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Tuesday 18th of June 2019
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Monetary loss and falsehood

False oath to save the Muslims

There are many traditions that support the taking of a false oath in order to save the Muslims. For example, Shaykh Ansari in his book, Makasib quotes from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Imam Ali (a.s.) that they have narrated the following tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.).

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"Swear falsely by Allah, but save your Muslim brothers from unjust murder."

Ismael Ibne Saad records a confirmed tradition, wherein he says that he asked Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) concerning the person who takes a false oath to save his property from an unjust ruler.

Imam Reza (a.s.) replied,
"There is no harm (in it)."

He was again asked, "If a man takes a false oath to save the property of his believing brother, just as he had sworn falsely to save his own property. Is it allowed?"

Imam (a.s.) said,
"Yes! It is allowed."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Also Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If one is compelled to take a false oath to save the life of a Muslim or to save his property from an oppressor or a thief, not only is the expiation of this false oath not payable but he would rather be eligible for (divine) rewards."

Monetary loss and falsehood

Two points must be remembered at this juncture. One is that even though it is permitted to lie to save oneself from every type of monetary loss, yet it is Mustahab (recommended) not to lie if one is capable of bearing the loss. Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says,
"The sign of belief is that one speaks the truth even if it causes loss and refrains from a lie even if it is beneficial (to lie)."
(Nahjul Balagha)

If one is compelled he must limit himself to Toriya

Another important point is that in situations where the Mujtahids have permitted Toriya it is best not to use falsehood, but limit oneself to Toriya only.

Reconcile two believing people by using falsehood

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:
"Speech is of three types, truth, falsehood and reconciling people."

Someone asked, "May my life be sacrificed for you. What is, 'reconciling people'?"

Imam (a.s.) replied:
"You hear someone speaking ill about somebody but you tell the other person that the former was saying good things about you."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Conveying a message of ill will

Infact one is ordered to resort to lies if by doing so, one can bring about reconcillation between two people. One who brings about such reconciliation shall not be termed a liar. Because if the message of ill will is communicated from one to other, it will only increase enmity between the two.

In the same way if a husband and wife have separated and divorce is about to take place, one is allowed to speak a lie if it can bring about a reunion. For example the husband could be told, "Your wife is very much troubled by the separation. She has such intense feelings for you that she may fall ill." Or the wife may be told similar things so that they may reunite.

Reconciliation among people

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said,
"After the fulfillment of wajib acts, the best action is to bring about peace and reconciliation among people. This is such an act that spreads goodness in the world."

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) said that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has said at the time of recording his will and testament.

"O Ali, Allah even likes a falsehood for the sake of peace and dislikes truth that spreads corruption."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"To make peace among people and to think about reconciling people, and removing discord is better than prayers and fasting."

Abu Hanifa Saeq Al Haj says, "There was an inheritance dispute between my son-in-law and me. Our dispute was in process when the agent of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.), Mufazzal happened to pass by. He stopped to listen for a while then returned to his house. He then gave us four hundred dirhams and solved the dispute.

Then he said, 'The money that I gave you was not mine. It belonged to my master Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). He had ordered me to solve the disputes among his followers through this money.'"

This shows the importance of peace and reconciliation. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also stated that it was better than prayers and fasting, even though this action is Mustahab (recommended) whereas the former are Wajib (Obligatory). The reason for this could be that due to prayers and fasting an individual is reformed. Whereas the peacemaker reforms the whole society and consequently prayers and fasting also become popular among the people. Unity among the Muslims is not only beneficial for the Hereafter, it is very much needed from the worldly point of view also. When the hearts of the believers unite for the sake of Allah, such a power is achieved that not only the apparent enemies can be faced but even the hidden enemies, i.e. "the self" and "shaitan", can be easily deflected.

Kur water and the united hearts

The unity and understanding among the people could be compared to Kur water. If water is divided by putting it in different vessels and each of them is less then a kur, then whenever impurity (Najasat) falls into one of them, it makes that water Najis (impure). But if all the water is collected in one place and it becomes more than a kur and if an impurity falls into it, it does not make the kur water Najis. On the contrary the kur water is capable of purifying the impurity of a Najis object. Exactly, in the same way when the people unite together, the divine mercy descends upon them and each one benefits by it. Secondly due to the unity among the Muslims they will be held in high esteem by people of different faiths.

Another example is the merits of congregational prayers and its great rewards. It is very much recommended to behave kindly towards the believing brother, to help him and support him. Similarly it is highly meritorious to visit the believers, to shake hands with them and to hug them. These actions carry great benefits. To make peace between two believers qualifies one to untold rewards. Similarly it is mentioned that to befriend a believer for the sake of Allah carries tremendous rewards. After examining the rewards for all of the above actions one concludes that all such actions have been promulgated for maintaining the unity among believers.

Falsehood in the battle-field

It is known from some traditions that during a war with unbelievers, it is permissible to use falsehood, if by doing so, victory can be gained over them.

Promise to a wife

A man can give a promise to his wife even if he does not intend to fulfill it, a man can give a false promise to fulfill his wife's desire, if he thinks that his refusal will cause dispute and discord in the family, or make his wife extremely unhappy. Obviously such falsehood is also permissible under compelling conditions when a man fears that refusing to promise may lead to an extreme situation like divorce.

However, whether such a promise is permitted or not is difficult to confirm. Some weak traditions do state that such a false promise is allowed. For example if a wife asks for something, her husband can give her a false promise.

Fear of retribution and good deeds

Hazrat Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) says:
"Avoid lying! For when one desires something he strives for it and when one fears something he strives to keep it away from himself."
(Al Kafi)

Imam Ali (a.s.) explains the above tradition as follows: If one sincerely desires the pleasure of Allah one must strive for it and one of the ways of doing so is by refraining from lies. Falsehood is a forbidden act causing extreme displeasure of Allah. In the same way if one really fears divine retribution, one must keep aloof from sins, for sins incur punishment. If a person merely claims that he hopes for divine rewards and fears divine punishment, but does not perform good deeds nor refrain from sins, he is a liar.

The following saying of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) is recorded in Nahjul Balagha:
"One who thinks that he hopes (in divine rewards) but his actions do not express it, then by Allah, he is a liar. For when he hopes for something it becomes apparent from his actions.

But if he hopes in Allah and his actions do not show it? In the same way when one is afraid of something his actions express this (fear) and he flees from that thing. Then after claiming to be fearful of divine punishment why does he not flee from sins?"

Thus if a person who claims to be fearful of Allah and hopeful of divine rewards, but whose actions do not confirm his claim, is considered a liar. In the same way a person who claims to have the traits of patience, thankfulness, contentment and resignation etc. which are not shown in his behaviour is also a liar.

Your speech must conform to your thoughts

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"Whenever you say 'Allaho-Akbar' (Allah is the greatest) you must consider everything between the earth and the sky to be lesser than Allah. Because when Allah sees that a person say Allaho-Akbar only superficially, He says, 'O liar! You try to be smart with Me? By My Might and Honour I shall deprive you of My remembrance.'"

It is regretful that people verbally say, 'Allaho Akbar' but their actions belie their words. For if they are told to do something for the sake of Allah or to refrain from something for the sake of Allah they do not pay any heed, but if a monetary fine is due for any disobedience, they are sure to respond. Thus money has importance for them than Allah's pleasure or displeasure. There are people who perform particular actions or restrain from them only due to fear of harm by fellow humans. If they are told to do so only due to the fear of Allah, they will not be impressed.

A show of submission

A person who says to Allah, 'Thee only do we worship and Thee only we ask for help', but his actions are such that day and night he is involved in the acquisition of wealth and is preoccupied in the satisfaction of carnal desires. Can we consider this man to be truthful? Does this man really worship Allah?

In the same way many a man puts his trust and faith in the apparent agencies through which he gets his profit and gain. He regards these as the deciding authorities and seeks their help, overlooks the fact that these means themselves are through Allah's grace. Can such a person be truthful when he says "Thee only do we worship and Thee only we ask for help?"

Falsehood in supplications

Oftentime people supplicate with the following words, "I am pleased with my Lord and Cherisher, He the sole cherisher of all the creatures. I am satisfied with Him."

But if the situation changes and these people are faced with distressing circumtances, they do not hesitate to complain about what Allah has decreed for them. In such a case the above-mentioned supplication amounts to lying.

Confession of Belief in the Imams (a.s.)

The supplication, "I am pleased that Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is my Prophet; and Quran is my Book and Ali is my Imam; and all of them are for my guidance," will also be a lie when uttered by a person who does not practice the tenets of Islam as explained by our Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and behaves according to his own whims and fancy.

Do you speak the truth?

A man prays, "(O Allah) when I look at my sins, I weep and when I see Your mercy and forgiveness I become hopeful and happy in anticipation that You will forgive me," but when faced with temptations, he makes no serious toil to restrain himself and commits sinful acts without any qualms. The falsehood of such a person is clear.

In the same way if a person says, "I weep due to (the fear of) the agony of death, due to the fear of questioning of the grave, due to the fear of Qiyamat," while in reality he is not fearful of any of these, his falsehood is obvious. It could be this very kind of falsehood that is referred to in Dua Abu Hamza Thumali of Imam Zainul Abedin (a.s.):
"O Allah! May be You have found me in the position of a liar and for this (You have taken away your mercy from me) left me on my own condition."

Lying to the Imams (a.s.)

An example of lying to the Imams (a.s.) is that of a person who recites the Ziarat and says, "(O Imams) I accept your sayings and act upon your commands and obey you," but who does not do so in reality. In fact he obeys his own desires. Such a person is a hypocrite! He is lying to the Imams (a.s.).

Another example of such a falsehood is when he says in Ziarat, "We make peace with those who are at peace with you and we make war with those who are at war with you." Even though he verbally claims this, in actual practice he is friendly with the enemies of Islam. Also, he is inimical to the believers. He also claims, "I keep aloof from your opponents," but does not act upon it. Isn't such a person lying to the Imams (a.s.)?

Then how should we pray?

A question arises here that if by reciting a dua or Ziarat, if one is bound to utter lies, then how should one pray?

Although a detailed reply to this is beyond the scope of this book, we can say in brief that the manner of praying denounced by us is when the supplicant invokes Allah, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imam (a.s.), but he takes his supplication lightly and makes no sincere effort to better himself.

However, a believer should not feel that since it is not possible to avoid falsehood in prayers it is better not to pray. This is despair of Allah's mercy and a satanic instigation to keep the believer away from the divine rewards. What one should do is to pray sincerely and to achieve perfection in a gradual manner and Allah will surely help such a person in achieving this ultimate aim.

A person either understands the meanings of duas and Quranic verses (as those quoted above) or not. Even if one recites them without following the actual meaning, the duas and Quranic verses will illuminate his heart by their light. He will also be eligible for the divine rewards.

Every person has a different position

With respect to knowledge and piety our Masoomeen (a.s.) occupy the highest position. Amongst the believers there is a wide spectrum of people capable of different levels of understanding and piety, but none can reach the stage of Masoomeen (a.s.). All believers succumb to their desires and selfish motives to a greater or lesser extent. Consequently they fall prey to sins and disobey Allah. This is inevitable. This situation is aptly described in the following words of Dua Abu Hamza Thumali.

"O Allah! I did not sin due to disbelief in You, nor did I sin considering Your command insignificant or thinking that your punishment is light. But I sinned due to the instigation of my selfish desires and due to pride..."

The believers can comfort themselves that they are not really lying when they do not rise up to the level expected in the supplication they utter. They can also comfort themselves that they are believers because they fear Allah and repose their hope in Allah, as the Holy Quran says:
"And fear (only) Me if you are believers. "
(Surah Aale Imraan 3:175)

Firm conviction and disobedience

Even though the belief in Allah and the fear of His retribution is present in man, he is still prone to sins. It is not that one who believes in Allah cannot sin. For example, who does not know that a dead body cannot cause any harm? Everyone firmly believes in it. Yet how many people can stay alone with a corpse at night? Here a firm belief is unable to rid the man of his fear of the dead. Even a firm belief cannot guarantee one's actions. It is for this reason that we recite in Dua, "Bestow upon me such a firm conviction that I can worship you with sincerity." There is no doubt that if one prays to Allah out of intense fear; which would restrains him from committing sins, Allah will surely create such a fear in his heart.

Also the magnitude of his fear increases along with the increase in grades of piety and obedience which he achieves due to constant efforts.

It has been mentioned in the traditions:
"Whoever desires something and strives for it, finds it."

Truly! Being absolutely truthful seems possible only for the Masoomeen (a.s.). As the Holy Quran states,

"And be with the Truthful Ones!"
(Surah Tauba 9:119)

The "Truthful Ones" referred to in this ayat are the Ahul Bayt (a.s.).

 

According to the traditions 'false oath' belongs to the category of greater sins. False swearing is a greater sin as mentioned in the authentic tradition recorded by Abdul Azeem and also in the tradition of Imam Reza (a.s.) as quoted by Fazl Ibne Shazaan. There is a report from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) in the book Tuhafful Uqool:
"False swearing causes destruction of the faith."
(Behaarul Anwaar)

According to traditions a person who conveys a false report or oath will be sunk in depravity and will be surrounded by hell fire. The traditions state that false oath destroys a person's faith just as a sharp blade removes hair from the body. To swear by Allah, to convey a falsehood is a particularly detestable sin.

Punishment for a false oath

"(As for) those who take a slender price for the covenant of Allah and their own oaths-surely-they shall have no portion in the hereafter, and Allah will not speak to them, nor will He look upon them on the Day of Resurrection nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful chastisement."
(Surah Aale Imraan 3:77)

This same verse was quoted by Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) to prove that taking a false oath is one of the greater sins.

The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) orders the taking of oath

An interesting incident is quoted in Tafseer al-Mizan from the book Amali. Imrul Qays and another man had a dispute regarding some property. Both of them came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). He (s.a.w.s.) asked Imrul Qays,
"Can you provide two just witnesses to substantiate your claim?"

He replied, "No!"
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"Then your opponent should take an oath."

Imrul Qays said, "But what if he swears falsely and acquires my property?"

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"If he swears falsely he shall be included among people who will not be eligible for Divine Mercy on the Day of Judgment and Allah shall not purify him of sins. There would be a dreadful punishment for such a man!"

When the litigant heard these statements he was filled with horror and gave up his false claim to the property of Imrul Qays.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is reported to have said:
"One who knowingly takes a false oath had made war upon Allah."
(Al Kafi)

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Refrain from false oath, because it destroys inhabitations and makes the sinner helpless."
(Al Kafi)

According to other traditions, false oath and severing relations are two such sins that cause the destruction of towns and cities. The inhabitants are eliminated and the progeny terminated.

Evil consequences of false oaths

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"One who swears falsely becomes poor within forty nights" (means forty days).
(Al Kafi)

Many traditions of similar connotations are available. The same Imam (a.s.) has also said:
"The false oath that takes one to the fire is the one which is taken to usurp the right of a Muslim or to usurp his property."

And Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) also remarks,
"When a person says, "Allah knows!" when in fact he is speaking a lie; then Allah tells him, 'Didn't you find anyone other than Me to ascribe the falsehood to?'
(Al Kafi)

The Holy Imam (a.s.) also says:
"When a person says 'Allah knows' and the fact is that Allah knows contrary (to what he alludes), the heavens shudder due to the Might and Divine anger."

Types of oaths

An oath is taken to prove some fact or report, or to relate the same with emphasis. There are four kinds of oaths:
1. Wajib (Obligatory).
2. Mustahab (Recommended).
3. Makrooh (Detestable).
4. Haraam (Prohibited).

When does it become wajib (obligatory) to swear?

It is wajib to take an oath in a situation where one's life or honour, or that of another Muslim, is in danger, and taking the oath can ward off the danger. When it is wajib to protect ones property it is also wajib to take an oath for its protection. In fact in all the above situations it is wajib even to take a false oath, although as a precautionary measure one should first try ones best to employ Toriya.

Mustahab oath

There are situations where it is Mustahab to take an oath or to refrain from doing so. In case of very insignificant property belonging to oneself or to another Muslim it is not wajib to swear. In this case it will be Mustahab to do so. Property that is usually considered insignificant is worth thirty Dirhams or less.

Zurara asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.): "The oppressive rulers forcefully collect taxes from us. Can we swear falsely that we have nothing to give tax on when it is not possible to save our money without swearing falsely?"

Imam (a.s.) said,
"Take such oaths! Such oaths are more sweet than dates and butter."
(Wasaelush Shia)

However if the property is not worth much, especially if its value is less than thirty Dirhams, then it is Mustahab not to swear falsely, even if it may be necessary to save oneself from the oppressor.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has quoted the following tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"Respecting the Greatness of Allah if one refrains from swearing, Allah shall give him much better than whatever he has lost."
(Furu Al Kafi)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"If there is claim against you regarding some property and the claimant does not have any right upon you, and desires to make you take an oath, then if the claim is for something worth less than thirty Dirhams, hand it over to him and do not take an oath. But if it is worth more than thirty Dirhams, take the oath and do not give him anything."
(Furu Al Kafi)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"If a person takes his debtor (or one who owes him something) to the court of the ruler; and the king asks him to swear; and knowing that he is on the right he respects the Greatness of Allah and refrains from swearing, then on the Day of Qiyamat Allah shall not desire for him a position less than that of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.)."

Imam Sajjad (a.s.) avoids swearing

In the book Al Kafi there is a tradition, which says that a wife of Imam Sajjad (a.s.) had some connection with the tribe of Bani Hanifa. A Shia of Imam (a.s.) informed him that this wife of his bore enmity to Amirul Momineen (a.s.). After investigating the matter Imam (a.s.) divorced her. She had already received the Meher amount (Dower), but she filed a claim for it against Imam (a.s.) in the court of the ruler of Madinah. She demanded four hundred Dirhams as Meher from him. The ruler of Madinah told Imam Sajjad (a.s.), "Either you swear that you have already paid her or you pay the amount of Meher (now)." Hazrat Syed-e-Sajjad (a.s.) did not swear, but ordered his son Hazrat Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) to pay four hundred Dirhams to the woman. Hazrat Baqir (a.s.) said, "May I be sacrificed for you! Are you not on the right?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Why not? But I consider Allah to be much more honourable than this matter, that I swear by His name for some petty worldly property."

Swearing for the sake of emphasis

Not only it is permitted but it is mustahab to swear in order to emphasize on a true fact, or to prove some fact, or to show its importance. For example the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) speaks after taking the oath:
"By Allah! Allah does not delay in forgiving, Though you may be lazy in seeking it."
(Masaalik)

Another example of an oath is the following saying of Amirul Momineen (a.s.):
"By Allah! If people knew what I know then very few would have laughed and many more would have wept."
(Masaalik)

There are numerous Quranic verses and the traditions of Masoomeen (a.s.) where oath is taken. All of them are of this same type. They are for emphasis and for proving particular facts.

A person wrote a letter to Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and asked about something which was being wrongly attributed to him (Imam a.s).

Imam Baqir (a.s.) wrote the following reply,
"By Allah! What is being attributed is not correct. But under no circumstance do I like to say "By Allah" to disprove it. Yet I regret that such a thing is being said when it really isn't so."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Swearing is Makrooh

We have already described the wajib and Mustahab oaths. Apart from these, in all other situations, it is Makrooh (detestable) to swear. It is irrelevant whether the oath is for something past, present or future. In ordinary situations, for ordinary matters, taking an oath is Makrooh. Swearing for a false thing is certainly Haraam. It is the command of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"Do not swear by the name of Allah, whether you are speaking the truth or lying."
(Furu Al Kafi)

"Because Allah says in the Holy Quran,
"And make not Allah because of your swearing (by Him) an obstacle to your doing good...""
(Surah Baqarah 2:224)

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) also says,
"One who swears falsely by Allah for a lie has disbelieved, and one who swear by Allah for truth has sinned, because Allah says: "Do not use Allah for (taking of) your oaths."
(Furu Al Kafi)

The above quoted traditions could be simply explained thus:
To swear falsely in the name of Allah is definitely a greater sin and one who indulges in a greater sin, falls down from the highest position of Faith. Due to this some amount of disbelief comes to his heart. Imam (a.s.) has also called a true oath a sin and he has used the word "Ithm" (sin). Since it is prominent among the Mujtahids that a true oath is Makrooh the word "Ithm" would imply something which is very very undesirable.

