Expiating for Oaths

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Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

When expiating for an oath, is it ok to feed/cloth non-Muslims, or can one only expiate by providing for Muslims?



Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Vows & Oaths

The following should be helpful:

VOWS

1. A person takes a vow that if a certain wish or work of his is fulfilled, he will undertake to carry out a certain act of ibaadah. Once this wish or work of his is fulfilled, it will be wajib upon him to carry out the act of ibaadah which he had vowed to carry out. If he does not fulfil this vow, he will be committing a great sin. However, if a person takes a useless vow which has no basis in the Shariah, it will not be wajib on him to fulfil such a vow. Vows of this sort will be mentioned later.

2. A person says: “O Allah! If a certain task is fulfilled, I will keep five fasts for Your pleasure.” Once this task of his is fulfilled, he will have to keep these five fasts. But if the task is not fulfilled, he will not have to keep these fasts. If the person merely said that he will keep five fasts, he has the choice of keeping them continuously one after the other, or of keeping them separately. But if he said that he will keep five fasts continuously or had this intention in his heart, he will have to keep them one after the other. If he misses out one or two fasts in between, he will have to start all over again.

3. If the person says that he will fast on Friday or that he will fast from the 1st till the 10th of Muharram, then it is not necessary for him to fast specifically on a Friday or specifically on those days of Muharram. He could keep these 10 fasts whenever he wishes irrespective of whether he keeps them in Muharram or in any other month. The only condition is that he should keep them continuously. Similarly, if he says: “If this work of mine is fulfilled today, I will fast tomorrow”, he has the choice of fasting whenever he wishes.

4. While taking a vow, a person said: “I will keep the fasts of the month of Muharram.” He will now have to keep fasting continuously in the entire month of Muharram. If he misses a few fasts in between, he will have to keep them after the month of Muharram. He does not have to keep all the fasts all over again. He also has the choice of fasting in any other month. It is not necessary for him to fast in Muharram. The only condition is that he has to keep these fasts continuously without missing any.

5. A person takes a vow that if he finds a certain item which he lost, he will offer eight rakaats of salaat. Upon finding his lost item, he will have to offer eight rakaats of salaat. He has the choice of making the intention of offering all eight rakaats at once, offering four rakaats at a time or offering two rakaats at a time. And if he took a vow of offering four rakaats, then he will have to offer all four with one salaam. If he offers two rakaats at a time, his vow will not be fulfilled.

6. A person took a vow of offering one rakaat. He will have to offer two rakaats. And if he took a vow of offering three rakaats, he will have to offer four rakaats of salaat. And if he took a vow of offering five rakaats, he will have to offer six rakaats. In this way, he will have to continue adding one more rakaat if he vows to offer an odd number of rakaats.

7. A person takes a vow that he will give R10 in charity. He will therefore have to give whatever he has vowed to give. If a person took a vow of giving R50 in charity, and at that time he only had R10, he will only have to give R10. However, if he has some other possessions apart from the R10, we will have to establish the value of the other possessions. For example, a person has R10 in cash and the value of the other possessions equals R15. His total wealth now adds up to R25. He will therefore have to give R25 in charity. It is not wajib on him to give more than this.

8. A person takes a vow that he will feed 10 poor persons. If he had it in his mind that he will feed them one meal or two meals, he will have to feed them according to what he had intended. But if he did not have anything in his mind, he will have to feed them two meals. If he had taken a vow that he will give them some dry groceries, the same rule as above will apply. That is, if he had it in his mind that he will give each person a certain amount, then he will have to give them that amount. But if he did not specify any amount or did not even have it in his mind, then he will have to give each person the amount that one is required to give as sadaqatul fitr.

9. If a person takes a vow that he will give bread to the value of R1, he has the choice of giving the bread, some other food to the value of R1 or he could give R1 in cash.

10. A person took a vow of giving R10 in charity on the basis that he will give 10 poor persons R1 each. However, instead of giving the charity in this manner, he gave R10 to one poor person. This is also permissible. It is not wajib upon him to give R1 to each poor person. It will also be permissible for him to distribute R10 among 20 poor persons. If he takes a vow that he will give R10 to 10 poor persons, he still has the choice of giving 10 persons, less than 10 persons or more than 10 persons.

11. If a person takes a vow that he will feed 10 persons who are regular with their salaat or 10 persons who have memorized the Quran, he can feed 10 poor persons irrespective of whether they are regular with their salaat or not, and irrespective of whether they have memorized the Quran or not.

12. A person takes a vow that he will give R10 as charity in Makkah. It is not wajib on him to give this charity in Makkah, he can give it wherever he wishes. If a person takes a vow that he will give charity on Friday to a particular poor person, it is not necessary for him to give it on Friday or to that particular poor person whom he had in mind. Similarly, if he sets aside some money and vows to give that very money as charity, it is not necessary that he gives exactly that money which he had set aside. He could give some other money as long as the amount is the same.

13. Similarly, if a person takes a vow that he will offer salaat in the jumu’ah musjid or in Makkah, he has the choice of offering his salaat wherever he wishes.

14. A person takes a vow that if his brother is cured, he will slaughter a goat or give the meat of a goat in charity. In such a case, the vow will be valid. If he takes a vow that he will make a qurbaani, he will have to slaughter the goat during the days of qurbaani. In all these cases, the meat will have to be given to the poor. He cannot consume it himself nor can he give it to any rich persons. If he does this, he will have to repeat the charity.

15. A person had taken a vow of making qurbaani of one bull. However, he could not obtain a bull. In such a case, he should slaughter seven goats.

16. A person took a vow that once his brother arrives he will give R10 in charity. However, the moment he heard that his brother is about to arrive (but had not arrived as yet), this person gave R10 in charity. In this case, his vow will not be fulfilled. Once his brother actually arrives, he will have to give R10 again in charity.

17. A person takes a vow for the fulfilment of a certain hope or wish. For example, he says: “If I am cured from this sickness, I will do such and such a thing”, “If my brother reaches home safely, I will do such and such a thing”, “If my father wins the court case or obtains employment, I will do such and such a thing”. Once this hope or wish of his is fulfilled, he must fulfil his vow.

A person says: “If I speak to you, I will fast for two days”, or, “If I do not offer my salaat today, I will give R1 in charity.” Thereafter, this person either spoke or did not offer his salaat. In such a case, the person has the choice of either paying the kaffarah for breaking the vow, fasting for two days or giving R1 in charity.

18. A person takes a vow that he will recite durood shareef 1000 times or the kalimah 1000 times. Once his vow is fulfilled, it will be wajib upon him to recite the durood or the kalimah. But if a person takes a vow of reciting Sub’haan allah 1000 times or reciting La hawla wa la quwwata 1000 times, this vow will not be valid and it will not be wajib on him to recite these forms of zikr.

19. A person takes a vow that he will complete 10 recitations of the Quran or complete the recitation of one chapter of the Quran. In both cases the vow will be valid.

20. A person takes a vow that if a certain task of his is fulfilled, he will hold a “meelad” celebration, or that he will go and spread a sheet on the grave of a certain pious person. In both cases, the vow will not be valid. Similarly, if a person vows to make an offering at the grave of a certain saint, to make an offering of sweetmeats in the musjid, to place a lighted lamp in the musjid as an offering or to hold a “giyarweeh” celebration of a certain saint, etc. then in all these cases the vow will not be valid and it will not be wajib to fulfil such vows.

21. Fasting in reverence of Maula Mushkil Kusha or to vow to implement the rituals of Konda are all baseless customs. Fasting in reverence of Maula Mushkil Kusha amounts to shirk.

22. A person takes a vow of renovating a certain musjid or building a certain bridge. Vows of this nature are not valid and it is not wajib to fulfil them.

23. A person takes a vow that if his brother recovers from his sickness, he will organize a dance or a music show. Taking a vow of this sort is sinful and it will not be permissible to fulfil it once his brother recovers from his sickness.

24. It is not permissible to take a vow in the name of anyone other than Allah Ta’ala. For example, a person says to his spiritual guide: “If a certain task of mine is fulfilled, I will do such and such a thing for you”, or a person goes to graves, or places that are inhabited by jinns and makes certain requests over there. All these acts are haraam and constitute shirk. In fact, it is even haraam to consume the food that has been prepared for such acts. As regards women visiting graves, strict prohibitions in this regard have been mentioned in the Hadith. Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has cursed such women.

OATHS

1. It is an evil habit to take an oath over trivial matters unnecessarily. In doing this, great disrespect is shown to the name of Allah Ta’ala. As far as possible, an oath should not even be taken on things that are true.

2. If a person takes an oath in the name of Allah by saying: “I swear by Allah”, “I swear by God”, “I swear by the power of Allah”, or “I swear by the greatness of Allah”, the oath will be considered. It will not be permissible to go contrary to the oath. If the name of Allah Ta’ala is not taken, and one merely says: “I take an oath that I will not do such and such work”, the oath will still be considered.

3. The oath will also be considered if the person says: “Allah is a witness”, “I am making Allah a witness and saying this”, or “I am saying this bearing in mind that Allah Ta’ala is present and listening to what I am saying”.

4. An oath will also be considered if a person says: “I swear on the Quran”, “I swear by the word of Allah”, or “I swear by the kalaam-e-majeed“. If the person takes the Quran in his hand or places his hand on the Quran and says something but does not take an oath, an oath will not be considered.

5. A person says: “If I carry out a certain act, I will die without Imaan”, or “at the time of death I will not be blessed with Imaan”. Alternatively, he says: “If I carry out a certain act, I am not a Muslim.” In all these cases, the oath will be considered. If he does anything contrary to the oath, he will have to give kaffarah. However, he will not lose his Imaan.

6. The following oaths are not considered, nor is kaffarah necessary. For example, a person says: “If I carry out a certain act, my hands must break”, “my eyes must burst”, “I must be afflicted by leprosy”, “my entire body must disintegrate”, “the anger of Allah Ta’ala must descend”, “the skies must be rendered asunder”, “I must become an absolute pauper”, “the punishment of Allah must descend”, “the curse of Allah must fall on me”, “If I carry out a certain act, I will eat pork”, “at the time of death, I will not be able to recite the kalimah“, “on the day of judgement, I will be ashamed in the presence of Allah and His Rasul sallallahu alayhi wa sallam”.

7. An oath that is taken in the name of anyone other than Allah Ta’ala is not considered. For example, taking an oath in the name of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, in the name of the Ka’bah, one’s eyes, one’s youth, one’s limbs, one’s father, one’s children, one’s beloved ones, one’s head, one’s life, taking an oath in the name of the person who is being addressed, an oath in one’s own name. Oaths of this sort are not considered. Acting contrary to them does not make kaffarah necessary. However, it is a major sin to take an oath in the name of anyone other than Allah Ta’ala. Many prohibitions are mentioned in this regard in the Hadith. To take an oath in the name of anyone other than Allah Ta’ala is an act of shirk. One should abstain from taking oaths in the name of anyone other than Allah Ta’ala.

8. A person says: “The food of your house is haraam upon me” or “I have made a certain thing haraam upon myself”. By his saying this, that thing will not become haraam upon him. However, this oath is considered. If he eats that thing, he will have to give kaffarah.

9. By someone else taking an oath on you, the oath is not considered. For example, a person tells you: “I swear by Allah that you have to do this work!” This oath is not considered and one can act contrary to it.

10. An oath is not considered if “Insha Allah” is said together with the oath, e.g. a person says: “I swear by Allah that Insha Allah I will not do that work.” This oath will not be considered.

11. It is a major sin to take a false oath on something that has already been done or passed. For example, a person did not offer his salaat but when he was asked about it, he said: “I swear by Allah that I have offered my salaat.” Or, a person broke a tumbler and when asked about it he swears by Allah that he did not break it. There is no limit to the punishment that one will receive for taking a false oath intentionally. Nor is there any kaffarah for such a false oath. The only thing that a person can do is to continuously repent to Allah Ta’ala and seek His forgiveness. If a person takes a false oath mistakenly or due to some misunderstanding, it will be forgiven. There will be no kaffarah on such a false oath. For example, a person says: “I swear by Allah that so and so person has not arrived as yet”, and in his heart this person had the full conviction that this oath which he is taking is a true oath. Only later did he learn that at the time of taking the oath, that person had already arrived. Such a false oath will be forgiven and there is no kaffarah.

12. If an oath is taken for something that has not occurred as yet and would take place in the future, then if something contrary to this oath occurs, kaffarah will have to be given. For example, a person says: “I swear by Allah that it will rain today” or “that my brother will arrive today”. If it does not rain today or his brother does not arrive today, kaffarah will have to be paid.

13. A person says: “I swear by Allah that I will recite the Quran today.” It now becomes wajib on the person to recite the Quran. If he does not do so, he will be sinning and he will also have to pay kaffarah. A person says: “I swear by Allah that I will not do such and such work today.” It will not be permissible for him to do that work. If he does it, he will have to pay kaffarah.

14. A person takes an oath of committing a sin. For example, he says: “I swear by Allah that I will steal a certain item from a certain person”, “I swear by Allah that I will not offer my salaat today” or “I swear by Allah that I will never speak to my parents”. If a person takes oaths of this nature, it will be wajib upon him to break them and thereafter to pay kaffarah as well. If he does not do so, he will be sinning.

15. A person takes an oath that he will not eat a certain thing today. Thereafter, he forgetfully ate that thing and did not remember that he had taken an oath not to eat it. Alternatively, someone forced that thing into his mouth and forced him to eat it. In both cases, he will have to pay kaffarah.

16. In anger, a person takes an oath and says: “I will not give you a single thing.” Thereafter, he gives the person one cent or one rand. Even then the oath will be broken and kaffarah will have to be paid.

Paying Kaffarah on Breaking an Oath

1. If a person breaks his oath, he will have to pay a kaffarah which comprises feeding 10 persons with two meals each. Alternatively, he could give dry groceries to each poor person. When giving wheat, he should give approximately one and half to two kilos. When giving barley, he should give approximately three to four kilos. For the rest of the details connected to feeding the poor refer to the chapter on kaffarah for fasting. This has been mentioned previously.

Alternatively, he could give some clothing to 10 poor persons. The clothing must be such that it can cover a major portion of the poor person’s body. For example, if he gives a sheet or a long kurta, the kaffarah will be fulfilled. However, this clothing that he gives should not be very old. If each poor person is given a lungi or a pants, the kaffarah will not be fulfilled. But if he gives a kurtah with it as well, the kaffarah will be fulfilled.

A person has the choice of either giving food or clothing. The kaffarah will be fulfilled with any one of the two. The above-mentioned rule regarding clothing is only applicable if the clothing is given to a man. If clothing is given to a poor woman, it must be such that her entire body is covered and she is able to offer salaat with that clothing. If the clothing is less than this, the kaffarah will not be fulfilled.

2. If a person is poor and is therefore unable to feed or clothe 10 poor people, he will have to fast for three days consecutively. If he does not fast consecutively for three days, and instead misses a fast or two in between, the kaffarah will not be fulfilled. If a person fasts for two days, and misses a fast on the third day for some reason or the other, he will have to recommence fasting. The first two fasts will not be considered.

3. Prior to breaking his oath, a person gave the kaffarah. After giving the kaffarah, he broke his oath. The kaffarah which he had given will not be valid. After breaking his oath, he will have to give kaffarah again. Whatever he had given to the poor persons prior to breaking his oath cannot be taken back from them.

4. A person took an oath several times. For example, he said: “I swear by Allah that I will not do that work.” Later, he repeats the same oath irrespective of whether he repeats it on the same day, the next day or even on the third day. Alternatively, he says: “I swear by God, I swear by Allah, I swear by the Quran that I will definitely do that work.” Thereafter, this person breaks this oath of his. He will only have to give one kaffarah for all these oaths.

5. A person had taken several oaths and therefore had to give several kaffarahs. According to the preferred opinion, he will have to give a separate kaffarah for each oath that he had taken. If the person does not give it during his lifetime, it will be wajib upon him to make a bequest in this regard before he leaves this world.

6. The food or clothing that is given as kaffarah will have to be given to those poor persons who are eligible to receive zakaat.

Oaths Related to Entering a House

1. A person took an oath that he will never enter your house. Thereafter, he stood on the porch or below the balcony of your house without actually entering the house. His oath will not be broken. However, the moment he enters through the door, his oath will break.

2. A person took an oath that he will not enter a particular house. Thereafter, when that house became completely delapidated and ruined, he entered it. His oath will break. But if that house was completely flattened to such an extent that there are no traces of it, or it has been turned into an orchard, or a musjid has been constructed in its place, or it has been turned into a farm and thereafter he entered it, his oath will not be broken.

3. A person took an oath that he will not enter a particular house. Thereafter, it was ruined and reconstructed. If he enters the house, his oath will break.

4. A person took an oath that he will not enter your house. He then landed onto your roof by jumping from the upper story of the house next door. By him standing on your roof, his oath will break. This is even if he does not come down into your house.

5. While a person was sitting in a house, he said: “Now I will never come to this house.” After taking this oath, he continued sitting there for a little while. His oath will not break irrespective of how many days he may remain in that house. But the moment he goes outside and then enters the house, his oath will break. If a person takes an oath that he will not wear these clothes (i.e. the clothes that he is presently wearing) and immediately thereafter he removes them, his oath will not break. But if he does not remove them immediately and continues wearing them for some time, his oath will break.

6. A person takes an oath that he will not live in this house any longer. Immediately thereafter, he begins with preparations to leave that house. His oath will not break. But if he waits for a little while and does not commence with his preparations immediately, his oath will break.

7. A person takes an oath that he will not set foot in your house. This means that he will not enter your house. If he enters your house while being carried in a carriage and remains sitting in it and does not place his foot onto the ground, even then his oath will break.

8. A person took an oath and said that he will definitely come to your house at some time or the other. However, he never got the opportunity of coming to your house. As long as he is alive, his oath will not break. The moment he is about to die, his oath will break. He should therefore make a bequest that the kaffarah for breaking an oath should be given from his wealth.

9. A person says that he will not go to the house of a certain person. This person should not go to the house in which that person is living irrespective of whether it is that person’s own house, whether he has taken it on rent or whether he has borrowed it from someone.

10. A person takes an oath that he will never come to you. Thereafter, he asks someone to carry him and take him to you. Even in such a case his oath will break. However, if someone carries him and brings him to you without his asking that person to carry him, his oath will not break. Similarly, if a person takes an oath that he will never leave this house, and thereafter he orders someone to carry him out of the house, his oath will break. But if someone carries him outside without his ordering him to do so, his oath will not break.

Oaths Related to Eating and Drinking

1. A person took an oath that he will not drink this milk. Thereafter that milk turned into yoghurt and he consumed it. His oath will not break.

2. A person had a kid goat and took an oath that he will not consume the meat of that kid. After that kid grew into a fully grown adult goat, he consumed its meat. His oath will break.

3. A person took an oath that he will not consume any meat. Thereafter, he consumed some fish, liver or the tripe of an animal. His oath will not break.

4. A person took an oath that he will not eat this wheat. Thereafter, this wheat was ground and made into bread or a dish made of crushed wheat. If he consumes any of these, his oath will not break. But if he boils or roasts the wheat and consumes it, his oath will break. However, if at the time of taking the oath, the person intended that he will not consume anything made from it, then his oath will break with anything that is made from it.

5. A person took an oath that he will not eat this flour. If he eats bread that is made from this flour, his oath will break. If any pudding, sweetmeat or anything else is made from this flour, even then his oath will break. If he eats a mouthful of this raw flour, his oath will not break.

6. A person took an oath that he will not eat bread. If he eats any bread, his oath will break irrespective of how it is made or what ingredients are used. As long as it is referred to as bread in that area, his oath will break if he consumes it.

7. A person took an oath that he will not eat the head of any animal. If he eats the head of a bird, quail or fowl, his oath will not break. But if he eats the head of a goat or bull, his oath will break.

8. A person took an oath that he will not eat fruit. If he eats pomegranates, apples, grapes, dried dates, almonds, walnuts, currants, raisins, dates, etc. his oath will break. But if he eats water melons, sweet melons, cucumbers, mangoes, etc. his oath will not break.

Oaths Related to Not Speaking

1. A person takes an oath that he will not speak to a certain person. While that person was asleep, he spoke to him. Upon hearing his voice, that person awoke. His oath will break.

2. A person takes an oath that he will not speak to a certain person without the permission of his (the former’s) mother. Thereafter, his mother gave him permission to speak but her permission had not reached him as yet. If he spoke to the person and only learnt later that permission was granted to him, his oath will break.

3. A person takes an oath that he will never speak to this girl. Later when she became mature or grew old, he spoke to her. His oath will break.

4. A person takes an oath that he will never look at you or he will never look at your face. This means that he will not meet you, mix with you or stay in your company. If he looks at you from a distance, his oath will not break.

