Preferential treatment in gifting between children

Translated by:

Abstract: In giving gifts, can one give preferential treatment to some of their children over their other children? If the offspring is a fasiq they may be denied any amount beyond their need. If the offspring is not fasiq, the reason for the preferential treatment will be determined. If the reason is to hurt some of the children, it will be deemed forbidden (makhruh tahrimi). If there is no particular reason, it is disliked (makhruh tanzihi) and equality will be urged. If the there is a reason such as the child is in need or parent wishes to repay a service, it is permissible. Saif.

[Shaykh al-Hadith Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi (damat barakatuhum) writes,]

At times, people in their lifetime give some of their children property and land whilst disregarding their other children altogether. At times, they give some children more and some children less. Is this action right or wrong according to the shariah? In order to determine the ruling, a decision tree is outlined below. The decision tree contains four scenarios with which one can easily determine the status of their action according to the shariah.

The first scenario is where the child is a fasiq (transgressor). The fasiq child should not be given beyond their capacity or extra. It is better to spend on a good cause and deny the fasiq child rather than give such a child more than their need or leave it as inheritance. The reason being, in giving a fasiq child beyond their capacity or leaving it as inheritance, one is aiding in sin which is not allowed as per the ayat.

قال الله سبحانه و تعالي و لا تعاونوا علي الإثم و العدوان اهـ1 و قال في خلاصة الفتاوي و لو كان ولده فاسقا فاراد ان يصرف ماله الي وجوه الخير و يحرمه عن الميراث هذا خير من تركه لأن فيه إعانة علي المعصية ... و لو كان ولده فاسقا لا يعطي له أكثر من قوته اهـ2

The second scenario is where the child is not a fasiq and whilst alive one gifts some children and not others or gives some more and others less. The objective of this is to hurt or cause loss. This is an oppressive sinful action and deemed makruh tahrimi in the Shariah. Such a gift or grant will be allowed in the court of law. However, from the perspective of the din it must be returned and equal treatment will be necessary.

قال في در المختار و ان قصد (اي الإضرار) يسوي بينهم يعطي البنت كالابن عند الثاني و عليه الفتوي ... و لو وهبه في صحته كل المال للولد جاز واثم اهـ 3 وقال في أوجزالمسالك و اهل العلم يرون ذلك جائزا في القضاء لأنه صلي الله عليه و سلم لم يفسخه (اي هبة البشير بن سعد لابنه النعمان وحده) و انما ندبه إلي ذلك اهـ4 قال في فتح الباري و قال أبو يوسف تجب التسوية أن قصد بالتفضيل الإضرار اهـ قال في تكملة فتح الملهم أما إذا قصد الوالد الإضرار أو تفضيل أحد الأبناء علي غيره بقصد التفضيل من غير داعية مجوزة لذلك فانه لا يبيحه احد اهـ5

It is stated in the hadith that the prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Whosoever deprives their heir unjustly, Allah almighty will deprive them of their right to paradise in the day of judgement.”

In another hadith the prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Men and women may expend sixty years in the obedience of Allah almighty. Thereafter, when death comes close they harm their heirs through wills and so the fire becomes necessary upon them.”

عن أنس قال قال رسول الله صلي الله عليه و سلم من قطع ميراث وارثه قطع الله ميراثه يوم القيامة اهـ6 و في رواية اخر عن أبي هريرة عن رسول الله صلي الله عليه و سلم قال ان الرجل ليعمل و المرأة بطاعة الله ستين سنة، ثم يحضرهما الموت، فيضاران في الوصية، فتجب لهما النار.7

It is apparent that these warnings encompass the case in which a person in the last part of their life prioritises or chooses some children in gifting to hurt the other children.

The third scenario is where the child is not a fasiq and whilst alive one whilst gifting gives preference or specifies some children. The objective of this is not to hurt the other children, however, neither is there any reason for those who were given preference. This is makruh tanzihi. In a person’s lifetime, it is mustahab to treat every one of their children fairly and equally. A sahabi, Bashir b. Sa’d (may Allah almighty be pleased with him), wanted to gift one of his sons, Nu’man, and wanted the prophet (peace be upon him) to bear witness. The prophet warned him and said to him, “Would you not like that all your children treat you well and obey you?” He answered, “Certainly”. The prophet responded, “Then treat all your children equally”

There is a narration in Tahawi. The prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Like you prefer that your children treat you well, similarly, in giving gifts treat your children equally.”

