(Their bearings) on this life and the Hereafter. They ask thee concerning orphans. Say: “The best thing to do is what is for their good; if ye mix their affairs with yours, they are your brethren; but Allah knows the man who means mischief from the man who means good. And if Allah had wished, He could have put you into difficulties: He is indeed Exalted in Power, Wise.”
This question about orphans also arose in relation to the social service and co-operation enjoined in verse 215 above. Islām made a person responsible for supporting his parents and near relatives as well as the orphans and the needy, especially those related to him by blood ties. If they have no income and no means of support, he must support them. If they possess property, he must try his best to enhance its value by developing it and supervising it, without expecting any compensation for it. However, what if someone, in order to facilitate management, were to amalgamate his financial and property affairs with those of an orphan, and to further safeguard the rights of the orphan weds the orphan’s mother? This was a serious question in view of the great emphasis in Islām on orphans’ rights, protection of their property and dire warnings for any violation in this regard. The Qur’ān strongly warns against even approaching their property with any ill intent.
Those who devour the wealth of an orphan, the Qur’ān says, they in fact fill their bellies with fire. With these dire warnings in mind, no God-fearing person would dare join his financial affairs with those of an orphan without the sanction of the Qur’ān. In answer to this question, the Qur’ān lays down the principle that “to improve their condition is best”. What is required is their well-being and welfare. So whatever is beneficial for them and serves their interests, is best. If a person’s circumstances are such that he can better look after an orphan’s welfare by keeping his (orphan’s) affairs separate from his own, he may do so, or mix the orphan’s affairs with his own if he feels that it would better serve and protect the financial interests of the orphan. After all they are their brethren, and there is no need to enjoin that the two parties must keep their affairs separate under all circumstances. This permission to mix affairs is, however, accompanied with a strong warning: “Allāh knows the one who means mischief from the one who means good.” That is, let everyone bear in mind that nothing is hidden from Allāh. He knows those who join their affairs with those of the orphans sincerely and for their good only and those who use it simply as a ploy to devour their property. Therefore those who try to harm them, must remember that Allāh is ‘Azīz (Mighty) and ‘Alīm (all-Knowing), and He will call them to account one day. The permission to mix the affairs of the orphans with those of their guardians, we are reminded, is a special concession to facilitate things. Otherwise, mixing of affairs would have been strictly forbidden. At the same time, the requirement to guard and supervise the affairs of orphans may cause great hardship and distress for those who are responsible for looking after their financial interests. It is indeed a great favour that Allāh has provided a new opportunity to serve and to do good without undergoing any hardship. The guardians of orphans should therefore be grateful to Allāh and refrain from misusing this permission.
The word ‘inat means to put someone into a difficulty and hardship. This indicates the nature of the Islamic Sharī‘ah. It seeks to make things easy for humans and not impose upon them undue burdens and hardships.
Islahi, Amin Ahsan. Pondering Over The Qur’an: Surah al-Fatiha and Surah al-Baqarah (Kindle Locations 12784-12809). Islamic Book Trust. Kindle Edition.