Q. I have a daughter in the US who is in her forties now, is married, and has one daughter nine years old. She is seriously considering adopting another child. In this world you cannot have a child and not give him your name so he / she can have an identity to travel and go to school. I know in Islam it is haram to give him / her your name but my daughter’s logic is as follows:

- She cannot in these days travel without identity especially in foreign countries.

- She will bring an orphan and raise him / her as a Muslim.

- She will tell him / her at the right age that she and her husband are not his real parents and that he / she is adopted.

Is this allowed in Islam and if not, what is the alternative?

A. Actually the reason in Islam regarding the nomenclature has to do with the need to preserve origins. You can actually petition to have the child maintain its name, and this can also be changed upon the achievement of citizenship if the adopted child is NOT presently an American citizen. But your pattern of thinking brings up something that Professor Abdullah Saeed of Australia addresses: that of time and context. If American law is that the adopted child must have its parents' name, then your daughter is correct, for according to Islamic law, there are two maxims that apply here, one being a sub-maxim of the other:

1. Necessity brings license.

2. If a situation has certain problematic points, then the law grants license (to achieve that which is good).

You may also know that today, many jurists think of "The goals of the Shari'ah" since we are not always cognizant of the context for certain Qur'anic rules. What we know is that God wants us to preserve life and do that which is good. Your daughter's deed is in keeping with all of these, and the child, as she notes, will be given the opportunity and knowledge to do what it wants when it achieves adulthood.

May God grant you and her that which is reserved for those who make the world a better place.

Posted June 13, 2015