Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I was just wondering what the rights of our extended family members are, such as cousins/uncles/aunts. I understand that we have to take care of our parents, grandparents, and so on, and our children and spouses if applicable, but what about everyone else?
Am I financially responsible for them? And if we are not in contact for some reason, not out of anger or spite, and someone is sick and in need, would we be sinful if we didn’t help that person if we didn’t know?
Thank you for your question. May Allah Most High reward you for asking about your obligations and wanting to do right by Allah and His commands.
Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Adam quotes, “The Nafaqa (financial support) of other relatives besides the parents and children is (also) necessary according to the amount of inheritance (mirath)….And this is only necessary when the relative is poor, disabled, and not able to earn.” [Imam al-Mawsili, al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil al-Mukhtar, 2/232]
As such, one is responsible for providing for male relatives if they are in need and unable to earn. One is also responsible for female relatives if they are poor and unmarried. But please read the following link for all the details: Fiqh of Financially Supporting one’s Parents and Relatives
Keeping ties with relatives is a tremendous good act, and one should train one’s nafs (ego) to do this without hesitation. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Learn enough about your lineage to facilitate keeping your kinship ties. Indeed, keeping the ties of kinship encourages affection among relatives, increases wealth, and increases the lifespan.” [Tirmidhi]
Indeed, relatives should keep in touch at least once a year, for they might miss out on what is happening in each other’s lives. At the same time, it is impossible to know what is happening with everyone at all times, especially if they live overseas. The most helpful thing you can do is to keep count of the widows in your family and any uncles who might be needy and unable to work. Check up on them periodically and ask if they need anything.
Another good habit is to send them money on Eid as a gift or in Ramadan, so they wouldn’t need to ask the rest of the year or have them slaughter your animal on Eid al-Adha, so they benefit from the meat. Having a sick relative in need and not helping them because you didn’t know about it is potentially sinful.
May Allah bless you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.