Ruling on multiple oaths about one matter while intending multiple expiations
Fatwa No: 311782

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. Could you please explain the case of one who says, "I swear by Allaah twelve million times," intending multiple expiations for one thing, and who then breaks that oath. I have been living in despair ever since, and I truly regret my action, I will never be able to pay back twelve million expiations, is there hope that Allaah will pay the expiations on my behalf if my repentance is sincere? 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 ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The preponderant opinion of the majority of the scholars is that repeated oaths on one single matter does not necessitate but one kaffaarah (expiation) when breaking the oath, even if the person had intended multiple expiations.

Al-Maqdisi, from the Hanbali School of jurisprudence, said in Sharh Al-‘Umdah, “If one made an oath by Allaah and by all His Attributes or repeated the oath on one single matter, such as the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) ‘I swear by Allaah, I shall fight against the Quraysh; I swear by Allaah, I shall fight against the Quraysh…’ and then he broke his oath, then he is only obliged to expiate once.

Al-Fawaakih Ad-Dawaani, which is a commentary on the book entitled Ar-Risaalah, which was authored by Ibn Abu Zayd Al-Qayrawaani from the Maaliki School of jurisprudence, reads:

The person who emphasized his oath by repeating it on one single matter is only obliged to expiate once, like if he says, ‘I swear by Allaah, I swear by Allaah, and I swear by Allaah, that I will not do such and such,’ and then he (broke his oath and) did it, then he is only obliged to expiate once. What is concluded from his statement [i.e. the statement of the author of Ar-Risaalah] is that if one intended to make a new oath or did not intend anything, he is obliged to expiate many times, but the matter is not so; rather, the reliable opinion is that he is not obliged to expiate more than once, even if he intended to make a new oath, and with greater reason if he did not intend to make a new oath. The prominent scholar Khaleel said, when speaking about matters that require only one expiation, ‘Such as when one says ‘I swear by Allaah, I swear by Allaah,’ even if he intended to make a new oath, and whether the oath is in one meeting or at various meetings, he is only required to expiate once.’

Ar-Ruhaybaani  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him form the Hanbali school, said, “If one breaks his oath, even if it was one thousand oaths by Allaah, and he did not expiate for it, then he is only required to expiate once.

Also, Mannaar As-Sabeel fee Sharh Ad-Daleel, a Hanbali book, reads:

"If one breaks his oath, even if it was one thousand oaths by Allaah, and he did not expiate for it, then he is only required to expiate once. This is stated by Imaam Ahmad, because it is an expiation of the same kind, so they are interrelated, such as in matters of hudood (plural of hadd, i.e. the corporal punishment determined by Islamic Law), like if one committed zina (fornication or adultery) with many women (he receives one hadd only).

Since the person who had repeated the oath is only required to expiate once, then it is with greater reason that the expiation is not repeated for the person who swore by Allaah such and such times.

Allaah knows best.

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