All praise be to Allah Alone.The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta' reviewed letter no. 1489/93, dated 19/3/1393 A.H. Sent by His Excellency, the head of the office of His Majesty the King (may Allah safeguard him), and referred to the Committee from the Secretariat General of the Council of Senior Scholars. The Chairman of the Departments of Scholarly Research, Ifta', Da`wah, and Guidance explained that a woman submitted a petition to His Majesty saying that her husband died leaving behind six (Part No. 21; Page No. 182) minor children and two other sons from another wife. She requested that the two sons, who were employees, should provide for the minor children. His Excellency wanted to know whether or not
a person is obliged by Shari`ah (Islamic law) to provide for his siblings.
The reply was submitted to His Majesty to consider the woman's concern.
After studying the question, the Committee answered:The basic rule is that
a man is obliged to sustain his relatives under three conditions:
the relative is poor and has no source of living that enables them to dispense with the sustenance provided by the other person.
the person who is obliged to provide sustenance should first suffices his own needs and the needs of those who are more deserving of his sustenance, such as his wife, parents, and children. On the authority of
Jabir ibn `Abdullah who narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
If one of you is poor, let him start with himself. If he has any surplus means, let him spend on his children. If there is anything left after that, let him spend on his relatives.
(Part No. 21; Page No. 183)
the person who provides for his relatives shall be an expected heir of the one whom he provides for, as Allah (Exalted be He) says:
And on the (father’s) heir is incumbent the like of that (which was incumbent on the father).
As the heirs are closely related, the heir is more entitled than anyone else to the property of the one from whom he would inherit; thus he is the most entitled to provide for him. If the poor person deserving sustenance is not an heir of the one who provides for him, the obligation is still effective. This is the view of
Al-Hasan ibn Salih,
Ibn Abu Layla, and
Abu Thawr. In case the person deserving sustenance has more than one heir who can afford to provide for him, the heirs are obliged to provide for him, according to their shares of inheritance, unless they include a father, who in this case shall carry out this obligation alone, as Allah (Exalted be He) says:
...but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to
Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan:
Take what is sufficient for you and your child on a reasonable basis.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.