teacher and student

Question about promises

First of all I'm confused about the differences between oaths, promises, and vows. In quaran it says that you should keep your promises (including promises made to God), but in some hadiths it say that you shouldn't make vows. Please clarify this for me.

Secondly, the reason i asked the 1st question is that I made a promise to God that I would give a certain " of my income (well above 2.5%) to the poor if I get a job. And sure enough I got a job, but now if I do that , there is not much left for myself. I didn't take into account many of my bills. I have to help my family with money as well,
Could I use a portion of the money set aside to give to the poor (certain " of my income) to help my family?
Is it possible to modify a promise? For example instead of "of income I should've said " of what is left for me after taxes and bills.

If the promise was made in the form of a nadhr (solemn vow) i.e. pronounced outloud with the word "Nadhartu... [I vow that...]" then it is binding exactly as formulated and cannot be revoked, modified, nor expiated. It must be fulfilled exactly as spoken and intended. One should know, not only exactly what one said but also exactly what one intended at the time.

If the promise was not made in the form of a nadhr but rather as a yamin (solemn oath) i.e. pronounced outloud with the word "I swear" (uqsim) by Allah or by one of His Names or Attributes such as "I swear by the All-Knowing that..." then it is also binding just as the nadhr is but with the difference that unlike the nadhr it can be modified or revoked on pains of a sin the kaffara (expiation) of which is to feed ten people who are poor or short of money or to provide clothing of any kind for ten such persons, or to fast three days, preferably consecutively.

If the words used were: "I resolve (aʿzim) by Allah" or if no words were pronounced outloud but only a mental intention was formed, then this does not count as a binding promise. And Allah knows best.

As for the prohibition of swearing oaths, it means that it is detestable to make them unless one is called upon to do so such as in one's defense or in witnessing a legal case, or for other good reasons. It is actually among the grave sins (kaba'ir) to habitually swear oaths even if truthful. How about when one is not always truthful, as is frequently the case with merchants, street vendors, or in casual conversations?

Hajj Gibril

GF Haddad ©
[sri 2001-03-22] "Muhammad is the noblest of the Arabs and ʿAjam. Muhammad is the best of those who trod the earth." (Al-Busiri)





latest update: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
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