Do I Owe an Expiation for Uncontrollably Breaking My Vow?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


A while ago, I vowed to fast from Monday to Thursday if I did not finish studying a particular subject by midnight. I did not finish studying said subject, so I had to fulfill the vow. However, I couldn’t because my period came in before that following Monday, so when it stopped, I waited and fasted the following Monday to Thursday. Does this constitute breaking my vow (as it occurred due to circumstances out of my control), and am I required to make an expiation for it?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him. Amin.

According to the renowned contemporary Shafi‘i Mufti, Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, “There is no way to lift the vowed action. It remains obligatory unless one is physically unable, in which case one performs an alternative (e.g., giving food in place of fasting) if there is one in Sacred Law.”

In your case, fasting the other days was a valid alternative, and Allah knows best.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.