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Can a Promise to Allah be Considered an Oath?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: I understand that something is only an oath if you use the words ‘by Allah’ or ‘I swear by Allah’ or something similar. However I’m still not clear on what distinguishes an oath from a promise. For instance, if you are talking to Allah and as you are talking you say ‘I promise Allah I will do such and such’, or ‘I promise to Allah i will do such and such’ or indeed ‘I promise by Allah I will do such and such’ are these considered oaths or promises?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

The ruling of using the phrase “I promise to Allah” would be considered according to the custom (`urf) of a particular place. Thus, if it is used for oaths (yamin), it would be considered as such. If not, it would be considered a promise (wa`d).

Likewise, if one intended an oath (yamin) by using such a phrase, it would be considered as such. However, if one did not have any intention, intended a promise, or cannot remember, it would not be considered an oath (yamin).

In any case, it is important to note that what is considered is a verbal utterance of the phrase. An internal [1] promise (wa`d), [2] vow (nadhr) or, [3] oath (yamin) is of no legal implication.

[Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha; Haskafi/Ibn `Abidin, al-Durr al-Mukhtar/Radd al-Muhtar]

Please also see: Violating a Promise to Allah; and What is the Difference Between a Promise, an Oath, and a Vow?; and
Is There a Difference Between Breaking an Oath and Breaking a Promise?

And Allah knows best and He alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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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