Breaking An Oath You Must Feed Poor People Or Freeing A Slave Quran 5:89
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
The verse was revealed after the treaty of Hudaibiyah (Mawdudi). It is a Madinan verse (Mawdudi, Dr. Muhammed Asad and Anwarul Bayan).
“Allah does not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths, but He calls you to account for the making of deliberate oaths; so its expiation is the feeding of ten poor men out of the middling (food) you feed your families with, or their clothing, or the freeing of a neck;
But whosoever cannot find (means) then fasting for three days; this is the expiation of your oaths when you swear; and guard your oaths. Thus does Allah make clear to you His communications, that you may be Fateful.” – Quran 5:89
If one makes an oath, and he or she break it deliberately, they have to either feed a number of poor people or free a slave. This is an order that came to the community, 1400 years ago. So for the sin to be forgiven by God, one has two of the things for it to be washed away.
This was one of the injunctions laid out in earliest days of Islam for slaves to get their ultimate freedom. The process to end slavery was ongoing, which ultimately God wanted an end to this heinous crime committed against other humans. The scholars (below), will explain the verse in greater detail.
Scholar Abdul Majid Daryabadi:
“18. i.e., for he violation of.
19. Applied to speech is ‘nought; of no account’. Vain oaths are those that are rash, unpremeditated and without design. See P. II, 490.
20. i.e., oaths of a promissory character, which are a sort of pledge referring to the future … in … signifies ‘ratification’.
21. i.e., of these deliberate oaths.
22. i.e., with the average; with what is neither prodigal nor niggardly.
23. i.e., freeing of a believer from slavery. … is ‘by a synecdoche, a slave, male and female; and a captive … And … released a slave or a captive.’ (LL).
24. (Access to these alternatives).
25. (in succession).
26. (but are not going to fulfil them).
27. ‘so that no unfulfilled oath may go unexpiated.’ (TH).
28. i.e., in this wise way.
29. i.e., all other commandments. … is here obviously statutes, ordinances or commandments, not signs or tokens.
30. i.e., (to Him for these acts of Grace and Wisdom).” (Tafsir-Ul-Qur’an – Translation and Commentary Of The Holy Qur’an [Published By Darul Ishaat Urdu Bazaar Karachi: Pakistan] by Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi, volume 2, page 3 – 4)
Shaykh Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi:
“106 The Commandment about oaths has been laid down here in connection with instructions about food, because some people had taken oaths of making some lawful things unlawful for themselves. The Commandment is that if one uttered a word of oath without any Intention behind it, one shall not be bound to observe it, for there is no punishment or expiation for this.
But if one has deliberately taken such an oath, one must break it and expiate the violation because one must abrogate such a sinful oath. (Please also refer to E.N.’s 243 and 244 of Al-Baqarah and E.N. 125 of An-Nisa).
107 “Being mindful of an oath” implies three things. First, one should make the right use of an oath and should not take it for useless and sinful things. Secondly, when one takes an oath for anything, one should remember it lest one should forget’ it and violate it.
Thirdly, if one takes a deliberate oath to do aright thing, one must fulfill it, and if one violates it, one should expiate the sin.”(Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an – on Surah 5:89 – online source)
“God will not take you to task for a slip, contained, in your oaths, which is what the tongue utters spontaneously, without intending to swear an oath, such as when one says, ‘No, by God’, or ‘Yes, by God’; but He will take you to task for that to which you have pledged (read ‘aqadtum, ‘aqqadttum or ‘āqadttum) oaths, where you have sworn an oath
intentionally; the expiation thereof, of the oath if you break it, is the feeding of ten of the needy, for each needy person one mudd measure, of the midmost food, from which, you feed your families, that is, the closest or the principal [food
you consume], neither better, nor worse; or the clothing of them, with what may be [properly] called clothes, such as a shirt, a turban, or a loin cloth — it is not sufficient that these [items] mentioned be given only to one needy person, according to al-Shafi‘i; or the setting free of a, believing, slave, as applies in the expiation for slaying or repudiation
through zihar, interpreting the general [stipulation] in a restricted sense; and whoever does not find the means, for any one of the [expiations] mentioned, then the fasting of three days, as an expiation for him — as it appears [in this verse], it is not obligatory to follow the [above] sequence [of alternatives when making an expiation], and this is the opinion of al-Shafi‘i.
That, which is mentioned, is the expiation of your oaths if you have sworn, and have broken them; but keep your oaths, do not break them, unless it be for a righteous deed or setting right between people, as stated in the verse of sūrat al-Baqara [Q. 2:225].
