I Have Broken Someone's Heart. Can I Give Charity on His Behalf?

What Should One Do If He or She Makes a Promise But Fails To Keep it?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

A person was alone and said the words, “I give so and so all of my wealth, if I get wealthy, as a charity,” but later changed his mind and did not tell anyone, including the person to whom the charity was intended.  He is afraid that it becomes unlawful for him if he gets the wealth and is depressed about the incident.

What should he do kindly advise?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which pleases Him, Amin.

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 (kaffara). [Misri, ‘Umdat al-Salik]

An oath is when you say, “By Allah …”.  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 expiation 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]

Paying Expiations

An expiation is obligatory for someone who swears and breaks an oath (yamin). [Keller, Reliance of the Traveller]

Your description makes no mention of the name of Allah, and Allah knows best.

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.