Breaking an Oath and Kaffara

What the expiation (kaffarah) of breaking an oath in real money (i.e. pounds sterling/dollars, etc)?

E.g. of a scenario:

1). one committed a bad act and then said “wAllahi I will never do that act again”. Then some time later broke the oath by doing the same bad act again.

2). Or one committed a bad act and then did tauba and made a promise to Allah ta`ala to never commit that bad act again by saying “O Allah, I will never … (naming the bad act), no matter how much I get tempted to” and then (being a weak slave of Allah) some time later did the same bad act again, hence breaking the promise with Allah `azza wa jall.

ANSWER

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

If one commits a sinful act and then repents from his sin and promises Allah Almighty never to commit the sin again without actually having taken an oath (yamin), then there will be no expiation (kaffara) for breaking the promise. He should repent once again to Allah, seek His forgiveness and make a firm intention to abstain from that sin.

However, if he took an oath that he will never commit the sin again, then firstly, it will be necessary upon him to keep this oath. Allah Most High states:

“Keep your oaths.” (Sura al-Ma’idah, 89)

Imam al-Mawsili (Allah have mercy on him) states in al-Ikhtiyar:

“Determined (mun’aqida) oaths are of various types:

1) Those that must be safeguarded, such as swearing an oath to carry out a obligatory (fard) act or abstain from a sin, for these acts are already binding upon a person, thus an oath only adds to its importance.

2) Those that must be broken, such as swearing an oath to commit a sin or leave out an obligatory act. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Whosoever takes an oath to obey Allah, should carry out the oath and obey Him, and whosoever takes an oath to disobey Him, must not disobey Him.”

3) Those in which breaking the oath is better than keeping it (m, although both will be permissible), such as taking an oath to break ties with a fellow Muslim, etc. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) said: “Whosoever takes an oath to do something and later on finds another thing, better than that, then he should do what is better and make expiation for (the dissolution of) the oath.”

4) Those in which keeping the oath and breaking it is both equal. Here, it is better to safeguard and keep the oath, for Allah Most High says: “Keep your oaths” meaning from breaking them.” (al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil al-Mukhtar, 2/276)

Therefore, if one swears an oath to abstain from a particular sin, then he must keep to that oath and must not break it. However, if one breaks his oath, expiation (kaffara) will be binding upon him.Allah Most High says:

“Allah will not call you to account for what is futile (lagw) in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths.” (al-Ma’ida, 89)

The method of the expiation of an oath has been mentioned by Allah Most High in the following verse:

“For expiation, feed ten poor persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation (kaffara) for the oaths you have sworn.” (al-Ma’ida, 89)

In light of the above verse of the Qur’an, the following is the method of expiation (kaffara) for an oath that is broken:

1) If one wishes, then he may free a slave (of no relevance in our times), or, If one wishes, he may feed ten destitute people, morning and evening (or one poor person for ten days), or, if he wishes, he may clothe ten destitute people, (giving) each of them one garment or more, the minimum of (each) being that in which salah is valid. One may also give the equivalent of the above in money.

2) If one is not capable of any of these three things, one must fast three consecutive days. (See: Radd al-Muhtar, 3/62 & al-Ikhtiyar, 2/276)

And Allah Knows Best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

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