Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam alaykum
I once made an oath that I won’t do something but I did it. I looked up the expiations for oaths but am unable to do them, even the fasting for 3 days. Will I be forgiven if I pray 2 cycles of repentance prayer and repent from what I did sincerely?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
Failing to fulfil an oath made would entail an expiation (kaffara).
An oath is a statement made where a person swears using the Name of Allah Most High, such as “By Allah/I swear by Allah, I will do such and such.” What counts is a verbal utterance, so merely thinking of this or saying it in your mind is of no legal consequence.
Thereafter, if the thing you sought to avoid was a sin, you should also repent for your error.
The time of making the expiation [approximately £2.50 to be given to ten poor persons] is the determiner as to whether or not you are legally “able.” If unable, you must fast three days consecutively which must not be interrupted by menstruation and the like. Further, you must remain unable for all three of these days for your expiation to be deemed valid.
If it is established that you are medically unable to fast three days consecutively, you would wait until you are able later in life. Merely repenting would not be sufficient to lift this duty.
[‘Ala’ al-Din ‘Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-‘Ala’iyya (189); Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar (2.120/3.62)]
Please also see: What is the Difference Between a Promise, an Oath, and a Vow? and: A Reader on Tawba (Repentance)
And Allah Most High knows best.
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.