Nafaqa (Arabic: النفقة, maintenance) refers to usual life expenses, like one's food, clothes and accommodation, especially when another person is obliged to provide them. Marriage and kinship are two main causes for its obligation.
Maintenance of a permanent wife is obligatory upon her husband; also, the maintenance of children and parents is obligatory in case of their need. Providing for other relatives is a recommended act, not obligatory.
Lexical and Technical Meanings
The Arabic word "Nafaqa" (Arabic: نفقة) has been used to denote expense, daily expenditure, and maintenance. "To give Nafaqa" means to provide for one's living and cover his/her living expenses. As a technical term in jurisprudence, Nafaqa means the amount of money that is necessary for a living according to one's personal and social circumstances, which includes the expenses of food, clothes and accommodation. Jurists have hardly defined the limits of Nafaqa, instead, they have often listed the cases of its obligation. According to them, marriage and kinship cause the obligation of maintenance.
In the Qur'an
- Qur'an 2:233, "...and on the father shall be their maintenance and clothing, in accordance with honourable norms."
- Qur'an 4:34, "Men are the managers of women, because of the advantage Allah has granted some of them over others, and by virtue of their spending out of their wealth."
Maintenance of Wife
Providing wife's maintenance is an obligation upon the husband, irrespective of woman's being needy or wealthy; which means even if the woman has her own earnings or wealth which cover her life expenses, still providing maintenance is obligatory upon the husband. Jurisprudentially, there's no specific amount for maintenance, the criterion, however, is to fulfill her usual needs according to her personal and social status in the common view. Wife's personal and social status is determinable, at least approximately, by considering her living conditions before marriage and based on the common view.
The Amount of Nafaqa
The standard for determining the amount of maintenance is a matter of disagreement among jurists. Some believe it is only sufficient to consider husband's wealth and poverty; some restrict it only to wife's social and personal status (irrespective of husband's being poor or wealthy) and some regard both as necessary standards for determining the amount of maintenance.
- Providing for a permanent wife is obligatory.
Maintenance of Children and Parents
As for parents' maintenance, in the case of their need, it is obligatory upon their children to provide for them, and if they are poor themselves or have died, it is obligatory upon their children to provide for their grandparents. Maintenance of children is obligatory upon their father and if he is poor or has died, the agnate grandfather is obliged to provide for his grandchildren. If the agnate grandfather is poor or has died, mother should provide for her children and if she is poor or has died, it is upon grandparents (agnate or maternal) to provide for their grandchildren.
One who is financially capable of providing maintenance but unjustifiably neglects this duty, will be forced by a legal judge (authority) to carry it out.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from نفقه in Farsi Wikishia.