Assalamualaikum SS Datuk Seri Mufti. Between the provisions of a wife and parents, which one should be prioritized?
Waalaikumussalam wrt wbt,
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
We would start with a hadith narrated by Jabir RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
ابْدَأْ بِنَفْسِكَ فَتَصَدَّقْ عَلَيْهَا ، فَإِنْ فَضَلَ شَيْءٌ فَلِأَهْلِكَ ، فَإِنْ فَضَلَ عَنْ أَهْلِكَ شَيْءٌ فَلِذِي قَرَابَتِكَ ، فَإِنْ فَضَلَ عَنْ ذِي قَرَابَتِكَ شَيْءٌ فَهَكَذَا وَهَكَذَا
“Start with your own self and spend it on yourself, and if anything is left, it should be spent on your family, and if anything is left (after meeting the needs of the family) it should be spent on relatives, and if anything is left from the family, it should be spent like this, like this.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (6763) and Sahih Muslim (997)
Imam al-Syaukani said: Provision for one’s family is wajib even when the leader of the family became poor, while the provision of one’s parents is wajib only if the child is capable. The scholars agreed on the obligation of prioritizing the provision of one’s child and wife before his parents. (See Nail al-Autar, 6/381)
The meaning from the hadith showed that ‘فَلِأَهْلِكَ’ indicates one’s wife and children. Thus, as long as they are under his responsibility, then his responsibility to his wife is prioritized except in exigent situations when his mother is in need, then it is given to her.
Whereas in a hadith narrated from Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
تَصَدَّقُوا ، فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ عِنْدِي دِينَارٌ ، فَقَالَ : تَصَدَّقْ بِهِ عَلَى نَفْسِكَ ، قَالَ : عِنْدِي آخَرُ ، قَالَ : تَصَدَّقْ بِهِ عَلَى زَوْجَتِكَ ، قَالَ : عِنْدِي آخَرُ ، قَالَ : تَصَدَّقْ بِهِ عَلَى وَلَدِكَ ، قَالَ : عِنْدِي آخَرُ ، قَالَ : تَصَدَّقْ بِهِ عَلَى خَادِمِكَ ، قَالَ : عِنْدِي آخَرُ ، قَالَ: أَنْتَ أَبْصَرُ
'Give charity.' A man said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I have a Dinar.' He said: 'Spend it on yourself.' He said: 'I have another.' He said: 'Spend it on your wife.' He said: 'I have another.' He said: 'Spend it on your son.' He said: 'I have another.' He said: 'Spend it on your servant.' He said: 'I have another.' He said: 'You know best (what to do with it)."'
Musnad Ahmad (2335), Sunan Abu Daud (1691) and Sunan al-Nasaie (2353)
Syeikh Syams al-Haq al-Azim Abadi cited that al-Khattabi said: The order if you analyse it you would find that the Prophet PBUH prioritizes the main and closest family relations. (See Aun al-Ma’bud, 5/76)
This hadith clearly shows the responsibility towards his wife is prioritized after himself.
Imam al-Nawawi said: “If there are people of whom needs provision from a person who is obligated to provide for them, then if he is able to provide for all of them, then it is wajib for him to provide for all of them. However, if he only has enough to provide for just one person, then he should prioritize the provision of his wife compared to other family relations.” (See Raudhah al-Talibin, 9/93)
Imam al-Syaukani said: “It is the consensus of scholars of which it is wajib to provide for one’s wife. Afterwards, if there is more, then it is wajib to provide for other family relations.” (See Nail al-Autar, 6/381)
Scholars state, giving provisions to one’s parents is not an obligation on a child except in two conditions:
- His parents are poor and in need of his help.
- The child has excess property after providing for his own family. This condition is agreed by scholars. (See Mughni al-Muhtaj,3/446; al-Insaf, 9/392 dan Hasyiyah Ibn Abidin, 2/678)
In al-Fiqh al-Manhaji it is stated: If the number of usul, furu’ and others that need nafaqah (provisions) are a lot, while the excess property of himself is not sufficient for all of them, then he should fulfil his needs by prioritizing them according to the following order:
- The reason is the nafaqah of a wife is a certainty. It is not abrogated with time. This is different from nafaqah of usul and furu’ which is abrogated with time as explained previously.
- His young children. The same is applicable for his adult child who is insane for they are unable to work or provide for themselves.
- The reason is his mother is unable to work and her rights is a certainty for she is the person who carried, birthed, nursed and educate the child while he was growing up.
- Adult child who are poor, for the close family tie with the father. This close relationship has its own advantages.
- Grandfather and ancestors. The purpose is respecting one’s grandfather is the same as respecting one’s father. The grandfather is the origin of the lineage and his rights is wajib to be protected and maintained.
(See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 3/110)
According to the above discussion and evidences, in our opinion the provision of one’s wife is prioritized except in situations where his parents are financially incapable to provide for themselves their basic needs such as medication, treatment, food and drink. In this situation, he should prioritize them so that they can continue on with their daily lives.
In issues such as this, there should be understanding and tolerance by all of the children to take care of their parents together, caring, helping and offering their service for their parents. By doing this, it will not burden only a single child while the other children neglect their parents. Remember what has been advised by the Prophet PBUH:
رِضَى الرَّبِّ فِي رِضَى الوَالِدِ ، وَسَخَطُ الرَّبِّ فِي سَخَطِ الْوَالِدِ
"The pleasure of the Lord lies in the pleasure of the parent. The anger of the Lord lies in the anger of the parent."
Sunan al-Tirmizi (194)
Subsequently, caring and helping our own parents should not be considered as a burden but an ihsan that is wajib for us to fulfil the right of our parents. This is in accordance with the statement of Allah SWT:
وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا ۚ إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], "uff," and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.”
Surah al-Isra’ (23)
Let us all supplicate to Allah SWT, hopefully, all of us will be among His slaves who are pious and obey their parents. Amin.