Pearl of Wisdom

'Self-admiration corrupts reason.'

Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib [as]
Ghurar al-Hikam, no. 726

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Question : #171 Category: Miscellaneous
Subject: enquiry about qasam / oath
Question: salam aleikum

My question is regarding qasam. I have made a qasam a few years ago but now I really regret having made it and I would like to "cancel" it since I find it inconvenient. Im able to fulfill it but it prevents me from doing something which I really enjoy. Is there any way possible to cancel it? I know if my father forbids it then it will be cancelled but my father is a non muslim and would not understand. Is there an alternative to that? I didnt think thoroughly before making the qasam nor was I fully aware of the rules relating to qasam. I made it thinking that it was in my benefit. To be more precise, I made a qasam that I would go to sleep by 2:00 am so that I may wake up for fajr prayer. However sometimes the majalis in husseiniyyas may go beyond 2:00 am which is what I meant by the qasam being inconvenient. I only thought about the salat aspect of the qasam without thinking of the limitations that it would have. Also, sometimes sunrise may be at around 5:00 am which means that if I sleep say at 1:30am and sleep for 4 hours then fulfilling the qasam would be of no benefit unless I sleep much before 2:00 am my limit. Is there any way for me to cancel my qasam or does a qasam become wajib on a person forever?

thank you
Answer: The conditions for validity of an oath are as follows, if you dont meet one of the conditions then the oath is not burdened on you.

1. A person who takes an oath should be Baligh and sane, and should do so with free will and clear intention. Hence, an oath by a minor, an insane person, an intoxicated person, or by a person who has been coerced to take an oath, will not be in order. Similarly, if he takes an oath involuntarily, or unintentionally, in a state of excitement, the oath will be void.

2. An oath taken for the performance of an act which is haraam or makrooh, is not valid. Similarly, an oath for renouncing an act which is obligatory or Mustahab is also void. And if he takes an oath to perform a normal or usual act, it will be valid, if that act has any preference in the estimation of sensible people.

Similarly, if he takes an oath for renouncing a usually permissible act, it will be valid if it is deemed more preferable than its performance, by the sensible people. In fact, in each case, his own judgement about the preferences will be enough to grant validity to the oath, even if other sensible people may not concur.

3. The oath must be sworn by one of those names of the Almighty Allah which are exclusively used for Him, (e.g. Allah). And even if he swears by a name which is used for other beings also, but is used so extensively for Him, that when any person utters that name one is reminded of Him Alone, for example, if he swears by the name Khaliq (the Creator) and Raziq (the Bestower), the oath will be in order.

In fact, if he uses other names or attributes of Allah, which do not remind of Him, but give that connotation when used during an oath, like Samee (All Hearing) or Baseer (All Seeing), even then the oath will be valid.

4. The oath should be uttered in words, but a dumb person can take an oath by making a sign. Similarly, if a person is unable to utter the words, he may write down the oath, repeating in his mind the intention for it, that will be a valid oath, though as a precaution, he may confirm the oath in other ways as well.

5. It should be possible for him to act upon his oath. And if he was able to act upon the oath when he took it, but became incapable of acting upon it later, the oath becomes nullified from the time he became incapable of acting upon it, provided that he did not incapacitate himself purposely. And the same rule applies if acting upon ones vow, oath, or covenant, involves unbearable hardship.

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