2704. A vow is defined as an undertaking on the part of a person to perform a good deed, or refrain from a deed which is reprehensible.
2705. The formal expression of the vow should be pronounced. However, it is not mandatory to pronounce it in Arabic. Hence, if he states, “Should the sick person get cured, it is incumbent upon me to give ten dollars to a poor person for the sake of Allah,” his vow will be valid.
2706. The person making the vow must be b¡ligh and sane, and must make the vow of his own intention and volition. Therefore, a vow that is made out of anger or under compulsion is not valid.
2707. If a bankrupt individual or a feeble-minded person makes a vow to give some property to a poor person, it will not be valid.
2708. If a husband prevents his wife from making a vow, the wife cannot make the vow if fulfilling it would violate the rights of her husband; rather, without the consent of her husband, her vow is void. It is problematic to claim the validity of a wife’s vow with respect to her own wealth, unless it is with respect to performing Hajj, giving Zak¡t, being kind to her parents, or establishing family ties.
2709. If a wife makes a vow with the consent of her husband, he cannot cancel her vow, or prevent her from fulfilling it.
2710. If a child makes a vow with the consent of his father, or without his consent, he must fulfill the vow. However, if the father or mother prevent him from fulfilling his vow, his vow will be rendered void.
2711. A person may only vow to perform a task that he is able to perform. Therefore, if a person who is unable to walk to Karbala makes a vow to do so, his vow will not be valid.
2712. If a person vows to perform a forbidden or makruh act, or to refrain from performing an obligatory or recommended act, his vow will not be valid.
2713. If a person vows to perform or refrain from a permissible act, then in the event that performing the task and refraining from it is equivalent from all aspects, his vow will not be valid.
If however, performing the task is better from one aspect, and a person vows to perform it for that particular reason, such as intending to eat something that would give him the strength to worship God, his vow will be valid. Similarly, if refraining from it is better from one aspect, and a person intends to refrain from it for that very reason, such as vowing to refrain from tobacco products because they are harmful, his vow will be valid.
2714. If a person vows to offer prayers in an area which in and of itself does not increase the reward for praying there, such as vowing to offer prayers in a room, then in the event that offering prayers in that location is better from some aspect, such as the solitude offered in that location enhances his ability to focus in his prayer, his vow with respect to this reason is valid.
2715. If a person vows to perform a task, he must fulfill it in the manner that he vowed to perform it. Thus, if he vows to give charity on the first day of the month, or fast on that day, but he fasts before or after that day, it will not be adequate for fulfilling his vow. Similarly, if he vows to give charity once a sick person regains his health, but gives it before the sick person regains his health, it will not suffice.
2716. If a person vows to fast, but does not specify when and for how long, then should he fast for one day, it will suffice. Similarly, if he vows to offer a prayer, but does not specify its features, nor how many prayers, then should he recite a single two rak‘ah prayer, it too will suffice. If he vows to give charity, but does not specify its commodity, nor its quantity, then should he give something that would be deemed an act of charity, he will have fulfilled his vow. If however, he vows to perform a task for the sake of God, then, in the event he offers one prayer, fasts for a single day, or gives something in charity, he will have fulfilled his vow.
2717. If a person vows to fast on a particular day, then he must fast on that very day. If he intentionally fails to fast on that day, then in addition to observing its qa¤¡, he must also pay its kaff¡rah. The kaff¡rah in this case will be the kaff¡rah for breaking an oath, which will be elaborated in article 2734. He may however choose to travel on that day, and not observe the fast. Should he already be on a journey, it will not be mandatory for him to make the intention of residing in a place, and then observing the fast. In the event that he does not fast owing to sickness or a journey, it will be mandatory for him to observe its qa¤¡. The same will apply—based on obligatory precaution—should a woman fail to fast owing to the state of ¦ay¤. In all cases however, he or she will not have pay the kaff¡rah.
