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Fatwas Regarding Women

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Questions Related to Oaths and Vows

She Made a Vow to Fast but She Does Not Have the Ability to Do So

Question: A woman vowed that if she gave birth to a healthy baby and it lived for at least one year, she would then fast for a year. Such did occur and the baby lived for more than a year. But she is not able to perform the fast.

Response: There is no doubt that to make a vow of obedience is an act of worship. Allah has praised those who fulfill such vows. Allah says,

"They are those who fulfill their vows and they fear a Day whose evil will be wide-spreading" (al-Insan 7).

It is confirmed that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

'Whoever makes a vow to obey Allah should obey Him. Whoever makes a vow to disobey Allah must not disobey Him"1

A man made a vow to sacrifice a camel at a certain location. He came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him, "Was there an idol from the time of Ignorance that was worshipped there?" He said, "No," He then said, "Was there a celebration from their celebrations there?" He said, "No." So the Prophet (peace be upon him) then said,

"Fulfill your oath. There is no fulfilling of oaths that are disobedience to Allah or concerning something that a human does not possess."2

The one who is asking the question mentioned that she vowed to fast a whole year. Fasting a whole year is a continuous type of fasting that is considered a type of permanent fasting and permanent or continuous fasting is disliked. It is confirmed in the Sahih that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

"Whoever performs a perpetual fast neither fasted nor broke his fast."

There is no doubt that a disliked form of worship is a type of disobedience to Allah. Therefore, one does not fulfill an oath to perform such an act. Shaikh al-Islam ibn Taimiya said, "If a person vows to perform an act of worship that is disliked, like praying the entire night or fasting the entire day, it is not obligatory to fulfill such an oath."

Therefore, the questioner must make an expiation for the oath by feeding ten poor people with a half a sa of dates or other common staple foods of the land. If she is not able to, then she should fast three consecutive days.3

The Standing Committee


Recorded by al-Bukhari.--JZ

2. Recorded by Abu Dawud. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani. Sahih al-Jami, vol. I, p. 499.-JZ

3. For some reason they did not mention the other options of clothing ten poor people or freeing a slave. Perhaps, they did not consider these viable options if the person is not able to feed ten poor people. Allah knows best.---JZ

Ruling Concerning Delaying the Expiation for a Broken Oath

Question: What is the ruling concerning delaying the expiation for a broken oath after the condition that was stated was fulfilled. For example, if a person said, "I vow to Allah to fast five days if I recover from my illness," and then he recovers but delays his fasting of those days. Also understand that he did not specify any time period. Does he have to fast those five days consecutively? Does he have to make an expiation due to his delay even though his intention was not to deny what he had vowed?

Response: It is obligatory to fulfill one's oath of an act of Worship, such as fasting, charity, itikaf, Hajj and reciting the Quran. If the oath is conditional, such as upon becoming healthy or returning from a journey, he should fulfill the vow as soon as possible. If he delays it and then does it, there is no sin upon him for delaying it. If he dies and he had yet to fulfill the vow, his heirs after him should fulfill it. However, one should fulfill such vows as quickly as possible so that the Muslim fulfills these obligations upon him.

Shaikh ibn Jibreen

I Made an Oath to Slaughter a Camel and Not to Eat from It but I Ate From it

Question: A woman and her children became ill and one of her children died. She was in the hospital between being ill and frightened, since she did not know if her children in her house were alive or dead. In that situation, she said, "O my Lord, if I find my children in my house alive, I will then slaughter a camel and not eat any of its meat. I will also fast for your sake for one month." She did actually fast for one month. She also slaughtered a camel but it happened that she ate part of that meat. The question is whether the camel she sacrificed and from whose meat she ate is sufficient or does she have to sacrifice another in its place?

Response: Since she made a vow to slaughter that camel as charity for the sake of Allah and since such is obligatory then upon her, since it was an oath of obedience to Allah, she must slaughter that camel and give all of it for the sake of Allah. Since you mentioned that she slaughtered it and ate part of its meat, it is not necessary for her to slaughter another animal. It will be sufficient for her to buy an amount of meat that she ate and give it in charity to the poor. Then she would have fulfilled her oath, Allah willing.

