I have a question regarding favoritism amongst ones children against the backdrop of Rasulullah (S.A.W.) having a favorite daughter in the form of Hadhrat Fathima R.A.
Please feel free to expound on The Prophet’s (S.A.W.) special relationship with his daughter Hadhrat Fathima R.A. as opposed to his other children.
Question 1 : Is favoritism amongst ones children allowed in Islam?
It is important to bear in mind that there are two types of actions and emotions. The first type consists of those actions, which are in one’s personal volitional and control. The second type consists of those actions and emotions, which are beyond one’s volition and control. Love is also of two types, namely al-mahabbah al-‘aqlī (logical / rational love) and al-mahabbah al-tab‘ī (natural / inherent love). It is within a person’s volition to instill the first type of love within him or herself. However, the second type of love is out of the sphere of one’s volition and is purely natural.
In Sharī‘ah, a person is liable for only those actions over which he or she has volition. The intrinsic love a person has for another person is not under one’s control, therefore, a person will not be taken to task for naturally loving one person more than another. This is apparent from the greater love that Rasūlullah صلى الله عليه و سلم had for Fatimah رضى الله عنه as a daughter and ‘Aishah رضى الله عنه as a wife. Rasūlullah صلى الله عليه و سلم would often make the following du‘ā, “O Allah, this is my distribution (among wives) that I am capable of; hence, do not censure me for that which I am not capable. (i.e. natural love)”
عن عائشة قالت كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقسم فيعدل ويقول اللهم هذا قسمي فيما أملك فلا تلمني فيما تملك ولا أملك قال أبو داود يعني القلب (ابو داود ج 1 ص 190 , سعيد)
A person will only be responsible and liable for his actions, which are within his volition. Therefore, a person cannot rationally or logically love and favor one child over another or one wife over another, in this respect. For example, he should not give one son a bigger or better gift than the other son. In one narration reported in Sahih Muslim, a person wanted to give one son a gift, Rasūlullah صلى الله عليه و سلم enquired if he had other children. That person replied, “Yes.” Thereafter, Rasūlullah صلى الله عليه و سلم asked, “Have you given all of them something similar?” He replied, “No.” Nabī صلى الله عليه و سلم then responded by stating, “Do not call me to witness (the gifting of only one son) for verily I do not bear witness to injustice.”
فقال رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « يا بشير ألك ولد سوى هذا ». قال نعم. فقال « أكلهم وهبت له مثل هذا ». قال لا. قال « فلا تشهدنى إذا فإنى لا أشهد على جور
(مسلم ج 5 ص 66, دار الجيل و دار الأفاق الجديدة)
Similarly, he should not spend more time with one wife or child than the other; he should not treat one son favorably and the other one miserably. These actions are all within his control therefore, he has to control his emotions and carry out the external actions equally. Above and beyond this, he is not able to control so if he feels a greater amount of love for one child or wife over the other, he will not be taken to task for it.
And Allah knows best
Ml. Yusuf bin Yaqub,
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by:
Muhammed Zakariyya Desai,
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah