Rules of Vow and Covenant.
2793. Vow (Nadhr) means making it obligatory upon oneself to do some good act, or to refrain from doing an act, which it is better not to do, for the sake of, or for the pleasure of Allah.
2794. There are two kinds of vow (Nadhr):
First, conditional vow, for example, one says: “If my patient recovers from his/her ailment, it will be obligatory upon me to do a certain act for the pleasure of Allah.” This is called “Nadhr Shokr” or “thanking vow”, or “if I do a certain bad action, I shall perform certain good action for the pleasure of Allah,” and this is called “Nadhr Zajr” or “punishment vow”.
Second, absolute or unconditional vow; in this case, one should say without any conditions: “I make a Nadhr (vow) for the pleasure of Allah to offer nigh prayers.” And all of these vows are correct.
2795. While making a vow, a formula declaration has to be pronounced though is not necessary that it should be in Arabic. If a person says: “When the patient recovers from his aliment, it will be obligatory upon me to pay 10 T. to a poor man, for the sake of Allah,” his vow will be in order. The last part should be pronounced and it is not enough to say it in one’s heart.
2796. It is necessary that the person making a vow is Baligh and sane, and makes the vow with free will and intention. If he has been coerced to make a vow, or if he makes it owing to excitement, without any intention or choice, his vow is not in order.
2797. If a person who is bankrupt or feeble-minded, who squanders his property for useless purposes, makes a vow, for example to give something to poor, his vow is not in order.
2798. If a husband disallows his wife to make a vow, her vow will not be valid, if that vow in any way violates the rights of the husband. And as an obligatory precaution, it should be with husband’s permission even if it does not violate rights of husband, especially in vows which involve property, even if it belong to the wife.
2799. If a woman makes a vow with the permission of her husband, he cannot abrogate her vow, or restrain her from fulfilling her vow, as an obligatory precaution.
2800. If a child makes a vow, with or without the permission of his/her father, he/she should fulfil his/her vow. However, if his/her father or, as an obligatory precaution, mother disallows him/her to fulfil the vow, his/her vow is void, provided that the fulfillment of the vow does not have any priority.
2801. A person can make a vow only for an act, which is possible for him to fulfil. If, for example, a person is not capable of travelling up to Karbala on foot, and he makes a vow that he will go there on foot, his vow will not be in order.
2802. If a person makes a vow that he will perform a Haraam or Makrooh act, or that he would refrain from a Wajib or Mustahab act, his vow is not valid.
2803. It is not necessary that all details of one’s Nadhr are good, it is sufficient that the original act is properly according to Shariah. For example, if one vows to offer nigh prayers at the first night of each month, it is correct and he/she should do it and if he/she vows to give food to the poor in a certain location, he/she should do it.
2804. If a person makes avow that he will perform or abandon a normal act, the performing or abandoning of which has equal merits, his vow is not in order. But if performing, it is better in some respect, and a person makes a vow keeping that merit in view, for example, if he makes a vow that he will eat a certain food so as to gain strength for worshiping Allah, his vow will be in order. Also, if its renouncing is better in some respect, and the vow to renounce it is made with that intention, for example, if he finds smoking is harmful and makes a vow not to smoke, his vow is in order.
2805. If a person makes a vow, that he will offer his obligatory prayers at a place where offering does not inherently carry higher spiritual merits, for example, he makes a vow to offer his prayers in a certain room, his vow will be valid, only if, offering prayers there has some merit, like, being able to concentrate better due to solitude.
2806. If a person makes a vow to perform an act, he should perform it in strict accordance with his vow. If he makes a vow to give Sadaqa, or to fast on the first day of every month, or to offer prayers of the first of the month, if he performs these acts before that day or after, it will not suffice. Also, if he makes a vow that he will give Sadaqa when a patient recovers, but gives away before the recovery of the patient, it will not suffice.
2807. If a person makes a vow that he will fast, without specifying the time and the number of fasts, it will be sufficient if he observes one fast. And if he makes a vow that he will offer prayers, but does not specify its number and particulars, it will be sufficient if he offers a two Rak’at prayers. And if he makes a vow that he will give Sadaqa, not specifying its nature or quantity, and he gives something which can be deemed as Sadaqa, his vow will be fulfilled. And if he simply makes a vow that he will act to please Almighty Allah, his vow will be fulfilled if he offers one prayers, or observes one fast, or gives away something by way of Sadaqa.
