Allah, the Most High, says,
“Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans eat up fire into their own bodies: they will soon be enduring a blazing fire.” (Al-Nisa’: 10)
The Qur’an also states,
“Come not nigh to the orphan’s property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength.” (Al-Imran: 152)
The Prophet (pbuh) said,
“When I was taken up in Ascent (Mi’raj) I saw some men gapping their jaws under the coercion of other men. Then came another men who fed them stones of fire that penetrated their bodies and came out from their anus. I wondered: ‘Who are they, Gabriel?’ He replied, ‘They are those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans eat up a fire intotheir bodies.” (Muslim)
It was related that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,
“Allah, Most High resurrected some people from their graves with fire flaming out from their bodies and burning their faces.” The Prophet was asked: ‘Who are they, Messenger of Allah?” He said,’ Allah, the Almighty says, “Those who unjustly will eat up the property of orphans eat up a fire into their own bodies: they will soon be enduring a blazing fire.” (Al-Nisa’: 10) (Ibn Hibban on the authority of Abu Bazrah)
As-Sadiy, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “On the Day of Judgement, the one who appropriated an orphan’s property will be resurrected with the flames of fire coming out from his mouth, ears, nose and eyes. Therefore, he will be well-identified.”
Scholars said that there is no harm if a poor guardian of an orphan consumes some of his charge’s property without exceeding what is permissible as much as he disposes and improves his business affairs.
What is in excess of the permissible is absolutely unlawful (Suht)? Allah, the Almighty says,
“If the guardian is well-off, let him claim no remuneration, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just, reasonable. When ye release their property then, take witnesses in their presence: But all-sufficient is Allah in taking account.” (An-Nisa’: 6)
Reasonable consuming of an orphan’s property may be interpreted as: Intending the loan, fulfilling his own needs without excess, taking the wage of disposing or improving the orphan’s business or intending to return what he takes out of need, if he becomes prosperous. These different points of views are mentioned by Ibn AI-Jawziy in his Tafsir (exegesis)
“I and one who takes care of an orphan, will enter paradise together like this” and he raised his forefinger and middle finger jointly leaving no space between them (by way of illustration).” (Bukhari)
“I and one who takes care of an orphan, whether related to him or a stranger, will be like these two in paradise;” and the narrator raised his forefinger and middle finger to illustrate this.” (Muslim)
The guardianship of an orphan means to dispose his affairs: food, clothing and to improve his property if he has any. However, if he is poor, it is recommended to take care of him for the sake of Allah. In the aforementioned hadith, there is a reference that the orphan may or may not be a relative as the Prophet says in the hadith: “related to him or a stranger”
The Prophet (pbuh) said,
“Whoever receives an orphan from amongst the Muslims to feed and give him drink until Allah makes him prosperous, Allah will render the Paradise binding to him unless he commits an unforgivable sin.” (Tirmidhi)
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,
“Whoever wipes over an orphan’s head for the sake of Allah, he will be rewarded for every hair he touched good deeds. Whoever has an orphan and treats him or her kindly, I and he will be in the Paradise like that (Then he combined his two fingers).” (Ibn Hajar Al-Haithami Majma’ AI-Zawa’id)
Someone asked Abu Ad-Darda’ an advice. Thus he advised him saying, “Show mercy to the orphan, bring him nearer to you and feed him of what you eat. I heard Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), when a man asked him about the harshness of his heart, saying,
“If you want to soften your heart, then you should bring the orphan nearer, wipe over his head and feed him of what you eat. These surely will soften your heart and enable you to do what you need.” (Al-Baihiqi)
One of the early Muslims recounted, “I was at first used to committing sins and drinking wine. Then, one day I received a poor orphan. I was kind to him, fed him, gave him a bath and clothed him. I treated him as tenderly as a man does with his own son and more. Afterwards, I went to sleep I dreamt that it was the day of Judgement and I was called for reckoning. Then, I was to go to Hell for my sins. I was dragged by the angels of punishment to the Fire. Meanwhile, when I was being dragged to the Fire, the orphan blocked me and said, ‘O angels of my Lord, let him go. So as to intercede for him before Allah since he treated me kindly and honored me.’ But the angels said; ‘We were not commanded to do so.’ Then came the call of Allah, “Let him go. I forgave him because of the orphan’s intercession and the kind treatment he did with him. Then, I got up and repented to Allah the High Exalted. Later on, I kept on doing my best to show mercy to orphans.
