Oaths in Islam

I have heard a lot of Muslims say “I swear on my children that .. ” or ” I swear on my mother .. “. According to Islam, it is unlawful to take an oath by anyone except Allah (SWT). You can only swear by Allah.  So, if you want to take an oath by something then take an oath by Allah (“I swear by Allah” or “wallahi” or “wallahi”).

Nafi’ related from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, met ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab while he was proceeding with a group of riders and he was swearing by his father. He said, ‘Allah forbids you from swearing by your fathers. If someone swears, should swear by Allah or be silent.” (Sahih Bukhari – 6270)

What is an oath?

From what I understand (and may Allah forgive me if I am wrong) an oath (or a vow) is a promise to do something. It can be a promise to stay away from cheese cake or a promise to clean someone’s backyard. However, just saying “I will come and clean your backyard” doesn’t make it an oath. You have to say “I swear by Allah I will do such and such” or “I make it obligatory on myself to keep away from such and such”.

If someone says “Wallahi I will feed 60 people tomorrow, inshallah”, then what he said is not a valid oath. “Inshallah” means “If Allah wills it” so if he didn’t feed 60 people the next day, then that just means Allah didn’t will it so he didn’t feed them. However, this is only valid if he says inshallah without a long pause. If someone says “Wallahi I will feed 60 people tomorrow” then gives a pause and says inshallah, then he will have to feed 60 people the next day or he will have broken his oath.

Conditions for an Oath to be valid:

  • It has to be taken in Allah’s name or his attributes. Oaths in the name of your children, parents, kabah, etc are not valid.
  • The one taking the oath must be sane and mature. Oaths taken by children are vain.
  • The oath/vow is not on something impossible. If you say “I swear I will grow wings on my back and fly” then it won’t be a valid oath.
  • “Inshallah” is not used in it. If someone says “wallahi I will travel to Syria tomorrow inshallah” then it is not a valid oath and the person who said it won’t have to atone for not traveling to Syria the next day.

If you take an oath, you MUST fulfil it. And, you should never take a false oath with Allah as a witness. It is one of the major sins in Islam. Quoted below are some proofs :

Do not make your oaths a means of deceiving one another or your foot will slip after it was firmly placed and you will taste evil for barring access to the Way of Allah and you will have a terrible punishment.” (16:92) Dakhalan means deceit and treachery.

6298. Ash-Sha’bi related from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr that the Prophet*, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The major wrong actions are shirk with Allah, disobeying parents, murder and false oaths.

“Those who sell Allah’s contract and their own oaths for a paltry price, such people will have no portion in the Next World, and on the Day of Rising Allah will not speak to them or look at them or purify them. They will have a painful punishment.” (3:77)

Atonement for Breaking an Oath:

If you vow to do something and you don’t, then you have to atone for it (kaffarah). You can do so by  :

  • Feed 10 people in need. They cannot be from his usul upwards (parent,s grandparents, etc) or downwards (chlildren, grandchildren, etc). You can’t feed one person 10 times. It has to be 10 different people and they all have to be fed on the same day
  • Clothing 10 people in need. The same rules as above apply.
  • Freeing a slave.

If you cannot do any of the above because you are poor, then you can fast for 3 days. In hanafi fiqh, they have to be 3 continuous days. If you fasted the first day but didn’t fast the second and third day then you have to start over again.

Allah does not take you to task for your inadvertent oaths, but He will take you to task for oaths you make intentionally.The expiation in that case is to feed ten poor people with the average amount you feed your family, or clothe them, or free a slave. Anyone without the means to do so should fast three days. That is the expiation for breaking oaths when you have sworn them. Keep your oaths. In this way Allah makes His Signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be thankful.(5:89)

What should you do if you break an oath more than once?

A lot of people have asked what should they do if they took an oath and broke it more than once so I decided to include this question in this post.

Let’s say you took an oath to pray one nafl prayer every night. And, you you didn’t pray a nafl prayer in the night after that, then you would have to give kaffarah for it once. Now, the oath is broken so if you  didn’t pray nafl on any night after that,  you would not have to give kaffarah.

However, if you took an oath to pray nafl every night and didn’t pray it one night after that (which broke your oath), then took another oath that you will pray nafl prayer every night and broke your oath again, then you would have to give kaffarah twice. Why? because you broke two oaths.

What about taking an oath on the Qur’an, or Ka’bah or the like

A lot of people have asked me what they should do if they took an oath on Ka’bah or Qur’an or their mother, etc. Taking an oath on anything other than Allah is haram. So, you are not allowed to swear on your mother. However, taking an oath on the Qur’an is a bit more complicated than that. Please refer to the link below regarding this issue.

http://spa.qibla.com/issue_view.asp?HD=1&ID=2847&CATE=32

I have tried to keep this post as brief as possible so it has some details  missing. If you would like to read more on this topic then below are a few links which will help you :

http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=1&ID=2847&CATE=32
http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=1&ID=4028&CATE=12
http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=3&ID=13328&CATE=389
http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=1&ID=3353&CATE=12

Author: Moazzam

Moazzam is a software developer working in the big apple. He has over a decade of experience in development. While most of his work involves developing web applications, he does development for Android and Windows Mobile in his spare time.

131 thoughts on “Oaths in Islam”

  1. Assalamualaikum. I am trying everyday to be a better Muslim. As part of that effort I need your advise on this aspect.

    Once I was talking to my wife and she made me taking a oath that I won’t talk about a specific topic ever in my life with her. Next day she started talking about that same specific topic and I reminded her about my oath. Then she gave me permission and asked me: first ask for forgiveness to Allah before talking about that topic again.

    In this case is it valid to break/withdraw an oath after asking forgiveness to Allah and with the permission from the person I took the oath for? Do I have to do Kaffara in this case?

  2. Walaikum assalam Mahmud,

    If she gave you permission to disregard your oath, then you don’t need to seek forgiveness or pay any kaffarah to the best of my knowledge.

  3. Asalamualikum, few days ago my father was angry on me and he told me take oath of him,I was scared and took the oath, the oath was that I should not specific game in my phone which made me addicted to it and, I was getting distracted from my studies , now when I asked my father he allowed me to play will, it be a kaffarah? I did know about the oath , which can be only taken for Allah! I took oath oh my father ! Will it be kaffarah !! N will I be in kaffar even if my father allowed me to play the game!
    Jazakallah!!

  4. Walaikum assalam Zubair,

    An oath upon your father is not valid (and it is not allowed). You don’t have to pay the kaffarah in your case.

    If your father asks you to take another oath on him, then let him know it is not permissible to do that 🙂 . Oaths are taken only with Allah as a witness and no one else.

  5. My food addiction has made my life miserable I had therapies, prescription, personal trainers and all that one could do possible to lose weight.But after losing few pounds i go back to seeking refuge in food for all my troubles.ie partner left,lost job,lost business etc.I took an oath in Qoran that I will lose a certain amount of weight in a certain period. But I broke it.I couldnt lose that weight.Now Im so scared , also my life is getting miserable day by day.have no job etc.I think its because of the sin.I will do three fasting but what else can I do to get merci of God.Im very sad.please advise.

  6. Assalamu alaikum Nadine,

    I hope this finds you in better spirits and health. If you broke your oath, you have to pay the kaffarah. You can find the details in this blogpost. If you are going to fast, then that’s all that is needed :). Sin’s do affect a person in this life and in the next. However, Allah is the most merciful. Seek his forgiveness with sincere heart and make a firm conviction that you will never return to any sins and inshallah he will forgive you.

    You may want to consult a doctor for your food addiction as there seems to be an underlying issue there. UK has free healthcare so it should be doable for you. Also, do dhikr as much as possible – while cooking, eating, walking, etc. Anything that doesn’t require you to think much, do dhikr while do it for “Verily, hearts find peace in remembrance of Allah”

  7. AsalamoAlaikum
    One day i was just mad and sitting so i took an oath but didnt say inshAllah.

    I took an oath that i will not talk to this person again.
    So basically you wrote if you dont say inshAllah, it wont be on me, so it is an oath or not? Because i didnt say inshaAllah i remember it well.
    Do I have to pay the kaffarah still?
    Please guide.

  8. Assalam valekum
    I put oath on allha
    To my husband to go my home otherwise i am not coming
    But he is not agree to go to my native
    What does means

  9. Walaikum assalam Asma,

    I don’t completely understand your question but I think this is what you are asking.

    If you take an oath saying you will do something and you break it, then you have to pay the kaffarah.

  10. I need help. Last year I lost my father and when I saw my mother getting slightly sick I made a promise to Allah swt that I won’t talk to a specific individual and may HE swt bless my mom with health and happiness. And my mother is good AlhumdulilAllah. But I have talked to that person. I shouldn’t have but I was weak. And I talked to that person more than once and I don’t believe I can avoid it in future as well. What should I do as a kafara? I will be fasting for three consecutive days asa I can IA. I have provided a family with food supplies. And I plan on feeding around 60 people at a famous darbar In a day or two IA . Please tell me does this affects my moms well being. I’m paranoid and lost all peace with in. Plz help me . JazakAllah.

  11. Assalama aleiykum . I promised Allah that I will fast every other day just like prophet Daud (AS). I have kept my promise for a couple of months . I believer about 3 months. It’s getting harder to keep the promise I kept to Allah . Fasting every other day is not something I can do at the moment . I am healthy and young it’s not coz of healthy reasons or not it’s just that it’s so hard to fast every other day . What do I have to do? Do I pay kaffarah or I can’t break this promise ? I asked a sheikh at the mosque I go to but he just couldn’t give me an answer. Told me to come back again coz he will have to check on it . What should I do?

  12. Asalamualiakum. I have a question regarding the same topic.What if someone pleads and gives us oath of Allah to do some work. Should I ignore or am I obliged to do it cause he took an oath. I will give u an example like ” I give u an oath of Allah to get my this work done or i give you an oath of Allah to talk to me once”

  13. Walaikum assalam Nisa,

    To the best of my knowledge, you are not obligated to fulfill someone else’s oath. If someone says “Wallah, you will do such and such thing”. You are NOT obligated to do it. He is responsible for his oaths and you for yours.

  14. Walaikum assalam Abdullahi yasiin,

    I don’t know what the best course of action is, in your situation. I am interested in knowing what your sheikh says regarding this. Can you please let me know what he says so I can learn from this as well.

    Jazakallah Khair

  15. Assalamu alaikum Meena,

    Feeding 10 poor people is enough for breaking an oath. Of course, if you feed more, Allah will give you reward for taking care of the poor 🙂

  16. Asalam aleikum,my name is Abdi,when I was 19years of age I took a blood oarth with my girlfriend and we promise each other to never part ways and if one breaks the oarth he. or she will never be happy and successful.I know its haram but I was young and stupid didn’t know my deen so much. please how can I undo the oarth ?

  17. Asalam O Alaikum
    I want to ask that if someone is forcing you to take oath but neither you can take oath nor you can refuse but before taking that particular oath you take another oath in which you ask for forgiveness of the fake oath you are going to take and then take that oath so what is kuffarah for that? Kindly please guide

  18. For any issue I have taken oath of my two children that I have not said this and it was true. Should I pay kaffara and what will be the kaffara

  19. Walaikum assalam Abdi,

    I don’t know much about blood oaths except that there is an exchange of blood and people take an oath.

    Islamically, your oath is not a valid oath so if you were to break it, you wouldn’t have to pay kaffarah. Other than that, nothing can harm you unless Allah permits it. Also, Muslims are not allowed to take oaths on anything except Allah.

  20. Hello. I m in a confusion
    I talk normally wd my cousin sister.
    but my father has irritation with her family. Now my father is saying do t talk to her from now. But i feel secured while talking with cousin Sis about happenings going in world. Nobody chats wd me except cousin sis and another one college friend.My father gave me an oath of himself that dont talk wd cousin sis.
    Now i m sad. I m not getting what to do now. But i want to talk wd cousin sis.
    PLZZ CLEAR MY CONFUSION.

  21. Assalamu alaikum Ashraf,

    I don’t understand what your confusion is. Can you elaborate on what you are confused about?

  22. Assalamu alaikum Rumana Rahman,

    Muslims are not allowed to take an oath on anything except Allah. Please don’t take an oath on your children. Your oath is not valid so no kaffarah is required.

  23. My best friend is forced me to do one specific thing , which I refused by some reason But she kept on forcing n threatening me due to some reason .. At Last she took oath on that by saying “Wallah will not eat food, until u don’t listen want I asked u to do”
    Is that orth allowed, which have taken in a manner of forcing other person???????
    She is close to me I can’t see her not eating torturing herself n I also can’t do what she’s forcing me to do .
    Plz ..help on that..

  24. If she took an oath, then it is up to her to fulfill it or pay the kaffarah for it (if she breaks it). It doesn’t affect you at all. Her oath is between her and Allah.

  25. Assalamu alikum,
    I smoke ciggs a lot and I try to quit a couple times it never happened and I said my mother wallahi I will never do it again. I stopped for like 3 days and the 4th day I couldn’t stand it and I had to smoke one. So basically I broke that promise and I really have no clue like what to do,

  26. Assalamualikum
    I have a question, by mistake I said wallahi and said one wish. Will it be fulfilled? I give u example like “Wallahi I got cancer or “Wallahi my husband will never love me”.
    Will Allah forgive me for this, how can I do repentance? I don’t want those wish to be fulfilled. Help me

    Allah hu akbar

  27. Walaikum assalam,

    If you said “wallahi, I have cancer” and you don’t have cancer, then you committed a major sin. Seek Allah’ forgiveness and tell the other person the truth.

  28. Assalam-o-alaikum

    My best friend forced me to take oath by keeping my hand on Quran & made me repeat oaths he want me to fulfill like for example he said “take oath that u won’t use instagram” “swear to Quran that u will listen to me & if I say no to something u won’t repeat it again” . I can’t stand on a swear like this for my whole life because I want to get separated from him ,I can’t spend my whole life so what should I do of I can’t stand on a swear like this Plsss advice m worried alot..

  29. Walaikum assalam Shehzadi,

    You should take oaths very seriously. However, if you find something better after taking the oath then you can break it and do that better thing.

    Here is a hadith from Sahih Muslim (Book 015, Number 4053)

    Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who took an oath and then found another thing better than (this) should expiate for the oath (broken) by him and do (the better thing).

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