Is There a Difference Between Breaking an Oath and Breaking a Promise?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: My husband and I are currently expecting our first baby, and at around 6 weeks into my pregnancy, I had a threatened miscarriage. I made a lot of dua and promised that if I had a daughter I’d name her Fatima and if I had a son, I’d name him Muhammad. I fully intended to do that, because I love both names.


Alhumdulillah, our baby is doing fine now and we’ve since learned that we’re having a boy. But my husband doesn’t want to name the child “Muhammad”, and wants to name him Adam instead…if we do this, then have I broken an oath to Allah (swt)? If so, how can I make amends for it? Please advise.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

If you verbally pronounced, “By Allah” (wa’Llahi) or a similar phrase of swearing, then your statement would legally be an oath (yamin). In such a case, you are allowed to change your mind: simply break the oath (by naming your son whatever name you desire), and then pay the expiation.

The expiation of a broken oath is to feed ten poor persons (2 meals each), or to clothe them (1 garment each), or to give them the equivalent monetary value. If one is unable to do that, one must fast three consecutive days.

If you did not verbally pronounce, “By Allah” (wa’Llahi) or a similar phrase of swearing, then your statement would legally be a promise (wa`d). In such a case, it is disliked but not sinful to change your mind, yet no expiation is due.

Breaking a promise is sinful only if you made it while intending to later break it.

[Nahlawi, Durar Mubaha; Maydani, Lubab]

Please see this and related answers:

What is the Difference Between a Promise, an Oath, and a Vow?

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani