Which parent has the right of custody of the children in Islam?


If the husband and wife separate, who has the right of custody of the child? Please explain in detail.

May Allah reward you.


السلام عليكم و رحمة الله وبركاته



According the Hanafi Math-hab, there is a detailed codified system regarding the custody of minors. There is detail regarding the order of custody as well as the age which governs the devolution of custody to the party which will be in charge of fostering the child, or educating and protecting the child as per requirement of the child at the different stages of development.

The laws of Shari’ah award custody over male children, up to the age of seven, to the mother (or the party replacing the mother in case the mother is disqualified for reasons outlined below). In the case of female children, the mother (or the party replacing the mother in case the mother is disqualified for reasons outlined below), is awarded custody up to the age of nine. However, providing maintenance (fulfilling their needs like food, clothes, housing, madrassa & school fees, etc.) will still be the duty of the father. [Shaamiyyah V.3 Pg.612] [Fataawa Mahmoodiyyah (old nuskhah), vol.9, pg.226-7]. Thereafter, the mother must pass over the custody to the father after the respective ages. If she refuses to do so she will be sinning. The father also has no choice in this matter; he must take custody of the children after they reach the stipulated age. [See: Raddul Muhtaar; vol.3 pg.562-6 Fataawaa Hindiyyah vol.1 pg.541-2]. The child has no choice in this regard. [Raddul Muhtaar; vol.3 pg.567]. Up to the above mentioned ages, the needs and necessities are more appropriately taken care of by the mother. Therefore, Shari’ah has awarded custody to the mother. However, after the abovementioned ages, the needs and necessities of the child are naturally different (e.g. expenses increase, puberty and marital matters arise etc.). In light of this, Shari’ah awards custody to the father. It is clearly evident from the above, that the best interest of the child has actually been considered in Shari’ah.

N.B.: It must be borne in mind that the above laws will apply only until the children become mature. Once they attain puberty, they will be at liberty to choose which parent they wish to live with.

وَيُمْسِكُهُ هَؤُلَاءِ إنْ كان غُلَامًا إلَى أَنْ يُدْرِكَ فَبَعْدَ ذلك يُنْظَرُ إنْ كان قد اجْتَمَعَ رَأْيُهُ وهو مَأْمُونٌ على نَفْسِهِ يُخَلَّى سَبِيلُهُ فَيَذْهَبُ حَيْثُ شَاءَ .(هندية ج-1 ص-451 . و كذا في الشامي ج-10 ص-361 )

This is the position of the Shari’ah in this regard, and does not change unless circumstances prevail which causes the parents to lose their right of custody. Even then, the custody does not devolve to the opposite party, rather it passes over to those people, as mentioned by our Fuqahâ, who are fit for achieving the same objectives as the particular parent who lost custody; e.g. if the mother is denied the right to custody because of any of the reasons mentioned below, then this right will then devolve to the child’s maternal grandmother (mother’s mother naani), paternal grandmother (father’s mother – daadi), the child’s sister, stepsister, maternal aunt (mother’s sister) and paternal aunt (father’s sister), in that order of sequence; depending on which of these relatives exist and if they are prepared to look after the child; failing which then the father will get custody. [See: Hindiya- Vol.1 Pg541..;-RaddulMuhtar V.3 Pg.555, 557, 563, 565, 566, 567, 568;-TabyeenulHaqaaiq V.3 Pg.46; -AlbahrurRaaiq V.4 Pg.167-169; -AlLubaab V.2 Pg.218;- Fataawaa Mahmudiyya V.9 Pg.225, 226, 240;- Fataawaa Rahimiyyah V.2 Pg.154, 155; V.8 Pg.443, 447, 449, 451; – Ahsanul Fataawaa V.5 Pg.459]

From amongst the circumstances that disqualify a rightful custodian from custody are:

1) Immorality of the custodian like the custodian being an immoral person involved in adultery; theft; singing; the lady constantly leaving the home. [Ref: Al-Ibaanah ‘an Akhzhil Ujrah lil Hadaaanah of Allamah Shaami, part of Majmoo’ah Rasaail ibn ‘Abideen pg.265] This includes the intake of alcohol. [See: Matawan Anqarwiyyah vol.1 pg.99] Drug abuse and other Shar’i recognized crimes which affect the nurturing of the child will also be included.