The Prophet (pbuh) said,
“The best of the houses is that which contains an orphan who is treated kindly and the worst of the houses is that which mistreats him. The most beloved one to Allah the Almighty is the one who offers a favor to an orphan or a widow.” (Ibn Majah)
“Allah revealed to Dawud (pbuh): “O Dawud! Be a loving father to the orphan, and a kind husband to the widow. Put into your account that the more you do the more you reap” (Ibn Hajar Al-Haithami in Majma’ AI-Zawa’id)
This means that whatever you do, you will find its consequences thereafter. For example, when you die and leave a child or a widow, they will be treated in the same manner you treated others.
In his soliloquy, Dawud says, “O Allah! What is the recompense of whoever takes care of an orphan or a widow for Your Sake?” Allah answered, “He will be under the Shade of Mine when there will be no shade except Mine.” i.e., the shade of the Throne on the Day of Judgement.”
The following is another account that highlights the excellence of treating the orphan and the widow kindly. Once there was someone who belonged to the ‘Alowiyyin sect. He lived in Balkh (a Byzantine region) and had a wife and several daughters. They were living in luxury and prosperity. Then the husband died. His widow and daughters become so poor that they moved to another town to flee from the ghost of noticing their enemies rejoice at her misfortune. Having entered the town she resorted to a deserted mosque with her daughters. Then, she went out to bring them something to eat. She passed by two people, a Muslim and a magian.
She started by asking the Muslim and explained to him how she suffered a lot while she was an honored woman from the ‘Alawyyeen sect. But he asked her to show evidence. She said she was stranger.
But, he did not pay attention to her. Then, she left feeling sad and again explained her case to magian and how she had four daughters who were orphans and in need. She recounted her story to a Muslim Sheikh.
The magian sent his ladies to bring her and daughters home. He fed them and clothed them well. They stayed with him in luxury and honor. At midnight, the Muslim who turned the woman away dreamt that it was the Day of Judgement. A banner was risen over the Prophet’s head. There was a palace of green emerald whose windows were of pearls and corundum and also had domes of pearls and corals. He then asked the Messenger of Allah: “Whose palace is it?” For a Muslim who believes in Allah, the One.’ O Allah’s Messenger I am a Muslim, the man said. But the prophet asked him to show the evidence that he was a Muslim.
The man was perplexed. Accordingly, the prophet said “When the ‘Alawiyya woman asked you, you asked her to show an evidence that she was Alawiy. Thus, show me evidence that you are Muslim. Then, the man got up sadly for repelling the woman. He started to search for her in the town until he found her in the Magian’s house. He asked him about the woman and her daughters, but the Magian refused and said many blessing were showered upon him because of them.
The man persisted to take them and even offered the Magian a thousand dinars but he refused again.
The Muslim said but I should take them. Then, the Magian said, what you want is mine and the palace which you saw in your dream was created for me. May you guide me to embrace Islam? By Allah, I did not sleep yesterday before my family and I embraced Islam at the hands of the woman. I had also the same dream. The Prophet asked me, “were the ‘Alawiy woman and her daughters in your house?” I said ‘yes’,
Messenger Of Allah? He, then, said, the palace is for you and your family and all of you will enter Paradise. You were created a Muslim from the beginning of the creation. Then, the Muslim went away sadly.
Behold! How Allah blesses those who treat widows and orphans tenderly in this world.
“He who works hard on behalf of old women and the indigent, is like a Mujahid (a warrior) in the cause of Allah and the narrator thinks, he (pbuh) added, “and like the person standing in prayer and who never tires, and like one who observes the fast and does not break it.” (Bukhari)