A Lesson from Hazrat Isa (a.s.)

The book Furu Al Kafi also contains the following report from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"The apostles of Hazrat Isa (a.s.) came to him and said, "O the teacher of good, give us some advice."

He (a.s.) said, "Certainly, Musa, the Prophet of Allah commanded you not to swear falsely by Allah. And I order you not to swear falsely and (nor) truly."
(Furu Al Kafi)

Oath of respectable objects and personalities

Wherever it is permitted to swear by Allah, it is also permitted to swear by other honorable personalities or respectable objects. In such situations it is allowed to take an oath by the Quran, the Ka'ba, the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) or the Imam (a.s.). In the same way oath upon any other respectable object is also permissible. For example a person may swear by his father or son etc.

Those traditions that prohibit swearing by Allah's name prohibit it for proving ones right. They do not prohibit the proving of a true fact by oath. However when a situation arises where it becomes obligatory to take an oath, then one must swear only by Allah. Oath by any other object or personality will not be absolutely correct and from the Shariat point of view the matter will not end conclusively. Similarly if one has to take an oath for performing a particular action in the future, in this case too, one must swear only by Allah. Any other vow does not have any legal standing.

The oath that is haraam under all circumstances

The oath which is Haraam under all circmstances and which one can never take is that of dissociating with Allah and His religion. For example a man says;
"If I do not perform this particular action, I shall be dissociated with Allah and His religion." Such an oath is certainly Haraam.

In the same way if one says:
"If I do not do this, I would have disbelieved in the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), or I would have rejected the Mastership of Ali (a.s.), or I would become a disbeliever." Such a vow is also Haraam. It is Haraam whether one wishes to prove the truth or to lay emphasis upon a fact.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) heard a person taking such an oath. He (s.a.w.s.) said, "Woe be unto you, if you leave the religion of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) then which religion would you follow?"

The narrator says that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) did not speak to this man till the end of his life.
(Al Kafi)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) informed Yunus Ibne Zabyan:
"O Yunus! Do not speak about dissociating from us in an oath. One who takes oath from it, whether for a true thing or a falsehood, he really becomes dissociated from us."
(Al Kafi)

Expiation for a haraam oath

The expiation for an oath which is haraam, (the oath which states dissociation with divine personalities), according to a group of Mujtahids is equal to expiation of Zihar (when one vows to abstain from one's wife, sexually). Another group of Mujtahids has prescribed its expiation to be equal to that of breaking a vow and it is the same as the penalty of breaking or not keeping a Wajib fast of Ramazan.
(Refer Shariyatul Islam)

However, Shaykh Mufeed (r.a.) says that expiation of vow of dissociation is to feed to satiation, ten poor people and also to repent. The same decree is proved from a letter of Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.), which is quoted in the book Masaalik.

Imam (a.s.) says,
"He shall feed ten poor people with a 'Madd' (approximately ¾ of a kilo) of food and seek forgiveness from Allah."

In this penalty, the following edibles can be given: wheat, wheat flour, barley, rice or any other cooked food.

Since the chain of narrators for this tradition is authentic, one must act upon it as a precautionary measure.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Mansur Dawaniqi

A man came to the Abbaside king Mansur Dawaniqi and began to instigate him against Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). He said, "He desires to launch an attack upon you. He has sent money to different places for this and continues to do so. He has always supported the sons of Abdullah Ibne Hasan, Muhammad and Ibrahim, and these two have confronted you."

Mansur summoned Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) from Madinah. When Imam (a.s.) reached the court of Mansur, he quoted the false allegations and severely criticised the Imam (a.s.).

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"I seek the refuge of Allah from such things. All these are false allegations."

Mansur called the man who had laid these false allegations against Imam (a.s.). The accused man came and repeated his accusations. Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) asked him,
"Can you swear for the truth of your statements?"

This accused person began to say, "By Allah! The one besides whom there is no god, He is the..."

Imam (a.s.) interrupted him,
"Do not make haste in taking the oath, say as I command you."

Mansur asked, "Is there any defect in the oath which he has taken?"

Imam replied,
"When a man swears by Allah, praising the Divine qualities, Allah refrains from sending an immediate retribution. So he should say like this, 'I swear by Allah ignoring His Might and Power and seek the refuge on my own might and power that whatever I have said is the truth.'"

Mansur ordered that man to swear in this manner. The man began to take the oath and had not even completed it when his tongue rolled out like a dog and he fell down dead.

Is it against a prohibited oath?

Someone may think that this narration mentions the prohibited form of oath. It is not so. Muhaqqiqe-Qummi says that in the first place the chain of narrators of this tradition is weak. Secondly it may be that ordering such an oath may be the sole prerogative of an Imam. The Imam (a.s.) knew that the one taking such an oath is not a believer. He was an enemy of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and it was necessary to resort to such means in order to clear himself of the false allegations.
(Jame ush-shataat)

From the explanation of this tradition by Muhaqqiq it is clear that Imam (a.s.) considered that accursed man deserving of death and his death only depended upon the oath of dissociation. It was also necessary that Imam (a.s.) was not disrespected and that the Imam (a.s.) could save himself from being unjustly persecuted at the hands of Mansur. Another benefit that accrued was that, Mansur for the time being, refrained from oppressing the other Sadaat (descendants of Holy Prophet) and believers.

Repenting for a false oath

The method of repenting for a false oath is that one must feel extremely remorseful for it. He should know that he has considered the Divine name of Allah to be a plaything, and that he has committed a grave sin. The more remorse one feels and the more serious he considers his sin, the closer he shall be to Allah's Divine Mercy and Forgiveness. If due to this false oath some monetary loss has occurred to a believer or a believer has been insulted, then the one who had taken the false oath must compensate for the monetary loss and apologise to the believer, and as far as possible try to make up for the harm that has been caused due to his false swearing.

When is the vow correct?

There are some requirements for the correctness of a vow that a person takes for performing or avoiding particular actions in the future. If all the requirements are fulfilled then it is haraam to break this vow. If it is broken, expiation becomes wajib.

The following are the conditions for such vows:
1. The vow should be with regard to a wajib or a Mustahab act. For example, he can vow that he shall not intentionally avoid the Morning Prayer, he will make it a point to say Namaz-e-Shab. In the same way if one vows to abstain from a particular act, this act has to be either haraam or Makrooh in nature. For example he can vow that he shall not speak a lie in future or he can vow to refrain from spitting in the mosque. A vow to refrain from a Mubah (permitted) act or thing should only be taken when there is some benefit in it. For example it is Mubah to smoke. So one can take a vow in order to give up this habit.

2. Vows with regard to all the five types of actions, i.e. Wajib, Mustahab, Haraam, Makrooh and Mubah are valid only when the name of Allah is uttered with a firm intention to do or to refrain from a particular thing. One must not swear by Allah in jest. If one is in a habit of saying, "By Allah I shall do this." or "By Allah I shall not do it" then unless he seriously means it, such a vow is not considered valid.

The Quran says:
"Allah does not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths, but he calls you to account for the making of deliberate oaths; so its expiation is feeding of ten poor men out of the middling (food) you feed your families with, or their clothing, or the freeing of a neck; but whosoever cannot find (means) then fasting for three days; this is the expiation of your oaths when you swear; and guard your oaths. Thus does Allah make clear to you His communications, that you may be grateful.
(Surah Maidah 5:89)

Useless Vow

From the foregoing discussion we can conclude that a vow is only valid when there is some inherrent good or evil in the concerned action. Therefore one can take a vow only for acts that one is inclined towards or those that are wajib or mustahab. Similarly if a person vows to refrain from a particular action he must feel an aversion to it or it should be something makrooh or haraam. Hence to vow to perform some lewd action is itself lewdness. Such a vow is invalid from Shariat point of view. We must never vow to perform evil acts whether it is evil according to reason or according to Shariat.

It is haraam for one to vow to omit wajib or mustahab prayers or vow not to speak to ones mother or any other relative. It is also not allowed to vow against performing Hajj if one is capable of doing so. To vow that one would never mediate between two believers is also haraam. All such vows are invalid. Hence if one has ever taken such vows one must repent for them.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If one takes a vow to refrain from a beneficial act he must perform it (and disregard the vow). There is no kaffarah for breaking such a vow. It is only a satanic instigation."
(Al Kafi)

Although apparently the above tradition and other such reports imply that a vow for a mubah act which is beneficial is invalid, the mujtahids are of the opinion that one must exercise caution and in case such a vow is broken, kaffarah should be paid. According to the majority of the jurists a mubah thing becomes wajib if one takes a vow for it. Thus the best thing is to follow the path of precaution.

Saeed Aeraaj, a narrator of traditions says that he asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) about a person who had vowed to do a particular thing, whereas the avoidance of that was more beneficial, and now the person himself was worried to disregard his vow. Imam (a.s.) said,
"Have you not heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) say that whenever you find that you have vowed against doing something that is better to be done, you must ignore your vow?"
(Al-Kafi)

Types of Vows

In the same book, Al Kafi we have a tradition of Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said,
There are three types of Vows:
1. A vow that makes hell incumbent.
2. A vow that makes kaffarah wajib.
3. A vow that neither earns hell nor entails kaffarah.

A vow that makes hell incumbent is a false one. It is a vow that proves harmful to the Muslims. It is called 'Yaman Ghamoos' in the religious terminology.

A vow that entails Kaffarah is one that is taken to perform a charitable act or taken to refrain from an evil act. If a person breaks such a vow he is liable to pay kaffarah for the same. In addition he must feel remorse for it and repent.

