Made a vow to fast, but now she is unable to do so

Question: A woman vowed that if she gave birth to a healthy baby and it lived for at least one year, she would then fast for a year. As such, a baby was born and lived for more than a year. But now she is unable to fast [for a year].

Response: There is no doubt that to make a vow of obedience is an act of worship. Allaah has praised those who fulfill such vows. Allaah says:

{They are those who fulfill their vows and they fear a Day whose evil will be wide-spreading}, [Soorah al-Insaan, Aayah 7].

It is confirmed that the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

«Whoever makes a vow to obey Allaah should obey Him. Whoever makes a vow to disobey Allaah must not disobey Him», [al-Bukhaaree].

A man made a vow to sacrifice a camel at a certain location. He came to the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked him:

«Was there an idol from the time of Ignorance that was worshipped there?».

He said:”No.” He then said:

«Was there a celebration from their celebrations there?».

He said: “No.” So the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) then said:

«Fulfill your oath. There is no fulfilling of oaths that are disobedience to Allaah or concerning something that a human does not possess», [Abu Daawood].

The one who is asking the question mentioned that she vowed to fast a whole year. Fasting a whole year is a continuous type of fasting that is considered a type of permanent fasting and permanent or continuous fasting is disliked. It is confirmed in the Saheeh that the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

«Whoever performs a perpetual fast neither fasted nor broke his fast».

There is no doubt that a disliked form of worship is a type of disobedience to Allaah. Therefore, one does not fulfill an oath to perform such an act. Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “If a person vows to perform an act of worship that is disliked, like praying the entire night or fasting the entire day, it is not obligatory to fulfill such an oath.”

Therefore, the questioner must make an expiation for the oath by feeding ten poor people with a half a saa’ of dates or other common staple foods of the land. If she is not able to, then she should fast three consecutive days.

And with Allaah lies all success and may Allaah send prayers and salutations upon our Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his family and his companions.

Abu 'Abdullaah

About Abu 'Abdullaah

– from London, UK. He is a graduate of the Islaamic University of Madeenah, having graduated from the Institute of Arabic Language, and later the Faculty of Sharee’ah in 2004.