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Is It Possible to Become a Disbeliever Through an Oath?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Assalamu alaykum

You have mentioned that if someone takes an oath saying “If I do this or do not do this, I will become a Kafir forever”, the person does not become a kafir.
But recently on your website, it was mentioned that if the person’s intention at the time of making an oath was to become a kafir, then he will become a kafir.

Is it a difference of opinion?

Answer: Wa ‘alaylum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

In order to understand this we need know that there are two types of oaths relevant here:

1. A conditional oath – ‘If I do / do not do x then the I am a Y’ or ‘By God I will never do x’. This oath is usually sworn to make oneself do an act or to prevent oneself from it.

2. A false oath -such as saying ‘I swear by God I did not do x’ when you know it to be untrue.

If a person says something to the effect of ‘If he does x he will become a kafir’ – which is from category 1 – what we clearly understand is that he does not with do that thing – which is why he placed such a serious consequence upon doing it. Therefore, if he did do it, it will be considered an oath, and he will have to perform the expiation as a penalty for breaking it. This is because he considers this statement an oath, and therefore a preventative means.

If someone swore an oath from category 1 or 2 thinking that he will indeed become a disbeliever if he breaks the oath – as with category 1 – or knowing that he had done the act – as with category 2 – then this person becomes a disbeliever in that situation. This is because he thinks that doing such a thing will make a disbeliever and then he goes ahead and does it, or he has done something, and then he swears that if he has done it he is a disbeliever.

This shows that in the last two scenarios – according to his understanding – both lead to disbelief. Therefore doing them in the first scenario is an acceptance of disbelief, and swearing the oath in the second is a sign that he is happy with disbelief. Therefore he becomes a disbeliever because he thinks that swearing the oath or doing the act will make him and disbeliever, and then he does it anyway. This is just like someone knowing that rejecting a verse of the Qur’an is disbelief, and then he does so anyway (al-Haskafi, al-Durr al-Mukhtar, Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar).

And Allah knows best.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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