So, in the same way that He has explained to you what has been mentioned, God makes clear to you His signs, so that you might be thankful, to Him for this.” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn on Surah 5:89 – online source)
Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas:
“(Allah will not take you to task for that which is unintentional in your oaths) Allah does not take you to task for the expiation of unintentional oaths, (but He will take you to task for the oaths which ye swear in earnest) He takes you to task for the intention of your hearts when you make oaths.
(The expiation thereof) the expiation of the oath which is not unintentional (is the feeding of ten of the needy with the average of that wherewith ye feed your own folk) of bread and seasoning which you feed to them at lunch and dinner,
(or the clothing of them) or the clothing of ten needy people whereby their nudity is covered: a shawl, a gown or a loin cloth, (or the liberation of a slave) whichever it is of these three options, (and for him who finds not (the wherewithal to do so)) any one of these three options (then a three day fast) consecutively.
(This) which I have mentioned (is the expiation of your oaths when ye have sworn) and do not honour your oath; (and keep your oaths) the uttering of your oaths as well as the expiation of your oaths. (Thus Allah expoundeth unto you His revelations) His commands and prohibitions, as He expounds the expiation of oaths (in order that ye may give thanks) in order that you may show gratitude for expositing His commands and prohibitions.” (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas – on Surah 5:89 – online source)
Maulana Muhammad Ali:
“89a. It is wrong to suppose that this verse sanctions the expiation of all kinds of oaths. Reading it along with the previous verses shows that the oaths referred to are in relation to vows, etc., by which one forbids oneself what is otherwise lawful.
The injunction at the end of this verse, keep your oaths, also shows that oaths cannot be violated generally, and therefore expiation is only allowed in the case of oaths by which a man deprives himself of some lawful thing or of an occasion of virtue, as in 2:226. It is further evident that the Book which lays stress upon the faithful performance of all kinds of engagements could not allow the violating of agreements which had been confirmed with oaths.
89b. The phrase ihfazu aimana-kum bears two interpretations. It means keep your oaths, i.e. be true to your oaths when you take them; and it also means guard your oaths, i.e. do not take oaths unless there is an urgent need.” (The Holy Quran Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction [Year 2002 Edition] by Maulana Muhammad Ali, page 274 – 275)
Dr. Muhammad Asad:
“101 Lit., “for a thoughtless word (laghw) in your oaths”. This refers primarily to oaths aiming at denying to oneself something which the Law of Islam does not prohibit (i.e.. “the good things of life”); and, generally, to all oaths uttered without premeditation, e.g., under the influence of anger (cf. 2:224-225; also 38:44 and the corresponding note 4l).
102 Lit., “its atonement shall be” – the pronoun referring to the (implied) sin of breaking an oath.
It is obvious from the context that this possibility of atonement relates only to “oaths uttered without thought”, and not to deliberate undertakings affecting other persons which-as has been explicitly stated in the opening sentence of this surah – a believer is bound to observe faithfully to the best of his ability. Regarding exceptions from this general rule, see surah 2, note 212.
103 Lit., “the average of what you feed your families with”.
104 Le., “do not make them lightly or often” (Razi).” (The Message of The Quran translated and explained by Muhammad Asad, page 242, online source)
Scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali:
“792 Vows of penance or abstention may sometimes be futile, or even stand in the way of really good or virtuous act. See 2:224-226, and notes. The general principles established are:
(1) take no futile oaths;
(2) use not Allah’s name, literally or in intention, to fetter yourself against doing a lawful or good act;
(3) keep to your solemn oaths to the utmost of your ability;
(4) where you are unable to do so, expiate your failure by feeding or clothing the poor, or obtaining some one’s freedom, or if you have not the means, by fasting.
This is from a spiritual aspect. If any party suffers damage from your failure, compensation will be due, but that would be a question of law or equity.2 (The Meaning of The Noble Qur’an by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, page 75, online source)
“Atonement for Breaking an Oath
The verse that follows, which refers to oaths and their atonement, appears to have been revealed in order to deal with such cases when people make an oath in order to solemnise their abstention from something permissible, as was done by those Companions of the Prophet. The Qur’ān also makes it clear that it is not up to human beings to declare things forbidden or permissible.
That authority belongs to God, in whom those Companions of the Prophet believed. This Qur’anic verse also deals with all vows of abstention from doing something good or vows to undertake something evil.
Whenever it is clear to a person who has made an oath that breaking it is better and more conducive to earning God’s pleasure, he should break it and atone for it in one of the methods defined by this Qur’anic verse.
