Treating one’s children equally

Q: I’m very sorry, but this is quite a long message. I was wondering if you could spend a moment reading this and make clear for me an issue that I have insha’Allah.  It has been troubling me for a long time and is causing me great distress.  I just feel I need to explain where I’m coming from with this and feel you would better be suited to give me an answer, based on a more detailed explanation. 

I believe I try to be a just person and feel people should be treated fairly, and I would like to know if I am doing right by my situation detailed below. 

I know this is quite long, but I would be very grateful if you could answer  me I just don’t know where to go for this.

Thank you and your team for your patience.  I will understand if you cannot answer it.

I have two brothers and one sister. We are all adults.  My eldest brother is not a Muslim and doesn’t seem likely to join Islam either. He doesn’t maintain any relations with our mother. I am the youngest and my sister is the eldest.  My sister has a daughter and she’s in her late teens. 

Our mother wishes to buy a property for my brother (not the non-Muslim one) and I and not for my sister.  She wishes to give us both a sum approximately equal to £440,000 or less, each.  Properties are expensive here in London, and it is worth investing in a good one in a good area, for better capital growth as a long term future investment etc.

Now, my sister has a strong educational background and is a qualified pharmacist Alhamdulilah!  She also has a good level of work experience behind her.  She was also given a one bedroom flat by the government to lease of them years ago to help her and her daughter, who was very young at the time and this gave her security.  She has to pay for her own bills and a subsidised rent to the local council. 

This has come about because of our parents being divorced and my sister always being more in favour of our father and more loyal to him, although she makes contact with mother every now and then. Mother feels based on past dealings and situations that if she were to give or buy a whole property for my sister, then she may decide to give it to her father or feels she may not know what to do with it; or believes our father may persuade or influence her with respects to this money.  There is a trust issue here. Mother just feels that my sister is gullible and easily persuaded. 

Our mother does not want this to ever happen and has a deep phobia of my father, unfortunately this is the case.  Going through a few years in court with our father, didn’t help much with the way in which mother views him. And those were hard times. 

Also, our mother says she will help our sister should she need assistance financially if she asks for help that is, i.e. to pay debts off, or maybe put a deposit down for her flat; just so long as mum sees her taking her life more seriously and making the effort to buy.  Mother has said, in fact, that if she has extra money to give, and our sister intended to buy her flat, she would mortgage her own property to help her with purchasing her flat. 

The important thing here is that when I asked mum if she was intending to buy us both a property each to deprive our sister of potential inheritance or to harm her in any way, she responded by saying that this is not her reason or intention and that she loves her daughter very much and is proud of her.  Mum was quite adamant about that.  That made me feel better. 

Still, our mother has told us that if this property thing happens, then we shouldn’t tell our sister about it or anyone for that matter.  I will never know mother’s reason for why she wants it this way, and I can only assume that it is because of fear of our father causing some upset, or maybe our sister becoming envious as a consequence; who knows… 

But she did say that if she wanted to intend harm to my sister, she would tell me to go to her intentionally and inform her, “our mother bought us so and so…”, but rather she is preventing us from telling her generally in order to perhaps, I feel, stop any potential complications. 

I don’t have a strong educational background, because I didn’t have the right surroundings or the right people around me when I was younger.  Our mother neglected us all, especially my brother and I in terms of education (academic and religious).

Sociably, it was difficult too for my brother and I, because of the unnecessary pressures put on us by our mother and the high expectations she had of us when we couldn’t meet her demands.  It affected our confidence at the time.  Due to this, my level of work has always suffered and I find myself working in dead-end jobs that lead nowhere and being paid basic wages, either that or having to rely on benefit money from the government to pay the rent or providing me with an allowance.  This is a humiliation for me! Working intermittently was not good for me. 

This sort of background has made me lazy, as it has knocked my confidence down.  It’s hard trying to help myself and then having my self-esteem reduced by the sheer fact that I cannot progress further, due to my weak upbringing.  Yes I know also that I have determination to succeed and beat the system, but it becomes ever so difficult when I have no stability in the sense that I haven’t somewhere to live that is secure (something that I can call my own), so that I can have some base in which to climb the ladder.

I am currently unemployed. My brother too has not had it easy, even though he has a couple of degrees behind him now, his work experience is limited. Although we are adults, both mentally and physically healthy, I feel we need a start in life, something that we weren’t given before; something that will boost our confidence and security, so that we can avail in a land that is hostile towards Muslims.

Without exaggerating, I can see how not having the right social and academic background affects a person’s present.  As an example, with my low-level of work experience and education, along with a mother that never cared for teaching us properly, nor provided us with a strong level of identity, I would be, in general, able to only earn minimum wage approx., which would mean working full time just to earn enough to pay the rent and bills and tax etc. I would not have much left over in terms of time for religious
commitment and other things.  As it is, I am far behind in my Islamic education!  This is, I know, a serious issue. 

I feel if I had a good education, then I would be better able to find a job whereby I would earn a strong salary, creating a more stable life for myself.  I feel I can earn a secure living also from the property that my mother intends on buying me, by renting it out.  This money will allow me to redress any gaps in my education and strengthen my Islam; I’d feel a lot more confident than I currently do. Confident to get married; confident to have children; confident to teach or help others in need.  It will give me a life!   It will provide me with time to do all this, as I have wasted a lot of time in my life.  This is my first intention on wanting to accept this kind gift from mother, who did not fulfil some of her more important duties towards us when we were children and through her behaviour, caused a massive amount of insecurity and instability amongst all four children.

Also, it will provide me with the capital I need to either buy a business or start one of my own, should I decide to do this. 

Here are some of the reasons our mother has told me as to why she feels it necessary to buy us a property:

•       That we will have somewhere to live, which is secure, should we ever be faced with homelessness or any difficulties.

•       She understands that it is hard out there and that in her day it was easier to buy a property.

•       She suggested that my brother get married, but he said, “how can he get married when he has nowhere to live?”.  So she now includes this as one of her reasons. Also for me too. 

•       Mother recognises that my sister has strong qualifications and is a pharmacist who can earn a good salary.  She also knows she has been leased a flat by the government for her and her daughter to live in, which is secure from the government.

•       I’ve told her how the property is likely to generate profit and how I can make a good living from it and make use of it, for which she understands and appreciates. She’d like to see me do this.

•       So that I can have a job to run and to organise things 

•       To become financially independent and to learn how to go out and work and deal with professionals

It is clear from my discussions with mother that she is not recognising why I feel I need this property.  She doesn’t feel that I am in trouble in life, but she is out of touch as to the negative affect she has had on me and my results in life.  Perhaps she doesn’t want to look at that part, as it would be too painful for her.

Although her intentions for wanting to buy us a property each is in alignment with how I feel, she doesn’t seem to care that it would give me more time to study Islam and allow me to expand more academically, and give me a proper shot at education.   And not to mention how it would offer me a good grounding and start in life!  She doesn’t understand that by means of my background, my self-esteem is knocked hard, and she had a lot to do with that!  So I can live and work, but there’s no life, nor is it filled with
effectiveness.  Just no stability. 

I fully appreciate that children should be treated fairly in Islam.  I have the right intentions towards all my siblings and feel they should be treated with justice and equality, but I also recognise my need and my brother’s need.  As for my kaafir brother, we do not see him, as we don’t know where he is and he does not ever maintain contact with most of us, especially mother..  He doesn’t seem likely to join Islam from what I’ve been told and is quite damaged due to his upbringing with mother. This is of course
unfortunate. Mother doesn’t know where he is and doesn’t know anything about him.  But still, I would say she loves him and cannot hate her children.

Mum has made it clear that she loves her daughter and by this act of gift to us (my brother and I), she doesn’t intend on depriving her of potential inheritance (whatever’s left over), or harm her in anyway despite their uneasy past together.  She will aid our sister should she first ask for help, and this is what mum told me, whether this is true or not, I cannot know and I am only going by what she has told me. 

My questions are:

1.      Based on the above, which is an honest account to the best of my knowledge, is it allowed or permissible for my brother and I to accept this money for a property for us to stabilise ourselves?

2.      Do we have valid or legitimate reasons for accepting this gift, for we feel we have a need? 

3.      And if my intention(s) or reason(s) for wanting to be helped in this way is not the same as my mother’s, does it matter, or is it enough for me to know why I am in need of this gift, irrespective of whether her reasons are the same as mine or not?


A: Shari’ah commands that parents should treat their children equally. It is reprehensible for your mother to favour yourself and your brother and leave out your sister. 

And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.

متى وقف حال صحته وقال على الفريضة الشرعية قسم على ذكورهم وإناثهم بالسوية هو المختار المنقول عن الأخيار كما حققه مفتي دمشق يحيى بن المنقار في الراسلة المرضية على الفريضة الشرعية

قال الشامي: قوله ( كما حققه مفتي دمشق الخ ) أقول حاصل ما ذكره في الرسالة المذكورة أنه ورد في الحديث أنه قال سووا بين أولادكم في العطية ولو كنت مؤثرا أحدا لآثرت النساء على الرجال رواه سعيد في سننه وفي صحيح مسلم من حديث النعمان بن بشير تقوا الله وعدلوا في أولادكم فالعدل من حقوق الأولاد في العطايا والوقف عطية فيسوي بين الذكر والأنثى لأنهم فسروا العدل في الأولادبالتسوية في العطايا حال الحياة وفي الخانية ولو وهب شيئا لأولاده في الصحة وأراد تفضيل البعض على البعض روى عن أبي حنيفة لا بأس به إذا كان التفضيل لزيادة فضل في الدين وإن كانوا سواء يكره وروى المعلى عن أبي يوسف أنه لا بأس به إذا لم يقصد الإضرار وإلا سوى بينهم وعليه الفتوى وقال محمد يعطى للذكر ضعف الأنثى وفي التتارخانية معزيا إلى تتمة الفتاوى قال ذكر فيالاستحسان في كتاب الوقف وينبغي للرجل أن يعدل بين أولاده في العطايا والعدل في ذلك التسوية بينهم في قول أبي يوسف وقد أخذ أبو يوسف حكم وجوب التسوية من الحديث وتبعه أعيان المجتهدين وأوجبوا التسوية بينهم وقالوا يكون آثما في التخصيص وفي التفضيل وليس عند المحققين من أهل المذهب فريضة شرعية في باب الوقف إلا هذه بموجب الحديث المذكور والظاهر من حال المسلم اجتناب المكروه فلا تنصرف الفريضة الشرعية في باب الوقف إلا إلى التسوية والعرف لا يعارض النص هذا خلاصة ما في هذه الرسالة وذكر فيها أنه أفتى بذلك شيخ الأسلام محمد الحجازي الشافعي والشيخ سالم السنهوري المالكي والقاضي تاج الدين الحنفي وغيرهم (رد المحتار 4/444)

وفي الخانية لابأس بتفضيل بعض الأولاد في المحبة لأنها عمل القلب وكذا في العطايا إن لم يقصد به الإضرار وإن قصده فسوى بينهم يعطي البنت كالإبن عند الثاني وعليه الفتوى (الدر المختار5/696)

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)