How to Expiate for Broken Oath and Unpaid Transaction?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

I am 18 years old and when I was 13 I once went to a shop to buy a drink but I had no money so I told them ”Wallahi I will pay you tomorrow” but some stuff happened and I couldn’t go to them anytime soon and I forgot about them, couple years later I realized and went back to pay it back even if they’d have forgotten about me but they were gone, the store was replaced with a building, now I want to know how can I make Allah Most High forgive me for not being able to keep my word and how to pay back?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

If you were mature at the age of 13 (i.e. you reached puberty), you are required to pay the expiatory charity, described below. However, if you had not reached puberty at age 13 an expiation is not required. [Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

As for the oath you swore at the age of 18 an expiatory charity is required. This is because you would have indeed reached puberty by this time. If you discover that you owe two expiations, one when you were 13 (if you were mature) and one when you were 18, one expiation suffices for both. [Ibid.]

Expiatory Charity

The expiatory charity for broken oaths is due to the sanctity of Allah’s name that was taken. If the oath was not fulfilled, this is seen as a violation of the sanctity of the Name of Allah Most High and the charity makes up for the violation. [Ibid.]

The expiatory charity is to either cloth ten poor people with garments that are sufficient to perform prayer or to feed ten poor people; if neither of these is possible, one must fast three days consecutively. [Ibid.]

Paying Back Money

As for the money that you owe, you are required to pay for it, even if a long time has transpired. However, if you cannot find the store’s owner, since it closed down, the only option is to give the value of the item to charity with the intention that the benefits/rewards of that charity go to that person. This charity does not absolve you of the responsibility of repaying that person, however, it is a step towards true repentance with Allah Most High. Due to this, if you did find the owner, you are still required to pay the money.

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.

وكفارة اليمين: عتق رقبةٍ، يجزئ فيها ما يجزئ في الظهار، وإن شاء كسا عشرة مساكين كل واحدٍ ثوباً فما زاد، وأدناه ما تجزئ فيه الصلاة، وإن شاء أطعم عشرة مساكين، كالإطعام في كفارة الظهار، فإن لم يقدر على أحد الأشياء الثلاثة صام ثلاثة أيامٍ متتابعاتٍ؛ فإن قدم الكفارة على الحنث لم يجزه.
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– اللباب في شرح الكتاب – كتاب الأيمان- ص 8