`Abdullah ibn Abbas says that it was revealed in connection with those people who forbade themselves wholesome types of food and clothes as well as appropriate marriages.
They had vowed to abide by these restrictions. When the commandment, “Believers, do not forbid yourselves the good things God has made lawful to you,” was revealed, they asked: “What shall we do with our oaths?” This verse giving the necessary verdict was then revealed.
It makes clear that God does not take people to task for oaths which they may utter without thought, or those which they may pronounce “off the cuff,” as it were, without consciously deciding to make an oath.
At the same time, Muslims are urged not to devalue their oaths by uttering too many of them without thought. An oath by God is a very serious statement. Hence, it must not be uttered without thought. An oath made solemnly and deliberately requires an atonement if it is to be broken. The atonement is given in detail in this Qur’anic verse:
“The breaking of an oath must be atoned for by the feeding of ten needy persons with more or less the same food as you normally give to your own families, or by clothing them, or by the freeing of one slave. He who cannot afford any of these shall fast three days instead.
This shall be the atonement for your oaths when you have sworn [and broken them]. But be mindful of your oaths.” (Verse 89) The Arabic term which is used to describe the type of food which should be offered to the ten needy persons means literally either “the average” or “the best” food a person gives to his own family.
However, we can combine both aspects of the meaning because the average is normally preferred in Islam. It also applies to clothing the ten needy persons which means giving them some of the average type of clothes one gives to one’s family. An alternative is to free a person from slavery, but it is not specified here whether that slave should be a believer.
Hence, scholars have different views concerning this point, but we will not discuss the details of these views. “He who cannot afford any of these shall fast three days instead.” (Verse 89) It is only when a person is unable to meet the requirements of any of the above types of atonement that he may atone for his broken oath by fasting.
Again, scholars have varying views with regard to whether these three days must be consecutive or not. Our own approach in this commentary is not to discuss such varying views or to evaluate them.
Anyone who wishes to study them may do so by referring to books of fiqh which discuss them in detail. All views of scholars are in agreement on the essential purpose of the atonement, namely, attaching proper value to the breached contract and giving proper respect to oaths which are pledges or forms of contracts which God has ordered to be honoured.
Hence, if anyone of us makes an oath and finds out subsequently that it is better, from the Islamic point of view, to do otherwise, he both breaks his oath and atones for it. The same applies if he makes an oath which he has no authority to make, such as an oath of prohibition or permissibility of a particular thing. In this case, he breaks the oath and atones for it. Let us now talk about the subject matter of these verses.
As for the particular circumstances, God makes it plain that what He has made lawful is wholesome and what He has forbidden is foul. Hence, it is not for people to choose something different from what God has chosen for them, for two basic reasons: firstly, the authority to forbid or make lawful belongs to God alone.
Any violation of that is a transgression which displeases God and contradicts faith. Secondly, God makes lawful only what is good and wholesome.
Therefore, people may not forbid themselves such wholesome things that are beneficial to them and to life in general. A human being’s knowledge of life and of himself cannot be matched with God’s knowledge who combines perfect wisdom with absolute knowledge. Since God has made these things lawful, then they must be good and wholesome.
God’s knowledge is perfect, based on absolute certainty. Hence we say: had God known that these matters were foul or evil, He would have spared His servants their consequences. Had He known that abstention from them would be better, He would not have made them lawful.
This religion has been revealed so that it brings about goodness in human life and achieves perfect balance and complete harmony between all aspects of human life.
It does not overlook any natural human need, nor does it suppress any constructive human activity within appropriate limits. Hence, Islam denounces monastic aestheticism because it amounts to a suppression of nature and an impediment to the development of life.
Similarly, Islam speaks out against the forbidding of wholesome lawful things, because these help the development of life. It must be remembered that God has created this life so that it may flourish and develop in accordance with the constitution He has laid down for it.
Monastic aestheticism and the forbidding of wholesome things come into direct conflict with God’s method for human life because they bring life to a stop at a certain point under the pretext of seeking something more sublime. It should be stated here that attaining the sublime is feasible within the system God has laid down and made easy through its compatibility with human nature.
The fact that this verse was revealed to deal with particular circumstances does not restrict its general applicability because it relates to the question of Godhead and legislation. This is not confined to the statement of which types of food, drink and marriage are lawful and which are forbidden.
It applies to the authority to legislate in all matters of life. We try to emphasise this message as much as we can, because the fact that Islam has not been allowed to regulate human life for a long while has enabled the tendency in people to give Qur’anic statements a restricted applicability.