Oaths Related to Buying and Selling

1. A person took an oath that he will not purchase a certain item. Thereafter he asked someone to purchase it for him. If that person purchases it, his oath will not break. Similarly, a person took an oath that he will not sell a certain item of his. Thereafter, he asked someone to sell it for him. If that person sells it, his oath will not break. The same rule will apply to rental transactions. If he took an oath that he will not rent a particular house, and thereafter took it on rent through someone else, his oath will not break.

However, if he intended that he will not do these things himself nor will he ask someone else, then by someone else doing these things on his behalf, his oath will break. In other words, the rules will apply according to the intention that he makes. However, if the person is one who does not carry out such transactions himself, or if a woman is in purdah and does not carry out such transactions herself and they are used to relegating such tasks to orders, then in such a case even if someone else does the buying and selling on their behalf, their oaths will break.

2. A person took an oath that he will not beat his child. Thereafter, he ordered someone else to beat him. His oath will not break.

Oaths Related to Salaat and Fasting

1. A person took an oath that he will not fast. Thereafter, he made the intention to fast. If he fasts for even a second, his oath will break. By his taking an oath not to fast does not mean that he has to fast the entire day. By breaking his fast even after a little while, he will have to give kaffarah for breaking his oath. If the person says: “I will not even keep one fast”, his oath will break at the time of the end of the fast. As long as the time of fasting does not come to an end, his oath will not break. If the person breaks his fast before the end of the day, his oath will not break.

2. A person took an oath that he will not offer his salaat. Thereafter, he regretted this and stood up to offer his salaat. The moment he makes the sajdah for the first rakaat, his oath will break. His oath will not break prior to making the first sajdah. If he breaks his salaat after the first rakaat, even then his oath will break. It should be remembered that it is a major sin to take oaths of this nature. If a person takes such oaths, he should immediately break them and pay the kaffarah for them.

Oaths Related to Clothing and Other Matters

1. A person took an oath that he will not lie down on this mat. Thereafter he spread a sheet onto this mat and lied down. His oath will break. And if he placed some other mat or carpet onto the first mat and then lied down, his oath will not break.

2. A person took an oath that he will not sit on the ground. Thereafter, he laid a mat, carpet, straw mat, a cloth, etc. on the ground and then sat onto it. His oath will not break. But if he spread a part of the clothing that he is wearing, or if a woman spread a part of her head covering while she is wearing it, and then sat down; the oath will break. If the clothing or head covering was removed completely from one=s body, placed onto the ground and then the person sat down, the oath will not break.

3. A person took an oath that he will not sit on this bed or couch. Thereafter, he laid a mat or a piece of carpet onto that bed or couch. His oath will break. But if another bed or another couch is placed onto the first bed or couch, his oath will not break by sitting on the top bed or couch.

4. A person took an oath that he will never bathe a certain person or child. However, on the death of that person or child, he gave ghusl to him. His oath will break.

5. The husband took an oath that he will never beat his wife. Thereafter, he pulled her hair, throttled her or bit her out of anger. His oath will break. But if he bit her out of love, his oath will not break.

6. A person took an oath that he will definitely beat a certain person. But that person had passed away prior to this person’s oath. If this person did not know that he had already passed away and had therefore taken this oath, his oath will not break. But if he took this oath knowing fully that the person had already passed away, his oath will break the moment he takes it.

7. A person took an oath of doing something. By doing that thing even once in his entire lifetime he will absolve himself from his oath. For example, a person takes an oath that he will definitely eat a pomegranate. By his eating it just once in his lifetime, he will absolve himself from his oath. And if he takes an oath of not doing something, he will have to abstain from doing it for the rest of his life. For example, he says that he will never eat a pomegranate. He will have to abstain from eating it forever. If he eats it at any time, his oath will break. However, if he had taken such an oath with regard to a particular pomegranate or any other particular fruit, his oath will only break if he eats those which he had specified. If he buys some other pomegranates or any other fruit and eats them, his oath will not break.


OATHS

(According to the Qur’an and Sunnah, as extracted and inferred by scholars of the Hanafi school.)

Abridged from “Mukhtasar al-Quduri“, a matn of Hanafi fiqh

  • Types of Oath
  • Enactment of an Oath
  • Expiation for a Broken Oath
  • Vows

1.0 TYPES OF OATH

Oaths are of three varieties:

1. An engulfing oath (ghamus).
2. An enacted oath.
3. A mistaken oath.

1.1 The Engulfing Oath is: swearing to something past, deliberately lying about it. The undertaker of this oath is sinful, but there is no expiation for it other than seeking forgiveness [from Allah].