Lastly, a vow that neither earns hell nor makes kaffarah wajib is the vow of doing Qat-e-Rehmi taken under duress before a tyrant ruler, parents or ones spouse. Other vows like the doing of some evil act or to refrain from a wajib are also included in this category. Those who wish to study in detail may refer to the comprehensive books of jurisprudence.

 

According to the corpus of traditions false testimony is a Greater sin. It is also mentioned in the narration of Abdul Azeem quoted from Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s.). Similarly the tradition of Fazl Ibne Shazaan includes it in the list of Greater sins as mentioned by Imam Reza (a.s.). That it is a Greater sin is also proved by the hadith of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as quoted by Amash. We have already mentioned in the chapter on "lying" that falsehood is a Greater sin. False testimony obivously is also a branch of falsehood.

In the tradition narrated by Hazrat Abdul Azeem, Imam (a.s.) has proved the 'greatness' of not giving false testimony on the basis of the following verse of the Holy Quran:
"And they who do not bear witness to what is false...."
(Surah Furqan 25:72)

"...These shall be regarded with high places..."
(Surah Furqan 25:75)

In this verse the word 'false' signifies the action of proving a falsehood as though it were the truth.

Another verse says,
"...therefore avoid the uncleanness of the idols and avoid false words."
(Surah Hajj 22:30)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,
"To testify falsely tantamounts to polytheism."

It is mentioned in Tafseer Abdul Fath Razi that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) repeated this statement thrice and then quoted the above ayat (Surah Hajj 22:30)

A similar kind of tradition is recorded in Mustadrakul Wasael, from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.).

"In the Quran Allah has compared false testimony to polytheism."

Allah mentions the avoidance of 'uncleanness of the idols' and 'false words' in a single verse, one after the other.

'False words' imply sin and false testimony

From the traditions quoted above it becomes clear that whenever the term 'false words' etc. occurs in Quran it implies 'lying.' Similar verses have been quoted in the chapter of music and songs. Hence some traditions state that 'false words' refers to music or songs. Actually the word 'false' stands for every evil, wrong and undesirable thing. Music, songs and lies head the list of these things.

Punishment of hell for the false witness

Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says,
"Whenever a person testifies falsely to usurp the property of a Muslim, Allah writes at that very moment a punishment of the blazing fire for this man."
(Al Kafi)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"The false witness may not even have moved from his place but that the punishment of fire will have already become incumbent for him."
(Al Kafi)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"False testimony before an oppressive ruler is not yet complete when a place in the fire (Hell) is already decided (for the false witness)."
(Al Kafi)

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) has also said,
"One who testifies falsely against someone will be hung by his tongue with the hypocrites in the lowest portion of Hell.

And if one usurps the property of his believing brother, Allah does not give an increase in his sustenance till he repents for it."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) narrates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that he said,
"One who hides testimony before a just Islamic judge, or gives a false testimony to shed the blood of Muslims or intends to usurp a Muslim's property by it, he shall be raised on the Day of the Judgment in such a condition that there will be darkness before his eyes and his face will be scratched. The people shall recognise him by these signs (that he had testified falsely)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked,
"Shall I inform you about the Greater of the Great sins?"

The companions said, "Why not, O! Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.s.)." The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"To make someone a partner of Allah, and disobedience to parents..." The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was resting his back against the wall. Now he sat up straight and continued in a more serious tone, "And beware! (Every) Falsehood!"

The narrators say that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has denounced falsehood so many times that we wished he had not done so.
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

Since we have already explained that 'falsehood' includes every type of lying it also includes false testimony. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) has also described 'falsehood' to be a Greater sin. False testimony is a manifold sin. Firstly because it is a lie which is a greater sin, secondly because it amounts to falsely accusing a Muslim which is also a greater sin and thirdly because it is instrumental in oppressing an innocent person which is still another greater sin. Also, through false testimony a person tries to acquire something which does not rightfully belong to him, thus making unlawful thing lawful, which is prohibited by Allah. Lastly usurping somebody else's property is also a greater sin. Thus we can say that many great sins constitute a single sin called, 'false testimony'.

One should testify only after knowing the facts
It does not make any difference whether one knowingly gives a false testimony or one testifies without being certain of the facts. Both of these are 'Greater sins'. It is wajib upon the witness not to testify till he is confident of the facts.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Do not testify till you are as certain as you are about the palm (of your hand)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Someone inquired from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as to when it was allowed to testify as a witness. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him:
"Can you see the sun?"

"Yes," he said.
"Testify like it or do not." (Meaning you should testify only if you are absolutely certain, otherwise you must not do so).
(Wasaelush Shia)

Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says,
"The witness should testify only for that about which he is certain. He must fear Allah. To testify without having certainty or to testify against something without being certain is also falsehood. Allah (a.j.) says,
Refrain from falsehood! And remain upright for (the sake of) Allah and do not be among the polytheists.

So, Allah has equated false testimony to polytheism."
(Mustadrakul Wasael)

One who testifies falsely is soon exposed

If a person testifies in an Islamic court and later regrets for his testimony, then it is first determined whether he had knowingly and intentionally testified wrongly. If it was so, then that person is branded as a transgressor whose testimony is no more valid in the Shariat Court. But if he had been a victim of doubt and uncertainty he is not disqualified from testifying in the future. However, if due to the wrong testimony someone had to undergo undeserved punishment or suffer harm, it is wajib for this witness to make up the loss. The details of such laws could be obtained from the books of Jurisprudence.

One of the methods of disproving a testimony is that the witness himself confess it to be false. Another procedure for this is that two just witnesses may testify against him. This is known as 'Bayyana'. Finally, the judges may on the basis of some firm evidence falsify the testimony of a witness who had tried to mislead the court. Hence the judge is empowered to reject a witness if he is himself certain. If someone has suffered a loss the judge shall impose on the witness some exemplary punishment of a few lashes so that he may not repeat such a crime in future.

The judge should also announce in the city and the surrounding areas that such and such person is a false witness so that people may not be misled by him and may not rely upon his evidence. In this way, one who testifies falsely becomes notorious for his falsehood in the society, and the wellbeing of society is maintained. Both these actions i.e. exemplary punishments and warning the people against a false witness, are put into effect whether the judge has already passed his judgment (based upon that false testimony) or not.

They do not qualify as a witness

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is reported to have said,
"The false witness must be lashed, and the number of lashes is determined by the Imam (or the Islamic judge) and he should be paraded (in the city) till people know him (and may not rely on him in the future)."

The Imam (a.s.) recited the following verse of the Quran:
"...and do not admit any evidence from them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors, except those who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nur 24:4-5)

(It means that after he repents and reforms, his evidence again becomes valid)

The narrator says that he asked Imam (a.s.), "How do we know that he has repented?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"At the site where he is lashed, he must confess in public that he had given a false testimony. And he must seek the forgiveness of Allah. In this way it could be known that he has repented."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Compensation for the loss

If, due to a false testimony a Muslim has had to suffer some monetary loss or loss to one's life or property, the witness has to make good the loss. A narrator by the name of Jamil inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) regarding the one who has testified falsely. Imam (a.s.) told him:
"If the disputed property is still intact it must be restored to the rightful owner. If it is not then the false witness is responsible to the extent of it's loss." (Masaalik)

This means that if it is not possible to return the property, the false witness will have to reimburse it by providing a thing similar to that property or pay a price for it. Detailed laws are discussed in the books of Islamic Jurisprudence.

Repentance for the sin

The method of repenting for the sin of giving false testimony has already been explained. The first important requirement is that the sinner must feel a deep remorse for the act committed by him. He must also seek the forgiveness of Allah for disobeying His command; and compensate the Musilm who suffered the loss. As Allah Himself says,
"…except those who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nur 24:4-5) 

To refrain from testifying in an Islamic Court is clearly classified among the 'Greater sins' according to the authentic tradition narrated by Hazrat Abdul Azeem. There are some situations when it is Wajib to prove right what is right and to prove wrong that is wrong. In the narration mentioned in the previous discussion, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) states that to conceal evidence is a 'Greater sin'. He presents the following verse as the proof:
"...and do not conceal testimony, and whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful; and Allah knows what you do."
(Surah Baqarah 2:283)

This verse mentions the sinful heart (his heart is surely sinful). There are two noteworthy points in this. One: That the concealing of testimony is a sin of the heart. The heart alone commits it, and other organs are not apparently involved in it. The person hides the reality in his heart and does not speak out. Secondly, just as the heart is superior to all the organs of the body the sin associated with the heart is also greater than the sin performed with other organs. It is just like the obedience of Allah through ones heart is much superior than obeying Him in actions. It is this same heart that involves one in a great sin like polytheism. These sins of the heart are definitely more than sins associated with other organs. One of the sins of heart according to the ayat of Quran is concealing evidence. In order to emphasise, Allah says in the later portion of this ayat, "...Allah knows what you do", so that the sinner may realise that even though people may not be aware of Allah is aware of his sin and He will certainly punish him for it.

Allah the Almighty also says,
"...and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned."
(Surah Baqarah 2:282)

Similarly in another verse, Allah says,
"And who is more unjust than he who conceals a testimony that he has from Allah?"
(Surah Baqarah 2:140)

Such a person is like the Jews and the Christians, who had seen the characteristics of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the Torah and Injeel but deliberately concealed them.

Testify for the truth even if it harms you

In Surah Nisa, the Almighty Allah says,
"O you who believe! Be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness for Allah's sake, though it may be against your own selves or (your) parents or near relations; if he be rich or poor, Allah is nearer to them both in compassion; therefore do not follow (your) low desires, lest you deviate; and if you swerve or turn aside, then surely Allah is aware of what you do."
(Surah Nisa 4:135)

Thus one must not conceal testimony due to the fear of the rich or mercy for the poor. One must not feel undue compassion for the accused who is poor. One should neither pay heed to ones own interest nor care for any other person while giving testimony. The Divine command should always be respected in entirety.