2) Incapability of the custodian also leads to denial of the right to custody. [Hindiyyah vol.1 pg. 541] This includes mental instability. [Raddul Muhtaar vol.3 pg.566]

3) If the custodian apostatizes or converts to another religion (becomes a murtad and kâfir) و العياذ بالله !

4) If the mother keeps the child with such people who despise or abuse the child, e.g. the stepfather. [Raddul Muhtaar vol.3 pg.565]

5) If the lady who has custody marries such a person who is not a mahram (blood relative) of the child, she forfeits her right to custody. [Hindiyyah vol.1 pg.541]. A Mahram refers to a person whom one is not permitted to marry. Hence, if the mother happens to get married to a “Ghair-Mahram” of her child, she will lose her right of custody, but the right of custody will still remain within her family as her mother, who is the maternal grandmother (naani) of the child, will be awarded custody (in the order of sequence mentioned above). In other words, the father will still not have the right to assume custody (because of the marriage), until the male child turns seven or the female nine. But if the mother marries any Mahram of the child, then she will still retain custody of the child. For example, a girl cannot marry her paternal uncle, so such an uncle would be considered to be a Mahram of that girl. So if the mother marries the child’s paternal uncle (i.e. her ex-husband’s brother), then she would retain her right of custody.

Regarding the maintenance of the child, if the child does not have his own personal wealth then it is obligatory upon the father to provide maintenance for the child. Irrespective of the situation, in terms of Shari’ah, the father of the child is solely responsible for the maintenance of his child even whilst he is in his mother’s custody and thereafter too, when he comes into the father’s custody; until such a stage that a son is able to earn for himself, or until the daughter gets married (unless she is earning some permissible income for herself); to such an extent that even if the father is poor he will be required to take a loan and indebt himself so as to fulfill this responsibility (maintenance). It was thus a gross injustice and sin on his part to refuse payment for maintenance of the children. However, once the child reaches the stipulated age, the father will still maintain his right of custody, even if he did not pay the child’s maintenance while the child was in the mother’s custody. Furthermore, if the father did not provide maintenance for his child, then the maintenance cannot be claimed for the time that has elapsed already, only for the future. [See Fatâwâ Mahmudiyya V.13 Pg. 573]ا

While the child is in the one parent’s custody, the other parent will have the right in terms of Islamic Law, to go and visit the child even on a daily basis if he/she so wishes. This right of access and visitation cannot be denied to the non-custodian parent. The non-custodian parent cannot compel the custodian parent to let the child go away with him/her daily even for a few hours. The non-custodian merely has the right to visit the child for a little while and then come away. However, with the consent of the custodian parent, arrangements could be made to let the child spend some part/s of the school holidays (or any other mutually agreed time) with the non-custodian parent. If the custodian parent agrees, he/she could even allow the other parent to take the child away for a few hours each week. All or any of these arrangements would be permissible if done with mutual agreement and consent; it cannot be enforced in any way upon each other.

أَحَقُّ الناس بِحَضَانَةِ الصَّغِيرِ حَالَ قِيَامِ النِّكَاحِ أو بَعْدَ الْفُرْقَةِ الْأُمُّ .. (فتاوى قاضيخان ج-1 ص-193 )