روي في الاوجز ايسرك ان يستووا في برك، قال نعم قال فسوو بينهم اهـ 8 و روي في الطحاوي سووا بين أولادكم كما تحبون أن يسووا بينكم في البر اهـ و قال في الأوجز إذا اعطي البعض علي سبيل الايثار أنه مكروه اهـ 9و في الخلاصة و ان كانا سواء لا ينبغي يفضل اهـ 10 قال في الطحطاوي علي الدر و يكره ذلك عند تساويهم في الدرجة اهـ 11 قال في العمدة و اختلف الفقهاء في معني التسوية هل هو علي الوجوب او علي الندب. فأما مالك والليث و الثوري و الشافعي و أبو حنيفة و أصحابه فأجازوا ان يخص بعض بنيه دون بعض بالنحلة و العطية علي كراهية من بعضهم و التسوية أحب الي جميعهم اهـ12

In the third scenario where without any reason some are given and some not or they are given with disparity, this can be cause for jealousy, malice, hatred, enmity, and tension. Furthermore, it can potentially spur a child to rebel against their parents. There is a narration in Sahih Bukhari. When Hadrat Bashir (may Allah be pleased with him) wanted the prophet (peace be upon him) to witness him gifting one of his son, Nu’man, the prophet asked, “Did you give the same to the other children also?” He responded, “No!” The prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Fear Allah! Be just between your children.”13

Hafid Ibn Hajar Asqalani (may Allah have mercy upon him) states that in this hadith there is encouragement to create amity and love between brothers. Hence, there is encouragement to abandon actions which would lead to the development of qualities such as jealousy, spite, disobedience or rebellion.

قال الحافظ ابن حجرالعسقلاني رحمه الله تعالي و في الحديث أيضا الندب الي التألف بين الأخوة و ترك ما يوقع بينهم الشحناء أو يورث العقوق للأباء اهـ14

The fourth scenario is where the child is not a fasiq and whilst alive one whilst gifting gives preference or specifies some children. The objective of this is not to hurt and those who were given or given extra was due reason. Such as they are occupied in acquiring knowledge, doing good or are in debt, bankrupt or have been of service. In such a case to give or grant extra is mustahab. Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddiq gifting only one of his daughter Hadrat Aysha, Hadrat Umar b. Khattab gifting only one of his son Asim, Hadrat Abdur Rahman b. Awf giving preference for some of his children over others are examples of scenario. May Allah almighty be pleased with all.15

كتب شيخ الاسلام مفتي محمد تقي عثماني دامت بركاتهم في تكملة فتح الملهم فالذي يظهر لهذا العبد الضعيف عفا الله عنهان الوالد اذا وهب لأحد ابنائه هبة اكثر من غيره اتفاقا أو بسبب علمه أو عمله أو بره بالوالدين من غير أن يقصد بذلك اضرار الآخرين و لا الجور عليهم كان جائزا علي قول الجمهور و هو محمل آثار الشيخين و عبد الرحمن بن عوف رضي الله عنهم اهـ 16 و قال في الطحطاوي علي الدر أما عند عدم التساوي كما اذا كان احدهم مشتغلا بالعلم لا بالكسب لا بأس أن يفضله علي غيره كما في الملتقط اي و لا يكره و في المنح روي عن الامام أنه لا بأس به إذا كان التفضيل لزيادة فضل له في الدين اهـ 17 قال في الأوجز و إنما يعري عن الكراهة إذا أعطي البعض لوجه يختص بها أحدهم أوغرامة لزمه أوخير يظهر منه اهـ18

However, it should be noted. If to harm a child one uses the aforementioned excuses as cover and brazenly spends on some children, this corrupt intention may be hidden from the people but cannot be hidden from Allah almighty who knows all that which is in your heart. Accordingly, one will have to answer in front of Allah almighty that day when no property or children will be of use. One should always keep that in mind.

يوم لاينفع مال و لا بنون و انما الأعمال بالنيات و الله الموفق.

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Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi

Bakhshish Me Ba'dh Awlad Ko Ba'd Par Tarjih Dena
In Fiqhi Jawahir. 1421. ed 2 v. 1 p. 56-62
Kosamba, India; Jamia Abu Hurayrah.

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Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami (Translator)
14 Muharram 1436
28 October 2015

  • 1. Surah Ma'idah: 2
  • 2. Khulasat al-Fatawa p. 400 v. 4
  • 3. Durr Muhtar p. 573 v. 4
  • 4. Fath al-Bari p. 253 v. 5
  • 5. Takmilat Fath al-Mulhim p. 71 v. 2
  • 6. Mishkat p. 266 v. 1
  • 7. Mishkat p. 265 v. 1
  • 8. Awjaz al-Masalik p. 330 v. 5
  • 9. Sharh Ma'ani al-Athar p. 224 v. 2
  • 10. Awjaz al-Masalik p. 331 v. 5
  • 11. Khulasat al-Fatawa p. 400 v. 4
  • 12. Umdat al-Qari p. 143 v. 13
  • 13. Sahih Bukhari p. 352 v. 1
  • 14. Fath al-Bari p. 255 v. 5
  • 15. cf Tahawi p. 225 v. 2, Fath al-Bari p. 254 v. 5, Awjaz al-Masalik p. 330 v. 5
  • 16. Khulasat al-Fatawa p. 400 v. 4
  • 17. Tahtawi ala Durr al-Mukhtar p. 399 v. 3
  • 18. Awjaz al-Masalik p. 331 v. 5
Cite: 

Lawharwi, Mft. Umar Faruq. (2015). Preferential treatment in gifting between children (Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman, Trans.). Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Issue 4. Available at http://uloom.com/dibaj/article/151028501

Status: 
In review