2808. If a person makes a vow that he will observe fast on a particular day, he should observe fast on that very day and he cannot travel; and if he does, he should, besides observing the Qadha for that fast, also give Kaffarah for it. But if he has to travel or there is another excuse like illness of Hayz for women, only gives its Qadha is sufficient.
2809. If a person, of his own choice and volition, violates his vow, he should give Kaffarah for it, which means he/she should set a slave free, or give food to sixty poor people or consecutive months.
2810. If a person makes a vow to renounce an act for some specified time, he will be free to perform that act after that time has passed. But if he performs it before that time, due to forgetfulness, or helplessness, there is no liability on him. Even then, it will be necessary for him to refrain from that act for the remaining time, and if he repeats that act before it without any excuse, he must give Kaffarah for it, as it was said in previous Article.
2811. If a person makes a vow to renounce an act continuously and does not set any time limit, then if he fails to do his vow intentionally, he/she must pay Kaffarah for the first time, and if he/she has made his/her vow in a way that an independent nature is attached to each time, he/she must pay Kaffarah for each time of failure to do it. But if there is no such intention, or he/she doubts about his/her original vow, it is enough to pay one Kaffarah.
2812. If a person makes a vow that he/she will observe fast every week on a particular day, for example on Friday, and if Eid ul Fitr of Eid ul Azha falls on one of the Fridays or an excuse like journey (or menses in the case of women) springs up for him/her, he/she should not observe fast on that day, but give its Qadha.
2813. If a person makes a vow that he will give a specific amount as Sadaqa, and dies before having given it away, it is not necessary that that amount be deducted from his estate. It is better that the Baligh heirs of the deceased give that amount as Sadaqa on his behalf, out of their own shares.
2814. If a person makes a vow that he will give Sadaqa to a particular poor, he cannot give it to another poor; and if that poor person dies, he should on the basis of recommended precaution, give the Sadaqa to his heirs.
2815. If a person makes a vow that he will perform the Ziyarat of a particular holy Imam, for example of Abu Abdillah Imam Husayn (AS), his going for the Ziyarat of another Imam will not be sufficient; and if he cannot perform the Ziyarat of that particular Imam because of any good excuse, nothing is obligatory on him.
2816. If a person has made a vow that he will go for Ziyarat, but has not include in his vow that he will do Ghusl or pray after the Ziyarat, it is not necessary for him to perform those acts.
2817. If a person makes a vow that he would spend some amount of money on the shrine of one of the Imams, or the descendants of the Imams, he should spend it on the repairs, lighting, carpeting etc. of the shrine, or give it to those who work in these places or give it to alms and similar acts or expenses of shrine, so that he/she gets spiritual reward.
2818. If a person makes a vow to use something in the name of Holy Imam himself, and has an intention to put it to a specific use, he should spend it for that very purpose. And if he has not made an intention to put it to any specific use, it is better that he should spend it on poor Shia pilgrims (Zawwar) of that Imam, or build a mosque or the like and present its spiritual reward (Thawab) to the same Imam, or spend it for mourning gathering for the Imam, or publication of his works or any other act related to that Imam. The same applies to any vow for the descendants of Imams.
2819. If a person has a Nadhr to give a sheep as Sadaqa or for Holy Imams (AS), its wool and the growth of fat belongs to the same purpose; but if it gives milk before using for that purpose or gives birth to a young, as an obligatory precaution, those must be used for Nadhr.
2820. If a person makes a vow for an act, if a patient recovers or a traveler returns home, and if it transpires later that the patient had already recovered or the traveler had already returned before he had made the vow, it will not be necessary for him to fulfil his vow.
2821. If a father or a mother makes a vow that he/she will marry their daughter to a Sayyid, as a precaution, they should try to convince the girl to do that, but she is not convinced, the option rests with the girl when she attains the age of puberty, and the vow made by the parents has no significance.
2822. When a person makes a covenant with Allah, that if his
particular lawful need is fulfilled, he will perform a good act, it is
necessary for him to fulfil the covenant.
2823. As in the case of vow, a formal declaration should be pronounced in the case of covenant (Ahd) as well, and name of Allah should be uttered and Ahd should be done. It is better that one makes Ahd should be related to either acts of worship, like, obligatory or Mustahab prayers, or to acts whose performance is better than its renunciation. But, all covenants which fall within is not a preferred religious act, still he/she must do it.
2824. A person who does not do his/her covenant (Ahd), must pay Kaffarah, which means he/she should give food to 60 poor persons or fast two months consecutively, or free a slave.