What Is the Expiation (Kaffara) of Breaking an Oath?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


What is the ruling of swearing by Allah that one won’t do something, thereafter, they do that thing?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

If one swears by the name of Allah that they will or will not do something, it is obligatory for them to comply with what they swore upon if that thing is permissible. If the object of the swearing is sinful (for example, if one swears they will drink alcohol), it is strictly prohibited (haram) to carry it out. [Ala’ al-Din Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya]

If one does not carry out what they swore upon, expiation is obligatory. One expiation is due for each oath that was broken. [Ala’ al-Din Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-`Ala’iyya]

The Expiation

Allah Most High says, “Allah does not call you to account for your vain (unintentional) oaths, but he calls you to account for what you have pledged solemnly. So its atonement is feeding ten paupers with the average of what you feed your own families, clothing them, or freeing a slave. But whoever does not find (the means to do so) should fast for three days. That is the atonement of your oaths when you pledge. But guard your oaths. Thus Allah makes His Signs clear for you in order that you might be thankful.” [Quran, 5:89]

The expiation for a broken oath is:

(a) to free a slave or

(b) to feed ten adult poor people two meals a day for ten days or

(c) cloth ten adult poor people with an average quality garment which will cover most of their body.

If these are not possible, then

(d) one must fast three days in a row. [‘Ala’ al-Din Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-‘Ala’iyya]

The Concession

One of the leading authorities of the Hanafi school Muhammad Amin bin ‘Abidin narrates from al-Maqdisi (may Allah have mercy on them both) that when oaths become abundant they are combined and one expiation suffices them all. This was the opinion of Imam Muhammad and the chosen position. [‘Ala’ al-Din Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-‘Ala’iyya]

May Allah bless you and us with His divine guidance
Allahu A’alam

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.