أَحَقُّ الناس بِحَضَانَةِ الصَّغِيرِ حَالَ قِيَامِ النِّكَاحِ أو بَعْدَ الْفُرْقَةِ الْأُمُّ إلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ مُرْتَدَّةً أو فَاجِرَةً غير مَأْمُونَةٍ .. وَكَذَا لو كانت سَارِقَةً أو مُغَنِّيَةً أو نَائِحَةً فَلَا حَقَّ لها هَكَذَا في النَّهْرِ الْفَائِقِ وَلَا تُجْبَرُ عليها في الصَّحِيحِ لِاحْتِمَالِ عَجْزِهَا إلَّا أَنْ يَكُونَ له ذُو رَحِمٍ مَحْرَمٍ غَيْرَهَا فَحِينَئِذٍ تُجْبَرُ على حَضَانَتِهِ كَيْ لَا يَضِيعَ بِخِلَافِ الْأَبِ حَيْثُ يُجْبَرُ على أَخْذِهِ إذَا امْتَنَعَ بَعْدَ الِاسْتِغْنَاءِ عن الْأُمِّ كَذَا في الْعَيْنِيِّ شَرْحِ الْكَنْزِ وَإِنْ لم يَكُنْ له أُمٌّ تَسْتَحِقُّ الْحَضَانَةَ بِأَنْ كانت غير أَهْلٍ لِلْحَضَانَةِ أو مُتَزَوِّجَةً بِغَيْرِ مَحْرَمٍ أو مَاتَتْ فَأُمُّ الْأُمِّ أَوْلَى من كل وَاحِدَةٍ وَإِنْ عَلَتْ فَإِنْ لم يَكُنْ لِلْأُمِّ أُمٌّ فَأُمُّ الْأَبِ أَوْلَى مِمَّنْ سِوَاهَا وَإِنْ عَلَتْ فَإِنْ مَاتَتْ أو تَزَوَّجَتْ فَالْأُخْتُ لِأَبٍ وَأُمٍّ فَإِنْ مَاتَتْ أو تَزَوَّجَتْ فَالْأُخْتُ لِأُمٍّ فَإِنْ مَاتَتْ أَوَتَزَوَّجَتْ فَبِنْتُ الْأُخْتِ لِأَبٍ وَأُمٍّ فَإِنْ مَاتَتْ أو تَزَوَّجَتْ فَبِنْتُ الْأُخْتِ لِأُمٍّ لَا تَخْتَلِفُ الرِّوَايَةُ في تَرْتِيبِ هذه الْجُمْلَةِ إنَّمَا اخْتَلَفَتْ الرِّوَايَاتُ بَعْدَ هذا في الْخَالَةِ وَالْأُخْتِ لِأَبٍ فَفِي رِوَايَةِ كِتَابِ النِّكَاحِ الْأُخْتُ لِأَبٍ أَوْلَى من الْخَالَةِ وفي رِوَايَةِ كِتَابِ الطَّلَاقِ الْخَالَةُ أَوْلَى وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخَوَاتِ لِأَبٍ وَأُمٍّ أو لِأُمٍّ أَوْلَى من الْخَالَاتِ في قَوْلِهِمْ وَاخْتَلَفَتْ الرِّوَايَاتُ في بَنَاتِ الْأُخْتِ لِأَبٍ مع الْخَالَةِ وَالصَّحِيحُ أَنَّ الْخَالَةَ أَوْلَى وَأَوْلَى الْخَالَاتِ الْخَالَةُ لِأَبٍ وَأُمٍّ ثُمَّ الْخَالَةُ لِأُمٍّ ثُمَّ الْخَالَةُ لِأَبٍ وَبَنَاتُ الْإِخْوَةِ أَوْلَى من