Failure to fulfil vow to fast three months in three years
Fatwa No: 359446

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. Sir, my question is regarding making a promise to Allah, the Exalted, and then not fulfill it. Before my marriage, I prayed to Allah that if I would get married to such-and-such, I would keep 30 fasts every year for the first 3 years of marriage (apart from Ramadan). Praise be to Allah, I did get married to that desired person with the consent of our parents, but I failed to keep my promise. Now I have been married for 10 years and I did 17 fasts in the initial 3 years and 73 fasts remain. Can I fast them now as an expiation? If yes, do I have fast 73 days, or 73*3= 219 days, as an expiation? Or, if I am required to feed the poor, would it be enough to give food to 10 needy persons only once (as an expiation), or is something more than that required? May Allah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

You should have fulfilled that vow (promise), which is to fast thirty days every year for three years, at its appointed time, because it is a vow of worship for which you assigned a certain time, so it is obligatory to fulfill it.

The delay in fulfilling the vow without an excuse is an act of disobedience which involves sinfulness (which  necessitates repentance) and the obligation to make up for the vow as well. The delay does not exempt one from the obligation of fulfilling it.

The Fiqh Encyclopedia reads, "Delaying the performance of acts of worship from the time when they are due without an excuse incurs sin. If it is a timed act of worship that has a specific time frame, such as prayer and fasting, then it is obligatory to make up for it; and the same applies to a specific vow if it is not fulfilled…"

The meaning of making up is to fast the remaining days which you did not fast only, without any additional days.

Some scholars of Fiqh held that expiation is also due for the delay in fulfilling the vow, as in the Hanbali School. According to their opinion, you must expiate three times; one expiation for delaying fasting for each of the three years.

Al-Mubdi’ fi Sharh al-Muqni’ reads, "If one vows to fast a definite month and he did not fast it without an excuse, he must make up for it, because it is an obligatory fast that is definite, such as making up for Ramadhaan. And he must also give an expiation for delaying the fulfilment of the vow, as it is like breaking an oath…" For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 83652.

Other scholars are of the view that you are only required to make up for the vow without being required to expiate for breaking it. This is the view which we adopt here at Islamweb. However, in order to be on the safe side, it is better and more reassuring in terms of freeing yourself of your liability to give expiation.

Allah knows best.

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