Expiation for a Broken Oath

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Sidi Waseem Hussain

Question: If one breaks an oath, can they delay the payment of kaffara until they have some money? Or should they fast 3 continuous days as soon as possible?

Answer: Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah,

Allah says in the Qur’an, “For expiation, feed ten poor persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation (kaffara) for the oaths you have sworn.” [5:89]

The above verse outlines how to perform expiation (kaffara) upon breaking an oath, and that it must be done in a specific order..

It is obligatory to perform expiation (kaffara) upon breaking an oath by:

1. Providing decent clothing for ten poor people 2. or feeding ten poor people two full meals each.

3. Free a slave (not possible in our times)

One can choose to do either of the two options above and give the appropriate money in cash instead of doing it in kind.

4. It is only if one is financially unable to do any of the two above, that one can fast for three consecutive days.

With regards to how one determines if one has to pay or fast when making kaffara, one considers one’s state at the time of making the kaffara and not at the time of making the oath or breaking it. Thus, if one wants to make the kaffara now but does not have the financial ability to pay for it, then one must fast instead. If one was to delay making the kaffara until one had the money to pay for it, then one must pay the money instead.

Thus, it is not obligatory to make the kaffara immediately. Howerver it is better to hasten to make the kaffara, as it is part of ones religious duty.

[Ibn Nujaym, Bahr al-Raiq; Kasani, Badai al-Sanai; Abu al-Haaj, al-Jami fi Ahkam al-Siyam]


Waseem Hussain

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani