What Do I Do If I Made a Statement of Donation without Intention?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

A man said, “I have donated all of my property for Allah. All of those are donated for Allah”. As far as he can remember, he had no intention to donate his property. But he said it either because of being angry, being shocked, or he said it while thinking about a fatwa (legal ruling). He can’t accurately remember what he said or why but is almost sure that he had no intention to donate his property. Is it obligatory for him to donate all of his property, or is there any expiation owed?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide us to that which pleases Him, Amin.
The provided description appears to match a vow (nadhr), except that there was reportedly no intention. If it was said in anger (as described), then the person has to either fulfill the vow or pay the expiation of broken oaths. Allah knows best.

What Are the Differences between Oaths, Vows, and Promises?

An oath is a solemn statement to do or refrain from something or that something is true, so if things turn out otherwise, the swearer must make an expiation (kafara). [Misri, ‘Umda al-Salik]

An oath is when you say, “By Allah (WAllahi)…”.

A vow is when you say something sunna is now obligatory on you “for the sake of Allah” or “due to Allah.” If there is no mention of Allah with His names, it usually cannot become an oath or vow.

In a promise, one says to oneself or someone else, promising to do something. There is no penalty or anything else for breaking a promise.

That said, one should keep one’s word as a point of honor and for fear that one will be asked about it on the Day of Judgment. “And be true to every promise, for verily you will be called to account for every promise which you have made.” [Quran, 17:34]

Vows in Anger

If someone makes a vow by way of argument and in anger, saying, for example, “If I speak to Zayd, I am obliged to do such and such,” then if he speaks to Zayd, he has a choice between doing what he has vowed or else paying the expiation for a broken oath [Keller, ‘Umda Al-Salik]

Expiation

The expiation consists of a choice of any one of the following:

  1.  to free a sound Muslim slave;
  2. to feed ten people who are poor or short of money each (0.51 liters of grain)
    (Though it is not a condition that it be grain, but rather the type of food payable for the zakat of ‘Eid al-Fitr, even if not grain (and the Hanafi school permits giving its value in money)
  3. or provide clothing of any kind for ten such persons, even if it consists of a wraparound or clothing previously washed, though not if ragged.

If one is unable to do any of the above, one must fast for three days. It is better to fast them consecutively, though permissible to do so nonconsecutively. [ibid.]

I pray this is of benefit.

[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 pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.