Thus, many people think that terms like “permissible” and “forbidden” apply only to the slaughtering of animals, to the types of food, drink and clothing a Muslim may have, and to how marriages should be conducted. Many people tend to refer to Islam only within this area. Other general and more substantive matters are considered in light of theories, constitutions and laws which have nothing to do with Islam.
A community’s social set-up, political system and international relations are only some examples of serious matters that are determined without reference to Islam. Islam is a constitution which regulates all of human life.
A person who accepts Islam in full and follows all its commandments is a believer, while a person who follows some other method, even though this may be in a single question or issue, is one who rejects faith and transgresses against God’s authority.
As such, he is not a believer, although he may profess to respect faith and claims to be a Muslim. When he follows a law other than that of God, he falsifies all his claims and takes himself out of the realm of faith altogether. It is to this central issue that these Qur’ānic verses refer.
It puts the question of believing in God above all other considerations. As such, it gives it the seriousness which it should always enjoy.”(In The Shade Of the Quran, by Qutb, volume 4, page 201 – 204)
Mufti Taqi Usmani – commentary:
“SEQUENCE OF VERSES
Mentioned earlier was the taking of Halal things as unlawful. Since statement to this effect are sometimes sworn, therefor, the injunction about taking of oaths follows in the present verse.
THREE FORMS OF OATHS AND THEIR INJUNCTIONS
1. Some forms in which oaths are taken have been described in this verse. Some have appeared in Surah al-Baqarah as well (Ma’ariful Qur’an, volume 1, verse 2:225, pages 562 – 563). The gist of all these is that false swearing about a past event knowingly is, in the terminology of Muslim jurists, Yamin Ghamus (disasterous oath) – for instance, if a person
has done something, and he knows that he has done it, and then he knowingly swears that he has not done it.
This is false swearing, a grave major sin the curse of which falls in the present life and in the life-to-come.
But, there is no kaffarah (expiation) necessary for it. Taubah (repentance) and Istighfar (seeking forgiveness from Allah) are, however, necessary. That is the reason why the Muslim jurists call it the disasterous oath. Ghamus literally means that which drowns.
This kind of oath drowns man into sin and its curse, a disaster for one’s present and future life.
2. The second form is that someone declares on oath that a past event was true, as based on his knowledge, while it was actually false for example, he learnt from someone that a certain person has come and trusting him, he declared on oath that the person has ome, then, he came to know that this was contrary to what had actually happened. This is called Yamin Laghw (ineffectual oath), that which is not counted.
Similarly, if a word denoting oath, such as ‘by’ or ‘I swear,’ comes to be said unintentionally, that too is known to be what is ‘ineffectual oath.’ It brings neither kaffarah (expiation nor sin.
3. The third form of oath is that one declares on oath that he would or would not do something in the future.
This is known as al-Yamin al-Mun’aqidah (binding oath). The rule which governs it is that, in the event the oath is broken, kaffarah (expiation) becomes necessary – and under some situations, it brings sin as well, while in some others it does not.
At this place in the present verse of the Qur’an, Laghw’ (ineffectual, not counted) obviously means the oath which brings no kaffarah (expiation) – whether a sin, or not; because it has been mentioned in contrast with: … (the oaths you have bound yourselves with).
This tells us that the accountability (Mu’akhadhah) mentioned here is only the accountability in the present world which comes in the form of kaffarah (expiation).
Then, in Surah al-Baqarah, it is said: … (and Allah does not hold you accountable for what is not countable from among your oaths, but holds you accountable for what your hearts have designed – 2:225). Here, ‘Laghw’ (what is not countable) means an oath which slips out from one’s tongue without intention or volition, or an oath one takes about something assuming it to be true while it turns out to be false actually.
Then, mentioned in contrast, is the other oath in which an intentional lie has been told. This is known as Yamin Ghamus explained earlier. Therefore, as for Yamin Laghw, it brings no sin, according to this verse – instead, what brings sin is Yamin Ghamus where the lie is intentional.
Thus, the sin mentioned in the verse from Surah al-Baqarah refers to the sin one shall incur in the Hereafter for disobeying the Divine injunction. And in the present verse of Surah al-Ma’idah, the injunction concerns the present life of the world, where kaffarah (expiation) is required.
The outcome is that Allah does not hold you accountable for what is not countable in your oaths, that is, does not make it obligatory for you to make amends for them by paying kaffarah (expiation).
