Orphans: Children of Paradise
Who are orphans in our society?
What comes to mind when we hear the word ‘orphan’ or ‘orphanage’? Perhaps we would think of children who have been neglected by their parents or whose parents have passed away and there is no one to take care of their needs. While these may be true for some children in orphanages or children’s homes, the issue of ‘parentless’ children is much more complex than what many may think of.
To truly understand this issue, we have to delve deeper into its causes. In Singapore, the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) provides the legal framework for the protection of children. The authorities are allowed to intervene if it is assessed that a child (below the age of 14) or a young person (between the age of 14 and 18) is abused or neglected.
There are a few types of cases that warrant a child to be protected under this act. Some children may have parents with severe emotional and financial stress who cannot afford to provide for their food, clothing, and medical care, which are the very basic needs of children. Others may have highly abusive parents who deliberately cause physical harm to them and are unwilling to cooperate with community partners who offer social assistance. The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is the lead agency for protecting children from abuse and neglect in Singapore.
What does Islam say about orphans?
Orphans hold a special place in Islam. Indeed, they are highly disadvantaged in society due to the fact that their parents are not playing a role in their upbringing. As such, the reward for taking care of an orphan is significantly large.
Our beloved Prophet SAW, in a famous Hadith said, ‘"I and the one who looks after an orphan will be like this in Paradise," showing his middle and index fingers and separating them.’ (Sahih Bukhari, Book 63, Hadith Number 224)
Learning from this Hadith, we as Muslims should waste no time in our effort to care for orphans. Imagine us being close to the Prophet SAW in Paradise for what we used to do for orphans on this Earth. MashaAllah, the feeling is surreal. Caring for and donating to the cause of caring for orphans is sadaqah. Even something as simple as patting the head of an orphan is highly rewarded. (Musnad Ahmad, Volume 5, Hadith Number 7576) Allah is All-Aware of our sadaqah, and we should make our intentions pure and clear when contributing to such a noble cause. InshaAllah, our wealth will be blessed.
While the reward for caring for orphans is unimaginably great, the punishment for ill-treating orphans is severe too. In Sahih Muslim, Allah’s Messenger SAW said that ‘consuming the property of the orphan’ is one of the seven noxious or harmful things (a person must not do). (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith Number 161) It is a grave sin to abuse orphans or their property. As such, we have the responsibility to act against any injustice done towards them.
How can we help?
If you’re wondering in what ways we as Muslims in Singapore can contribute to the aid and care of orphans and neglected children, here are a few organisations we can support.
Under the Muslimin Trust Fund Association (MTFA), Darul Ihsan Boys’ Orphanage and Darul Ihsan Girls’ Orphanage provide care and education for these children. Currently, they have around 50 children under their care. For more details on donations, log on to https://www.mtfa.org/darul-ihsan-orphanage.
Muhammadiyah Welfare Home supports boys who are victims of neglect and those from disadvantaged families. There are opportunities for us to make donations to the home and, if we would like to contribute our time and energy, we can volunteer as tutors, befrienders, barbers, and even trainers in IT. For more details on contributing to this home, log on to https://mwh.muhammadiyah.org.sg/.
Pertapis Children’s Home helps children who are victims of abuse, referred by MSF, to re-integrate into society through positive learning. They currently provide care for 80 children between 4 to 16 years old. We can make donations and zakat payments on their website. Log on to https://www.pertapis.org.sg/donate-zakat for more details.
Abu Hurairah RA narrated that the Prophet SAW said, “Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His ....” He mentioned the rest of the hadith, which says, “and a man who gives charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given. (Bulugh Al-Maram, Book 4, Hadith Number 652)
May Allah SWT grant us goodness in our efforts to give sadaqah to those in need and may He bless us in whatever He has provided us in this world. Amin.