Which child has to look after his/her parents, the son or the daughter?

Details of the Question
Which child has to look after his/her parents, the son or the daughter?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Every child is responsible for looking after their parents who are in need based on their own state.

Islam gives great importance to the rights of parents and regards them holy. It is accepted in Islam that one of the ways to Paradise is based on the consent of the parents.

Islam orders children to show respect to their parents and to serve them. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in the Quran regarding the issue:

“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor.“ (al-Isra, 17/23)

Therefore, children must always be under the command and at the service of their parents.

However, the respect and service of a child to his parents must not harm his Islamic life. That is, he can meet their needs without violating Islamic principles. As a matter of fact, during the era of the Prophet (pbuh), the parents of many Companions did not embrace Islam in the first days of Islam; they insisted on polytheism, which is opposite of Islam. They pressurized their children and wanted them to abandon Islam.

The Companions were ordered by the revelation that was sent down no to obey their orders that were contrary to Islam but they were ordered not to leave their parents altogether. They were ordered to serve them as much as possible and to try to win their hearts without obeying their orders that were contrary to Islam.

Accordingly, every child has to look after their parents and fulfill their orders and requests. However, if their orders contradict Islam, they cannot fulfill them. For instance, if one’s mother and father tell him/her to abandon Islam or to stop performing prayers, he/she cannot have to obey them; if he/she obeys them, he/she will be a sinner.

All children are responsible for looking after their parents. However, sons who are well of are obliged to look after them first. If they do not look after them, daughters will be obliged to look after them.

If parents become poor or too old to work, their care belongs to their children.

The following is stated in verses:

"Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents..." (Luqman, 31/14).

"But if they strive to make thee join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration)." (Luqman, 31/15)

The following is reported from Jabir b. Abdullah:

A man came to the Prophet (pbuh) with his father and said,

"O Messenger of Allah! I have some property and my father has his own property. My father wants to take my property too." The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"You and your property belong to your father." (as-Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut, V, 222-229; al-Qasani, Badayius-Sanayi, IV / 30; Ibnul-Humam, Fathul Qadir, III / 349 ff.)

However, this right of property of the parents on the property of their children were interpreted as and limited to being poor and needy. For, when the verses of inheritance were sent down, the rights of parents on the property of their children that died were determined.

The conditions for parents to receive nafaqah (money for sustenance) from their children are as follows: They have to be poor. Otherwise, their needs are met from their own property. The child or grandchild to pay nafaqah must have the power to pay it. This power means to be rich enough to pay it or to be strong enough to work and earn money.

The conditions for the necessity of nafaqah for relatives are as follows:

1. The relative must be poor. This means having no money or property or not being able to work. Not being able to work might be due to being too young, too old, having a mental illness or a chronic disease. However, parents are excluded. For nafaqah is necessary for them even if they are healthy and strong. Accordingly, if the relatives except parents and spouses are well off or can work, nafaqah does not have to be paid to them. According to the view preferred by Malikis, when parents can work, they cannot demand nafaqah from their children. (al-Qasani, ibid, IV / 36, 37; Ibn Abidin, Raddul-Muhtar, II / 923; ash-Shirazi, al-Muhadhdhab, II / 167; ash-Shirbini, Mughnil-Muhtaj, III / 448; Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, VII / 595; Ibnul-Humam, ibid, III / 347)

2. The person who is to pay nafaqah must be in a position to meet the needs of his poor relatives in terms of wealth and being able to work and earn money. However, parents and spouses are exceptions. A man has to look after his parents and his wife even if he is poor. According to Malikis, a poor man does not have to pay nafaqah to his parents even if he is strong enough to work and earn money.

The following is stated in a hadith reported by Jabir:

"If one of you is poor, let him start with himself; if there is anything left over, (let him give it) to his dependents; if there is anything left over, (let him give it) to his relatives." (Abu Dawud, Itlaq, 9; Nasai, Buyu´, 84; Ahmad b. Hanbal, III / 205).

3. The kin to be looked after must be related with blood.

According to Hanafis, the person to pay nafaqah must be a kin to the person to be paid nafaqah related with blood and a kin that can be an inheritor to him. The evidence is the following verse:

" ... No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child. Nor father on account of his child, an heir shall be chargeable in the same way..." (al-Baqara, 2/233)

According to that verse, some rights and responsibilities between parents and children are also valid between them and other inheritors. This includes money for sustenance when it is necessary.

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