الْعَمَّاتِ وَالتَّرْتِيبُ في الْعَمَّاتِ على نَحْوِ ما قُلْنَا في الْخَالَاتِ كَذَا في فَتَاوَى قَاضِي خَانْ ثُمَّ يَدْفَعُ إلَى خَالَةِ الْأُمِّ لِأَبٍ وَأُمٍّ ثُمَّ لِأُمٍّ ثُمَّ لِأَبٍ ثُمَّ إلَى عَمَّاتِهَا على هذا التَّرْتِيبِ وَخَالَةُ الْأُمِّ أَوْلَى من خَالَةِ الْأَبِ عِنْدَنَا ثُمَّ خَالَاتُ الْأَبِ وَعَمَّاتُهُ على هذا التَّرْتِيبِ كَذَا في فَتْحِ الْقَدِيرِ وَالْأَصْلُ في ذلك أَنَّ هذه الْوِلَايَةَ تُسْتَفَادُ من قِبَلِ الْأُمَّهَاتِ فَكَانَتْ جِهَةُ الْأُمِّ مُقَدَّمَةً على جِهَةِ الْأَبِ .. وَإِنَّمَا يَبْطُلُ حَقُّ الْحَضَانَةِ لِهَؤُلَاءِ النِّسْوَةِ بِالتَّزَوُّجِ إذَا تَزَوَّجْنَ بِأَجْنَبِيٍّ فَإِنْ تَزَوَّجْنَ بِذِي رَحِمٍ مَحْرَمٍ من الصَّغِيرِ كَالْجَدَّةِ إذَا كان زَوْجُهَا جَدًّا لِصَغِيرٍ أو الْأُمُّ إذَا تَزَوَّجَتْ بِعَمِّ الصَّغِيرِ لَا يَبْطُلُ حَقُّهَا كَذَا في فَتَاوَى قَاضِي خَانْ وَمَنْ سَقَطَ حَقُّهَا بِالتَّزَوُّجِ يَعُودُ إذَا ارْتَفَعَتْ .. وإذا وَجَبَ الِانْتِزَاعُ من النِّسَاءِ أو لم يَكُنْ لِلصَّبِيِّ امْرَأَةٌ من أَهْلِهِ يُدْفَعُ إلَى الْعَصَبَةِ فَيُقَدَّمُ الْأَبُ ثُمَّ أبو الْأَبِ وَإِنْ عَلَا ثُمَّ لِأَخِ الْأَبِ وَأُمٍّ ثُمَّ لِأَبٍ ثُمَّ ابْنِ الْأَخِ لِأَبٍ وَأُمٍّ ثُمَّ ابْنِ الْأَخِ لِأَبٍ وَكَذَا من سَفَلَ منهم ثُمَّ الْعَمِّ لِأَبٍ وَأُمٍّ ثُمَّ لِأَبٍ فَأَمَّا أَوْلَادُ الْأَعْمَامِ فإنه يُدْفَعُ إلَيْهِمْ الْغُلَامُ فَيُبْدَأُ بِابْنِ الْعَمِّ لِأَبٍ وَأُمٍّ ثُمَّ بِابْنِ الْعَمِّ لِأَبٍ وَالصَّغِيرَةُ لَا تُدْفَعُ إلَيْهِمْ .. وَالْأُمُّ وَالْجَدَّةُ أَحَقُّ بِالْغُلَامِ حتى يَسْتَغْنِيَ وَقُدِّرَ بِسَبْعِ سِنِينَ .. وَالْأُمُّ وَالْجَدَّةُ أَحَقُّ بِالْجَارِيَةِ حتى تَحِيضَ وفي نَوَادِرِ هِشَامٍ عن مُحَمَّدٍ رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى إذَا بَلَغَتْ حَدَّ الشَّهْوَةِ فَالْأَبُ أَحَقُّ . (الفتاوى الهندية ج=1 ص=542-541 )