Shaikh ibn Jibreen

Making a Vow is Disliked and Fulfilling it is Obligatory

Question: What is the Islamic Law's ruling concerning making vows? Is there any punishment for not fulfilling a vow?

Response: The Islamic Law's ruling concerning making vows is that it is disliked. It is confirmed that the Prophet (peace be upon him) disapproved of making vows. He stated,

"It does not bring about any good but it just takes by it something from the stingy."1

That is, some people, when they get sick, lose money in business or are afflicted, make an oath to give in charity, sacrifice an animal or give away some wealth if their situation is removed. They believe that Allah will not cure them or give them profits unless they make such an oath. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has stated that Allah's decree is not changed by any such thing but the stingy person will not spend anything unless he makes such a vow. It is obligatory to fulfill an oath if it is an oath to perform an act of worship, such as prayer, fasting, charity or itikaf. It is not allowed to be fulfilled if it were to do a sinful act, such as kill someone, fornicate, drink alcohol, wrongfully take someone's wealth and so forth. The person must then make an expiation for his oath which is to feed ten poor people and so forth. However, he has the choice between fulfilling the oath or making an expiation if his oath was to do something which is simply permissible, such as eat something, drink something, wear something, travel somewhere, say something and so forth. If his oath were something to be done for sake of Allah by giving to the poor and oppressed, such as food, slaughtering a sheep and so forth, he must give to the poor and oppressed. If it were a specific good act of his body or wealth, such as jihad, Hajj or Umra, then he must fulfill that oath. If he specifically stated where it should go to, such as to mosques, books, charitable organizations, then it is not allowed for him to give it to anyone else.

Shaikh ibn Jibreen


1. With this wording, it was recorded by Muslim. In other narrations by al-Bukhari and others, it states that it does not repel anything.--JZ

Ruling Concerning Changing to Whom What is Vowed is to Be Given

Question: Is it allowed for a person to change to whom what he has vowed is going to go to after he finds that there are more deserving recipients and after he had specifically stated what and to whom he was going to give?

Response: Before I respond to that question, I would like to make some introductory statements. A person should not make a vow, for vows are either disliked or forbidden, as the Prophet has forbidden them. It is narrated that he said,

"It does not bring about any good but it just takes by it something from the stingy."1

The good that the one who makes a vow expects is not the result of the vow. Many people, when they become ill, make a vow that if Allah cures them they will do such and such. When others lose something they vow that if Allah returns it to them they will do such and such. If they become cured or find what they had lost, this does not mean that it was the vow that brought about that result. In fact, that is from Allah and Allah is more generous and noble than to lay down the condition that the person has stated. Instead, you should ask Allah directly to cure your illness or to bring back to you what you lost. But vowing has no effect. In fact, many people who make such vows, when what they desired comes about, become lazy when it comes to fulfilling their vows and might even abandon it completely. This is very dangerous. Listen to what Allah has said,

"And of them are some who made a covenant with Allah (saying,) 'If He bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will certainly give charity and will certainly be among those who

are righteous.' Then when He gave them of His Bounty, they became niggardly and turned away averse. So He punished them by putting hypocrisy into their hearts till the Day whereon they shall meet Him, because they broke that [covenant with Allah] that they had promised Him and because they used to tell lies" (al-Tauba 75-77).

Based on that, a believer should not make vows. As for the response to the question, we say that if the person made a vow for something in some place and then he found that another place is better, closer to Allah and more beneficial to Allah's servants, then there is no harm in him changing the direction of his vow in order to get the anticipated better or more virtuous results. The evidence for that is in the Hadith where a man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, "O Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) I made a vow to Allah that if Allah conquers Makkah for you I would pray in Jerusalem." The Prophet (peace be upon him) told him, "Pray here [instead]." The man repeated his statement and the Prophet (peace be upon him) again told him, "Pray here." This happened a third time so the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Follow your own way then."2 This indicates that if a person finds a better or more virtuous situation for his oath, he may change it to the better situation. That is permissible.

Shaikh ibn Uthaimin


1. With this wording, it was recorded by Muslim. In other narrations by al-Bukhari and others, it states that it does not repel anything.--JZ

2. Recorded by Ahmad, al-Darimi and Abu Dawud. Al-Albani graded it sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih Sunan Abu Dawud, vol. 2, p. 635.--JZ

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