Instead, kaffarah is made necessary against the particular oath which has been accomplished about doing or not doing something in the future – and then, it has been broken. After that, the details of how kaffarah has to be given is described in the following words: … (89).
Three options have been given here which one may choose at one’s discretion: (a) feed ten persons two average meals, or (b) clothe ten poor persons (sufficient to be give them proper cover, such as, a garment for the lower body and another for upper), or (c) free a slave (if in possession). Said immediately after is: … (And whoever finds none shall fast for three days).
It means if some breaker of such an oath does not have the ability to bear the cost of this financial expiation (Kaffarah), that is, one who does not have the means to feed ten poor persons, or clothe them, or free a slave, then, his or her kaffarah is to fast for three days. In some narrations, for the fasts mentioned at this place in the text, the command is said to be that of ‘three consecutive days.’
Therefore, according to Imam Abu Hanifa and some other Imams, it is necessary that the three fasts against the Kaffarah (expiation) of oath should be consecutive. In this verse, the first word used in connection with the Kaffarah of Oath is: ‘It’am’ which, according to Arabic usage could either mean ‘feed’ or ‘give food’ to someone.
, as determined by the Fuqaha (Mulim Jurits), may the mercy of Allah be upon them, the sense of the verse is that the person giving Kaffarah can choose either of the two options. He can invite ten poor persons and feed them; or give the food in their possession (literally in milkiyat or ownership).
But, in the first situation, it is necessary that he should feed ten poor persons two meals of the day to their fill and satisfaction from the average food he usually eats with his family at home.
And in the second situation, he should give to each of the ten poor persons at the rate of one Fitrah per person, that is, 1 ¾ kilograms of wheat, or its cost in cash. He can go by any one of the three he likes. But, fasting can be sufficient only when one does not have the ability to take any of the three options. PAYING KAFFARAH, BEFORE OATH IS BROKEN, IS NOT VALID
Towards the end of the verse, the need to observe caution has been commanded about two things. The first one appears in: … (that is expiation for your oaths when you have sworn).
According to Imam Abu Hanifa and other Imams, it means: When you give a sworn statement about doing or not doing something in the future – following which occurs its violation – then, its Kaffarah is what has been mentioned above.
The essence of the statement is that the Kaffarah should be given after the oath has been broken. A Kaffarah given before the breaking of the oath will not be valid. The reason is that the cause which makes Kaffarah necessary lies in the breaking of the oath.
As long as the oath does not break, Kaffarah just does not become necessary. As there is no Salah before its time, and there is no Ramadan fast before the month of Ramadan, so it is with the Kaffarah of Oath which cannot be given before the oath breaks.
After that comes the second note of caution: … (And take care of your oaths). In this sense of guarding an oath it would mean: If you have sworn to something, then do not break your oath without a legal or physical necessity. Some other respected scholars have said that it means that one should not hasten to give a sworn statement. One should guard and protect one’s oath, as if kept in reserve.
Unless it be under severe compulsion, one should not take oaths casually. (Mazhari) (Maarif ul Quran – Quran Translation and Commentary [Translation by Prof. Muhammad Hasan Askari & Prof. Muhammad Shamim Revised by Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani], by Maulana Mufti Mohammad Shafi, page 242 – 245)
Malik Ghulam Farid:
“789. Oaths which are contrary to Islamic Law are mere wasted breath.
790. Ausat means both ‘middle’ (average) and ‘the rest.’” (The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary By Malik Ghulam Farid, page 258 – 259)
Shaykh Ashiq Ilahi Madni:
“TYPES OF OATHS AND THE EXPIATION (KAFFARA) FOR BREAKING THEM
Since one of the methods whereby Lawful (Halal) is made Unlawful (Haram) is by oaths, Allah makes mentioned of oaths in this verse. There are three types of oaths viz. Yamin Laghw, Yamon Ghamus and Yamin Mun aqidah.
With regard to Yameen Laghw, Sayyidah Aysha said, ‘when a person, without the intention of an oath exclaims, ‘No by Allah!’ And ‘Why not, by Allah!’ then these will be ‘Laghw’ (futile/meaningless)” [Bukhari]. This was, and still is, the way Arabs speak.
Certain jurists maintain that ‘laghw’ (futile) refers to that oath that a person takes upon a past incident, swearing that it is true, whereas it is not so. In this case, he mistakenly thinks it to be true and does not lie intentionally. As the verse mentions, a person will not be taken to task for this and will not have to pay the expiation (kaffara).
The second type viz. Ghamus occurs when a person lies when swearing e.g. A person swears that he did something which he never did, or swears that he did not do something which he did.
Sayyidona Abdullah bin Umar narrates that the Holy Prophet said, ‘The major sins are (1) Associating partners with Allah, (2) causing grief to one’s parents, (3) Murder, (4) Yamin Ghamus.’ [Bukhari v. 2 p. 987]
The word Ghamus is derived from an Arabic word that means ‘to plunge’ because this type of an oath plunges one into sin in this world and into the fire of Hell in the Akhirah (Hereafter).
The third type viz. Yamin mun’aqidah refers to that oath taken upon a future action e.g. A person takes an oath that he will carry out a certain action, or not eat a certain food, etc. THE LAW PERTAINING TO THIS IS THAT THE PERSON WILL HAVE TO PAY THE EXPIATION (KAFFARA) IF HE FAILS TO UPHOLD THE PROMISE.
THE EXPIATION (KAFFARA) HAS BEEN CITED IN THE ABOVE VERSE. HE SHOULD FEED OR CLOTHE TEN POOR PEOPLE OR FREE A SLAVE. If he is unable to do any of these, he should fast for three days. Since slaves are not available in nowadays, a person will have to adopt other options.
RULINGS ABOUT EXPIATION (KAFFARA)
Ruling: A person may not pay the expiation (kaffara) before breaking the oath. If he does so, it will be considered to be optional (Nafl) charity.
Ruling: If a person chooses to feed ten poor people, he will have to feed them two meals to their fill. There should be no children among the ten people, nor any person who has already eaten to his fill.
Ruling: A person may opt to pay each of the ten poor people the equivalent of Sadaqatul Fitrr either in wheat flour, barley or in cash.
Ruling: It will not suffice to give the equivalent of ten people’s food to one poor person. If someone did this, he will have to feed another nine people.
Ruling: If the expiation (kaffara) is paid in the form of clothing, then each poor person has to receive that amount of clothes that will cover the satr so that one is able to perform Salah with it.
Ruling: The food given to the poor must not be of inferior quality, but equivalent to what an average family eats. This is due to the clear condition stipulated by the verse viz. ‘…food of average quality with which you feed your families…’
Ruling: Imam Abu Hanifaj stipulates that the three fasts be consecutive, as ordained by the Qur;anic recitation of Sayyidina Abdullah bin Mas’ud. This opinion is held by Sayyidina Ibn Abbas.
Ruling: It is sinful to take a sinful oath like swearing never to perform salah or that one will sever ties with one’s family and relatives. It will be necessary to break such an oath and pay the expiation (kaffara).
‘Protect your oaths!’ The author of ‘Ruhul Ma’ani’ (v. 7 p. 10) writes that this means that one must maintain the oath. It must not occur that one breaks the oath and then neglects the expiation (kaffara). It also means that people should fulfil their oaths since it entails taking Allah’s name. Of course, this will not apply to sinful oaths since these will have to be broken.
Note: The Holy Prophet said, ‘Whoever takes an oath by the name besides Allah has committed polytheism (shirk)’ [Tirmidhi].
The Holy Prophet also said, ‘Do not swear by your fathers and mothers. Swear by Allah only if you are truthful.’ [Mishkat p. 296]. (
Illuminating Discourses on the Noble Quran – Tafseer Anwarul Bayan – by Shaykh Ashiq Ilahi Madni, volume 2, page 116 – 117)
Hadith Reports on this incident
Narrated `Aisha: This Verse: “Allah will not punish you for what is unintentional in your oaths.” (5.89) was revealed about a man’s state men (during his talk), “No, by Allah,” and “Yes, by Allah.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 6, Book 60, Hadith 137, (Eng. Ed.))
Narrated ‘Aishah (RA) regarding the saying of Allah the Most High: “Allah will not punish you for what is unintentional in your oaths (5:89).” She said: It (was sent down about such phrases as) a person’s sayying: ‘No, by Allah’ and ‘Yes, by Allah.’ [al-Bukhari reported it (Mauquf, i.e. as a saying of ‘Aishah). Abu Dawud reported it as Marfu’ (attributed to the Prophet).] (Bulugh al-Maram Book 13, Hadith 1381 (Eng. Ed.))
“’Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Ayah: “Allah will not punish you for what is unintentional in your oaths …” was revealed in respect of those persons who are in the habit of repeating: ‘No, by Allah’; and ‘Yes, by Allah.’” (Riyad as-Salihin Book 18, Hadith 1719)