Justice for the enemy

The following verse of Surah Maidah states:
"O you who believe! Be upright for Allah, bearers of witness with justice, and let not hatred of a people invite you not to act equitably; act equitably, that is nearer to piety, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is aware of what you do."
(Surah Maidah 5:8)

According to this ayat testimony should be given only to seek the pleasure of Allah. No feeling of enmity should be allowed to come in the way of stating the truth. Allah (a.j.) says in another verse:
"...and give upright testimony for Allah."
(Surah Talaq 65:2)

Those who conceal evidence

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) remarks,
"On the Day of Qiyamat, Allah shall cut off the flesh of one who conceals evidence; then order him to eat it before all the creatures."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) also says that those who conceal evidence are described in the Quran as those whose hearts have sinned. 'Hearts have sinned' actually implied that 'hearts have disbelieved'," according to Imam (a.s.)

Another tradition recorded from Imam (a.s.) is thus:
"One who goes back upon his testimony or conceals it wholly, Allah shall cut off his flesh and force him to eat it before everyone. And when he will enter Hell he would be chewing at his own tongue."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Hazrat Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) says,
"When you are asked to give evidence, give it. For Allah (a.j.) says:
"Surely Allah commands you to make over trusts to their owners..."
(Surah Nisa 4:58)

Evidence is itself a trust. Allah (a.j.) also says,
"And who is more unjust than he who conceals a testimony that he has from Allah?"
(Surah Baqarah 2:140) (Wasaelush Shia)

The following tradition of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) is recorded in Tafseer Ali Ibn Ibrahim Qummi:
"One who possesses some evidence, has to make it known. And when he is asked for it, he must give it. He should not fear anyone's criticism. He must fulfill his obligation of Amr bil Maroof (enjoining good) and Nahi Anil Munkar (forbidding evil)."

Is it wajib to testify?

Is it wajib to become a witness if one is requested to do so by a believer brother, in order he may achieve some benefit from the case he is pursuing in an Islamic Court? According to most of the Mujtahids it is wajib. Allah the Almighty Himself says:
".,.and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned."
(Surah Baqarah 2:282)

Hisham says that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"And the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned."
(Surah Baqarah 2:282)

And in the succeeding ayat,
"...and do not conceal testimony", meaning concealing testimony from a Shariat judge."

Numerous traditions state that to be a witness is wajib (obligatory). For example, Muhammad Bin Fuzail asked Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) the meaning of the above ayat (Surah Baqarah 2:282)

"And the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned."

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"When someone calls you to give evidence in a matter of some debts or some right, then you do not have the choice to ignore it."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Of course the Quranic command in the verse 282 of Surah Baqarah asking the witness to testify before the Shariat judge implies that the person had in the first instance been a witness to the transaction etc.

The person who has witnessed the transaction etc. has to exercise extreme care and caution in this regard. He must memorise all the details or put them in writing, if necessary, so that there is no scope for doubt or misunderstanding in future. If this person is called upon to be a witness, it is wajib on him to comply, even if he has to roam some distance.

People whose supplications are not accepted

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Dua of four types of people is not answered:
1. A Person who sits idle at home and prays to Allah to provide him with sustenance is told, 'Have We not ordered you to make effort for obtaining your sustenance?'

2. The person who prays for some misfortune for his wife. He is told, 'Have We not given you the choice of giving her divorce if you do not want such a wife?'

3. One who had squandered the money and spent it in evil ways. Now if he prays for sustenance, he is told, 'Did We not order you to spend in moderation?'

4. One who gives a loan to someone but does not make anyone witness it. Hence if the borrower refuses and the creditor prays, he is informed, 'Had We not ordered you to have witnesses?'"
(Iddatud Dai)

Testifying is wajib and concealing evidence, haraam

There may be occasion when a person has not directly witnessed a transaction but has some information for having heard or seen something related to the issue. If the information he has can save a Muslim from harm or enable him to secure his right, it is wajib on this person to testify if he is summoned. If he is not summoned, it is wajib for him to volunteer to testify by approaching the Shariat judge with the information he has. If by not disclosing what he knows, a Muslim is harmed or loses his right, it is haraam to remain silent.

In short if a person is capable of helping the oppressed or prevent the oppressor from oppressing, it is wajib on him to do so.

It is not wajib to give evidence in a situation where not testifying does not cause any harm to a Muslim, nor does it deprive him of his right. In this case a person can even refuse to testify even if he is ordered to do so, because neither is he a direct witness to the dispute nor is his silence harmful in anyway.

Muhammad Ibne Muslim says, quoting an authentic tradition from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.): "If one hears an evidence (i.e. he becomes a witness) but he had not been made a witness, then if he likes he can testify or he can prefer to remain silent."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Testify only if you are certain

The witness is required to pay attention to all the aspects of the matter that he has witnessed and when he is testifying, he must only say that, about which he is certain. He must not mention those things, which he himself has not heard, or seen. It should be clear as the Sun, as mentioned in tradition.

When a true testimony will oppress someone

It should be known that a testimony should not endanger the life, property or honour of a Muslim. It should also not pose a threat to the life, property and honour of the witness. It is wajib to give evidence and haraam to conceal it so that justice is established in the society and injustice is eradicated. The oppressor ought to be punished and the right may be restored to its owner but if the testimony itself becomes the cause of oppression it is not wajib to testify. Rather it is haraam to do so and it is wajib to conceal evidence. For example if a person knows that if he testifies against a particular oppressor, the oppressor will take revenge on him or on his relatives or plunder his wealth, then it is wajib to conceal evidence. Similarly, there may be a situation where a debtor deep in debts is unable to clear his dues because of his poverty. At the same time he cannot prove his helplesness and the creditor is not prepared to spare him. In this case also it is wajib to conceal evidence, if the evidence given by a witness will cause the poor debtor to be oppressed.

The following traditions of our Masoomeen (a.s.) emphasise the justification of concealing evidence under special circumstances.

Hazrat Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) says:
"Give evidence for the sake of Allah even if you have to testify against yourself, your parents or your own relatives - But you must not cause harm to your believing brother by concealing evidence. However, if your believing brother is going to be oppressed, then do not testify."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Dawood Ibne Hasan says that he heard Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) saying:
"Give evidence for the sake of Allah, even if you have to testify against your parents or your own son. But do not give evidence to cause harm (Zaeer) to your believing brother."

The narrator says that, 'I asked, "What is Zaeer?" He (a.s.) said,
"It is when someone who has a right, and in order to obtain it he resorts to oppression, contrary to the order of Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). For example, a man is indebted to another, but the debtor is in straitened circumstances. In this situation, Allah has ordered that he must be given respite till he becomes self-sufficient. And (Allah) says,
...then let there be postponement until (he is in) ease…

Now if in spite of this the creditor summons you to testify, and you know the poverty of the debtor, then it is not permitted for you to testify (that he has taken the loan)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

A Tradition from Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.)

Muhammad Ibne Qasim Ibne Fuzail narrates a tradition from Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.). He says, "I asked Imam (a.s.), 'One of your devotees has taken a loan from an enemy of yours. The creditor wants to oppress him and have him captive. Allah knows that he has no money to repay the debt, neither is he capable to do so at present. He does not even have Bayyanah (two just witnesses) to prove his bankruptcy. Then is it allowed for him to take an oath so that he can prove his bankruptcy and obtain respite till the return of favourable conditions? And if from your Shias there are some witnesses who can testify against him, (that he has taken the loan) can they testify?'"

Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) replied,
"It is not permitted for them to testify. And it is not permitted for the creditor to oppress the debtor."
(Al Kafi)

When testifying harms

When we speak about haraam testimony that causes harm to a Muslim, we mean a wrongful harm or unjustified oppression but if the person deserves to be punished, it is wajib to give the evidence. For example a person commits a crime. The witness of this crime does not testify only because if he does so the one against whom he testifies will demand the debt which the witness owes him. This is not a valid excuse for withholding evidence. The criminal must be punished according to Shariat even if the witness has to suffer a monetary loss. However, if the hardship for the witness far outweighs the seriousness of the crime of the accused then the witness has a valid excuse to refrain from testifying.

Harm and being deprived of benefit

It must be mentioned that to be harmed is different from being deprived of some benefit. In the examples already mentioned, if a witness refrains from testifying due to fear that the accused will deprive him of some money, or that some benefit may not accrue to him; this does not amount to him being 'harmed'.

However if the accused is the employer of the witness and will fire him from his job thus causing untold hardship, then it is allowed for the witness to refrain from testifying as it could be regarded as 'harm' in common parlance.

Hence we can conclude that false oath, false testimony and concealing evidence, each of these are Greater sins if there is no risk of any harm. If there is any chance of any harm to a Muslim or an innocent witness, then they do not remain sins - they are permitted. Rather in some circumstances these actions become wajib as we have seen from the traditions of Masoomeen (a.s.). However as far as possible one must give priority to the more important alternative. 

The twenty-first of the Greater sins is 'Breaking of a promise.' There are authentic traditions to this effect from Abdul Azeem where he quotes that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has proved it to be a Greater sin with the help of the following verse of Holy Quran:
"And those who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder that which Allah has ordered to be joined and make mischief in the land; (as for) those, upon them shall be curse and they shall have the evil (issue) of the abode."
(Surah Ra'd 13:25)

The Holy Quran denounces the breaking of promise in the following ayat too:
"Yea, whoever fulfills his promise and guards (against evil) - then surely Allah loves those who guard (against evil).

(As for) those who take a slender price for the covenant of Allah and their own oaths - surely they shall have no portion in the hereafter, and Allah will not speak to them, nor will He look upon them on the Day of Resurrection nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful chastisement."
(Surah Ale-Imraan 3:76-77)

Similarly we find another verse of the same connotation:
"Surely the vilest of animals in Allah's sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe.

Those with whom you make an agreement, then they break their agreement every time and they do not guard (against punishment)."
(Surah Anfal 8:55-56)

This ayat is critical of the Jews of Bani Qurayza, who did not honour the pact, which they had formed with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) regarding cooperation with the infidels. They supplied arms to the disbelievers of Mecca for the Battle of Badr and thus invalidated the pact. Later they justified their action saying they had forgotten the pact.

They once more entered into a pact with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) only to violate it at the time of the Battle of Khandaq (trench). They went against the pact and sided with Abu Sufyan.

