Can a woman and her children eat from the haram earnings of the husband and the father?

The Details of the Question
Can a woman and her children eat from the haram earnings of the husband and the father?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The sustenance of the mother and the children is incumbent on the father. It is both a natural duty and a religious responsibility for him. The following is stated in verse 233 of the chapter al-Baqara:

“The father shall bear the cost of the food and clothing of their offspring on equitable terms.”

Imam Qurtubi, an interpreter of the Quran, shows this verse as evidence that the sustenance of the child is incumbent on the father due to his/her weakness. (Tafsiru’l-Qurtubi, 1/163)

That is, the father has to meet the needs of his children until they reach the age when they can earn their own living. It is actually his natural duty as a father. 

It is ordered by some verses and hadiths that the father has to work in legitimate business to carry out this duty. That is, the head of the family has to earn his living and meet the needs of the members of his family, that is, his wives and children and in some cases his parents, through legitimate business.

A person who is not content with legitimate business and attempts to do illegitimate business using the cost of living as an excuse due to the weakness of his belief and who even earns his living completely from illegitimate business will be responsible for the sins himself and all of the family members. 

It is because the members of the family have no responsibility or sins regarding the issue. Thus, they eat from the haram earnings because they are obliged to. Therefore, they are not regarded to have committed sins. 

Ibn Abidin writes the following regarding the issue:  

“A woman is not at all regarded to have committed a sin when she eats or wears something that her husband has earned illegitimately. The sin belongs to the husband. However, if the sustenance that the husband gives to his wife is something that has completely been seized illegitimately from somebody else, then it is not permissible for the woman to eat from it.” (Raddu’l-Mukhtar, 5/247)

The situation of the children is no different because sustenance of the children belongs to the father just as the sustenance of the wife belongs to the husband. Since the children have to eat from the sustenance that their father has earned illegitimately, the sins caused by that haram belong to the father not to themselves.  

However, when the children grow up and can work, they have to earn their living legitimately and spend their own money.

Mehmed Paksu

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