bequest or debts.” [The Qur’an (4:12)]
The above Qur’anic verses hold the following injunctions:
- Widows should abstain from remarrying again for at least 130 days.
- If any man wishes to propose to a widow, he must not seek to meet her secretly unless he intends to speak to her honorably. He should not proceed with the marriage contract before the prescribed mourning period ends.
- Those who may die leaving behind widows, let them write a bequest for their wives that they should not be forced to leave the marriage house for one year, and the expenditures during that year should be taken from their money equitably. (i.e. that’s in case the house was rented, or had several heirs). That is to give her a proper chance to prepare for her new life.
- If any man dies childless, his widow shall inherit ¼ of his wealth, after settling his debts and deducing the bequest portion.
- If any man dies leaving behind children, his widow shall inherit 1/8 of his wealth, after settling his debts and deducing the bequest portion.
Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. said: “The one who takes care of a widow or a poor person is like a warrior fighting for the cause of Allah, or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all night.” [Recorded by Bukhari]
Written by: Ehab Shawky