Poor child not obligated to reimburse his solvent brothers for parents' maintenance
Fatwa No: 280591

  • Fatwa Date:24-1-2015 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 4, 1436
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Question

We have a widow mother 74 years old. She was widowed when she was 32 and for next 16 years she worked and brought up her 3 sons. The eldest and 2nd son started earning at the same time and stopped mother from going to work. At this time youngest was studying. Now when the youngest brother starts earning, will he have to share mother's expenses for the same period as that of the two brothers? i.e If the 2 brothers take care of mothers expenses for 5 years, then after the youngest son starts earning, he has to support her financially for 2.5 years. Or is it that the expenses will be shared equally after he starts earning? i.e in the 6th year he takes care for 4 months and the other 2 brothers 4 months each. In this case the youngest brother will not be liable to financially support her for the period which the other 2 brothers had borne mother's expenses. Here the 2 elder brothers will be financially overburdened. Similarly the eldest brother gets married first and his wife takes care of the mother’s cooking, washing, medical needs, etc say for 5 years i.e till the time the 2nd brother get married. Now is’nt the 2nd brother liable to take care of the mother’s needs for the next 5? Or is it that the caring part will be shared equally after the 2nd brother gets married? I,e in the 6th year, 2nd brother takes care of mother for 6 months and eldest brother for next 6 months? In this case the eldest son’s wife will complain that she is overburdened. There is no understanding amongst us 3 brothers and each feels he is right with different opinions. Please guide islamically.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

It is obligatory for the wealthy children to provide the necessities of their poor parents but not the children who are in financial difficulty. Allaah says (what means): {Let a man of wealth spend from his wealth, and he whose provision is restricted – let him spend from what Allaah has given him. Allaah does not charge a soul except [according to] what He has given it. Allaah will bring about, after hardship, ease.} [Quran 65:7]

Therefore, if the younger brother doesn't have money to provide for his mother, he is not obliged to provide for her, as Allaah says (what means): {Allaah does not charge a soul except [according to] what He has given it.} [Quran 65:7]

When that child who was in financial difficulty becomes solvent, then the obligation to provide maintenance for his mother along with his two brothers will start from that time, with each providing according to his ability, and he does not have to be the sole provider from that time unless he wishes to do so, because her maintenance was not incumbent on him when he was not solvent. He does not owe his brothers any part of the money they provided for their mother when he was not solvent.

If the mother needs to be served, then this is an obligation on all her children each according to the ability of each. Al-Khaadimi (from the Hanafi School of jurisprudence) said in Bareeqah Mahmoodiyyah, discussing the rights of parents: "If they need service, then their children are obliged to serve them."

In Ghithaa’ Al-Albaab, As-Saffaareeni says: "It is their (parents') right that if they both – or one of them – need service, their children must serve them." [End of quote]

However, the wife of the son is not obliged to serve his mother in any case unless she does so by her own proper consent. For more benefit please refer to Fatwa 84909.

Finally, it should be noted that the children should compete to be kind and dutiful to their mother and try to please her rather than avoid doing so.

Allaah Knows best.

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