Connect with us
Advertise With Us


Options In Expiation For A Broken Oath



On feeding, the scholars stipulated, as a condition, that the poor must be given the entire food for the expiation. While others said, no, it has to be given to ten different indigent persons, as instructed by the verse, and that giving everything to one person is not valid. Some said it is valid to feed one person provided the expiator will give him the food every day for the period of 10 days, or that two people be fed for five days.

What food are you going to feed the poor persons with for the expiation? The verse has specified that also: on a scale of the average of that with which you feed your own families;.. so, it is not any food. It is the middling of what you feed your own family. Make no mistake about it, we are not speaking concerning one meal in a day. No. The feeding referred to in the verse is proper meal of lunch and dinner for ten people; that must be given to a needy person for ten days, and so on, on a scale of the average of that with which you feed your own families; if the standard in your house is that of continental, three-course meal, that is what you will provide; if it is amala with owedu/ mixed soup of ogbono and draw, with assorted meat, that is what you must provide. If it is tunon masara/shinkafa/semo with miyan kuka/taushe/kubewa and parpesu, that is what should be given. The condition is from what you feed your own family.

Another condition is the beneficiary must be poor. You cannot invite your wealthy friends for a meal and call it expiation for your oath. No. You must look for a poor person or persons and feed them accordingly. Your close relatives the feeding of whom is your responsibility are out of the expiation also. The recipient must be poor people outside your immediate family – father, mother, son, daughter, and near kindred. The target of the expiation must be poor people, and you should look for them.

Is it a condition that the poor people to be fed in the expiation of an oath must be Muslims? Some scholars made that a condition, while others said that is not a condition; the poor person to be fed can be a non-Muslim, since Islam teaches that in every soul that you feed, there is reward regardless of their religion.


We move to clothing in expiation for breaking oath where there are three opinions. They said it should be any cloth that covers the aurah that must be concealed in a person. Others said it should be what will cover the entire body – garment, trousers, and whatnot.

Another position is that the clothing should be what people deem as a complete dress at the time of expiation. What is clothing in our time today? Whatever the answer is, that is what you should provide to each person among the ten you will clothe for the expiation of breaking an oath.

“…or manumit a slave.” Does this include a non-Muslim slave? Some of them said so, by analogy with manslaughter.

“…and whosoever kills a believer by mistake, (it is ordained that) he must set free a believing slave…”

So, the restricted, according to these scholars, could explain the absolute. Therefore, every case of manumission mentioned in absolute terms in the Qur’an, they maintain, should be attached to the restricted to mean setting free a believing slave. Others said you cannot restrict without a text. Allah said the expiator should set a slave free, thus, any slave, a Muslim or non-Muslim could be set free as an expiation for breaking an oath. Where Allah wanted a believing slave to be set free, He said so.


But whosoever cannot afford (that); whoever cannot afford to feed ten indigent persons or clothe them or set a slave free, then he should fast for three days.

Who are those that cannot afford to feed, and whatnot? Those that are not worth a nisaab, that is zakatable money, according to some scholars. And the nisaab today is N1, 205,760 So, according to these scholars whoever does not possess this much should fast.

Others said, whoever has what to feed himself with even for one day, he should feed, and fasting is not for him. The fasting option, therefore, is for those who cannot afford feeding or clothing of indigent persons.

But whosoever cannot afford (that), then he should fast for three days. The fast for three days,.. does it mean consecutively, or one could separate between the days? They said yes, you have to fast the three days consecutively, even another reading of the verse depicts that meaning. Only that they based their position on the fast for those who forswear their wives:

And he who finds not (the money for freeing a slave) must fast two successive months. (an-Nisaa, 92)

The same way they used setting a believing slave free in the case of manslaughter to explain the setting of a slave for expiation of an oath; they do a similar analogy here in the three-day fast for those who cannot afford feeding or clothing of indigent persons, thus using the restricted to explain the absolute.

Those who opposed them in the first opinion on manumitting slaves also opposed them on the issue of fasting consecutively. They said you cannot restrict what is absolute without a text, so, the fast for three days is to be observed singly, and not consecutively.


The best for a Muslim is to avoid any situation that will make him take an oath or swear. Just say the truth, let him who will accept what you say accept, and let him who will deny, reject it, but don’t swear.

