Brothers: Their obligations to sisters

Q79 :What are the obligations of an elder married brother to his younger sisters, some of whom are unmarried but their parents have died? Is he required to tighten his belt so much in order to give his younger sisters good education? Is it right that he should waive his right to the property left by his parents so that his sisters may have it all for their own, claiming that this would provide for only a temporary life. A further reason he gives is that his father has the right to give the property to whomsoever he wanted because the father was the owner. If that elder brother's wife objects, she is told that she does not have any right to do so. Please comment, and kindly point out whether it is right that a woman should work for her living rather than be a dependent on her brother.


A79 : From the way this question is phrased, I can guess that it reflects some long-standing contention between a man with a keen sense of responsibility toward his family, particularly his sisters and an attitude of self-denial that extends before what can be reasonably expected of him in order to impose sacrifice on his own wife and children. Let me say first of all that I am full of admiration for such a person, although I feel he may need to take some highly necessary steps to ensure balance in his overall attitude. The first thing to be said about this gentleman is that he prefers to ensure that his sisters have their full shares and receive good education, even though that might deprive him of something to which he is fairly entitled. This gentleman may expect to receive the right reward which God preserves for those who look properly after their womenfolk. The Prophet is quoted to have said: "A person who looks well after two young girls until they come of age will be my companion in heaven." If a man understands this properly and works for this prize, always ready to sacrifice what belongs to him in order to ensure that his sisters or his daughters receive their fair share, or even more than their fair share, then he must not be blamed. He is like a person who has been promised a very rich prize and works hard to achieve it. The man who is the subject of this question appears to have a good vision of what his sisters need. Therefore, he is sacrificing his comfort to have his sisters educated. It is their education that would ensure that they are well brought up. Although the questioner does not give me the full details of the problem, I gather that this man's father had wanted his family home to be shared out between the daughters, and that this elder brother has approved this. What I have to say about this situation is that the father should not have done so. He should have maintained justice between his children. But if the son, or the eldest son in this case, has approved what his father has done, then the matter is settled. The son's wife does not have the right to object, because this is a matter between members of her husband's family and they have to make an agreement together. If she accepts this situation and shows her husband that she fully appreciates his kindness to his sisters, she will get better than the lost share which has raised her complaint. Her husband appears to be a very kind man. His kindness will not end with his sisters. She is bound to receive her fair share of it provided that she shows that she is keen to have peace in her family. Therefore, she should not always remind him that he is doing this and that for his sisters. She should tell him that she is proud to have such a kind man for a husband. What worries me in this whole situation is that this man may be asking his wife and children to sacrifice their comfort for the sake of others. If his kindness to his sisters creates an imbalance, then he should reconsider some of his actions. He should ensure that his wife and children receive their fair share of his kindness. If he does, then no one can object to the kindness he may show to his sisters. There is no reason to prevent a Muslim woman doing any honorable or respectable job to earn her living instead of being dependent on her family.


Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )