Islamic Rules Concerning Making Vows

Islamic Rules Concerning Making Vows

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?Do you know what vows are

Sometimes a person enjoins on himself an act or a specific type of obedience to Allah which is usually not obligatory. This could be a way of thanking Allah for a blessing, or it could be for no particular reason. Such an act is called a vow. It could be a vow which has no conditions or stipulations, for example when one says, “For Allah, I have made a particular prayer or fast obligatory on myself,” or it could have stipulations, for example when one says, “If Allah cures my sick, or makes one who is absent return, then it will be obligatory on me to do so-and-so,” and similar statements.

Making a vow to Allah is a form of worship. It is a right of Allah on the person, so it is not allowed to do any of it to other than Allah; so anyone who makes a vow to a grave, a righteous person or any similar thing has taken partners with Allah and has performed major Shirk (polytheism) – may Allah protect us from such an act.

?What are the rules concerning vows

1)Making and stating a vow:

this is disliked, i.e. not liked in the religion, because of the Hadith narrated by Ibn Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) in which he reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited making vows as he (peace be upon him) said, «It does not avert anything which has been written (in the preserved tablet), but it is by which something is extracted from the miser» (agreed upon). It would not avert anything; it is by which something is extracted from the miser. This is because he made obligatory on himself something which was not originally obligatory on him according to Islamic legislation and has made things more difficult for himself, and because it is liked and preferred for a Muslim to do good without making any vows to do so

2)Fulfilling the vow:

it is obligatory on whoever made a vow to do an act of obedience to fulfill it: this is due to Allah’s saying, {And whatever you spend for spendings (e.g., in Sadaqah - charity, etc. for Allah›s Cause) or whatever vow you make, be sure Allah knows it all} [Baqarah 270], and because Allah praised those who fulfill their vows. He says, {They [are those who] fulfill [their] vows and fear a Day whose evil will be widespread}[Insan 17]. Furthermore, there is the order of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to fulfill one’s vows in the Hadith narrated by Aisha in which he (peace be upon him) said, «Whoever vowed to obey Allah should obey Allah, and whoever vowed to disobey Allah should not disobey Allah» (Bukhari).

Fulfilling the vow

?When is a vow correct and when is it not correct

A vow is correct and binding on the person: if it was an act of obedience or a means of getting close to Allah. It is obligatory to fulfill such a vow.

A vow is not correct or binding on the person: if it involves being disobedient to Allah - like making a vow to a grave, saint or a prophet - or involves a sin - like killing someone, drinking alcohol or similar acts. Such a vow is not binding on the person and it is prohibited to fulfill it

?What is the vow stated in anger or desperation

A vow when angry or in desperation: it is to state a vow that depends on not doing something, or doing something, or something being true or false: like saying, “If he talks to you,” or “If this news is not true, or it is false, I will have to do hajj.” Such a vow was just a way of forcing the person to do or not do something, and the person did not intend it to be an actual vow or a way to come close to Allah. In such a case a person can choose to fulfill what he said or just pay expiation, due to the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him), «Expiation for (breaching) a vow is the same as that for (breaching) an oath» (Muslim).

?What is the ruling for a vow that involves something which is permissible (but is neither an act of obedience or disobedience)

A vow to do something permissible: it is to make a vow to do a permissible act, like making a vow to wear an item of clothing or to ride in a car, or any similar act.

Its ruling: the person who made the vow is not bound to do anything, because in a hadith Ibn Abbas said, «While we were with the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he was giving a sermon, he (peace be upon him) saw a man standing near him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked about him. The people said, ‘It is Abu Israil who made a vow that he would stand in the sun and never sit down, and he would never take cover under any shade, nor speak to anybody, and that he would fast.’ So he (peace be upon him) said, ‘Order him to speak, take cover under the shade, and sit down, but let him complete his fast» (Bukhari).

?What are the different types of prohibited vows And what are their rulings

They are vows to do acts of disobedience. Some forms are stated below:

1)Making a vow to drink alcohol and similar acts, because of the Hadith narrated by Aisha in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, «Whoever vowed to disobey Allah should not disobey Him» (Bukhari).

They are vows to do acts of disobedience. Some forms are stated below

2)Making a vow to the dead, as when one says, “Oh Master so-and-so, if one who is absent returns, a sick one is cured, or my needs are met, you will have money, food, candles, or such-and-such an essential oil.” This is wrong, and it is major polytheism, may Allah protect us from this, as it involves making a vow to a created being, which is not allowed. This is because making a vow is a form of worship and it should be to no-one but Allah.

3)If one makes a vow to put a lamp at a grave or a tree, it is not permissible to fulfill such a vow, and the money should be spent on anything of benefit. This is because such an act is a sin, and there is no fulfilling of a vow which involves sin, due to the earlier Hadith.

The ruling of a vow which involves a sin: It is not binding on the person and the person should not fulfill it, due to the Hadith narrated by Aisha in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, «Whoever vowed to disobey Allah should not disobey Him» (Bukhari), as it is not permissible to disobey Allah in any situation, and the person does not need to offer an expiation for not fulfilling the vow.

?What is the ruling for a vow that involves acts of obedience

This is like making a vow to pray, fast or perform Hajj, either without any conditions or being dependent on something happening. Such a vow is called a virtuous type of vow (which is virtuous to fulfill).

Its ruling: it is obligatory to fulfill such a vow if it has no conditions or if the conditions are met if the vow had stipulations, due to the Hadith narrated by Aisha in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, «Whoever vowed to obey Allah should obey Allah»(Bukhari).

?What is the ruling of one who says, “I make a vow for Allah” but he does not actually specify the vow

He has to offer expiation for it, whether the vow had conditions or not, due to the Hadith narrated by ‘Uqab bin ‘Amir in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, «The atonement for a vow which is not specified (a non-specific vow) is to offer an expiation»(Tirmidhi).