الْحَضَانَة تَثْبُتُ لِلْأُمِّ النِّسْبِيَّةِ (وَلَوْ).. (بَعْدَ الْفُرْقَةِ) ( إلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَ مُرْتَدَّةً) فَحَتَّى تُسْلِمَ لِأَنَّهَا تُحْبَسُ (أَوْ فَاجِرَةً) فُجُورًا يَضِيعُ الْوَلَدُ بِهِ كَزِنًا وَغِنَاءٍ وَسَرِقَةٍ وَنِيَاحَةٍ كَمَا فِي الْبَحْرِ وَالنَّهْرِ بَحْثًا .. ذَكَرَهُ فِي الْمُجْتَبَى بِأَنْ تَخْرُجَ كُلَّ وَقْتٍ وَتَتْرُكَ الْوَلَدَ ضَائِعًا (شامي ج-3 ص-555 ), (و كذا في البحر الرائق ج-4 ص-287 . و أيضًا في مجمع الأنهر ج-1 ص-481 )

( ثُمَّ ) أَيْ بَعْدَ الْأُمِّ بِأَنْ مَاتَتْ ، أَوْ لَمْ تَقْبَلْ أَوْ أَسْقَطَتْ حَقَّهَا أَوْ تَزَوَّجَتْ بِأَجْنَبِيٍّ ( أُمِّ الْأُمِّ ) وَإِنْ عَلَتْ عِنْدَ عَدَمِ أَهْلِيَّةِ الْقُرْبَى ( ثُمَّ أُمِّ الْأَبِ وَإِنْ عَلَتْ ) بِالشَّرْطِ الْمَذْكُورِ وَأَمَّا أُمُّ أَبِي الْأُمِّ فَتُؤَخَّرُ عَنْ أُمِّ الْأَبِ بَلْ عَنْ الْخَالَةِ أَيْضًا بَحْرٌ ( ثُمَّ الْأُخْتِ لِأَبٍ وَأُمٍّ ثُمَّ لِأُمٍّ ) لِأَنَّ هَذَا الْحَقَّ لِقَرَابَةِ الْأُمِّ ( ثُمَّ ) الْأُخْتِ ( لِأَبٍ ) ثُمَّ بِنْتِ الْأُخْتِ لِأَبَوَيْنِ ثُمَّ لِأُمٍّ ثُمَّ لِأَبٍ ( ثُمَّ الْخَالَاتِ كَذَلِكَ ) أَيْ لِأَبَوَيْنِ ، ثُمَّ لِأُمٍّ ثُمَّ لِأَبٍ ، ثُمَّ بِنْتِ الْأُخْتِ لِأَبٍ ثُمَّ بَنَاتِ الْأَخِ ( ثُمَّ الْعَمَّاتِ كَذَلِكَ ) ثُمَّ خَالَةِ الْأُمِّ كَذَلِكَ ، ثُمَّ خَالَةِ الْأَبِ كَذَلِكَ ثُمَّ عَمَّاتِ الْأُمَّهَاتِ وَالْآبَاءِ بِهَذَا التَّرْتِيبِ ؛ ثُمَّ الْعَصَبَاتِ بِتَرْتِيبِ الْإِرْثِ ، فَيُقَدَّمُ الْأَبُ ثُمَّ الْجَدُّ ثُمَّ الْأَخُ الشَّقِيقُ ، ثُمَّ لِأَبٍ ثُمَّ بَنُوهُ كَذَلِكَ ، ثُمَّ الْعَمُّ ثُمَّ بَنُوهُ . (شامي ج-3 ص-562 )

وَ الْحَاضِنَةُ ( يَسْقُطُ حَقُّهَا بِنِكَاحِ غَيْرِ مَحْرَمِهِ ) أَيْ الصَّغِيرِ ، وَكَذَا بِسُكْنَاهَا عِنْدَ الْمُبْغِضِينَ لَهُ . (شامي ج-3 ص-565 )

(وَالْحَاضِنَةُ ) أُمًّا ، أَوْ غَيْرَهَا ( أَحَقُّ بِهِ ) أَيْ بِالْغُلَامِ حَتَّى يَسْتَغْنِيَ عَنْ النِّسَاءِ وَقُدِّرَ بِسَبْعٍ وَبِهِ يُفْتَى لِأَنَّهُ الْغَالِبُ . وَلَوْ اخْتَلَفَا فِي سِنِّهِ ، فَإِنْ أَكَلَ وَشَرِبَ وَلَبِسَ وَاسْتَنْجَى وَحْدَهُ دُفِعَ إلَيْهِ وَلَوْ جَبْرًا وَإِلَّا لَا ( وَالْأُمُّ وَالْجَدَّةُ ) لِأُمٍّ ، أَوْ لِأَبٍ ( أَحَقُّ بِهَا ) بِالصَّغِيرَةِ ( حَتَّى تَحِيضَ ) أَيْ تَبْلُغَ فِي ظَاهِرِ الرِّوَايَةِ .. وَقُدِّرَ بِتِسْعٍ وَبِهِ يُفْتَى … ( وَلَا خِيَارَ لِلْوَلَدِ عِنْدَنَا مُطْلَقًا ) ذَكَرًا كَانَ ، أَوْ أُنْثَى.. قُلْت : وَهَذَا قَبْلَ الْبُلُوغِ ، أَمَّا بَعْدَهُ فَيُخَيَّرُ بَيْنَ أَبَوَيْهِ ، وَإِنْ أَرَادَ الِانْفِرَادَ فَلَهُ ذَلِكَ . (شامي ج-3 ص-567/566)

لنَّفَقَة شَرْعًا : (هِيَ الطَّعَامُ وَالْكُسْوَةُ وَالسُّكْنَى)..(وَتَجِبُ) النَّفَقَةُ بِأَنْوَاعِهَا عَلَى الْحُرِّ (لِطِفْلِهِ) يَعُمُّ الْأُنْثَى وَالْجَمْعَ (الْفَقِيرِ) .(شامي ج-3 ص-612)

