Equality in gifts
I wanted to buy my elder daughter a hand bag as a gift. However, my friend who was with me insisted that if I buy for one child, I have to buy for all. I responded by saying that the other child is only 4 years, so she does not need a hand bag. Now I want to know if I have to buy everything the same.
Wa’alaykum as Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
Implementing justice between one’s children in matters pertaining to gifts is highly recommended in Shariah. The prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) emphasized this in a number of narrations. Imam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) narrates,
“Nu’maan bin Basheer (may Allah be pleased with him) mentioned; ‘My father once gave me a gift. My mom, Amra bint Rawaahah (may Allah be pleased with her) stated that she will not be happy unless the prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) stands as witness to this gift. My dad went to the prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and submitted, ‘Verily I have given a gift to my son, but his mom insists that you stand as witness.’ The prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) asked, ‘Did you give all your children a similar gift?’ My dad replied in the negative. The prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Fear Allah, and be just between your children!’ My dad returned and took back the gift.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 3/158, Sahih Muslim, 3/1243)
In the narration of Sahih Muslim it is added that the prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) admonished him by saying, “I will not stand as a witness to oppression”, and he also commanded him to take the gift back.
On the basis of the above narration, scholars have written that to give gifts to some of one’s children and deprive the others or to give some children more and the others less is Makruh Tanzihi; i.e. undesirable though not a sin. This is on condition that the motive is not to harm the others or to disown them. If the motive is to disown the others, then such an act will be regarded as Makruh Tahrimi (an act close to Haraam) and a sin. (Imdaadul-Ahkaam 2/892).
However, if a father feels that giving a gift to a certain child will be unappreciated by that child in the sense that the child will squander the wealth and manage it irresponsibly or/and utilize it in impermissible avenues, then the father has the right to withhold the gift from that child even though he may have given the other children. In such a case, the gift due to that particular child may be put aside safely and held in trust and only released to him/her when it is felt that the child will now spend the wealth wisely and manage it responsibly.
Also, if there is a huge gap in ages, as in your case, you do not have to buy the exact same item, but you should buy another item to the same value.