If someone swears on falsehood, don’t counter what he said by saying for example, wallaahi its wrong; the truth is so and so. Just say, I believe in Allah, as instructed by the Prophet, sallaahu alaihi wa sallam.

Absolve your brother or sister of their oaths. You happen to be in his house and he says, ‘Lunch is served. Let us have lunch before you go.’

You said, ‘Sorry, I don’t eat lunch nowadays.’ He wouldn’t hear anything of that sort, and he said, ‘Wallaahi you must eat…’ Oblige him by eating a bit of the food, in order to absolve him of the oath.

Or where you are in a haste for something and your host swears that you must not leave that moment in time, linger a little longer to absolve her of the oath.

We finished discussing oaths that require kaffaarah. There is, however, an oath that does not require kaffaarah because its sin is so great that it plunges the doer in Hell. It is called The Calamitous Oath. This is where he swears on falsehood in order to deceive, deprive an innocent person of their rights or seeks someone’s pleasure through false pretence.

Example: your neighbour’s wife takes her husband to court because he does not provide her with sustenance, food and basic needs. As a friend and a neighbour you know that the wife is right on her claims, but because you want to please your friend, you go into the court as a witness, and you swear by Allah that your friend’s wife is lying, and you testify in the name of Allah that the man gives full provision to his wife; that she has no reason to complain of lack of food or any form of sustenance. This is Hell Fire superhighway!

No kaffaarah is needed for such oath as the sin is too enormous to require expiation. Allah is waiting for him.

Or one who gives part payment for something only to swear later that he has given full payment in order to eat up people’s property wrongfully. No expiation for this grievous oath. Allah will require it of him, since he swore on falsehood, knowingly, intentionally, desiring to deceive, clothe untruth in the garb of certainty.

Other examples: ‘Have you observed Zuhr?’ your parents asked you. ’Wallaahi I have.’ You lied.

You were in a raucous party, but when your father asked you, your answer was ‘Wallaahi Dady I was in my room throughout the night reading the Qur’an.’ Crook

No expiation for all these. Only sincere repentance and contrition will help, otherwise Hell Fire. Part of the repentance is to restore to people their property that you devoured through false oath, or for the friend who lied on oath at the court to return to the same court and reverse the injustice he did to his neighbour’s wife, to establish the truth of her condition and his friend’s ill-treatment of the wife, and so on.

Some scholars among the Tabi’een said if you vow not to do an act of righteousness, breaking such a vow and doing the righteous act attracts no expiation on your part. Like one who vows never to visit his mother, and then regrets ever taking the vow, so what will he do? Some of them said he should visit her and expiate his oath. Others said, no, he should visit her and that expiates his oath; meaning the visit itself stands for the expiation. To them, the expiation for doing a good deed that you vowed not to do is in doing the good deed itself. Of course another view, which is more authentic, is to do kaffaarah in such cases as involve a vow not to do a good deed.


By what will you swear? Some people swear by their ancestors, parents, the Prophet, the turban of their emir and so on. The Messenger of Allah sallaahu alaihi wa sallam said:

Whoever desires to swear, they should swear by Allah or be silent.

In another hadeeth, he sallaahu alaihi wa sallam, said, ‘Do not swear by your fathers, mothers, or ancestors; if you must swear, then swear by Allah, and do not swear by Allah unless where you are truthful.’

You can also swear by any of His beautiful names…or attributes.

What about those who swear by the Qur’an or the Prophet sallaahu alaihi wa sallam?

Abdullaah bn Abbas said, ‘To swear by the Qur’an is a binding oath the kaffaarah of which is according to the number of the verses in the entire Book.’ That means every ayah constitutes a vow. Therefore, whoever swears by the Qur’an and breaks his vow, he is to make kaffaarah according to the number of verses in the Book – 6,666 or thereabouts.

But some of them said to swear by the Qur’an is equivalent to only one vow which if broken is expiated with one kaffaarah. And some other scholars still said you cannot even swear by the Qur’an.

But to swear with the Prophet sallaahu alaihi wa sallam, some of them said it is valid because the swearer has sworn by something without which imaan is not complete. Is imaan complete without belief in Muhammad sallaahu alaihi wa sallam? Therefore, whoever swears by the Prophet he has sworn by something without which imaan is not complete. Among these scholars is Imam Ahmad Ibn Hambal.





%d bloggers like this: