The World Federation One Stop Fiqh

Ruling 2658

In a vow, a formula (ṣīghah) must be said. It is not necessary that the formula be said in Arabic; therefore, if a person says [in English, for example], ‘Should such and such sick person get better, it is incumbent upon me to give £100 to a poor person (faqīr) for the sake of Allah’, his vow is valid (ṣaḥīḥ). And if he says, ‘For the sake of Allah I vow to do such and such a thing’, then based on obligatory precaution (al‐iḥtiyāṭ al‐wājib) he must do that thing. However, if he does not mention the name of Allah and only says, ‘I make a vow’, or, if he mentions the name of one of the Friends (awliyāʾ) of Allah, the vow is not valid. If a vow is valid and a mukallaf1 intentionally (ʿamdan) does not act according to it, he will have committed a sin and he must give recompense (kaffārah). The kaffārah for not fulfilling one’s vow is the same as the kaffārah for not fulfilling one’s oath (qasam), which will be mentioned later.2

1  A mukallaf is someone who is legally obliged to fulfil religious duties.

2  See Ruling 2687.