What Is Riya (Ostentation)?

Is It Possible to Become a Disbeliever Through an Oath?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Assalamu alaykum

You have mentioned that if someone takes an oath saying “If I do this or do not do this, I will become a Kafir forever”, the person does not become a kafir.
But recently on your website, it was mentioned that if the person’s intention at the time of making an oath was to become a kafir, then he will become a kafir.

Is it a difference of opinion?

Answer: Wa ‘alaylum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

In order to understand this we need know that there are two types of oaths relevant here:

1. A conditional oath – ‘If I do / do not do x then the I am a Y’ or ‘By God I will never do x’. This oath is usually sworn to make oneself do an act or to prevent oneself from it.

2. A false oath -such as saying ‘I swear by God I did not do x’ when you know it to be untrue.

If a person says something to the effect of ‘If he does x he will become a kafir’ – which is from category 1 – what we clearly understand is that he does not with do that thing – which is why he placed such a serious consequence upon doing it. Therefore, if he did do it, it will be considered an oath, and he will have to perform the expiation as a penalty for breaking it. This is because he considers this statement an oath, and therefore a preventative means.

If someone swore an oath from category 1 or 2 thinking that he will indeed become a disbeliever if he breaks the oath – as with category 1 – or knowing that he had done the act – as with category 2 – then this person becomes a disbeliever in that situation. This is because he thinks that doing such a thing will make a disbeliever and then he goes ahead and does it, or he has done something, and then he swears that if he has done it he is a disbeliever.

This shows that in the last two scenarios – according to his understanding – both lead to disbelief. Therefore doing them in the first scenario is an acceptance of disbelief, and swearing the oath in the second is a sign that he is happy with disbelief. Therefore he becomes a disbeliever because he thinks that swearing the oath or doing the act will make him and disbeliever, and then he does it anyway. This is just like someone knowing that rejecting a verse of the Qur’an is disbelief, and then he does so anyway (al-Haskafi, al-Durr al-Mukhtar, Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar).

And Allah knows best.

Wassalam,
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time.

Over the following eighteen months he studied a traditional curriculum, studying with scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.

In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years, in Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.

His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.

When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.