Rada’aat : Suckling – Part 3

Rada’aat : Suckling

cont’d… from post 2/5

4.2) Nafaqah : Maintenance

Though according to the belief of all Muslims, the Almighty Allah is the only sustainer, but he has created means and sources through which this task is accomplished. Bearing the expenses of children is the second most important task of the parents.

Especially men have been selected for this job due to their physical strength and courage. Maintenance means bearing all the expenses of a child from birth till adulthood, by the father.

It is Wajib: incumbent, the religious as well as the responsible duty of the father to meet the expenditure involved in the birth, feeding, clothing, education, health and all other expenditure related to the cherishing of the child. Moreover, if he can afford, he also has to mete out non-obligatory duties like ‘Aqiqah or Sadaqat al-fitr.

Allah says with regard to maintenance to children, “And upon the father is their sustenance and clothing according to the normal standards”.

The Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw) said, “When a person spends upon his wife and children with a view to please Almighty Allah and be rewarded in the Hereafter, then this expenditure is taken by Allah as charity”.

When Ibrahim, the only son of the Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw) was born, the good news was brought to him by his servant Abu Rafi (ra). The Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw) was overwhelmed by happiness and set a slave free. On the seventh day after the birth of the child, the ‘Aqiqah was performed, the head shaved and the equivalent of silver in weight of the hair was given in charity. Several women from the Ansar offered to suckle the child. The Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw) selected Khaulah (ra), the daughter of Abu Zaid Ansari (ra) for this privilege. In recompense, he gave her some date trees.

The Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw) had advised the seeing to the needs of children, even before charity. Even after a divorce, the children are the first and foremost beneficiaries of the earnings of the parents. Alms given to the extent that ones family is neglected and their needs being unfulfilled, is a vain exercise.

Imam Bukhari (ra) has recorded the following Tradition in his al-Sahih on the authority of Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw) said, “The best charity is that which leaves you financially secured. Spend first on those whose maintenance is your responsibility “.

Imam Muslim (ra) has also recorded in his al-Sahih the following tradition of the Holy Prophet of Allah (saw), “If you spend one Dinar in the path of Allah, another towards the freeing of a slave, another as charity to the poor and one on your family; out of these four avenues, the most rewarding is the one spent on your family and children”.

Imam al-Tirmidhi (ra) records the following words of the Holy Prophet of Allah, (saw) in his al-Jami’, “Who can be the most deserving person to be rewarded than the one who spends on his children so that they may be saved from begging and so that they may prosper”.

Avoiding the parental duty of maintaining ones children is a serious sin. Abu Dawud (ra) has recorded the following Tradition of the Holy Prophet of Allah (saw) in his al-Sunan, “It is quite sufficient to make one a sinner that he neglects his dependants”.

Financial neglect of a father to his children can assume several forms:

  1. Spending for show and vanity, but ignoring the rights of family members.
  2. Spending on his own comfort and pleasure, while ignoring his family.
  3. Lavish spending in alms while depriving the family of their due rights.
  4. Not working to support his family without any tangible excuse.
  5. Laziness, carelessness and treating children to be a burden.
  6. Any excuse whatsoever that deprives his dependants of their dues.

Islam has not burdened mothers with the problem of earning for the maintenance of children. This job has been entrusted to fathers only. This demarcation of the fields of both father and mother was necessary so that both may put in their best efforts and fulfil their duties satisfactorily in their respective fields. It does not infer that if a mother were to contribute towards the maintenance of the children, she will not be rewarded.

In cases where the husbands are poor or invalid, the wives who earn for maintaining their children is indeed commendable.

Ummi Salmah (ra) narrates that once she asked the Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw), “Shall I be rewarded for spending upon the sons of Abu Salamah?. I cannot leave them in want and hunger wandering like beggars from door to door. After all, they are my sons. The Holy Prophet of Allah (saw) said, “Yes, you will definitely be rewarded for whatever you spend on them”.

This incident clarifies two points. Firstly, though the mother is not legally responsible for the financial maintenance of her children, but if she does so, she will be commended and rewarded. Secondly, it speaks of the attitude of a true Muslim mother towards her children.

Among the pre-Islamic Arabs, no obligations existed on the part of either of the parents to maintain their children, nor was any relation bound to maintain another. In consequence to this precept, the Shari’ah imposes on parents the duty of maintaining their children and of educating them properly. This obligation rests upon the father.

A man who is able to procure sustenance for his family is bound to support them, although he may be in straitened circumstances. In case the father wilfully neglects his children, he is liable to punishment at the discretion of the judge.

Among the Hanafi’s, if the father is poor and the mother rich, the liability to maintain the infant children falls on her, with an eventual right of recovery against her husband, even though the children may have a rich paternal grandfather.

When the father and mother are both poor, the grandfather who is possessed of means, is liable to maintain his infant grandchildren, with a right to recover all money spent on them from the father. But if the latter be infirm, the grandfather would have no right of recovery against him for any debt incurred for the maintenance of the grandchildren.

4.2 a) Maintenance of Male Children

The obligation of maintaining the male children lasts until they arrive at puberty. After this, a father is not bound to maintain his male children, unless they are incapacitated from work through some disease or physical infirmity, or are engaged in study. When male children are strong enough to earn their own livelihood, though not actually adult, the father may set them to work for their own subsistence, or hire them out for wages.

If the male children are actually able to work, but the employment found for them is unsuitable or improper for their rank in life, they would be placed on the same footing as children labouring under some infirmity. Ability to work, must, in such cases be considered with reference to the social position of the children, as well as the parents; so that a father occupying a respectable position , in which the children have been brought up delicately, must not hire them out for work which is degrading in its nature.

When an adult son is lame, or paralytic, or is in any way a cripple, the obligation of maintaining him rests on the father; so also if he be insane.

cont’d … post 4/5