Praise be to Allaah.
One of the following scenarios must be true in the case of
the one who swears this oath:
Either he knows that what he is
swearing to is true; in this case his oath is true and he does not have to
or he knows that he is lying in
his oath; in this case he is sinning and committing a major sin
or he is swearing the oath
thinking it most likely that it is false; in this case he is breaking his
oath, even if it turns out to be as he swore it was
or he is swearing the oath
thinking it most likely that it is true; in this case he does not have to do
anything, even if it turns out to be other than what he swore to, because he
only swore the oath on the basis of what he thought, thinking that he was
telling the truth in his oath
or he swore about something
without any knowledge of it; in this case he is sinning, because he swore an
oath about something that was unknown to him.
So if someone says, for example, that So and so did not do
such and such, because he is certain or he thinks it most likely that he did
not do it, because of what he knows about his religious commitment or
attitude, or about his situation that would prevent him from doing that,
then he is swearing on the basis of what he thinks is most likely in his
view. In this case there are no consequences for him from his oath.
Al-‘Imraani ash-Shaafa‘i (may Allah have mercy on him) said
in al-Bayaan (10/553):
What one thinks most likely to be the case comes under the
same rulings as what one is certain about. End quote.
Al-Bukhaari (2600) and Muslim (1111) narrated that Abu
Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
A man came to the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of
Allah be upon him) and said: I am doomed! He said: “Why is that?” He said: I
had intercourse with my wife in Ramadaan. He said: “Do you have the means to
free a slave?” He said: No. He said: “Can you fast for two consecutive
months?” He said: No. He said: “Do you have the means to feed sixty poor
persons?” He said: No. Then a man of the Ansaar brought a large basket of
dates and he (the Prophet (sa)) said: “Take this and give it in charity.” He
said: Is there anyone poorer than us, O Messenger of Allah? By the One Who
sent you with the truth, there is no family between the two lava-fields that
is more in need of it than us. He said: “Go and feed it to your family.”
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
This indicates that it is permissible to swear an oath based
on what one thinks is most likely to be the case; this is based on the fact
that the man said: “By Allah, there is no family between the two lava fields
that is poorer than us.” There can be no doubt this man had not gone to
every family to ask them; rather this is what he thought most likely to be
the case and he swore an oath based on what he thought was most likely.
End quote from Sharh al-Kaafi, 4/90
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Al-Qaadi said: If (a person) find in his father’s records
that So and so owes him a debt, it is permissible for him to claim it, on
the grounds that he thinks it most likely that this is true. Ibn al-Qayyim
said: And he may swear an oath to that effect.
End quote from I‘laam al-Muwaqqi‘een, 4/129
Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said:
With regard to the one who swears an oath based on what he
thinks most likely to be the case, then it turns out to be otherwise, there
is nothing wrong with that, such as if he swore that something happened on
the basis of what he thought, then it turned out that it was not like that –
there is no sin on him for that, because he only swore the oath based on
what he thought and at the time of swearing the oath he was sincere in what
he thought most likely to be the case. Another example is if he said: By
Allah, So and so will surely come tomorrow, or he will surely come back from
his trip tomorrow, based on what he thinks, then that person does not come;
there is no sin on him according to the more correct opinion and he does not
have to offer expiation. That is because he only swore that oath on the
basis of what he thought.
End quote from Fataawa Noor ‘ala ad-Darb, 21/2
Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan was asked:
What is the ruling on one who swears that something happened
but he does not know whether it happened? It so happened that we did
something that upset someone, and he asked our father whether we had done
that thing, but our father denied it and swore that we were innocent of
that, even though we had done it, but our father does not know. Is it
permissible for us to offer expiation without him knowing, or should we tell
him and let him offer expiation for himself, or is there no sin in that?
Firstly: The Muslim should guard his oaths and not hasten to
swear oaths except when necessary and when he is certain of what he is
swearing to. But if someone swears that something happened or did not
happen, based on what he thinks most likely to be the case, then it turns
out otherwise, there is no sin on him, because he swore on the basis of what
he thought was most likely to be the case. So there is no sin on him but
this is a kind of idle talk that includes an oath.
But if he swore a false oath deliberately, then he is sinning
in that case; however he does not have to offer expiation, but he has sinned
and he should ask Allah for forgiveness and repent to Him, and Allah will
accept the repentance of the one who repents. With regard to expiation, it
is not required except in the case of an oath that was sworn with regard to
something in the future that was possible.
End quote from al-Muntaqa min Fataawa al-Fawzaan,
And Allah knows best.