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Oaths: Questions & Answers

Author : Dr. Hassan Abu_Arqoub

Date Added : 30-11-2022


Praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.


Oaths and their Kaffara (atonement) are most needed in people`s daily life; therefore, I have adapted examples on this subject from Al-Shirbini`s book [Moghni Al-Mohtaj].


An oath is swearing by Allah or any of His attributes or names.

What makes an oath effective?

An oath doesn`t become effective unless the person swears by Allah or any of His attributes. For example, (By Allah) (Wallah) or by the Lord of the Worlds (Wa Rab Al-Alameen).


What is the ruling on swearing by other than Allah?


It is disliked to swear by other than Allah. The evidence on this is that Ibn 'Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) said: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Allah has prohibited you from taking an oath by your fathers. He who must take an oath, may do so by swearing in the Name of Allah or he should remain silent." [Agreed upon].


What did the Prophet (PBUH) mean by {He, who swears by anyone or anything other than Allah, has indeed committed an act of Kufr or Shirk "}?


First: One who swears by anyone or anything other than Allah has indeed committed an act similar to that of the infidels. This Hadith discourages such ugly acts.


Second: One who believes that what he had sworn by is as glorified as Allah has committed Kufr and Shirk.


Is the oath of one who said (By the right of Allah) considered effective?


If the swearer intended (By the right of Allah) as an oath, then it is definitely an oath, and the same is true if he made it unconditional, without intention. This is because this phrase is often used in oaths, so it is considered as such.


Is the oath of the one who swears by the Quran considered effective?


Swearing by the Glorious Quran is considered an oath because the Quran is the word of Allah, and His word is one of His attributes. He The Almighty Says (What means): "Of some apostles We have already told thee the story; of others We have not;- and to Moses God spoke direct;-" [An-Nisaa`/164]. We have stated earlier that an oath becomes effective when any of Allah`s attributes is used.


If a person said: (By Allah, I will do so and so), is his oath considered effective?


Using one of the letters of oath (Qasam/Yameen), such as (Baa`, Wawo, or Taa`), render an oath effective, even without making the intention of an oath. Be that in the nominative or accusative.


If a person said: (I swear to you by Allah) or (I ask you by Allah to do so and so), is this oath considered effective and who is liable for it?


If the person taking the oath intended it as such then it is considered an oath. In addition, the addressee is encouraged to fulfill that oath if it doesn`t involve anything prohibited or disliked. If the addressee didn`t fulfill it, then the person who took it is liable for atonement. However, If his intention is/isn`t to make the addressee the one swearing by Allah; rather, he meant Allah`s intercession or made the oath unconditional, then this isn`t considered an oath, and neither the person taking the oath nor the addressee is liable for the Kaffara of breaking an oath.


What is the ruling on one who says (If I do so and so, then I`m a Jew or a Christian)?


First: This isn`t considered an oath because neither Allah`s name nor any of His attributes is mentioned.


Second: The person taking it isn`t liable for Kaffara.


Third: Swearing by such words is a sin and uttering them is prohibited.


Fourth: All the above is in case the person is taking the oath (If I do so and so, then I`m a Jew or a Christian) to distance themselves from something. However, if he meant that he accepts to be a Jew or something within that meaning, then he is immediately considered a Kafir (Infidel).


What is the ruling if the person intended to take an oath to do something but said something else by mistake?


This is considered a false oath and no Kaffara is due on him.


What is the ruling if a person entered and his friend was lying down and the latter wanted to stand for him out of respect, but the former said: "By Allah, don`t stand" but he stood?


This is considered a false oath and no Kaffara is due on him.


What is the ruling when a person says: "By Allah, I have/haven`t done this or that" and was intentionally lying?


This is perjury oath that immerses its taker in sin or into Hell, and it is among the major sins and a Kaffara must be paid.


What is the ruling on the person who takes an oath to leave a duty/obligation or do something forbidden?


One who takes an oath to leave a religious obligation, such as saying: (I swear by Allah I won`t pray Fajir) or swore by Allah to commit what is forbidden, such as saying: (I swear by Allah I will accept bribe), is disobedient to Allah in both forms. Therefore, he must break that oath by performing the obligation and refraining from the forbidden, in addition to paying a Kaffara, as not doing so makes him in state of disobedience to Allah.


What is the Kaffara for an oath and why is it an obligation?


The Kaffara for an oath is freeing a slave, feeding ten poor persons or clothing them of the same standard you do for yourself. If you can`t, then you should fast three days, and it isn`t conditioned that they be fasted successively. As for the reason the Kaffara is an obligation, it is for both the oath and the breaking of the oath.


Is it permissible to offer Kaffara before breaking the oath?


Is it permissible for the person to offer Kaffara (freeing a slave, feeding ten poor persons or clothing them of the same standard you do for yourself) before breaking his oath. As for fasting, it can`t be offered before breaking the oath.

For example, if he said: (By Allah I won`t enter the house of my maternal aunt), but later wanted to enter to maintain ties of kinship, then he is allowed to feed or clothe ten poor persons before her enters her house. He is also allowed to feed or clothe ten poor persons after her enters her house. However, if he can`t afford the food or the clothing, then he can`t fast until after her enters her house and breaks his oath.


What food and clothing?


One mud (600 gr. of wheat or rice) for each poor person. According to the Hanafi school of thought, it is permissible to give the monetary value of this mud (60 piasters for each poor person). As for the clothing, it could be shirts, trousers, garment, Thawb, and it isn`t conditioned that the sizeof the garment of suits the recipient.


What is the ruling when one says (By Allah I won`t put on these two garments), but wore one? Or said: (By Allah I won`t talk to these two men), but spoke to one of them?


The oath isn`t broken if the person taking it wore one garment or spoke to one man, because his oath is intended for both, but that wasn`t the case since he neither wore both garments nor spoke to both men.


What is the ruling on the person who said: (By Allah I will neither wear this garment nor that) or (By Allah I will neither speak to this man nor that)?


The oath is broken by wearing any of the garments or speaking to any of the men because the oath taker repeated the negation letter (لا), and this repetition made each act intended by the oath.


What is the ruling on the person who said: (By Allah I will eat these two loaves of bread) or (By Allah I will speak to these two men)?


If he ate the two loaves or spoke to the two men, his oath isn`t broken. However, if he ate a loaf or spoke to one man, then his oath is broken.



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