The following question was received by the General Presidency for the Administrators of Scientific Researches, Religious Verdicts, Preaching and Guidance:
A man asks: "We bring to your attention the case of one of our relatives who adopted an abandoned male child, brought him up, educated him and acted with kindness towards him. Acting upon his own judgement and out of affection, he named nim Yusuf, then the adoptive father died in Az-Zubair without children to inherit from him and the (adopted) son became of legal age and entered the Dhahran Technical Institute. The family members consulted each other over changing the name of the child; some of them were of the opinion that his name should be changed , while others did not think it was important and feared the mixing up of family trees and mistakes in inheritance. I request that you deliver a legal judjement for me on this matter, so that we may proceed in light of the ruling."
The Committee repied as follows:
It is not permissible in Islamic Law to add the foundling to the family tree of the one who adopted him, by calling the adopted child by the name of the adoptive parent, claiming a father-son relationship between the foundling and his foster parent and ascribing for him ties to his tribe, as has been mentioned in the (above) request for a legal ruling. This is because of the lying, falsehood, mixing of family trees, the serious consequences to male-female relations and the alteration to the line of inheritance, by depriving the one who has a right and giving the one who has no right, and permitting the forbidden and forbidding the permissible in matters of khalwah, marriage, and other such unlawful abuses and transgression of the limits of the Islamic Law which that includes. This is why Allah forbade the attribution of a boy's paternity to a man other than his father, and the Prophet & cursed the one who attributes paternity to a man other than his father or to other than his slave master. Allah, Most High says:
Allah has not made for any man two hearts inside his body. Neither has He made your wives whom you declare to be like your mothers' backs, your real mothers [Az-Zihar is the saying of a husband to his wife, "You are to me like the back of my mother,"i.e., you are unlawful for me to approach] "Nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. That is but your saying with your mouths. But Allah says the truth, and He guides to the (Right) Way. Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers: that is more just with Allah. But if you know not their father's (names, call them) your brothers in faith and Mawalikum (your freed slaves). And there is no sin on you if you make a mistake therein, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Ever 0ft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Ahzab 33:4-5)
and the prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said:
"Whoever knowingly attributed paternity to other than his father, or claimed to be the son of other than his slave master, upon him will be Allah's unremitting curse until the day of resurrection. [Abu Dawud No. 5115 and At-Tirmithi No. 2120]
So the personal judgement of the one seeking the legal ruling in naming him was faulty and must not continue. Action must be undertaken to change it, in accordance with the (revealed) texts regarding the prohibition of such action, the Wisdom of which we have mentioned. As for affection towards the foundling, bringing him up and showing kindness towards him, it is well known that these things are encouraged in Islamic Law. And may peace and blessings be upon our Prophet, Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.