A person takes a vow that if a certain wish or work of his is fulfilled, he will undertake to carry out a certain act of ibaadah. Once this wish or work of his is fulfilled, it will be wajib upon him to carry out the act of ibaadah which he had vowed to carry out. If he does not fulfil this vow, he will be committing a great sin. However, if a person takes a useless vow which has no basis in the Shariah, it will not be wajib on him to fulfil such a vow. Vows of this sort will be mentioned later.
A person says: "O Allah! If a certain task is fulfilled, I will keep five fasts for Your pleasure." Once this task of his is fulfilled, he will have to keep these five fasts. But if the task is not fulfilled, he will not have to keep these fasts. If the person merely said that he will keep five fasts, he has the choice of keeping them continuously one after the other, or of keeping them separately. But if he said that he will keep five fasts continuously or had this intention in his heart, he will have to keep them one after the other. If he misses out one or two fasts in between, he will have to start all over again.
If the person says that he will fast on Friday or that he will fast from the 1st till the 10th of Muharram, then it is not necessary for him to fast specifically on a Friday or specifically on those days of Muharram. He could keep these 10 fasts whenever he wishes irrespective of whether he keeps them in Muharram or in any other month. The only condition is that he should keep them continuously. Similarly, if he says: "If this work of mine is fulfilled today, I will fast tomorrow", he has the choice of fasting whenever he wishes.
While taking a vow, a person said: "I will keep the fasts of the month of Muharram." He will now have to keep fasting continuously in the entire month of Muharram. If he misses a few fasts in between, he will have to keep them after the month of Muharram. He does not have to keep all the fasts all over again. He also has the choice of fasting in any other month. It is not necessary for him to fast in Muharram. The only condition is that he has to keep these fasts continuously without missing any.
A person takes a vow that if he finds a certain item which he lost, he will offer eight rakaats of salaat. Upon finding his lost item, he will have to offer eight rakaats of salaat. He has the choice of making the intention of offering all eight rakaats at once, offering four rakaats at a time or offering two rakaats at a time. And if he took a vow of offering four rakaats, then he will have to offer all four with one salaam. If he offers two rakaats at a time, his vow will not be fulfilled.
A person took a vow of offering one rakaat. He will have to offer two rakaats. And if he took a vow of offering three rakaats, he will have to offer four rakaats of salaat. And if he took a vow of offering five rakaats, he will have to offer six rakaats. In this way, he will have to continue adding one more rakaat if he vows to offer an odd number of rakaats.
A person takes a vow that he will give Rs.10 in charity. He will therefore have to give whatever he has vowed to give. If a person took a vow of giving Rs.50 in charity, and at that time he only had R10, he will only have to give Rs.10. However, if he has some other possessions apart from the Rs.10, we will have to establish the value of the other possessions. For example, a person has Rs.10 in cash and the value of the other possessions equals Rs.15. His total wealth now adds up to Rs.25. He will therefore have to give Rs.25 in charity. It is not wajib on him to give more than this.
A person takes a vow that he will feed 10 poor persons. If he had it in his mind that he will feed them one meal or two meals, he will have to feed them according to what he had intended. But if he did not have anything in his mind, he will have to feed them two meals. If he had taken a vow that he will give them some dry groceries, the same rule as above will apply. That is, if he had it in his mind that he will give each person a certain amount, then he will have to give them that amount. But if he did not specify any amount or did not even have it in his mind, then he will have to give each person the amount that one is required to give as sadaqatul fitr.
If a person takes a vow that he will give bread to the value of Rs.1, he has the choice of giving the bread, some other food to the value of Rs.1 or he could give Rs.1 in cash.
A person took a vow of giving Rs.10 in charity on the basis that he will give 10 poor persons Rs. 1 each. However, instead of giving the charity in this manner, he gave Rs. 10 to one poor person. This is also permissible. It is not wajib upon him to give Rs.1 to each poor person. It will also be permissible for him to distribute Rs.10 among 20 poor persons. If he takes a vow that he will give Rs.10 to 10 poor persons, he still has the choice of giving 10 persons, less than 10 persons or more than 10 persons.
