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Are adult children responsible for providing for their parents?

The assistance we give to our parents can never be considered a favor or charity because we cannot repay the good they have done to us. This is the same reason we are not permitted to call the assistance we give to the offspring of the Holy Prophet sas as charity. Calling it charity would be disrespect to the great favors done to us by the Holy Prophet sas that we cannot repay. Explaining this point, Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra stated:

The Holy Prophet sas was commanded by Allah Almighty that charity was not permissible for his sas Sayyed. In my opinion, the wisdom of this command was that since the Holy Prophet sas did great favors for us, so the people of Islam are taught that the assistance they may give to the Sayyed of the Holy Prophet sas cannot be considered charity. The assistance we give them would be an insignificant attempt to return his sas favors.”

Allah Almighty has favored me greatly in that I have understood this point for a long time. Many times I have been able to assist those who are poor from the Sayyed of the Holy Prophet sas. I did not assist them with the thought that I am giving them charity, but with the intention that doing so is an insignificant effort in acknowledging the great favors that the Holy Prophet sas did for us.

(Tafsir-e-Kabir, vol. 1, p. 131, 132)

When we assist our parents, it is necessary that we do so with the intention that we are only making an insignificant attempt to repay the great favors they did for us. The right of parents is that their children never make them feel that they are doing them a favor. The Holy Prophet sas said:

You and your wealth belong to your father.

(Sunan Ibn Majah, vol. 3, Book 12, Hadith 2,291)

On the other hand, parents must also recognize the independence of their children and not impede on their rights. If the above Hadith is interpreted to mean that the wealth of children literally belongs to their parents, then the parents would also be required to pay zakat on that wealth, and when they pass away that wealth would be distributed as a part of their inheritance. This is obviously not the case. Parents must respect the responsibilities their children have in providing for themselves and their dependents.

If parents are in need and they do not have wealth with which they can support themselves, then according to circumstances and capacity, the son is responsible for providing for them.

(Fiqh Ahmadiyya, vol.2, p.108)

Children are responsible for providing for the needs of their parents if they [the parents] cannot support themselves, and their intention should always be that this assistance is only an insignificant effort in repaying the great favors done by their parents. However, parents should strive to be as independent as possible. Islam has taught that a person should generally be averse to dependency on anyone, unless necessary. It is narrated about Hadrat Amman Jan ra:

It was very rare that she asked others to do something for her. This independent nature meant that even in old age she still avoided taking help from anyone whilst she walked.

(Hadrat Amman Janra, p. 176)

If parents are in need and dependent, providing for them is primarily the responsibility of the son, and secondarily the daughter. Hudur aba said:

So after marriage, if the husband and wife want to live separately and they can afford to, and the parents have arrived in that last part of life where they are in need of someone’s support and they have no child with them, then it is a different matter and they have to sacrifice (and live together), and that is the responsibility of the son. But if they have no son, then the daughter is obliged.

(Khutbat-e-Masroor 2004, p. 934)

Beyond needs, if children wish to spend extra on their parents, they should and it is a greater good deed. But parents should not make demands of their children beyond their needs. Unnecessarily demanding rights can harm feelings of respect and love in any relationship.

Updated on January 4, 2019

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