In various places in the Holy Quran we find that fulfilling a promise has been made obligatory and highly emphasised.

For example,
"and fulfill the promise, surely (every) promise shall be questioned about."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:34)

Also,
"O you who believe! Fulfill the obligations."
(Surah Maidah 5:1)

Similarly in Surah Baqarah the ayat says,
"...and the performers of their promise when they make a promise..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:177)

We also find the following verse:
"O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do?

It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do."
(Surah Saff 61:2-3)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has explained this ayat in the following manner:
"A believer's promise to his believing brother is a vow that has no expiation (It cannot be broken). But one who goes back on his word declares his opposition and enmity to Allah, and invokes the anger of Allah."
(Wasaelush Shia)

After this the Imam (a.s.) recited the above-mentioned ayat.

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) advises Malik al-Ashtar regarding the honouring of promises:
"Breaking a promise causes the anger of Allah."
(Nahjul Balagha)

Ali (a.s.) also quotes the same verse after this.
Hazrat Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said:
"There are four types of sinners who are punished very soon:
a) The person who violates the pact that he has made with you, even though you have respected it.
b) One who inflicts harm upon you even though you caused him no harm.
c) One who has promised you something and you are faithful upon your agreement but he is unfaithful.
d) One who wants to severe relations even though the relative wishes to continue the relationship."
(Khisaal)

Abu Malik inquired from Imam Zainul Abedin (a.s.), "Inform me about all the rules of religion." Imam (a.s.) told him,
"To speak the truth, to judge with justice and to fulfill the promise."
(Khisaal)

Although a vast number of traditions and ayats denounce the breaking of promises. We shall quote some selected ones.

Types of Promises

There are three types of promises:
1. Promise of Allah to His creatures.
2. Promise of the creatures to Allah.
3. Promises of the people among themselves.

The promise of Allah to His creatures is that of the Aalam-e-Zar (in the spiritual plane). We come to know of this promise through the Quranic ayats as well as the traditions. According to this, Allah first created the souls of all human beings and made the following covenant: That they remain upon the right path, do not associate anyone or anything with Allah, obey the commands of their Prophet, and do not follow Shaitan, Allah shall recompense them by helping them, by keeping them forever in His mercy, and give them a place in Paradise but if they do not respect their covenant, Allah will also disregard His side of the promise. It is for this very fact, that Allah says.

"...and be faithful to (your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you."
(Surah Baqarah 2:40)

Allah also says,
"Did I not charge you, O children of Adam, that you should not serve the Shaitan?"
(Surah Yaseen 36:60)

The covenant that Allah took from the people in the spiritual plane also includes the oath with regard to the Wilayat (Mastership) of Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) and the Imams (a.s.). Numerous traditions mention this fact. It is even recorded in the various heavenly scriptures, and all the Prophets have conveyed the message of the Wilayat of the Fourteen Masoomeen (a.s.).

However, some scholars have rejected this concept of the Aalam-e-Arwah or Aalam-e-Zar. They give a different explanation to the traditions and ayats that deal with this subject. According to them Aalam-e-Arwah (the spiritual plane) is essentially the innate human nature, which is so designed by Allah (a.j.) that it is desirous of obeying Allah's command and does not desire to follow Shaitan. Of course the reasoning capacity of man directs him to follow his nature and accordingly obey Allahs orders. Hence if a man goes against Allah's command he goes against his own nature. These thinkers consider the covenant, to be the same as the innate nature given to us by Allah (a.j.). This book is not concerned with the detail of these two theories.

Anyway whether a man breaks the promise given in Aalam-e-Zar, or goes against his innate nature, he commits a greater sin. This fact has been emphasised in most ayats and traditions, and it is confirmed that honoring the covenant is wajib and not respecting it is haraam. It is also confirmed that the breaking of this first covenant can bring severe chastisement. The people are also warned of dire consequences in case of default. The traditions also inform us that serious retribution incured just for violating the first covenant, which is the greatest of the sins. Hence it is incumbent upon the people to fulfill their covenant so that Allah may also fulfill His promise.

Allah has promised to answer every prayer

One of the promises of Allah to His creatures is that He will answer every prayer, but this is only on condition that the supplicant honors this covenant with Allah (a.j.).

Jamil narrates from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) who said,
"When a man prays to Allah with a pure intention and a sincere heart, Allah answers (his prayer) after man has fulfilled his promise to Allah (a.j.). But if man prays to Allah without a pure intention and sincerity, Allah does not answer it. Has not Allah said, '...and be faithful to (your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you,' so the promise is kept only with one who keeps his own word.'
(Safinatul Behaar)

 

Verbal expression of a promise

The second type of promise is one that the man himself gives to Allah, like a vow or an oath. For an oath to be binding, it is necessary that it be expressed verbally. For example, if someone wants to vow to Allah and state it in Arabic language he should say 'Aahadto Allah' (I have vowed to Allah) or 'Alayya Ahadollah' (The vow for Allah is upon me). The statement of promise, oath or the vow can be in any language but expressed verbally. A vow for example may consist of saying, "if I return safe and sound from the journey, I shall give such and such amount as charity in the way of Allah."

If an oath is intended mentally and not expressed verbally, it is not binding.

Vow or oath for a useless thing

It must be remembered that a vow, oath or a promise should not be taken for a useless object. That is, the object must not be undesirable from the Islamic point of view. An oath taken to carry out some makrooh or haraam action, a vow to abstain from a wajib or a mustahab act is invalid. An oath taken for an action which is wajib and its avoidence haraam in a prevailing set of conditions, automatically becomes invalid if the conditions change. For example, a man vows to give a thousand rupees in charity if he gets well, but after he is well be becomes so poor that it is hardly possible for him to maintain his family. In these circumstances the vow is considered invalid and it is not wajib on him to fulfill it.

Vow should be for a useful aim

In conclusion it can be said that an oath should be taken if it is acceptable from the Shariat point of view. In any case an oath should be taken when common sense dictates that the oath serves some useful purpose, either by carrying out an action or by abstaining from it. For example to walk and exercise etc. which are beneficient and Mubah (permitted) actions, and to abstain from smoking which is harmful to health although Mubah.

Conditional and absolute covenant

Just as in the case of oath and vow, a covenant is also either conditional or absolute. An example of an absolute covenant is when a man says, "I make covenant with Allah that I shall perform such and such good action." Then this shall become binding upon him. If he does not do so he would have committed a Greater sin. In addition he also has to pay the penalty. The conditional covenant is the one when the person attaches some conditions. For example, he may say, "If Allah gives me a son, I will perform such and such good deed." Then that good deed becomes wajib upon him only when he gets a son. Once the condition is fulfilled it will also be haraam for him to leave the deed undone and he will have to pay the additional penalty also.

Three types of covenant with Allah

Actually a vow and an oath is also a covenant with Almighty Allah. Therefore a covenant is of three types. One is the covenant itself and of the other two one is a vow and the other an oath. It is only due to Divine Mercy that man is given a choice of three kinds of covenants in case he wishes to avoid the risk of being liable for keeping sixty fasts etc. Hence, he can make a vow or take an Islamic oath.

Expiation of a vow or a covenant

Breaking of a covenant, whether absolute or conditional, is haraam. The expiation becomes wajib in case of default. It is the same penalty as that of breaking or omitting, without any reason, a fast of the month of Ramazan, i.e. feeding sixty poor people, keeping sixty fasts or freeing a slave.

If a vow is broken its kaffarah (expiation) is same as that of breaking an oath. That is, feeding, or clothing ten poor people or freeing a slave; but if he cannot do any of these then it is wajib for him to keep three fasts.

Breaking of promise and hypocrisy

Breaking of a promise is a very serious sin. It is a sin that sows the seed of hypocrisy in the heart of the person who commits it. The person dies in a state of disbelief and is raised with the hypocrites on the Day of Judgment. The Holy Quran says:
"And there are those of them who made a covenant with Allah: If He gives us out of His grace we will certainly give alms and we will certainly be of the good. But when He gave them out of His grace, they become niggardly of it and they turned back and they withdrew. So He made hypocrisy to follow as a consequence into their hearts till the day when they shall meet Him because they failed to perform towards Allah what they had promised Him and because they told lies."
(Surah Tauba 9:75-77)

The Shaan-e-Nuzool (circumstances of Revelation) of this ayat, according to Tafseer Minhaj us-sadeqeen is as follows: "Thulbe Ibne Khatib was a very staunch and a prominent Christian. One day he came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). He began to complain of his poverty, and requested the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) to pray for him. The Holy prophet (s.a.w.s.) advised him, "Do not emphasise upon this prayer of yours but be patient in your circumstances. Too much of wealth is dangerous for you. If you are grateful for this favour it is better than too much of wealth that makes you unthankful. By Allah if I pray that mountains become gold and silver and move with me, Allah shall cause it to be so but I know that an honourable hereafter is better, and those who are well provided in this world have a difficult hereafter. So, follow the Prophet of Allah (a.j.) and accept his advice."

But Thulbe the Christian did not follow the advice of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and again he came back to him with his entreaty and said: "O Prophet of Allah! I make a covenant to Allah that if He gives me abundant wealth I shall spend it upon the deserving ones and do good through it."

When he persisted in his request, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) prayed for the removal of his property.

Allah gave abundant increase in his livestock; and he became a Muslim. His animals multiplied and he became so busy in supervising them that he stopped praying behind the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the congregational prayers. He prayed only the morning and the evening prayers. Then his herd became so bulky that the surrounding area of Madinah was not sufficient any more. He took his animals to the outskirts of the town and settled there. Now he was deprived of praying the daily prayers behind the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Still he continued to come to Madinah for the Friday prayers. Then his business expanded beyond the valleys surrounding Madinah. Finally he could not even attend the Friday prayers.

One day the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked his companions, "Why is Thulbe not attending the congregation?" The people replied, "He has so many goats and sheep that a single valley is unable to accommodate them. Now he has moved to such and such valley and settled there. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) upon hearing this said,
"Woe be upon Thulbe, Woe be upon Thulbe, Woe be upon Thulbe!"

