Ruling on breaking an oath forgetfully
Fatwa No: 2526

  • Fatwa Date:15-1-2014 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 14, 1435
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Question

I took an oath not to do a certain thing but afterwards did it, forgetting that I had taken an oath not to do it again. What is the ruling? Is a three day expiatory fast due on me or am I not required to make an expiation given that I did so forgetfully? Please give me Fatwa regarding this issue. May Allaah Reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

Scholars held different opinions as to whether or not an oath is broken if the person forgetfully does that which he has sworn not to do.

Some scholars maintained that the oath is not broken since the person is legally excused by forgetfulness, thus, no expiation is due on him. They cite as evidence the Statement of Allaah The Almighty (which means): {And there is no blame upon you for that in which you have erred but [only for] what your hearts intended. And ever Is Allaah Forgiving and Merciful.} [Quran 33:5] The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “For my sake, Allaah Has Excused my Ummah for (whatever sins they may do by) mistake and forgetfulness, and what they are coerced to do.” [Ahmad and Ibn Maajah on the authority of Abu Tharr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him] [authentic]

It is also narrated that when the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, recited the Saying of Allaah The Almighty (which means): {"Our Lord, Do not Impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred”} [Quran 2:286] he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, commented: “Allaah Said: ‘I Have Done so’.” [Muslim]

They argue that the expiation is meant to remove sin and in this case there is no sin.

Other scholars maintained that the oath is broken if the person does the thing which he has sworn not to do even if he does so forgetfully, and an oath expiation is due on him. The expiation is to feed or clothe ten poor persons or free a slave. If one cannot afford this, he should fast three days. The evidence provided by those scholars is that since the swearer intentionally does the act which breaks the oath he will not be legally excused by forgetting that he has taken an oath not to do it, in which case expiation is due on him.

It is more cautious that you make expiation so as to avoid the difference of opinion.

Allaah Knows best.

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