Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour
Question: I am in a conundrum. I was just asked by a childhood friend to be the godmother of her daughter who will be baptized tomorrow. I wear hijab, so I’m assuming she knows I’m Muslim, but perhaps she doesn’t know what Islam is all about. I am a revert, but I haven’t had much contact with this particular friend since I reverted. So I was surprised by the request and I don’t know how to respond. I’m honored, and I’d like to be able to say yes, but only if I can do it in a way that doesn’t compromise my beliefs or displease Allah. Please advise!
The Prohibition in Taking Part in Rituals of Other Religions
The common understanding of a godparent is that a person be involved to a certain extent in certain rituals associated in bringing children into the church community, such as baptisms. If this is the case, then it is not permissible for a Muslim to take part in the rituals of other religions.
Taking part in those rituals is prohibited if done without reverence for the rituals. If reverence is held in the heart for those rituals, then that act would constitute apostasy. The reason for this is that we are ordered to only revere the rituals that Allah ordered. Allah almighty has said, “And whoever honors the sacred ordinances of Allah it is best for him in the sight of his Lord” (Quran 22:30).
Taking Responsibility for the Child
If the person is merely asking for you to be a person who can take responsibility for the child throughout her life if the mother was not to be able to take care of her, then this is a permissible and praiseworthy thing. The term that is used for this in Arabic is wakeel which means the person responsible for someone’s matters. Perhaps through your concern for your friend’s child it may be a means for them to see the beauty of Islam.
What to Say to Your Friend
Thus, my advice would be that you gently explain to your friend that your faith does not allow you to take part in the rituals of other faiths but that you would like to be a part of her daughter’s life and that you are overjoyed, honored and elated that she would ask you to do this. If she understands this, then you can be her daughter’s wakeel.
No Effect on Marriageability
One final note is that this position would not make the child a mahram (non-marriageable relative) and so your husband, brothers and sons would not be able to treat the girl as a mahram when she is older in terms of hugging, shaking hands, being alone with her and so forth. You should pray istikhara before making your final decision.