Later when it was wajib to pay zakat due to the revelation of the verse of Zakat, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) summoned one of his followers and gave him this verse in writing and sent with him a tribesman of Bani Salim. The Prophet ordered, "After you have collected Zakat from Thulbe go to such and such good man and collect it from him too." Both of them went to Thulbe. They showed him the Quranic verse and also gave him the letter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) containing the rules of Zakat. Thulbe had become so much attached to his wealth that he said, "Muhammad is collecting Jiziya from us! Go somewhere else! Meanwhile I shall think upon it."

The two men went to this righteous person (of the tribe of Bani Salim). When he saw the ayat and the letter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), he said, "I hear and I obey the command of Allah and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.)."

He went among his camels and selected the best ones for Zakat and said, "Please take these for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.)." The agents told him that it was not wajib to give the best of the camels. He said, "How can I not offer the best for Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.s.)?"

Then these two men came back to Thulbe. The wretched fellow repeated his previous objection and refused to pay Zakat.

When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) heard of this incident he said just once, "Woe be upon Thulbe!" Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) prayed for the well being of the one who had paid the Zakat willingly.

The companions used to wonder why Thulbe had not accepted the advice of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and saved himself from apostasy! (Zakat is one of the Dhururiyaat-e-Deen and one who says that Zakat is not wajib has apositisised and is no more a Muslim!) The ayats quoted before this discussion were revealed for Thulbe.

Mutual covenants and agreements

The third type of promise is when people form actual covenants and agreements. The ayats and the traditions state that it is wajib to fulfill this type of promise and it is haraam to go against them.

For example in Surah Bani Israel:
"...and fulfill the promise; Surely (every) promise shall be questioned about."
(Surah Bani Israel 17:34)

Similarly the Quran describes truthful and the pious people thus,
"...and those who fulfill their promise when they make a promise.."
(Surah Baqarah 2:177)

Also when describing those who shall be saved from Hell and earn Paradise, Allah says,
"And those who are keepers of their trusts and their covenant."
(Surah Momin 23:8)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"To keep your word to your believing brother is wajib like a vow, even though there is no expiation for going against it."

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"One who has belief in Allah and in last day (Qiyamat) must keep his word when he promises."
(Usool-e-Kafi)

Thus keeping a promise is a fulfillment for the belief in Allah and the Day of Qiyamat. Similarly, the beginning verses of Surah Saff have also denounced the breaking of promise and clearly prove that non-fulfillment of a promise (of every type) is haraam.

Hypocrites do not keep their words

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is reported to have said:
"Three traits make man a hypocrite even if he prays and fasts:
Betrayal of trust, lying and non-fulfillment of promise."
(Usool-e-Kafi)

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"Those who are just in their dealing, those who do not lie and those who fulfill their promises are from those who have perfect morals. And it is haraam to criticise them behind their back. Their being just (Aadil) is obvious. To maintain brotherly relations with them is wajib."
(Usool-e-Kafi)

It follows from this tradition, that a person who is unjust, a liar and one who does not keep his word, does not possess morals. He is not a just person (Aadil) but a transgressor (Fasiq) and it is not wajib to fulfill the rights of brotherhood towards him.

No concession

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has also remarked:
"There are three obligations in fulfillment of which Allah does not give concession to any: To behave well with the parents, whether they are righteous or sinners; to fulfill ones promise; whether to a righteous person or a sinner; and to deliver a trust (to its owner) whether he is righteous or a sinner."
(Shaykh Sadooq: Khisaal)

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says:
"One must also fulfill that promise that he has made to his wife. For a Muslim is always wary of his promise except when it is for making a prohibited thing legal or prohibiting that which is permitted."
(Tahzeeb)

 

Treaties with the polytheists

It is an established fact that there are numerous Quranic verses and traditions which prohibit the breaking of a promise, and makes obligatory the fulfillment of promise. The following verses are sufficient to prove this point:
"Surely the vilest of animals in Allah's sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe. Those with whom you make an agreement, then they break their agreement every time and they do not guard (against punishment)."
(Surah Anfal 8:55-56)

Thus those who do not fulfill their promises are the worst of creatures! They are worse than animals. It is also important to know that Allah has ordered us to honour and fulfill even the treaties and promises made with the disbelievers and polytheists. These promises cannot be disregarded.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) respected the treaty with the Polytheists of Mecca

When the power and glory of Islam was at its zenith a verse of Surah Baraat was revealed; ordering Jehad (holy war) against the polytheists. The Almighty Allah commanded the Prophet to purify the Holy Mecca from the filth of polytheism and idol worship but it was also ordered not to break the treaty with the polytheists if they did not break it. The ayat is as follows:
"Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up anyone against you, so fulfill their agreement to the end of their term; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty)."
(Surah Tauba 9:4)

Abu Rafe says: "The Quraish sent me to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). When I met him, my heart became illuminated with his countenance. I said to him, "O Prophet of Allah! I do not wish to go back to the Quraish." He said, I would not act against the terms of treaty, and retain their messenger. Abu Rafe, go back to your people now and after this if you wish, you may accept Islam and join us."

Honoring the terms of the treaty with the Quraish

Huzaifa Yamani says that there was one thing that discouraged me from participating in the Battle of Badr. Abu Husael and I were going out when we came face to face with some men from the Quraish. They asked, "Do you love Muhammad?"

"We love Madinah," we replied.
They made us promise that after reaching Madinah we shall not accompany the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in the battle. When we met the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and told him of this promise he said,
"Do not think of joining in the battle due to this oath of yours. We shall seek the Divine assistance!"

The above two traditions are recorded in the book, "Islam and World Peace" by Syed Qutb, Pg.264.

The Kafir father took away his son

During the treaty of Hudiabiya, Sohail Ibne Umer was representing the disbelievers in negotiating with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). When it was time for drawing up the treaty and the signatures were yet to be affixed, Jundal the son of Sohail left the pack of disbelievers and went to the Muslims. Seeing that he was attracted to the Muslims, the Quraish chained his legs but he escaped with the chains intact. He went away with the Muslims and began to behave like one. When his father saw this, he came to his son and gave him a resounding slap. Then he told the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.), "O Muhammad! This (treaty) is the first step of reconciliation between you and us and as per its terms you have to surrender my son to me."

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) agreed to it and surrendered Jundal to his Kafir father, but upon the condition that he would be protected and not harmed. Sohail Ibne Umar agreed to this condition. When it was time to hand over Jundal to the disbelievers, Jundal protested, "O Muslims! I have become a Muslim! How will I return amongst the polytheists?"

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) told him,
"Go! But have patience. Allah will provide ease to you in this way only. We cannot go against the terms of the treaty."

Sohail caught his son's hand and led him away. He did not remain true to his promise and tortured his son very much.

This incident proves the importance of the fulfillment of a promise. The same incident is mentioned in the exegesis of Surah Fath in Tafseer Minhajus Sadeqeen.

I will stay here all my life

The following narration is recorded in Behaarul Anwaar:
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) promised a man that he would wait for him at an appointed place near a stone. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) waited there but the man did not turn up. Morning turned into afternoon while the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) stood in the blazing sun. Some of his followers saw him and said, "Please stand in some other place."

He (s.a.w.s.) replied,
"I cannot move away from here till that man returns."

The man arrived at last. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
"If that man had not come, I would have continued to stand till death!"

Janab-e-Ismail and the fulfillment of the vow

The Holy Quran refers to Prophet Ismail as the "Truthful in Promise," in the following verse:
"And mention Ismail in the Book, surely he was truthful in (his) promise, and he was an apostle, a prophet."
(Surah Marium 19:54)

Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) had promised to wait for a person, who did not turn up. Three nights passed but he still kept waiting. However, according to most of the scholars and well-known tradition the period of his wait was a whole year. During this time he also had to bear untold difficulties and sometimes survived on leaves.

Violation of a promise is caused by disbelief

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) has mentioned that it is disbelief that causes one to go back on his word and break a vow. He says:
"By Allah, Muawiya is not more cunning than I am but he deceives and commits evil deeds. Had I not been hateful of deceit I would have been the most cunning of all men. But (the fact is that) every deceit is a sin and every sin is disobedience (of Allah), and every crafty person will have a banner by which he will be recognised on the Day of Judgment."
(Nahjul Balagha Sermon 200)

Allamah Majlisi says that the one who commits greater sins is also referred to as a disbeliever in traditions. Hence every type of a crafty person has been called a Kafir in this sermon. It is that disbelief which has its root in the heart and which takes the form of disobedience to Allah's commands.

A Muslim is never deceitful

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) has said:
"Surely fulfillment of pledge is the twin of truth. I do not know a better shield (against the assaults of sin) than it. One who realises the reality of return (to the next world) never betrays. We are in a period when most of the people regard betrayal as wisdom. In these days the ignorant call it excellence of cunning. What is the matter with them? Allah may destroy them. One who has been through thick and thin of life finds the excuses preventing him from orders and prohibitions of Allah, but he ignores them despite capability (to succumb to them and follows the command of Allah), while one who has no restraints of religion seizes the opportunity (and accepts the excuses for not following the commands of Allah)."
(Nahjul Balagha Sermon 42)

Violation of promise and falsehood

Some of the Mujtahids consider violation of a promise to be a kind of falsehood. Especially when at the time of promising, one has no intention of fulfilling it. Thus all the verses and tradition denouncing and prohibiting falsehood also apply here.

If there are some conditions

According to the Fatawa (religious decrees) of the leading Mujtahids, it is wajib to honour the terms and conditions of a transaction and it is obligatory to fulfill them. For example the buyer can put a condition that if the goods are defective he can return them within two months. Or the seller may put a condition that the buyer must not spoil the goods if he wishes to return them. In such situations it is wajib to honour the terms of agreement. Similarly if the landlord has restricted the use of his premises to any one except the tenant, the tenant has to observe the terms faithfully. Both the parties to a transaction have a right to lay down their terms and conditions.

Other Mujtahids state that not only is it wajib to honour the terms and conditions of a transaction but the one who has put them may enforce his rights and insist on the condition being fulfilled. For example if an employee has laid a condition that he shall be paid his salary on the first day of every month, then not only is it necessary to pay him as agreed but the employee has a right to demand it on that day, and he can even take it without the knowledge of his employer.

