Book of the Expiation of Oaths

The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari

by Imam Bukhari
Translated by: Ustadha Aisha Bewley

Chapter 87. Book of the Expiation of Oaths

The words of Allah Almighty, "The expiation in that case is to feed ten poor people." (5:89)

What the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, commanded when it was revealed, "The expiation is fasting or sadaqa or sacrifice." (2:196)

It is mentioned from Ibn 'Abbas 'Ata' and 'Ikrima, "Whenever 'or' is used in the Qur'an, then the person has a choice. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, gave Ka'b a choice in expiation.

6330. 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn Abi Layla related that Ka'b ibn 'Ujra said, "I went to him,' i.e. the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, 'and he said, 'Come near,' so I went near and he asked, 'Are your lice troubling you?' 'Yes,' I answered. He said, 'The fidya is fasting, sadaqa or offering a sacrifice."

It is related that Ayyub said, "It is fasting three days, sacrificing a sheep or feeding six poor people."

I. When is expiation obliged for rich and poor?

The words of Allah, "Allah has made the expiation of your oaths obligatory for you. Allah is your Master – He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise." (66:2)

6331. Humayd ibn 'Abdu'r-Rahman related that Abu Hurayra said, "A man came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, 'I am destroyed!' He asked, 'What is your case?' He said, 'I had sex with my wife in Ramadan!' The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Can you free a slave?' 'No,' he answered. He asked, 'Can you fast two successive months?' 'No,' he answered. He asked, 'Can you feed sixty poor people?' 'No,' he answered. He said, 'Sit down,' and he sat down. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was brought a large basket of dates ('Araq is a large measure), and he said, 'Take this and give it as sadaqa.' He asked, 'To someone poorer than us?' The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, laughed until his molars showed and said, 'Feed it to your family.'"

II. Someone who helps another person in difficulties to do kaffara (expiation)

6332. Humayd ibn 'Abdu'r-Rahman related that Abu Hurayra said, "A man came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, 'I am destroyed!' He asked, 'Why is that?' He said, 'I had sex with my wife in Ramadan!' He said, 'Can you manage a slave?' 'No,' he answered. He asked, 'Can you fast two successive months?' 'No,' he answered. He asked, 'Can you feed sixty poor people?' 'No,' he answered. A man of the Ansar brought a large basket (an 'araq, a measure) containing dates. He said, 'Take this and give it as sadaqa.' He said, 'To someone in more need than us, Messenger of Allah? By the One who sent you with the Truth, there is no household between the two lava-beds  [i.e. in Madina] needier than we are.' Then he said, 'Go and feed it to your family.'"

III. Feeding ten poor people for kaffara, relatives or non-relatives.

6333. Humayd related that Abu Hurayra said, "A man came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, 'I am destroyed!' He asked, 'What is your case?' He said, 'I had sex with my wife in Ramadan!' The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Can you manage a slave?' 'No,' he answered. He asked, 'Can you fast two successive months?' 'No,' he answered. He asked, 'Can you feed sixty poor people?' 'I do not have the means,' he answered. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was brought a basket of dates and said, 'Take this and give it as sadaqa.' He said, 'To one poorer than us? There is no one between the two lava beds poorer than us,' Then he said, 'Take it and feed it to your family.'"

IV. The sa' of Madina and the mudd of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and its blessing. What the people of Madina inherited of that generation after generation.

6334. Al-Ju'ayd ibn 'Abdu'r-Rahman related that as-Sa'ib ibn Yazid said, "The sa' in the time of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was a mudd and two-thirds by your mudd today. It was increased in the time of 'Umar ibn 'Abdu'l-'Aziz."

6335. Malik related that Nafi' said, "Ibn 'Umar used to pay the zakat of Ramadan (zakat al-fitr) using the original mudd of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he also used the mudd of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, for expiating the oath.

Abu Qutayba said, "Malik said to us, 'Our mudd is larger than your mudd. We do not see any superiority except in the mudd of the Prophet.' Malik said to me, 'If a ruler came to you and set a mudd smaller than the mudd of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, what would you use to pay it?' I answered, 'We would pay by the mudd of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. He said, 'Do you not see that the business reverts back to the mudd of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace?'"

6336. Ishaq ibn 'Abdullah ibn Talha related from Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'O Allah, bless them in their measure, their sa' and their mudd.'"

V. The words of the Almighty, "or to free a slave" (5:89) and which slave is best

6337. Sa'id ibn Marjana related from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If someone frees a Muslim slave, Allah will free a limb of his body from the Fire for every evil limb of his, even his private parts for his private parts."

VI. Freeing a mudabbar, umm walad and mukatib for expiation. Freeing a bastard.

Tawus said, "A mudabbar and umm walad satisfy that."

