Fiqh of financially supporting one’s parents and other relatives:
It is necessary (wajib) upon an individual that he supports his parents and grandparents, if they are poor, and provided that he is capable of doing so.
Allah Most High says:
“Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour.” (Surah al-Isra, V. 23)
Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “The most pure (of earnings) is what a man consumes from his own earnings, and his child is from his earnings.” (Sunan Tirmidhi, no. 1382, Sunan Abu Dawud & Sunan Ibn Majah, no. 2137)
It is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:
“A wealthy son will be obligated to spend on his poor parents, whether they are Muslims or otherwise, and whether they are capable of earning themselves or otherwise.” (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/564)
Imam al-Mawsili (Allah have mercy on him) states in his renowned al-Ikhtiyar:
“The Nafaqah (financial support) of the parents and grandparents is on the male and female children, for Allah Most High says: “say not to them a word of contempt” (Surah al-Isra). Thus, Allah Most High forbade the child from harming the parents even to this extent, and to not spend on them when they are in need is more harmful than this…..And Allah Most High says: “We have enjoined on man kindness to parents” (al-Ankabut, V. 8), and it is not from kindness to leave them in need despite having the capability to remove their need. And Allah Most High says regarding non-Muslim parents: “And bear them company in this life with consideration” (Luqman, V. 15), and it is inconsiderate to leave one’s parents hungry despite having the means to feed them….” (al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil al-Mukhtar, 2/231-232)
In light of the above, it becomes clear that it is the responsibility of the children to financially support their parents provided two conditions are met:
1) One is financially in a position to do so. Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) elaborates on this by stating:
“And it (m: financial support) is necessary (wajib) on the child who is wealthy, even if he is young, wealthy to the extent that Sadaqa al-Fitr becomes Wajib on him.” (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 3/621)
2) One’s parents are poor, even if they are capable of earning themselves. Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) explains:
“One will be responsible for financially supporting one’s parents if they are poor, even if they are capable of earning…” (ibid, 3/623)
In a case where the poor father has more than one child, then all the children will be equally responsible to support their parents. It is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:
“If a poor person has two children, one being very wealthy and the other is the owner of the Nisab (m: which necessitates one to pay Sadaqa al-Fitr), then the responsibility of supporting the father will be equally shared by both of them.” (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/565)
As far as daughters are concerned, they also have an equal responsibility of supporting their parents, but this is when they earn, have their own money and are capable of doing so. (ibid, 1/564)
With regards to one’s mother, the responsibility of supporting her will be on her husband. However, if her husband (one’s father) is poor, then one will be supporting her by supporting the father. If she does not have a husband, then one will be obliged to support her, if she is poor. (Radd al-Muhtar, 3/623)
As far as the other relatives are concerned, we can divide them into two categories:
1) Male relatives, such as one’s brother, uncle, nephew, etc. The responsibility of financially supporting them is only in the situation where they are poor and not capable of earning themselves due to some disability or illness. Imam al-Mawsili (Allah have mercy on him) states in al-Ikhtiyar:
“The Nafaqah (financial support) of other relatives besides the parents and children is (also) necessary according to the amount of inheritance (mirath)….And this is only necessary when the relative is poor, disabled and not able to earn.” (al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil al-Mukhtar, 2/232)
2) Female relatives, such as one’s sisters, aunty, etc. The responsibility of supporting them is conditioned only with them being poor and in need. Disability is not a condition, for women are not obliged to work and earn money.
It is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:
“The Nafaqah of virgin female relatives is necessary even if they are healthy, provided they are in need of the Nafaqah.” (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/566)
However, if a woman is married, then she will be supported by her husband, hence the responsibility of supporting her will be lifted from her relatives. In al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, it is further stated:
“The husband will be solely responsible in supporting his wife, so much so that if a woman has a husband who is poor (m: and not capable of supporting her) but has a son, from a previous husband, who is wealthy or a wealthy father or a wealthy brother, her financial support will still remain on her husband, and not on her father, son and brother. However, her father, son or brother will be ordered to spend on her, and then recover it from the husband when he becomes well-off.” (ibid)
In conclusion, the son is responsible to support his parents if they are poor and in need, and that he is capable of doing so. He is responsible to support his male relatives if they are poor and disabled; and female relatives if they are in need. A woman will always be supported by her husband if she is married and not her brother, father, etc.
The husband’s first responsibility is to support his wife and children. The reason being is that the responsibility of supporting one’s wife is unconditional. One must provide for one’s wife regardless of whether she is in need or otherwise and regardless of whether one is capable or otherwise. The Nafaqah of the wife is not waived away by one being poor. Hence, his first responsibility will be supporting his wife.
However, if his parents are poor or his sisters are poor and unmarried, then he will be obliged to support them also.
In al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, it is stated that if a man has a father and son, and he is only capable of supporting one of them, then he will support his son first. (1/565)
It is also stated:
“If a man has a wife, children and poor parents, then he will be obliged to include his father in his daily providing, thus the father will be considered to be one of his family members (m: meaning those under his care).” (ibid)
At times, parents demand from their sons even if they (parents) are rich and wealthy themselves. In such a situation, the son will not be obliged to support them. At the same time, however, one will need to respect them and give them their rights of politeness, good treatment, etc. Also, it would be good to give them something occasionally even when one is not responsible of supporting them.
The man, who is obligated to support his wife, children and is also responsible to support his parents, etc, will have to balance things out in a proper manner. His primary concern will be his wife and children, but at the same time he must support his poor parents.
One should always keep the following statement of Salman (Allah be pleased with him) in mind:
“Give everyone who has a right their full rights.” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Salman spoke the truth,” when he heard this. (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK
- Adapted from http://www.daruliftaa.com/node/5694?txt_QuestionID