At times it may happen that the conditions agreed upon are quite irrelevant to the actual transaction and not directly related to it. Even in these cases it is necessary to fulfill the obligations.

In cases where the terms and conditions are such that the parties consider it better to observe them, these conditions do not contribute a right and it is not wajib to follow them to the letter.

Fulfillment of promise is a must

In all respects, fulfillment of a promise is so much emphasised in the Quranic Verses and the traditions, that one should be extremely cautious in honouring every type of agreement and pledge. If a person has to give a promise under compulsion and he does not wish to become a sinner, he can use words like, 'May be', 'If', or 'Insha-Allah' etc. For example he can say, "Insha-Allah (If Allah wills) I will do this."

To vow or pledge after saying Insha-Allah

It is the opinion of Allamah Hilli, and other Mujtahids agree, that every vow or pledge after uttering Insha-Allah (or its translation in any other language) makes the pledge conditional to the Divine will. Hence it is not strictly wajib to fulfill it. But if it is with regard to some promise or condition (of an agreement), that concerns a wajib act or it is for the avoidance of a haraam act, it has to be observed faithfully, even after uttering Insha-Allah.

It must however be understood that the promise which is made conditional by saying 'Insha-Allah' is not binding, only when the person intends the actual meaning of the term Insha-Allah. That is, he must really mean to subject the matter to Allah's will. If he utters Insha-Allah only for the sake of seeking divine blessings then it is binding upon him to remain firm upon his vows.

It should also be clear that it is not only permitted, to disregard a promise of abstaining from a wajib act or to perform a haraam act but it is infact haraam to fulfill it. For example if one vows to punish his wife or son if they did such and such thing, it is better to disregard such vows and forgive them instead.

The Quran says:
"And let not those of you who possess grace and abundance swear against giving to the near of kin and the poor and those who have fled in Allah's way, and they should pardon and turn away. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?'
(Surah Nur 24:22)

It means that Allah forgives the sins of those who forgive the wrongdoings of others.

Prophet Ayyub (a.s.) and his oath of beating his wife a hundred strokes

In a situation where, one has taken an oath in utmost seriousness to inflict punishment, and one does not wish to go against it, it is better to carry out the oath in a manner that a token punishment is given and the oath is also not violated. For example, Prophet Ayyub (a.s.) saw his wife doing something against his will. He took a vow to hit her a hundred strokes after he recovered from the illness. When he recovered, Allah ordered him,
"And take in your hand a green branch (with a hundred twigs) and beat her (your wife) with it (once) and do not break your oath."
(Surah Saad 38:44

 

The twenty-second greater sin, is defalcation or misappropriation of property. Misappropriation of property as a greater sin is stated in the Quran and the authentic tradition related by Abdul Azeem from Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) and also from the traditions of Imam Sadiq (a.s.), Imam Kazim (a.s.) and Imam Reza (a.s.).

Khayanat is itself an Arabic word. In the tradition of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) as related by Amash the word 'Khayanat' is used in the list of the greater sins. Another Arabic word used for misappropriation is 'ghulul.' 'Ghulul' is used in the narration of Fazl Ibne Shazaan where he quotes Imam Reza (a.s.). According to some lexicographers 'ghul' denotes misappropriation of a property obtained as spoils of war against the disbelievers which is not yet been distributed among the Muslims. However other scholars maintain that 'ghulul' applies to every kind of embezzlement.

The punishment of misappropriation according to the Holy Quran

The Almighty Allah says "...and he who eats unfaithfully shall bring that in respect of which he has acted unfaithfully on the Day of Resurrection; then every soul be paid fully what it has earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly. Is then he who follows the pleasure of Allah like him who has made himself deserving of displeasure from Allah, and his abode is hell; and it is an evil destination."
(Surah Aale Imraan 3:161-162)

In Surah Tahrim we find the verse:
"Allah sets forth an example to those who disbelieve, the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut: they were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them so they availed them naught against Allah, and it was said: Enter both the fire with those who enter."
(Surah Tahrim 66:10)

Also Allah (a.j.) says:
"… Surely Allah does not love the treacherous."
(Surah Anfal 8:58)

and
"O you who believe! Be not unfaithful to Allah and the Apostle, nor be unfaithful to your trusts while you know."
(Surah Anfal 8:27)

Similarly the Quran says,
"…but if one of you trusts another, then he who is trusted should deliver his trusts, and let him be careful (of his duty to) Allah, his Lord..."
(Surah Baqarah 2:283)

At another place the Divine Book states,
"Surely Allah commands you to make over trusts to their owners..."
(Surah Nisa 4:58)

Breach of trust denounced in the traditions

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who embezzles a property in his charge and does not deliver it to its owner and dies in such a condition, then he does not die in my community (he does not die a Muslim). When such a person meets Allah, He shall be infuriated with him. And one who purchases an embezzled property knowing that it is embezzled is just like the (actual) embezzler."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Another tradition states,
"And it will be ordered to throw him in the fire; he will remain in the deep pit of Hell forever."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is also reported to have remarked,
"If one is Muslim, he must not practice deceit and defalcation. For I have heard from Jibraeel that deceit and cheating belong to hell."

Then he (s.a.w.s.) continued,
"One who cheats a Muslim is not from us, and one who embezzles the believers is (also) not from us."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The following tradition is recorded in the book Al Kafi:
"There are three qualities that are the sign of a hypocrite even if he prays and fasts and calls himself a Muslim: lying, violating promises and defalcation."

This tradition had already been mentioned in the previous discussion.

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says;
"There are four things and even if one of them enters a house it causes economic catastrophe and it never remains blessed: defalcation, thievery, wine and adultery.
(Wasaelush Shia)

Thus if one or more members of a household indulge in one of these sins, such a household is deprived from divine blessings. It brings about an economic ruin. It must also be clarified, however, that the house of the thief is deprived of 'barakat' (divine blessings) and not the site where robbery occurs.

Misappropriation causes misfortune

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) remarks,
"Trustworthiness causes one to be self sufficient (financially) and misappropriation causes poverty."
(Wasaelush Shia)

The narrator says that I said to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.),
"There is a lady in Madinah, with whom people leave their daughters for training (and education). We have observed that she could maintain herself with so less, but we have never known her to have any financial problem."

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) remarked,
"It is because she is truthful and trustworthy. These two qualities increase sustenance."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Another tradition from the same Imam (a.s.) is as follows:
"Do not be deceived by the prolonged sajda and rukoo of a man, they may be a part of his habits (that he could not avoid). See his truth and trustworthiness."

Thus it is these qualities that prove righteousness and piety.

Anyone could be the owner of the entrusted property

We have numerous traditions dealing with this subject. They emphatically state that it is wajib to guard the trust and haraam to misappropriate it, whether the one who entrusts it, is a Muslim or a Kafir. It is even wajib to protect the goods entrusted by a Nasibi (those are openly inimical to Ahlul Bayt a.s.) in spite of the fact that the Nasibi are the worst kind of people.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"Fear Allah! And return the entrusted thing to the owner. Even if the murderer of Ali (a.s.) entrusts me with something, I shall deliver it to him (when he desires)."

Imam (a.s.) also says,
"Then fear Allah! And guard the trusts (placed by) the white as well as the black (people). Even if the one who entrusts is from the Khwarij or a Syrian (those who hate Ali [a.s.])." That is, even if he is a confirmed enemy of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).

A man inquired from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.),
"Is it allowed to misappropriate the property of a Nasibi?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Honour the trust of every person who entrusts you with it, or seeks your advice. Even if it is the killer of Imam Husain (a.s.)."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Another similar narration is as follows:
Husain Shabani says that he asked Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), "One of your followers considers the property and blood of Bani Umayya permissible for himself. He is also in possession of some property entrusted to him by the Bani Umayya?"

Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Restore the entrusted property to its owner even if they are Majoos (fireworshippers)."

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is also reported to have said,
"Allah has not sent any messenger but with (the order to propagate) truth and restoring of trust, whether of a righteous man or a sinner."
(Wasaelush Shia)

Muhammad Bin Qasim says that he mentioned to Abul Hasan, Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) regarding the person who had entrusted someone with something valuable. "The trustee is an Arab and he is competent enough not to return the trust. Whereas the one who entrusts is a wretched Khariji (enemy of Ahlul Bayt)?"

Imam (a.s.) said,
"Tell him to return the trust; because it is a divine trust that he is entrusted with." (Meaning that it is a trust, which is to be restored according to divine command).

Hazrat Imam Zainul Abedin (a.s.) advises his Shias:
"You must return the trusts when required. By the One who has sent Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) as a messenger with trust, even if the killer of my father Husain (a.s.) had entrusted me with the sword with which he had slain him, I would have delivered it back to him."

The Satan instigates

The greater the importance of a duty in Islamic law, the greater is the effect put in by Shaitan to deviate a person from fulfilling it.

Hazrat Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says,
"If a person makes good the trust in his possession, he unties a thousand knots that had tied him to Hell. So, do not be sluggish in delivering trusts. When one becomes a trustee, Iblees orders a hundred of his assistants to follow him so that they may deviate him and suggest him to defalcate. They continue to pursue him till he is doomed. Except the one who is saved by Allah (a.j.)."

Ameen (Trustworthy) - A Title of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)

Every historian has recorded that even prior to the declaration of his prophethood, the disbelievers of Quraish addressed the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) by the title of 'Ameen'. The disbelievers trusted him to the extent that even though they did not heed his call and did not profess Islam, they deposited their valuables with him. The trust in the Prophet's trustworthiness was not restricted to the Quraish tribe, but was shared by the people of other tribes and areas as well. When these people came to Mecca during the Hajj season they used to put their belongings in the safe custody of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). This continued after the declaration of prophethood. When the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) migrated to Madinah he gave all the things that were in his custody to Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and said:
"Proclaim loudly, every morning and evening in Mecca that whoever had kept anything with Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) may collect it."

 

 


source : GREATER SINS Shaheede Mehraab Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)
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