نَفَقَةُ الْأَوْلَادِ الصِّغَارِ على الْأَبِ لَا يُشَارِكُهُ فيها أَحَدٌ كَذَا في الْجَوْهَرَةِ النَّيِّرَةِ .. وَبَعْدَ الْفِطَامِ يَفْرِضُ الْقَاضِي نَفَقَةَ الصِّغَارِ على قَدْرِ طَاقَةِ الْأَبِ وَتُدْفَعُ إلَى الْأُمِّ حتى تُنْفِقَ على الْأَوْلَادِ .. رَجُلٌ مُعْسِرٌ له وَلَدٌ صَغِيرٌ إنْ كان الرَّجُلُ يَقْدِرُ على الْكَسْبِ يَجِبُ عليه أَنْ يَكْتَسِبَ وَيُنْفِقَ على وَلَدِهِ كَذَا في فَتَاوَى قَاضِي خَانْ فَإِنْ أَبَى أَنْ يَكْتَسِبَ وَيُنْفِقَ عليهم يُجْبَرُ على ذلك وَيُحْبَسُ كَذَا في الْمُحِيطِ وَإِنْ كان لَا يَقْدِرُ على الْكَسْبِ يَفْرِضُ الْقَاضِي عليه النَّفَقَةَ وَيَأْمُرُ الْأُمَّ حتى تَسْتَدِينَ على زَوْجِهَا ثُمَّ تَرْجِعَ بِذَلِكَ على الْأَبِ إذَا أَيْسَرَ … وَنَفَقَةُ الْإِنَاثِ وَاجِبَةٌ مُطْلَقًا على الْآبَاءِ ما لم يَتَزَوَّجْنَ إذَا لم يَكُنْ لَهُنَّ مَالٌ (الفتاوى الهندية ج=1 ص=562-560 )

وَلَا تَجِبُ نَفَقَةٌ مَضَتْ إلَّا بِالْقَضَاءِ أو الرِّضَا ) لِأَنَّ النَّفَقَةَ صِلَةٌ وَلَيْسَتْ بِعِوَضٍ عِنْدَنَا . (البحر الرائق ج-4 ص-316 )

يُمْنَعُ الْأَبُ مِنْ إخْرَاجِهِ مِنْ بَلَدِ أُمِّهِ بِلَا رِضَاهَا مَا بَقِيَتْ حَضَانَتُهَا . (قَوْلُهُ : مِنْ إخْرَاجِهِ) أَيْ إلَى مَكَان بَعِيدٍ أَوْ قَرِيبٍ يُمْكِنُهَا أَنْ تُبْصِرَهُ فِيهِ ثُمَّ تَرْجِعَ لِأَنَّهَا إذَا كَانَتْ لَهَا الْحَضَانَةُ يُمْنَعُ مِنْ أَخْذِهِ مِنْهَا فَضْلًا عَنْ إخْرَاجِهِ . (شامي ج-3 ص-570 )

وإذا وَقَعَتْ الْفُرْقَةُ بين الرَّجُلِ وَامْرَأَتِهِ فَأَرَادَتْ أَنْ تَخْرُجَ بِالْوَلَدِ عِنْدَ انْقِضَاءِ عِدَّتِهَا إلَى مِصْرٍ فَإِنْ كان النِّكَاحُ وَقَعَ في مِصْرِهَا فَلَهَا ذلك وَإِنْ كان وَقَعَ النِّكَاحُ في غَيْرِ مِصْرِهَا فَلَيْسَ لها ذلك إلَّا أَنْ يَكُونَ بين مَوْضِعِ الْفُرْقَةِ وَبَيْنَ مِصْرِهَا قُرْبٌ بِحَيْثُ لو خَرَجَ الْأَبُ لِمُطَالَعَةِ الْوَلَدِ يُمْكِنُهُ الرُّجُوعُ إلَى مَنْزِلِهِ قبل اللَّيْلِ . (الهندية ج-1 ص-543 ) , ( و كذا في: فتاوى رحيمية ج-9 ص-153 )



And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Khaleel Ali

Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)

www.fatwa-tt.com /www.jaamia.net