Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: As-salaamu alaikum,
Is saying: “if I get such and such I will offer sadaqaah” invalid or even sinful in Islam?
If you don’t get such thing shouldn’t you nonetheless carry out this vow?
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
No, if the condition does not occur, you do not have to carry out the vow.
Vows: What are they?
Allah Most High said, “Fulfil any pledge you make in God’s name and do not break oaths after you have sworn them, for you have made God your surety: God knows everything you do.” [16.91]
A vow (nadhr) is an act of worship which a morally responsible Muslim makes binding upon himself, verbally. [Salah Abu’l Haj, al-Bayan fi al-Ayman wa al-Nudhur wa al-Hazr wa al-Ibaha]
For example, saying “if X happens, I will do Y [= act of worship]” would be considered a vow.
Though in general, you should avoid vows and oaths as it can often lead to undue hardship, and instead focus on expressing your need through the Prayer of Need (salat al-hajah) [see: How Does One Perform The Prayer Of Need (salat al-haja)?] and supplication. [see: Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a]
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Do not make vows, for indeed vows avail nothing of destiny; they only serve to extract from a miser.” [Muslim]
And Allah alone gives success.
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.