This article has been prepared by Ethar Relief, a UK-based charitable organisation supporting and advocating for refugees across the Horn of Africa and Yemen. In these regions, a multitude of factors leads to a high proportion of adult deaths before old age – factors including disease, famine, extreme poverty, conflict, trafficking, and exploitation. Consequently, a disproportionate number of children become orphans within refugee camps and conflict environments. Ethar Relief runs programmes to provide safety, security, education, and all basic needs to refugee children who find themselves without care.
The importance of looking after orphansWhy is kindness and care for orphans something that we hear so much about in Islam?
At the outset, caring for anybody in need is highly emphasised in the Islamic tradition. Children suffering due to a lack of parental care is one of the most heart-breaking and urgent needs we can imagine. It is hard to even comprehend that there are over 140 million children in this category – and those are only the official numbers. In most cases, the most vulnerable ones—living on the streets and in informal settlements—do not even get counted. But numbers are merely academic; whether these children are documented or not, we as humanitarians and Muslims have a duty to find them and ensure their safety and care.
The number of orphans increases over time because of war, famine, natural disasters, and deep-rooted poverty. It may seem overwhelming that these children are being failed day to day and year to year as each new crisis emerges; as if whatever we do can never be enough. Just imagine the stories behind each of these children’s lives: neglect, abuse, child slavery, cultural pressures, religious inequity, child prostitution, indentured servitude, and more. Even those living with elderly or infirm relatives are subjected to pressures that no child should have to face.
As Muslims, we are part of an Ummah whose Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was himself an orphan. We do more for orphans because, through the Qur’ān and numerous hadiths, we are reminded of the importance of looking after orphaned children. Allāh reminds us that not only is it our responsibility to care for orphans, but that this act is a form of worship that can help us to achieve Jannah – surely the highest ambition of any believer.
With this hopeful and positive thought in mind, here are five reasons why we should all be focusing on doing more to support orphan children whenever and wherever possible.
1. Increase the barakah in your life
It was narrated on the authority of Abū Al-Dardā’ (may Allāh be pleased with him) that a man came to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) complaining of his hardheartedness. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to him, “Would you like your heart to be soft and to fulfil your need?” He replied, “Yes.” The Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Show mercy to the orphan, wipe over his head, and feed him from your food. It will soften your heart and you will fulfil your need.”
There are so many other hadiths that indicate the virtue of sponsoring the orphan and being kind to them. This act is a gate to goodness that Allāh opens for people. Whoever is capable should hasten to this goodness.
It’s natural to feel you don’t always have enough to offer as charity. When we don’t earn as much as we’d like to, we often feel the need to preserve our resources.
But we have a promise from Allāh Himself that giving to charity will never decrease our wealth.
“Blessed is the wealth of the Muslim, from which he gives to the poor, the orphan, and the wayfarer.”
So, even if this is the only good act you can afford this year, your wealth will still be blessed by Allāh!
2. Make your house the best house
The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,
“The best house among the Muslims is the house in which orphans are well-treated. The worst house among the Muslims is the house in which orphans are ill-treated.”
Warm and cosy in our homes, we think of orphans surviving precariously, sleeping in makeshift tents or broken huts in the middle of winter, or without shelter in the scorching heat of summer. We can open our doors to them — if not physically, then through a donation that can make their lives just that bit easier. In turn, Allāh might open the doors of Jannah to us!
3. Enjoy a special kind of sadaqah jāriyah!
In Islam, sadaqah jāriyah (ongoing charity) is the gift that keeps on giving. With one simple act of kindness, you can earn the rewards of a lifetime and beyond (in the Hereafter).
However, orphan sponsorship is a special kind of sadaqah jāriyah – one that can bring blessings and rewards into your home, for you and your family, in the most unexpected ways.
When you donate to children who are left to fend for themselves at an age when they shouldn’t have to, you give them an opportunity to turn their lives around. Shelter, clothing, and warm meals all help to provide desperately needed stability on a day-to-day basis, so that the children can move down the path to becoming self-reliant later in life, in shā’ Allāh.
And because you will have touched a child’s life so significantly, you will be rewarded for the positive impact the child goes on to make as an adult, too.
4. The orphans Ethar meets are also refugees – so you will gain a double reward
Just as important as helping an orphan out of poverty is helping refugees. Allāh said:
“They love those who migrated to them, and find no hesitation in their hearts in helping them. They give them preference over themselves, even if they themselves are needy. Whoever is spared from his own soul’s greed is truly successful.”
Many people are forced to flee their countries to avoid conflict, so they end up living in cramped refugee camps, sometimes separated from their families, and facing illness due to unhygienic living conditions. This is hard enough for an adult, but can you imagine the fear, disappointment, and loneliness of an orphaned child in these conditions? By helping a child refugee, you fulfil two important responsibilities in Islam: helping both an orphan and a refugee.
5. It’s a great way to pay Zakat in instalments
Paying Zakat is a core pillar of Islam that allows us to get closer to Allāh. Some people prefer to pay it all on Ramadan, but we often forget how much easier it would be to give our annual Zakat in smaller monthly instalments. Sponsoring an orphan is an excellent way to do so.
With only £25 a month, you can completely change the life of a child in a refugee camp, whilst also taking care of your religious obligations and achieving spiritual satisfaction.
The Forgotten Refugee Camps in East Sudan
East Sudan is home to one of the biggest—but also one of the most overlooked—refugee camps in the world.
The camp accommodates more than 130,000 refugees who were forced to leave their countries to avoid violence and conflict. Many, who are orphans and widows, are some of the most vulnerable people in the world and in dire need of our help to survive.
This was the spark that led to the founding of Ethar Relief in 2006 — a passionate desire to show these refugees that they are not forgotten. With new challenges ahead, they need to be reminded of our help more than ever. So, why not sponsor a child when they need you the most?
Our orphan sponsorships provide child refugees with:
- – Safe accommodation
- – Access to good quality education
- – Rehabilitation and psychological support
- – Food security
- – Reduced stress and anxiety
- – Further life opportunities.
Donate to help us provide our children with a brighter future, in shā’ Allāh.
Become a sponsor of an orphan refugee through Ethar Relief’s Orphan Sponsorship programme. To find out more, click here or call +44 121 309 0230 to discuss what your sponsorship pays for.
Ethar Relief is a UK-registered charity established to help refugees, as well as displaced and disadvantaged people, in the Horn of Africa region. Ethar was set up by former refugees from Eritrea who survived the harshest conditions in the refugee camps of East Sudan. Ethar aims to end the suffering that it knows exists in these places.
The year 2021 signifies Ethar’s 15th year providing humanitarian support to refugees.
In addition to providing aid and a comprehensive programme of development projects, Ethar strives to raise awareness of refugees in the region, who are considered to have been forgotten by the international community. The UN Refugee Agency has stated that international aid for the vast number of refugees that flee conflict in the region is inadequate, and much more needs to be done to avert the ongoing humanitarian crises in East Africa and Yemen.
 Al-Ṭabarāni; Al-Albāni
 Al-Qur’ān 59:9
The views expressed on Islam21c and its connected channels do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation.