What Should I Do If I Swore Not to Speak to a Relative in Anger?

Answered by Shaykh Abdul Sami‘ al-Yaqti


What should I do if I swore not to speak to a relative in anger?


All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and blessings and peace be upon the Master of the Messengers, his family, and all his companions.

You must break this oath and not fulfill it due to the resulting severance of kinship ties. The expiation for this oath is as outlined in the verse regarding expiation for oaths, which involves one of these three options at your discretion: freeing a slave, feeding ten needy people from the average type of food you feed your family, or clothing them. If you are unable to do any of these, then you should fast for three days, which do not need to be consecutive, and Allah knows best.

Detailed Answer

Allah (Most High) says in explanation of the oath and its expiation:

“Allah will not call you to account for your thoughtless oaths, but He will hold you accountable for deliberate oaths. The penalty for a broken oath is to feed ten poor people from what you normally feed your own family, or to clothe them, or to free a bonds person. But if none of this is affordable, then you must fast for three days. This is the penalty for breaking your oaths. So, be mindful of your oaths. This is how Allah makes things clear to you, so perhaps you will be grateful.” [Quran, 5:89]

An oath (yamin) linguistically relates to the right hand, as it was customary during alliances for each party to take the other’s right hand. In technical terms, an oath is to affirm or deny a past or future matter, be it possible (like swearing to enter a house) or impossible (like swearing to kill someone who is already dead), whether true or false, knowingly or ignorantly. [Shirbini, Mughni al-Muhtaj]

“Deliberate” excludes frivolous oaths, which are not considered oaths and for which one is not held accountable, as Allah (Most High) says:

“Allah will not hold you accountable for unintentional oaths, but for what you intended in your hearts. And Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Forbearing.” [Quran, 2:225]

‘Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) said: “This was revealed concerning a man‘’s saying, ‘No, by Allah’ and ‘Yes, by Allah.’” [Bukhari]

An oath does not become binding except by swearing by the essence of Allah (Most High) or His attributes, such as saying: “By Allah,” “By the Lord of the Worlds,” “By the Living who does not die,” “By Him in whose hand is my soul,” and any name specifically attributed to Him, glorified and exalted be He. [Shirbini, Mughni al-Muhtaj]

According to ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with them both), the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) caught up with ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab while he was walking in a caravan, swearing by his father. He said, “Allah prohibits you from swearing by your fathers, so whoever wants to swear, let him swear by Allah or remain silent.” [[Bukhari; Muslim]

He (‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar) also said: The oath of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was, “No, by the Turner of the hearts.” [Bukhari]

The Ruling on Breaking an Oath

1. It is recommended to break an oath if it leads to a better outcome, such as when one swears to do something disliked or to abstain from something recommended. In this case, one should do what is better and then expiate for the oath. Imam Nawawi says in his book Riyad al-Salihin: “The chapter on the recommendation for someone who swore an oath and then sees something better than it, to do that which is better and then expiate for his oath.” He then mentioned several hadiths. [Nawawi, Riyad al-Salihin]

‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Samura (Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to me, ‘If you swear an oath and then see something better than it, do that which is better and expiate for your oath.’” [Bukhari; Muslim]

And from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him): The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever swears an oath and then sees something better than it, let him expiate for his oath and do that which is better.” [Muslim]

In another narration, “Whoever swears an oath and then sees something more pious before Allah than it, let him do what is more pious.” [Ibid.]

2. One must break an oath if it involves neglecting an obligation, such as someone who swears not to uphold ties of kinship or swears to do something prohibited, like swearing to drink alcohol. In such cases, breaking the oath is obligatory, and one must expiate for it.

3. It is permissible to break an oath if it involves doing something permissible or swearing not to do it, and one must expiate for the oath. [al-Mawsu‘a al-Kuwaytiyya]

Your Case and Necessary Expiation

After this important and necessary introduction related to the question, we say:

Breaking this oath and failing to fulfill it is obligatory due to the necessity of maintaining family ties and communicating with relatives, as indicated by the hadiths mentioned earlier. In this case, expiation is required, as detailed in the noble verse.

The person who has broken the oath has a choice of three things for expiation:

  1. Freeing a believing slave where slavery exists.
  2. Feeding ten needy people a satisfying meal, from the average type of food one feeds their family. The average is what is customary and familiar for people like them, without extravagance or stinginess.
  3. Clothing ten needy people with what is commonly considered clothing, such as trousers, jackets, shirts, socks, head covers, and so on.

If unable to do one of these three things, he has a choice: fasting for three days is required, and they do not need to be consecutive. He must intend the expiation through freeing, fasting, feeding, or clothing to distinguish it from other acts. [Shirbini, Mughni al-Muhtaj; Ansari, Fath al-Wahhab; Bagha, al-Tadhhib; al-Fiqh al-Manhaji ‘ala Madhhab al-Imam al-Shafi‘i]


It is important for us to control ourselves when angry and avoid swearing except in matters that are necessary in our lives. You must break this oath and not fulfill it, hastening to reconcile and communicate with your relative as they are kin, and expiate for this oath as we have explained, and Allah will guide you.

[Shaykh] Abdul Sami‘ al-Yaqti

Shaykh Abdul Sami‘ al-Yaqti is a Syrian scholar born in Aleppo in 1977. He obtained his degree in Shari‘a from the Shari‘a Faculty of Damascus University, a Diploma in Educational Qualification from the Faculty of Education at Aleppo University, and a Diploma in Shari‘a and a Master’s in Shari‘a from the Faculty of Sharia, and Law at Omdurman University in Sudan. He is currently writing his doctoral thesis.

He studied under esteemed scholars such as Shaykh Abdul Rahman al-Shaghouri, Shaykh Mustafa al-Turkmani, and Shaykh Dr. Nur al-Din Itr, among others. Shaykh al-Yakti has worked in teaching and cultural guidance in orphanages and high schools in Aleppo. He served as an Imam, Khatib, and reciter at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and as a certified trainer for Khatibs in Abu Dhabi’s Khatib Qualification Program.

He is involved in developing and teaching a youth education program at Seekers Arabic for Islamic Sciences.

Among Shaykh al-Yaqti’s significant works are “Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni: Bayna Ilm al-Kalam Wa Usul al-Fiqh” and the program “The Messenger of Allah Among Us (Allah bless him and give him peace).”