Date : 20-10-2009

Question :

What is the expiation amount of a broken oath?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all of his family and companions.

In principle, the expiation amount of a broken oath is what Allah, the Almighty, has enjoined in the following verse : "Allah will not take you to task for that which is unintentional in your oaths, but He will take you to task for the oaths which ye swear in earnest. The expiation thereof is the feeding of ten of the needy with the average of that wherewith ye feed your own folk, or the clothing of them, or the liberation of a slave, and for him who findeth not (the wherewithal to do so) then a three days’ fast. This is the expiation of your oaths when ye have sworn; and keep your oaths. Thus Allah expoundeth unto you His revelations in order that ye may give thanks." [Al-Ma'idah/89].

Moreover, the amount of food that should be given to each poor person, according to the Shaffii school of thought, is a Mudd of the common food of the country and the Sharia-approved evidence on this is the following Hadith: The Prophet (PBUH) said (what means): "A man came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said: "I am ruined!" The Prophet (PBUH) said: "What is the matter with you?" He said: "I had sexual relation with my wife (while I was fasting) in Ramadan." The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Have you got enough to manumit a slave?" He said: "No." The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Can you fast for two successive months?" The man said: "No." The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Can you feed sixty poor persons?" The man said: "No." Then the Prophet (PBUH) said to him: "Sit down," and he sat down. Afterwards an Mektal`s 'Irq, i.e., a big basket containing dates was brought to the Prophet (PBUH) and the Prophet (PBUH) said to him: "Take this and give it in charity." The man said: "To poorer people than we?" On that, the Prophet (PBUH) smiled till his premolar teeth became visible, and then told him: "Feed your family with it." In addition, this Hadith has other narrations which are stated in [Fatih Al-Bari 4/169]. The aforementioned Hadith implies that the expiation amount of having a sexual intercourse while observing obligatory fast takes the same ruling of other expiations, such as oath expiation.

Moreover, Ibn Daqeeq (may Allah have mercy on his soul) said (what means): "The benefit of the previous Hadith is that the amount for feeding a poor person is one Mudd since the Saa equals four Mudds." [Ehkam Al-Ahkam 1/274].

However, it is permissible to give the food's cash value to the poor according to Hanaffie's Madhab (school of thought) since this would be easier for people, especially in our time and this is why we (the Board of Iftaa) have adopted the same view. Nevertheless, only food should be given to the poor since giving them its cash value doesn`t free the person from liability as stated by the Shaffiee's school of thought.

Furthermore, the Board of Iftaa' estimated the cost of feeding one poor person at 60 piaster (600 fils) for each day, and whoever gives more than that will be generously rewarded by Allah. And Allah Knows Best.


*Mektal: Equals 15 Saa' *Saa': Equals four Mudds *Mudd: A standard measure of grain that equals 600 grams according to Muslim jurists. * The amount to feed one poor person is a Mudd