If a person takes a vow that he will feed 10 persons who are regular with their salaat or 10 persons who have memorized the Quran, he can feed 10 poor persons irrespective of whether they are regular with their salaat or not, and irrespective of whether they have memorized the Quran or not.
A person takes a vow that he will give R10 as charity in Makkah. It is not wajib on him to give this charity in Makkah, he can give it wherever he wishes. If a person takes a vow that he will give charity on Friday to a particular poor person, it is not necessary for him to give it on Friday or to that particular poor person whom he had in mind. Similarly, if he sets aside some money and vows to give that very money as charity, it is not necessary that he gives exactly that money which he had set aside. He could give some other money as long as the amount is the same.
Similarly, if a person takes a vow that he will offer salaat in the jumu'ah musjid or in Makkah, he has the choice of offering his salaat wherever he wishes.
A person takes a vow that if his brother is cured, he will slaughter a goat or give the meat of a goat in charity. In such a case, the vow will be valid. If he takes a vow that he will make a qurbaani, he will have to slaughter the goat during the days of qurbaani. In all these cases, the meat will have to be given to the poor. He cannot consume it himself nor can he give it to any rich persons. If he does this, he will have to give that amount of meat in charity.
A person had taken a vow of making qurbaani of one bull. However, he could not obtain a bull. In such a case, he should slaughter seven goats.
A person took a vow that once his brother arrives he will give Rs.10 in charity. However, the moment he heard that his brother is about to arrive (but had not arrived as yet), this person gave Rs.10 in charity. In this case, his vow will not be fulfilled. Once his brother actually arrives, he will have to give Rs.10 again in charity.
A person takes a vow for the fulfilment of a certain hope or wish. For example, he says: "If I am cured from this sickness, I will do such and such a thing", "If my brother reaches home safely, I will do such and such a thing", "If my father wins the court case or obtains employment, I will do such and such a thing". Once this hope or wish of his is fulfilled, he must fulfil his vow.A person says: "If I speak to you, I will fast for two days", or, "If I do not offer my salaat today, I will give Rs.1 in charity." Thereafter, this person either spoke or did not offer his salaat. In such a case, the person has the choice of either paying the kaffarah for breaking the vow, fasting for two days or giving Rs.1 in charity.
A person takes a vow that he will recite durood shareef 1000 times or the kalimah 1000 times. Once his vow is fulfilled, it will be wajib upon him to recite the durood or the kalimah. But if a person takes a vow of reciting Sub'haanallah 1000 times or reciting La hawla wa la quwwata 1000 times, this vow will not be valid and it will not be wajib on him to recite these forms of zikr.
A person takes a vow that he will complete 10 recitations of the Quran or complete the recitation of one chapter of the Quran. In both cases the vow will be valid.
Fasting in reverence of Maula Mushkil Kusha or to vow to implement the rituals of Konda are all baseless customs. Fasting in reverence of Maula Mushkil Kusha amounts to shirk.
A person takes a vow of renovating a certain musjid or building a certain bridge. Vows of this nature are not valid and it is not wajib to fulfil them.
A person takes a vow that if his brother recovers from his sickness, he will organize a dance or a music show. Taking a vow of this sort is sinful and it will not be permissible to fulfil it once his brother recovers from his sickness.
It is not permissible to take a vow in the name of anyone other than Allah Ta'ala. For example, a person says to his spiritual guide: "If a certain task of mine is fulfilled, I will do such and such a thing for you", or a person goes to graves, or places that are inhabited by jinns and makes certain requests over there. All these acts are haraam and constitute shirk. In fact, it is even haraam to consume the food that has been prepared for such acts. As regards women visiting graves, strict prohibitions in this regard have been mentioned in the Hadith. Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has cursed such women.