2718. If a person volitionally fails to fulfill his vow, he must pay its kaff¡rah.
2719. If a person vows to refrain from a particular act for a specific period of time, he may commit the act after the passage of the period. If he commits the act prior to the completion of that period owing to forgetfulness or compulsion, nothing will become obligatory on him. However, he will have to continue refraining from that act until the passage of that period. Hence, if he commits the act again prior to the completion of that period without a justified excuse, he will have to pay its kaff¡rah.
2720. If a person vows to refrain from an act, but does not specify a time span for it, then if he commits the act out of forgetfulness, compulsion or lack of awareness, no kaff¡rah will be obligatory on him. However, from then onwards, whenever he commits the act volitionally, he will have to pay its kaff¡rah.
2721. If a person vows to fast every week on a particular day, such as Friday, then should ‘id al-fi§r or ‘id al-a¤¦¡ fall on one of the Fridays, or should a valid excuse such sickness or travelling occur on that day, he should not fast on that day, but he should observe its qa¤¡. The same will apply—based on obligatory precaution—if a woman fails to fast on that day owing to the state of ¦ay¤.
2722. If a person vows to give a particular amount in charity, but passes away before he is able to give the charity, it will not be mandatory for that amount to be given in charity from his estate. The recommended precaution however is that his b¡ligh heirs should give that amount on behalf of the deceased from their own share (of the inheritance).
2723. If a person vows to give charity to a particular poor individual, he may not then give it to another poor person. Should that poor person pass away, the recommended precaution is that he should give it to his heirs.
2724. If a person vows to visit the shrine of a particular Imam, such as visiting Imam Íusayn (as), but then visits the shrine of another Imam, it will not suffice. Should he be unable to visit that particular Imam owing to a valid excuse, he will not be subject to any (additional) obligation.
2725. If a person vows to visit a shrine, but has not vowed to perform the ghusl for that visitation, nor to offer its prayers, it will not be mandatory for him to perform them.
2726. If a person vows to give something to the shrines of the Imams or the offspring of the Imams, but has not intended it to be used in any particular manner, then the amount should be used for constructing, illuminating and carpeting the shrine, or any similar use.
2727. If a person has vowed to give something to the Imam (as) himself, then if he has intended for it to be used in a particular manner, he must use it in that manner. However, if he has not intended any particular use, then he should use it in a manner that would be related to the Imam (as), such as giving it to his poor visitors, or use it for the shrine of that Imam in terms of constructing it or any similar use. He may also in this case use it in a manner that would result in honoring and exalting the Imam, and the recommended precaution is that he should also intend the reward of that act as a gift to that Imam (as). The same will apply if a person vows to give something to an offspring of an Imam.
2728. If a sheep that one has vowed to give in charity, or to offer to one of the Imams (as), gives milk before it is given to fulfill the vow, or gives birth prior to it, it (the milk or the lamb) will belong to the person who made the vow. However, the wool of the sheep, and the weight that it gains, are part of the vow.
2729. If a person vows that should a sick person regain his health, or a traveler return safely from his journey, he will perform a particular task, but later realizes that the sick person had regained his health before he made the vow, or the traveler had returned prior to it, he will not have to fulfill the vow.
2730. If a mother or father vows to marry his/her daughter to a sayyid, once the daughter becomes b¡ligh, the right to choose will be hers, and their vow will not be consequential.
2731. If a person pledges to God that should he achieve a legal need of his own, he will perform a good deed, then once his need is granted, he must perform that deed. Similarly, if he makes a pledge to perform a deed without having any particular need, that deed becomes obligatory on him. The same will apply in both cases—based on obligatory precaution—if the pledged deed is canonically neutral (mub¡¦).
2732. Just as in a vow, a formal expression must also be pronounced for a pledge. The pledge should also not be with respect to an act that is not preferred. However, to claim that a preferred act is consequential—as a great number of renowned scholars have stated—is problematic.
2733. If a person does not act in accordance to his pledge, his must pay a kaff¡rah. That is, he must free a slave, or satiate sixty poor people, or fast for two consecutive months.