Can the children of a father use the haram (illegitimate) earnings of their father?

The Details of the Question
Can the children of a father use the haram (illegitimate) earnings of their father?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The sustenance of the mother and children is an obligation on the father. It is his natural duty and a religious responsibility incumbent on him by Allah Almighty. The following is stated in verse 233 of the chapter of al-Baqara:

“…But he (the father) shall bear the cost of their (mother and children) food and clothing on equitable terms….”

Imam Qurtubi, the interpreter (mufassir) shows this verse as evidence that the sustenance of the child belongs to his father due to his weakness. 1

That is, it is necessary for the father to meet his child's needs until he reaches the age to earn his own living. It is his natural duty as a father.

The father is ordered in some verses and hadiths to fulfill this duty through legitimate and halal ways. That is, the head of the family needs to earn the sustenance for himself, his wife and other members of his family like his father and mother through legitimate ways.

A person who does not find halal earnings sufficient and resorts to haram ways by using earning his living as an excuse and who even earns all his earnings through illegitimate ways by disregarding legitimate ways undertakes the responsibilities and sins of all of his family members whom he feeds through illegitimate ways.

For, the individuals he has to take care of have no responsibility and sins regarding the issue. They eat the illegitimate earnings because they have to. Therefore, they are not regarded to have committed sins.

Ibn Abidin writes the following regarding the issue:

“It is not a sin for a woman to eat the food or to put on the clothes that her husband buys out of his illegitimate earnings. The sin belongs to the husband. However, if the nafaqa (subsistence money) given to her by his husband is something extorted, it is not permissible for her to eat from it.” 2

The situation of the children is no different from it. For, the sustenance of the children is the responsibility of the father just like the sustenance of the mother. The children have to eat what they father brings out of illegitimate earnings; so the sins occurring from this act belong to their father.

When the children grow up and become capable of earning their own living through legitimate ways, they will have to spend their own money.

1. at-Tafsiru’l-Qurtubi, 1: 163.
2. Raddu’l-Mukhtar, 5: 247.

Mehmed Paksu Helal – Haram

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