Assalamualaikum ustaz. Regarding providing for one’s parents, is it the responsibility of the son or daughter?
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.
We begin with the discussion of providing sustenance with the statement of Allah SWT. There are numerous evidences from al-Quran and sunnah regarding sustenance, Allah SWT states:
لِيُنفِقْ ذُو سَعَةٍ مِّن سَعَتِهِ ۖ وَمَن قُدِرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ فَلْيُنفِقْ مِمَّا آتَاهُ اللَّـهُ ۚ لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّـهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا مَا آتَاهَا ۚ سَيَجْعَلُ اللَّـهُ بَعْدَ عُسْرٍ يُسْرًا
“Let a man of wealth spend from his wealth, and he whose provision is restricted – let him spend from what Allah has given him. Allah does not charge a soul except [according to] what He has given it. Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease.” 
Sustenance lexically means issuing, which is a person providing the expenses for his family. While according to syarak, it is food, clothing and place of residence and others. It is named nafaqah for it is issued or used for such needs. 
The author of the book al-Fiqh al-Manhaji stated that nafaqah (sustenance) means the basic needs of humans such as food, drink, clothing and a place to live. It is named nafaqah for it is issued or spent for the purpose of buying or providing these basic necessities. 
Originally, scholars said that the furu’ (such as children) are obligated to provide nafaqah for the usul who are the father, mother, grandfather, grandmother and up the family tree. Among the evidence for this is a statement of Allah SWT:
وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا
“But accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness,” 
Likewise, in a statement of Allah SWT:
وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment.” 
In both these verses, the commandment to do good towards parents by their children wouldn’t be fulfilled except if they assume the responsibility of providing nafaqah for them both when they are in need. 
Furthermore, in a hadith narrated from Aisyah R.Anha:
إِنَّ مِنْ أَطْيَبِ مَا أَكَلَ الرَّجُلُ مِنْ كَسْبِهِ وَوَلَدُهُ مِنْ كَسْبِهِ وقَالَ صَلَّى اللهِ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنْتَ وَمَالُكَ لِوَالِدِكَ إِنَّ أَوْلاَدَكُمْ مِنْ أَطْيَبِ كَسْبِكُمْ فَكُلُوا مِنْ كَسْبِ أَوْلاَدِكُمْ
“Indeed, the best of your earnings is the earnings of his own. Likewise, his children are from the earnings of himself.” The Prophet PBUH further stated: “You and your property belong to your father; your children come from the pleasantest of what you earn; so, enjoy from the earning of your children.” 
Ibn al-Munzir stated that scholars agreed on the obligation of children to provide sustenance for their poor parents, he explained: “All scholars agreed (ijma’ of scholars) that the sustenance of both poor parents who don’t have a job and wealth to be the obligation from the wealth of the children.” 
The person responsible to provide Nafaqah
In answering the above question, here we cite from al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, where it is stated: If both parents are poor and have furu’ (children) that are of the same status (as family members) from among them, all the furu’ must provide sustenance to their parents. The reason is they have a reason to do so because nafaqah is obligatory.
The nafaqah portion that a woman has to provide is half of what a man has to give the same as an inheritance. If they are different in terms of closeness – such as a child and grandchild – then the obligatory nafaqah for the furu’ is heavier for the closer relative, whether they are rightful to inherit may it be, man or woman. This is due to the reason that the closer relationship is prioritized to be considered. 
While in the book Hasyiah al-Dusuqi ‘ala al-Syarh al-Kabir from madhhab Maliki stated: “And sustenance is issued for both the parents from the wealth of their children who are financially capable. According to al-Ru’us as to whether a man is just like a woman (equal) although they have different capabilities, or according to inheritance, a man is equal to two women or according to their capabilities, there are various opinions presented by scholars. The most rajih is the last one (that is it is according to a person’s capabilities).” 
Whilst Ibn QUdamah said: If a son and daughter are gathered, then nafaqah between both of them are divided to thirds where the son has to pay two-thirds and the daughter a third just like mirath (the ruling regarding inheritance). Abu Hanifah said: Nafaqah (that is obligatory to be given) for both of them are the same for both are the same in terms of family tie. Imam al-Syafi’e said: (Obligatory) nafaqah from a son is due to the ‘asobah (ruling). For us (madhhab Hanbali), according to Allah SWT’s statement: “وَعَلَى الْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذَلِكَ” (And upon the [father’s] heir is [a duty] like that [of the father]). Hence, the nafaqah should be in the same order as the rights of inheritance. 
According to the above statement, in our opinion, providing sustenance for poor parents who don’t have an income is obligatory for their children regardless of whether it is the son or daughter. All of them should help in providing sustenance for their less fortunate parents, especially for the children who are wealthy.
Every child should have a resolve in himself to serve his parents after they have tried their best to provide for their children from when he was young.
May Allah SWT grant us the correct knowledge and understanding in obeying His commandments. We end with the supplication:
رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا
“Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.”
 Surah al-Talaq: 7
 See: Hasyiyah al-Bajuri ala Ibn Qasim Halabi Fatoni, 2/185, al-Mu’tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafie, 4/274
 See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 3/101
 Surah Luqman: 15
 Surah al-Isra’: 23
 See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 3/110
 Riwayat Abu Daud (3528) and al-Tirmizi (1358)
 See al-Isyraf ‘ala Mazahib al-‘Ulama’, 5/167
 See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 3/110
 See Hasyiah al-Dusuqi ‘ala al-Syarh al-Kabir, 10/372
 See al-Mughni, 9/268