Break not your Oaths!

14th Rabi’ Al-Awwal

Suuratul Nahl Verse 91.

وَأَوْفُوا۟ بِعَهْدِ ٱللَّـهِ إِذَا عَـٰهَدتُّمْ وَلَا تَنقُضُوا۟ ٱلْأَيْمَـٰنَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمُ ٱللَّـهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلًا ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّـهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ﴿٩١

91. And fulfill the Covenant of Allah (Bai’a: pledge for Islam) when you have covenanted, and break not the oaths after you have confirmed them, and indeed you have appointed Allah your surety. Verily! Allah knows what you do.


Tafsir Ibn Kathir Volume 5.

This is one of the commands of Allah, to fulfill covenants, keep promises and to fulfill oaths after confirming them. Thus Allah says:

﴿وَلاَ تَنقُضُواْ الاٌّيْمَـنَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا﴾

“and do not break the oaths after you have confirmed them”

There is no conflict between this and the Ayat:

﴿وَلاَ تَجْعَلُواْ اللَّهَ عُرْضَةً لاًّيْمَـنِكُمْ﴾

“And do not use Allah as an excuse in your oaths” (2:224)

﴿ذلِكَ كَفَّارَةُ أَيْمَـنِكُمْ إِذَا حَلَفْتُمْ وَاحْفَظُواْ أَيْمَـنَكُمْ﴾

“That is the expiation for oaths when you have sworn. And protect your oaths” (5:89)

Meaning, do not forgo your oaths without offering the penance. There is also no conflict between this Ayah (16:91) and the Hadith reported in the Two Sahihs according to which the Prophet said:

«إِنِّي وَاللهِ إِنْ شَاءَ اللهُ لَا أَحْلِفُ عَلَى يَمِينٍ فَأَرَى غَيْرَهَا خَيْرًا مِنْهَا إِلَّا أَتَيْتُ الَّذِي هُوَ خَيْرٌ وَتَحَلَّلْتُهَا وَفِي رِوَايَةٍ وَكَفَّرْتُ عَنْ يَمِينِي»

“By Allah, if Allah wills, I will not swear an oath and then realize that something else is better, but I do that which is better and find a way to free myself from the oath”. According to another report he said: “and I offer penance for my oath”.

There is no contradiction at all between all of these texts and the Ayah under discussion here, which is:

﴿وَلاَ تَنقُضُواْ الاٌّيْمَـنَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا﴾

“and do not break the oaths after you have confirmed them”

Because these are the kinds of oaths that have to do with covenants and promises, not the kind that have to do with urging oneself to do something or preventing him from doing something.

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