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Last Updated: 2010/07/23
Summary of question
How can a person, who comes to know later in his life that he had been an orphanage child, know that he is legitimate by birth? What is the Islamic law about his inheritance, parental relationship and mahramiyah?
Salamun alaykum - If a man finds out later in his life that he had been an orphanage child, how is it possible for him or others to know that he is legitimate or illegitimate by birth? What does Islam say about his relationship with people with whom he had been a mahram in the past. [In Shari’ah law, the term mahram means a relative with whom sexual intercourse is considered to be incestuous.] When it comes to inheritance and death, what does Islam prescribe? Thanks
Concise answer

The only answer we have received for your message, which we had forwarded to the offices of the grand religious authorities, is the following:

Office of Grand Ayatollah Khamenei (may Allah grant him long life):

The rules of mahramiyah do not apply to those who are not his real parents or his blood relatives?

The answer given to the above question by Ayatollah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani (may Allah grant him long life) is as under:

1. Being an orphanage child does not mean that the child is illegitimate by birth. In fact, if at the time of conception, the child’s mother had been married, the child belongs to that man and he/she is considered to be legitimate by birth.

2. If he knows who his mother, sister or aunt are, he is mahram to them. If they are the relatives of the woman and man who have taken care of him and he knows that he himself has no blood relationship with them, they are not considered to be mahram to him.

3. If a person has a father who is considered to be his father according to Islamic law (i.e. he had been the husband of his mother at the time of conception), he inherits from him. In case, however, he had been brought up or adopted by a man who is called his step-father, he does not inherit from him.

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