How Do I Repent from Intentionally Broken Oaths?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

I’ve said “Wallahi” and then lied (many times), but I want to repent, and I’m not sure if it’s sincere because I feel like in my mind, I’m only doing it to avoid Allah’s punishment on the day of judgment, but another part of me says I’m being sincere.

How do I repent from intentionally broken oaths? Is it insincere to repent just out of fear of punishment in the Hereafter?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Intentionally Swearing False Oaths

Intentionally swearing by Allah Most High about something one is lying about is strictly prohibited and a major sin.

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The major sins are: associating partners with Allah, disobeying parents, killing a soul, and false oath (al-yamin al-ghamus).” [Bukhari]

The false oath mentioned above is described with the Arabic word “ghamus”, which Imam al-Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) defines as: “an oath made when one is lying intentionally. It is called ghamus (lit: drowning), because it drowns a person in sin.” [Nawawi; Riyadh al-Salihin]

Repenting from False Oaths

In the Hanafi school, the only thing required from one repenting from initial false oaths is repentance. There is no expiation required. [al-Mawsu’a al-Fiqhiyya al-Kuwaitiyya]

In short, the conditions of a sound repentance, if met, such a person is free of that sin. See this link for the details of a sound repentance:
How Do I Know If My Repentance Has Been Accepted?

Repenting Just to Prevent Punishment

The highest meaning of repentance is to rectify one’s relationship with Allah Most High. To repent merely because one does not want to be punished, is a lower level intention, but still praiseworthy and sincere.

Allah Most High says, “Say, (O Prophet, that Allah says,) ‘O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins.1 He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn to your Lord (in repentance), and (fully) submit to Him before the punishment reaches you, (for) then you will not be helped. Follow (the Quran,) the best of what has been revealed to you from your Lord, before the punishment takes you by surprise while you are unaware,…’” [Quran; 39:54-55]

In these verses, Allah Most High attaches the command to repent to the avoidance of punishment.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.