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Why the Muslim Personal Law Board will not agree to allow adoption in Islam

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The AIMPLB is set to tell the Law Commission that adoption cannot be allowed due to fear of sexual relations between adopted child and mother.

New Delhi: Adoption is prohibited in Islam since there is a possibility of sexual relations between an adopted son and mother or an adopted son with a biological daughter, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is set to tell the Law Commission.

In a meeting held between the Law Commission and the AIMPLB on 21 May — the first ever between the two — the commission had asked the AIMPLB to explain Islam’s position on a range of issues including adoption, inheritance, and child marriage, among others.

The meeting, which was held as a brainstorming exercise before the commission submits its final report on the uniform civil code to the Centre in a few months, was meant to make the commission understand the nature of certain personal laws in Islam.

Officials in the Law Commission have indicated to ThePrint that the panel could recommend tweaking personal laws, instead of recommending the implementation of a uniform civil code in its report to the Centre.

“We could consider some reasonable changes to our personal laws suggested by the Commission, as long as they are not in conflict with Islam,” AIMPLB member Kamal Faruqui, who was in the meeting, told ThePrint. However, if any changes suggested are antithetical to the fundamental tenets of Islam, like allowing adoption, they wouldn’t be acceptable to the board, he said.

Why Islam prohibits adoption

While Islam allows, and even encourages, providing for an orphan, they cannot stay with you as a family unit after they hit puberty, explained Faruqui. “In Islam, all relations are ordained by Allah. Physical intimacy with a person with whom nikah and sexual relations are possible, is not permissible. So an adopted son cannot live in the same house as the mother or a biological daughter,” he said. “What if a 60-year-old man has a young wife and they adopt a son, who soon grows up? What will his relationship with the mother be?” he asked.

However, to look at every human relationship through the prism of sex is incorrect and symptomatic of the antediluvian thinking of the board, argues Zakia Soman, founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan (BMMA). “If a couple does not have a child, of course they are entitled to adoption,” she said. “Religion has to be approached in an evolving manner.”

In India, although adoption is allowed under a secular Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection of Children), Islam is said to prohibit inheritance rights or giving one’s name to an ‘adopted’ child. However, in 2014, the apex court ruled that the Islamic personal law prohibition against adoption cannot bar a Muslim from adopting a child under the Juvenile Justice Act.

The issue of inheritance

Among the other issues on which the board’s opinion was sought included inheritance rights of girls. According to Islam, a daughter is entitled to half the property share of her brother — a provision of the Muslim personal law that is being challenged in the Delhi high court.

While the Law Commission has acknowledged that Islam is one of the only religions to give property rights to women from the beginning, it has sought to know from the board why girls are entitled to only half the share of their male counterparts.

“In Islam, we do not have the concept of a kanyadan…The daughter continues to be the responsibility of her father even after marriage, so she gets a share in the property,” Faruqui explained. “However, her primary responsibility rests with her husband, so all her needs are looked after by him,” he added.

Besides, as per Islam, even if a woman earns more than her husband, the responsibility of domestic expenditure rests with the husband, and not her, Faruqui also said.

On the issue of child marriage — which is currently not prohibited in Islam — the board may be receptive to some changes suggested by the commission. However, a blanket ban on child marriage may not be a good idea since it should be allowed under some ‘extreme conditions’ if the child has attained puberty, Faruqui said.

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