Before Islam came in Arabia, violating the rights of orphans and oppressing them was very common, just like other evils. Not only did Islam condemn the evil conduct carried against the orphans, rather, it also commanded to treat them with kindness and affection and to take care of their needs. Thus, Allah Almighty said:
فَاَمَّا الْیَتِیْمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْؕ(۹)
Translation from Kanz ul-Iman: Therefore, do not put pressure on orphans.
(Part 30, Surah Ad-Duha, Ayah 9)
A virtue in exchange of every hair
The Blessed Rasool صَلَّى اللهُ تَعَالٰى عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has stated: Whomsoever passes his hand over the head of an orphan for the pleasure of Allah Almighty gets a virtue in exchange of every hair that his hand passes over. Moreover, whosoever does good to an orphan boy or girl, (having joined two fingers, he صَلَّى اللهُ تَعَالٰى عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said), me and him will be like this in Paradise. (Musnad Imam Ahmad, vol. 8, pp. 272, Hadees 22215)
Hakeem-ul-Ummat, Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan رَحْمَةُ اللهِ تَعَالٰی عَلَيْه states, ‘This reward is just for passing over an empty hand. Imagine how much reward will be for the one who spends wealth on them, looks after them, and provides them with education and good upbringing.’ (Mirat-ul-Manajih, vol. 6, pp. 652)
Who is an orphan?
An orphan is that minor boy or girl whose father has passed away. (Durr-e-Mukhtar, vol. 10, pp. 416)
The boy or girl remains orphan until they become adult. As soon as they become adult, they do not remain an orphan anymore. (Yateem Kisay Kehtay hayn? pp. 2)
Different ways of treating orphans well
There are several ways of treating orphans well. For example, bringing them up, arranging food for them, providing them good education and upbringing, etc. What great teaching Islam has given us regarding orphans, let’s have a brief look of it.
Best and worst home
It’s a blessed saying of the Holy Rasool صَلَّى اللهُ تَعَالٰى عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, ‘Best homes among the homes of Muslims are those in which orphans are treated kindly, and the worst homes among the homes of Muslims are those in which orphans are mistreated.’ (Sunan Ibn Majah, vol. 4, pp. 193, Hadees 3679)
A remedy to rid hardness of the heart and desires being fulfilled
A person having presented himself in the blessed court of the Blessed Rasool صَلَّى اللهُ تَعَالٰى عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم complained about the hardness of his [own] heart. He صَلَّى اللهُ تَعَالٰى عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم replied, ‘Show mercy to orphans, pass your hand over their heads and feed them too from your food. Doing so will soften your heart and desires will be fulfilled.’ (Majma’-uz-Zawaid, vol. 8, pp. 293, Hadees 13509)
Avoid violating the rights of orphans
Severe warnings have also been mentioned regarding depriving orphans from their shares of inheritance and those who wrongfully usurp their wealth. Thus, Allah Almighty has said:
اِنَّ الَّذِیْنَ یَاْكُلُوْنَ اَمْوَالَ الْیَتٰمٰى ظُلْمًا اِنَّمَا یَاْكُلُوْنَ فِیْ بُطُوْنِهِمْ نَارًاؕ-
Translation from Kanz ul Iman: Those who consume the wealth of orphans unjustly, they are only filling their bellies with fire. (Part 4, Surah An-Nisa, Ayah 10)
It is stated in a blessed Hadees, ‘Four types of people are such that Allah Almighty will neither enter them into Paradise, nor will He عَزَّوَجَلَّ make them experience its blessings. One among them is also he who unjustly usurps the wealth of an orphan.’ (Al-Mustadrak, vol. 2, pp. 338, Hadees 2307)
Note: For further information, please read the written ‘Guldastah’ of the Madani Muzakarah of Shaykh-e-Tareeqat, Ameer-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـه, ‘Yateem Kisay Kehtay hayn?’ [Who is an Orphan?].
 Na-Baaligh – One who hasn’t reached the age of puberty
 Baaligh – Reached to the age of puberty