Al-Baqarah · Juz 2 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Prohibition of Swearing to Abandon a Good Deed

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In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
what hearts have earned
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 224-225

The ayah warns those who swear in the Name of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that they will not do some virtuous deed or that they will not speak to someone. The ayah reminds such people that by using the Name of Allah as a barrier against good deeds is a severe violation of the sanctity of Allah’s Name. And it should be avoided.

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“And do not make (your oath by) Allah an excuse against being righteous and fearing Allah and making peace among people. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” [al-Baqarah 2: 224]

In another ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And let not those of virtue among you and wealth swear not to give [aid] to their relatives and the needy and the emigrants for the cause of Allah , and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you?” [an-Nur 24: 22] This ayah was revealed about Abu Bakr radhiAllahu ‘anhu who swore not to financially help the person who slandered his daughter.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala prohibits us from making any such oaths in which we stop ourselves from doing a good deed and that too by taking the Name of Allah. For example, some people say: I swear by Allah! I am never going to talk to so-and-so.

Ibn Khatheer writes continuity in a sinful vow is more sinful than breaking it by expiation. ‘Ali bin Abu Talhah reported that Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that this ayah means: Do not vow to refrain from doing good works. If you make such vow then break it, pay the Kaffarah and do the good work.

Note that every oath has different expiation, therefore, consult a scholar when a situation arises.

Muslim reported that Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

مَنْ حَلَفَ عَلى يَمِينٍ فَرَأَى غَيْرَهَا خَيْرًا مِنْهَا فَلْيُكَفِّرْ عَنْ يَمِينِهِ، وَلْيَفْعَلِ الَّذِي هُوَ خَيْر

“Whoever makes a vow and then finds what is better than his vow (should break his vow,) pay the Kaffarah and perform the better deed.”

Lessons:

This ayah encourages Muslims to increase their good deeds and be conscious of our speech. We should not speak without thinking. And if one has erred then they should hasten to correct their mistake.

Abu Daw’oud related in the Chapter: Vowing while Angry that Sa’eed ibn Musayyib said that two Ansaari brothers both received inheritance and one of them asked that the inheritance be divided. His brother said, “If you ask me about dividing the inheritance again, then all of what I have will be spent on the Ka’abah’s door.” ‘Umar said to him, “The Ka’abah does not need your money. so break your vow, pay the Kaffarah and come to terms with your brother. I heard Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying: Do not make a vow against yourself nor to disobey the Lord, cut the relations of the womb or dispose of what you do not own.

Ayah 225 – The Laghw or Unintentional Vows

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“Allah does not impose blame upon you for what is unintentional in your oaths, but He imposes blame upon you for what your hearts have earned. And Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.” [al-Baqarah 2: 225]

Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani writes: the Laghw or ineffectual oath has two meanings:

In the first case it means a false oath sworn without volition over something in the past or it could have been sworn with volition while the oath-taker considers it to be true in his supposition. For example, guided by his information and supposition, one ends up declaring on oath that a certain person has arrived while that person had not arrived in reality.

Similarly, if someone swears on oath for something in future unintentionally, while wanting to say something else, but the words of oath come out of his lips mistakenly, this type of oath also falls in this category. All these three types are not an act of sin and that is why they are called laghw or ineffectual. This act will not be reprehensible in the Hereafter.

As compared to this, the oath which has been declared reprehensible is the one that has been uttered intentionally knowing it to be false. This is known as ghamus [perjury], and is an act of sin. According to the Hanafi School this does not require expiation. Therefore, laghw, in the sense explained earlier, involves no kaffarah more obviously, (because it is not a sinful act).

Laghw also means that which has no kaffarah. It will be called as laghw because it does not entail the liability of expiation in this world.

Given this meaning, the word, laghw is inclusive of ghamus, which being an act of sin, however, does not require expiation.

As compared to this, the oath that requires kaffarah is called mun’aqidah [that which is established, confirmed: fait accompli]. For instance, if someone intentionally declares on oath to the effect that he or she would or would not perform a certain act, then, acting contrarily requires kaffarah. (Bayan al-Qur’an)

Blame is on What Enters the Hearts

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Allah does not impose blame upon you for what is unintentional in your oaths, but He imposes blame upon you for what your hearts have earned.” It means that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala does not punish or hold one accountable for unintentional vows. The unintentional vows are similar to habitual statements that the tongue repeats without really intending them. For instance, it is reported in the Two Saheehs that Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu narrated that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

مَنْ حَلَفَ فَقَالَ فِي حَلِفِهِ بِاللَّاتِ وَالْعُزَّى، فَلْيَقُلْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا الله

“Whoever swore and (unintentionally) mentioned Al-Lath and Al-‘Uzza (two idols in pre-Islamic era) in his vow, should then say, ‘There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah’.” This statement was said for some new Muslims whose tongues were, before Islam, used to vowing by their idol Al-Lath. Therefore, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ordered them to intentionally recite the Kalma, so that the words of sincerity may eradicate the word of Shirk.

Lessons:

From this we learn that must keep a check on their hearts. We have studied the hadeeth that rewards are as per intention. If one’s intention was good he will get the reward for his deed, but if one’s intention was corrupt, there was a contradiction between his intention and action, then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will deal with the person differently.

One way to protect our hearts is to filter our thoughts. Do not sit in the company of negative and argumentative people. If your friends enjoy gossips about other people, it is time for you to advise them and distance yourself from the crowd. Do not “stalk” people online to keep a track of their lives. Become productive. Busy yourself in activities that will benefit you in the Hereafter and are meaningful for this world as well.

If you have too much time on your hands to follow what other people are doing or finding out what they say behind your back then it is time that you reflect on “your” life. Why does such talk pique you?

Know that negative thoughts about other people will not enter our minds and hearts, if “we” do not give them the way. Block all sources of negativity and propaganda. Read up the Seerah of the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum and work on your character. Learn to love other Muslims for the sake of Allah.

[Loving Someone for the Sake of Allah]

“And Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing,” He knows that we will slip and make mistakes. Sometimes, Satanic thoughts take over our hearts and minds. But after realizing our error we should immediately turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in repentance and make amends with the people. Remember, staying angry at others, adding fuel to the fire is not worth the trouble. It not only harms one health but also the fate in the Hereafter. Let us work on the cleansing of our hearts and minds.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 224 – 225

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]
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