1.2 The Enacted Oath is: swearing to something future, that one will perform it – or not perform it. Then, if he breaks his oath, expiation is binding upon him.

1.3 The Mistaken Oath is: that one swear to something past, thinking that it is as he is has said, whereas the [reality of the] matter is contrary to it. This [type of oath], we hope that Allah will not take its undertaker to task.

2.0 ENACTMENT OF THE OATH

The deliberate and the coerced are equal in [the enactment of] an oath.

1. Oaths are [sworn]

  • by Allah, the Exalted, or
  • by one of His names, such as Ar-Rahman or Ar-Rahim. or
  • by one of His attributes, such as the Might of Allah, His Majesty or His Grandeur [and the like], except for one’s saying, “By Allah’s Knowledge!” for that is not an oath. If one swore by one of the Attributes of Action, such as the Wrath and Displeasure of Allah, he is not [considered to have] sworn.

Whoever swears by other than Allah is not [considered to have] sworn, such as [if he swore by] the Prophet, the Qur’an, or the Ka`bah.

3. Swearing is [effected] by [use of] the swearing letters. The swearing letters are:

  • The waw, such as one’s saying, “Wallahi
  • The ba, such as one’s saying, “Billahi
  • The ta, such as one’s saying, “Tallahi

The letters may be concealed, in which case one is [still considered to] have sworn.

4. If one says:

  • Uqsimu” (I take an oath), or “Uqsimu Billahi” (I takes an oath by Allah), or
  • Ahlifu” (I swear), or “Ahlifu Billahi” (I swear by Allah),

then he is [considered to have] sworn. And, similarly [by] his saying,

  • Wa `Ahdillahi wa-Mithaqih” (by the Covenant of Allah and His Pact!), or
  • `Ala Nadhr” (Upon oath!), or “Nadhrun Lillahi” (An oath to Allah!), or
  • “If I do such a thing then I am a Jew, or a Christian, or an unbeliever,”

then it is [considered] an oath.

5. If one says, “[If I do such-and-such then] upon me be the Wrath of Allah!” or “I am an adulterer,” or “A drinker of wine,” or “A consumer of interest,” then he has not [considered to have] sworn.

6. If one swore an oath but said, “If Allah wills,” joined to his oath, then no [penalty for] breaking it is [due] upon him.

7. If one swore that he will not do such-and-such, then he must refrain from it forever. But, if one swore that he will surely do such-and-such, and then does it once, he is freed from his oath.

3.0 EXPIATION OF A BROKEN OATH

3.1 The Form of the Expiation

1. The expiation of an oath is:

  • Freeing a slave. There suffices for it that which suffices in [the expiation of zihar]. [Or]
  • If one 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, [or]
  • If one wishes, he may feed ten destitute people, like the feeding in the expiation of zihar.

2. If one is not capable of any of these three things, one fasts three consecutive days.

3.2 When the Expiation becomes Due

1. If one paid the expiation before the breaking of the oath, it does not suffice him.

2. Whoever does the sworn thing under coercion or forgetfully is equal [in the requirement for expiation to one who did it deliberately and willingly].

3.3 Cases in which Expiation Is or Is not Binding

1. Whoever swore to [commit an act of] disobedience [to Allah], such as [swearing] that he would not pray, or that he would not speak to his father, or that he would certainly kill so-and-so, it is essential that he break his oath and expiate it.

2. If an unbeliever swore and then broke the oath in his state of unbelief, or after his [acceptance of] Islam, then there is no [penalty of] breaking the oath upon him.

3. Whoever prohibited something upon himself which he possesses, it does not become inherently prohibited, but he must expiate the oath if he takes it as permissible.

4. Whoever swore that he will surely ascend into the sky, or [that] he shall surely turn this stone into gold, his oath is enacted, and he should expiate it thereafter.

4.0 VOWS

1. One who makes an unrestricted vow must fulfil it.

2. If one attached his vow to a condition, and then the condition occurred, then he must fulfil the very vow. But, it has been narrated that Abu Hanifah revoked that [verdict] and said : If he said, “If I do such-and-such then [obligatory] upon me is a hajj,” or “fasting a year,” or “giving what I own in charity,” [then] expiation suffices him for that, and that is [also] the verdict of Muhammad.