Fulfillment of vow to fast nine days a month

Question :

The listener … of Khemies Masheet, the Officers district, says my mother fell seriously ill and she vowed to Allaah on her behalf, that if Allaah cured her of this sickness that she would fast nine days of every month. She was then cured -by the will of Allaah- from this illness and she fasted these days for several months in each month nine days.

However, there occurred some circumstances in life from sheepherding, farming, harvesting and so on, and she was not able to fast these (nine) days.

So she confined herself to fasting three days of each month, yet upon to now she has not completed the fasting of these three days. Thus, what is upon her with regards to her leaving off the fasting of the remaining six days of the vow and what is mandatory upon her is she desires to rid herself from this vow?

Answer :

The noble scholar Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen –may Allaah have mercy upon him- was asked the above question -:

He responded -may Allaah’s mercy be upon him- by saying:

Before answering the question of this man about the vow of his mother, I would like to say that vowing (to do an action) is disliked.

Rather, some scholars have declared it impermissible because the Prophet -peace and salutation be upon him- forbade it (i.e. vowing) and said: “It does not bring about good”. Surely it only extracts (good deeds, alms, kindness etc.) from the miserly.

Therefore, recovery (from an illness) is not gained by a vow. And prosperity is not earned by a vow. And a child is not brought about by a vow. And success in life or in studies in not obtained a vow.

And so on from the (occurring) of the beloved matters or the vanishing of the disliked matters a vow will not bring the about due to the generality of the statement of the Messenger -peace and salutation be upon him- “It does not bring about good”.

But surely (all) good is in the hands of Allaah the Mighty and Majestic. And the Lord -azza wa jall- is Gracious. He is gracious to His slaves without them stipulating for Him any (acts) in worshiping Him, whether this is fasting or charity or other then that. Furthermore, a vow is to oblige one’s self with something that Allaah the Mighty and Majestic has not obligated upon it and to burden it with something it hasn’t been burdened with.

And certainly many of those who make vows find it difficult afterwards to fulfill their vow and, (the vow) becomes a burden to them, so perhaps they become negligent of it and abandon it.
And this is a great mistake and listened to the words of Allaah –azza wa jall-
(And of them are some who made a covenant with Allah (saying): “If He bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will verily, give Sadaqah (Zakat and voluntary charity in Allah’s Cause) and will be certainly among those who are righteous.”Then when He gave them of His Bounty, they became niggardly [refused to pay the Sadaqah (Zakat or voluntary charity)], and turned away, averse.

And what was their state after this what did Allaah say after this?

So He punished them by putting hypocrisy into their hearts till the Day whereon they shall meet Him, because they broke that (covenant with Allah) which they had promised Him and because they used to tell lies.{at-Tawbah:75-77}

And how many are they, those who vow (to do) something if a (particular) thing occurs (for them), then when there occurs (for them) that thing which they (initially) vowed in order to obtain, how many of them (begin) roaming right and left in order to find a scholar who will permit for them (a way) to rid themselves of that which they vowed to do.

Hence if you have known O you believer, the outcome of vowing and you have known that the Messenger –may the salutation of Allaah and peace be upon him-, forbade it, then surely you should avoid it as an obedience to the Messenger of Allah –may the salutation of Allaah and peace be upon him- and (also) as a protection for your own soul from obliging it with that which Allaah did not make obligatory upon you.

However, after all of this, if a person vows to do an action of obedience, whether the vow –is unrestricted or it is tied to a condition- then it is an obligation that he fulfills that action of obedience because it becomes mandatory (upon the one who made the vow) because of the statement of the Prophet, -may the salutation of Allaah and peace be upon him-: (Whoever vows to obey Allaah then he must obey Him).

(Returning to the question), your mother vowed a vow that she can possibly do, which is that she fasts for nine days of each month if Allaah heals her and He has healed her from her illness which she tied her recovery (from this illness) to this vow of hers (i.e. to fast nine days of every month).

And it is possible for her to divide the fasting of these nine days throughout the month. So she fasts three (days) in ten first and three in the middle ten (days) and three in the last ten days of the month so long as she did not stipulate that she would fast these days one after the other or make (this her) intention.

And there is no escape for her from this (vow) except that she becomes unable to fast (similar to that) which entitles her break her fast in Ramadan from the illness and so on. Then at that time, it is allowed for her to leave it off (i.e. the fasting) for this reason and she will make up these days another time.

Source: Fatawa Noor ‘alad-Darab (2/21)

Compiled and translated by : Noble brother Abu ‘Atiyah Mahmood bin Muhammad