[A mudabbar is the slace who is to be set free when his master dies. A umm walad is a slavegirl who has born her master's child. She cannot be sold and becomes free when he dies. A mukatib is a slave who has a contract to buy his freedom in instalments.]

6338. 'Amr related from Jabir that an Ansari man made a slave of his a mudabbar and he had no property except for the slave. The Prophet heard about that and said, 'Who will buy him for me?" Nu'aym ibn an-Nahham bought him for 300 dirhams."

I heard Jabir ibn 'Abdullah say, "It was a Coptic slave who died the same year."

VII. When someone frees a slave jointly owned with someone else

VIII. When someone frees a slave for expiation, who has the wala' of the slave?

[This means he or she becomes the heir of the freed slave in the absence of those entitled to inherit.]

6339. Al-Aswad related that 'A'isha wanted to buy Barira and the owners stipulated that they would have the wala'. She mentioned that to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he said, "Buy her. the wala' belongs to the one who sets free."

IX. Saying 'Allah willing' when making an oath

6340. Abu Burda ibn Abi Musa related that Abu Musa al-Ash'ari said, "I went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, with a group of Ash'arites to ask him to give us mounts. He said, 'By Allah, I will not give you mounts and I do not have anything which you can ride,' Then we stayed there as long as Allah wished us to stay and then three camels with white humps were brought to him and he had us ride them. When we left, we – or some of us – said, 'By Allah, we will have no blessing! We went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to ask him for mounts and he swore that he would not give us mounts and then he gave us mounts.'" Abu Musa said, "We went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and mentioned that to him and he said, 'I did not give you mounts. Allah gave you mounts. By Allah, Allah willing, I will never swear an oath and then see something better than it but that I will do that which is better and expiate my oath."

Hammad said, "But that I will expiate my oath and do that which is better," or "I will do that which is better and expiate my oath."

6341. Tawus related that Abu Hurayra said, "Sulayman said, 'I will go around tonight to ninety wives and each woman will produce a warrior who will fight in the way of Allah.' His companion angel said to him, 'Say, "Allah willing."' He forgot and went around to them and none of them gave birth except a woman who had half a boy." Abu Hurayra said, "If he had said, 'Allah willing,' he would not have broken his oath and would have achieved his need."

One he said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "If he had added the except (Allah willing)."

Al-A'raj related the like of the hadith from Abu Hurayra.

X. Expiation before and after breaking an oath

6342. It is related that Zahdam al-Jarmi said, "We were with Abu Musa al-Ash'ari, and there was friendship and mutual favours between us and this tribe of Jarm. He was brought some food which contained chicken meat. Among those present was a man from the Banu Taym who was reddish as if he were one of the Greek clients. He did not approach the good and Abu Musa said to him, 'Come over. I have seen the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, eating this.' He said, 'I saw them eating something filthy and I swore that I would never eat that.' Abu Musa said, 'Come over and I will inform you about that. We went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in the group of the Ash'arites, asking him to give us mounts. He was dividing up some of the livestock of the zakat. (Ayyub said, 'I think that he said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was angry.') He said, 'By Allah, I will not give you mounts, and I do not have any mounts to give you.' We left and then the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was brought some camels as booty. He said, 'Where are those Ash'arites?' He commanded for us five camels with white humps. When we left, I said to my companions, 'We went to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to ask for mounts and He swore that he would not give us any mounts and then he sent for us gave us mounts. The Messenger of Allah. may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has forgotten his oath. By Allah, if we are take advantage of Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forgetting his oath, we will never prosper! Let us go back to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and remind him of his oath.' So we returned to him and said, 'Messenger of Allah, we came to you and asked you to give us mounts and you swore that you would not give us mounts and then you gave us mounts. We thought (or we recognised?) that you forgot your oath.' He said, 'Go, Allah gave you mounts. By Allah, Allah willing, I will never make an oath and then see something better than it without doing the thing that is better and then doing expiation for it.'"

Hammad ibn Zayd corroborate it from Ayyub from Abu Qilaba and al-Qasim ibn 'Asim al-Kalbi.

Another isnad of this from Zahdam.

Another isnad from Zahdam.

6343. Al-Hasan related from 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn Samura that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Do not ask for command. If you are given it without asking for it, you will be helped in it. If you are given it after asking for it, you will be left to it. If you swear an oath and then see something better than it, then do what is better and expiate your oath.'

Ashhal corroborates it from Ibn 'Awn.

Yunus, Simak ibn 'Atiyya, Simak ibn Harb, Humayd, Qatada, Mansur, Hisham and ar-Rabi' corroborated it.