Getting to Know Allah
Allah Loves His Messenger More Than He Loves Orphans
2:220... And they ask you about the orphans, say: “To improve their condition is better for them. And if you associate with them, they are your brethren.” Allah knows the dishonest and the honest. And if Allah wills, He would overburden you with restrictions. Allah is Mighty, Wise.
Orphaned boys were almost unknown in the Arab world until Allah changed their status so that His Messenger could marry his adopted son's wife. God’s Messenger walked in on his daughter-in-law Zaynab, when she was almost naked and he just had to have her (the full story in From Merchant to Messenger, Boreal Books, 2012).
Marrying your son’s former wife was taboo. It did not matter if he was adopted, the same ethical and moral restrictions applied as to a natural born son. Before Allah changed the status of adopted sons from sons to “brothers in religion”, revelation 33:5, Arab fathers made no distinction between adopted sons and those they had fathered.
33:4 Allah did not create two hearts within the breast of any man; and He did not make your wives, whom you compare to your mothers’ backs; and He did not make your [adopted] sons your sons in fact. That is your own claim, by your words of mouth. Allah speaks the truth and He guides to the Right Path.
33:5 Assign them to their own fathers. That is more equitable in the sight of Allah; but if you do not know their real fathers, then they are your brothers in religion, your adopted fellow Muslims. You are not at fault if you err therein; but only in what your hearts intend. Allah is ever All-Forgiving, All-Merciful.
Demoting adopted sons to “brothers in religion” not only made their wives, upon divorce, eligible to be taken in marriage by your “adoptive” father; but, also disinherited them as confirmed by the following hadith:
Abu Hudhaifa, one of those who fought the battle of Badr with Allah's Apostle, adopted Salim as his son and married his niece Hind bint Al-Wahd bin Utba to him and Salim was a freed slave of an Ansari woman.
Allah's Apostle also adopted Zaid as his son.
In the Pre-Islamic period of ignorance the custom was that, if one adopted a son, the people would call him by the name of the adopted-father [from] whom he would inherit as well, till Allah revealed: "Call them (adopted sons) By (the names of) their fathers." (33:5)
The revelations changing the relationship between adopted sons and their surrogate parent so that God’s Messenger could add to his collection of wives, concubines and slave-girls his former daughter-in-law have been interpreted to mean that Islam is against Western style adoption, resulting in an untold number of children in the Islamic world who have no one to call father.