Giving Sadaqah to family and relatives
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
The responsibility of the children to financially support their parents is based on two conditions
1) One is financially in a position to do so.
2) Ones parents are poor, even if they are capable of earning themselves. (Hidayah p.445 v.2)
As far as the other relatives are concerned, we can divide them into two categories:
1) Male relatives, such as ones brother, uncle, nephew, etc. The responsibility of financially supporting them is only in the situation where they are poor and not capable of earning themselves due to some disability or illness.
Imam al-Mawsili (may Allah have mercy on him) states in al-Ikhtiyar:
“The Nafaqah (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.” (al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil al-Mukhtar, 2/232)
2) Female relatives, such as ones sister, aunt, etc. The responsibility of supporting them is conditioned only with them being poor and in need. Disability is not a condition, for women are not obliged to work and earn money.
It is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:
“The Nafaqah of virgin female relatives is necessary even if they are healthy, provided they are in need of the Nafaqah.” (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/566)
However, if a woman is married, then her husband will support her, hence the responsibility of supporting her will be lifted from her relatives. In al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, it is further stated:
“The husband will be solely responsible in supporting his wife, so much so that if a woman has a husband who is poor (and not capable of supporting her) but has a son, from a previous husband, who is wealthy or a wealthy father or a wealthy brother, her financial support will still remain on her husband, and not on her father, son and brother. However, her father, son or brother will be ordered to spend on her, and then recover it from the husband when he becomes well-off.” (ibid) (Extracted from www.darulifta.com , Mufti Muhammad Bin Adam (D.B)
Regarding your question, you should give the sadaqah to those family members who you think are most in need and thereafter to those who are not in urgent need. It will be best to give to your cousin who is a widow as she is more in need of your sadaqah.
If you think that your family are not in need of the sadaqah then it is best to give to the poor and needy. However, if one has relatives who are poor it is best to give them the sadaqah as one will receive double reward.
The Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam said: “To give something to a poor man brings one reward, while giving the same to a needy relation brings two: one for charity and the other for respecting the family ties.” (Musnad Ahmad & Sunan Tirmizi)
Only Allah Knows Best
Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham.