Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan
Question: My mother asked me about things in my past I may have done. To one of the questions, I replied “wallah no” because I couldn’t tell the truth as it may jeopardize my relationship with my family. I lied and swore, and I completely understand that this is sinful, but I did it to protect myself essentially. Am I obliged to perform the kaffarah? And if so, how do I go about it? I understand that I can feed 10 people. Does that mean I can give ten different people maybe like 10 dollars to buy a meal?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.
A general principle in Islamic law is that it is sinful to reveal one’s past sins. One must keep them concealed, as sincere repentance wipes them out and so it is as if the person never committed them.
Scholars mention that because of this principle, one may lie when confronted about past sins [assuming doing so does not entail neglect of another’s right, such as not returning stolen money]. Such a lie would not be unlawful.
Yet even when lying is permissible, it would be religiously more precautionary to use misleading words instead of outright lying. [Nahlawi, Durar al-Mubaha]
For example, if asked about a sin in the past that one did commit, one could say, “Alhamdulillah, Allah protected me from that,” intending one’s sincere repentance after the sin, i.e., that Allah protected me from falling into it again…
With respect to your swearing by Allah, because it is not an oath to do or not do something in the future, no expiation (kaffara) is due. [Mawsili, Mukhtar]
And Allah knows best.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani