Expiation for broken oaths
Fatwa No: 87181

Question

To protect myself from sins I always used to say, ‘By Allah, I will give a certain amount of money in charity, or I will do so and so if I commit sin’. Unfortunately I committed the sins and I did not perform what I said, because what I claimed is beyond my capability. The problem is that I said Wallahi (By Allah) many times. I don’t have the money to give the expiation to all the oaths. I cannot fast due to a continuous disease. I have only the transport money given by my parents. I am planning to save the money that is left from my transport until it is enough to pay the expiation. Now my question is whether I have to pay the expiation whenever my money is enough to pay expiation or to save the money to pay all expiations together. Is it allowed to give money instead of giving food? Can I give the money to one person? How much food is given to each person? Please answer the above questions.

Answer

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

First and foremost we congratulate you for your repentance and we ask Allah to help us and you perform acts of good deeds and be steadfast on righteousness.

You have to know that the best way refrain from committing sins, one does not make an oath not to commit them again.  If our own self is greatly deviated from the truth, it cannot be straightened just by making an oath.  Rather, you have to strive against your own self and against its desires, against Satan and against this worldly life for the Sake of Allah.

Allah Says (interpretation of meaning): {As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allâh's Religion - Islâmic Monotheism)….}[29:69].

And you have to be patient and steadfast about that.  The best way to strive against one’s own self is to befriend pious people with whom one should spend most of his free time.  He should not stay alone except if he is busy reciting the Qur'an and reading verses about the threat and punishment of Allah and reading the Ahadith about Targhib and Tarhib (urging people to do good and warning them against evil deeds) or the like.  You should always have God-consciousness that Allah is always watching you and hence is aware of everything you do, and that the Angels are recording your actions.  All of this makes a person stay away from committing sins.

You have to know that Allah forbade us from making many oaths without a considerable purpose.

Allah Says (interpretation of meaning): {And make not Allâh's (Name) an excuse in your oaths}[2:224].

As regards your question about whether it is permissible to give money instead of food, you have to know that in principle expiating the oath is not valued with money.  The opinion of most of the people of knowledge is that giving cash money does not compensate feeding, because Allah mentioned feeding, clothing and setting a slave free, and did not mention any amount of money.  Feeding is to give about 1.5 KG of food to every poor person, i.e. the average of what you, the person making an oath, would feed yourself or your family.  Allah Says (interpretation of meaning): {…on a scale of the average of that with which you feed your own families;}[5:89].

However, if the person who made the oath is not able to feed a poor person, then there is no harm to pay the value of the food using cash money according to the people of knowledge who say that it is permissible. 

In addition to the above, giving money to one person is not permissible as Allah Says (interpretation of meaning): {…feed ten Masâkin (poor persons),…}[5:89], therefore, the number has to be taken into consideration.

So if someone has to expiate many oaths, and wants to give it out to ten poor people he has to expiate one oath by feeding them one day, and a second expiation another day and so on.

Ibn Qudamah stated in Al-Mughni: ‘If he expiates two oaths by feeding one poor person one day, and feeding the same person the second day, it is also permissible without any difference of opinion that we know of….’.

You have to know that collecting money by the methods you mentioned is not correct except if your father accepts this, and your chronic disease is not an excuse.

If your father agrees with what you do, or you find another way to expiate all your oaths or some of them, then you can do so.  Otherwise, you are excused until you recover from your disease by the permission of Allah, or you find an opportunity Allah does not burden his slaves with more than they can bear, and did not put a burden in religion on them.

Allah knows best.

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