Your first priority is supporting your wife and minor children, even if you are poor. If you are female, you must support your children but not your husband. You must also support your parents and grandparents only if they are in need and you are wealthy. This responsibility is whether you are the son or daughter, and whether your parents are Muslim or not. If you have brothers or sisters, the responsibility of supporting your parents and grandparents must be shared equally between siblings according to their ability. If your mother is married, then her husband will be primarily responsible for supporting her. If her husband is poor, you will support your mother by giving to her husband. If she is not married, then you must support her if she is poor and you can afford to.
Your responsibility to other male relatives like your brother, uncle, and nephew is only if they are poor and not capable of earning due to a disability or illness. Your responsibility to other unmarried female relatives like your sister, aunt, and niece is only if they are poor. Inability to work is not a condition since women are not required to work. However, if she is married, her husband will be primarily responsible for supporting her.
If you are only able to provide for some people, your first priority is your wife and children. Then, if you have more wealth, your parents, then your other family members, according to the mentioned conditions.
What the Scholars Said
Imam Al-Mawsili says, “Financial support of the parents and grandparents is on the male and female children, because Allah says: “say not to them a word of contempt” (Surah al-Isra). Thus, Allah Most High forbade the child from harming the parents even to this extent, and to not spend on them when they are in need is more harmful than this…..And Allah Most High says: “We have enjoined on man kindness to parents” (al-Ankabut, V. 8), and it is not from kindness to leave them in need despite having the capability to remove their need. And Allah Most High says regarding non-Muslim parents: “And bear them company in this life kindly” (Luqman, V. 15), and it is inconsiderate to leave one’s parents hungry despite having the means to feed them…” (Al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil Al-Mukhtar 2:231-232)
Imam Al-Mawsili explains: “Financial support of other relatives besides your parents and children is necessary according to the amount of inheritance…and this is only necessary when the relative is poor, disabled, or unable to earn.” (Al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil Al-Mukhtar 2:232)
A major legal work states: “If a poor person has two children, one being very wealthy and the other has enough to pay Zakah, then the responsibility of supporting the father will be equally shared by both of them.” (Al-Fatawa Al-Hindiyya, 1:565)
It is stated: “The husband will be solely responsible in supporting his wife, so much so that if a woman has a husband who is poor 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.” (Al-Fatawa Al-Hindiyya 1:566)
It is virtuous to support family members even when it is not required. If you choose to deny requests for support, do so in a kind and caring manner.
Shaykh Mustafa Umar