Q: How can one distinguish between conversational oath and the binding oath? Um Khalid
A: Alhamdulillah. Allah [swt] defined clearly the types of oath in His Book, as did also the Apostle of Allah [pbuh] in his Sunnah. The types of oath are (3) three: Conversational, Binding and Dipping. Conversational oath is that which runs out without intention. Such as the statement of the mother to her son, “If you don’t clean your room, I will spank you, I swear”. This is known as a conversational or chatting oath. Although there’s no subsequences on such oath, yet one must not take the oath lightly.
Binding Oath corresponds with the heart’s intention, such as saying “I swear (Wallahi) I won’t talk to you again”. The oath here is intended, and “The expiation thereof is the feeding of ten of the needy with the average of that wherewith ye feed your own folk, or the clothing of them, or the liberation of a slave, and for him who findeth not (the wherewithal to do so) then a three days’ fast. This is the expiation of your oaths when ye have sworn; and keep your oaths.”[5:89]. Unfortunately, the first thing majority of the public do is to go to the option of fasting, which is erroneous. The options in sequence are: (1) feeding 10 poor men, or (2) Clothing them, or (3) freeing a slave. If these options are not attainable, then one may move to fasting three days.
The third type is the Dipping Oath; it is called so because it causes the person to be dipped in hellfire should he takes the oath in vain knowingly. Such as one takes an oath by Allah that this piece of land is his, when it is not. Or swear to God that his cost for the good he’s selling is 150, when in actuality is 100, just to make more money. This oath is so serious it cannot be expiated by any feeding, clothing or even fasting the entire year. The expiation of it is nothing less than a serious repentance to Allah. It is so serious the Apostle of Allah [pbuh] said: “Whosoever severs a right (of intrinsic value) of his fellow Muslim brother through an oath, Allah shall forbid his entrance to paradise, and shall cause him to enter hellfire. The companions, commented: O Apostle of Allah, even if the matter is light? He said: even if it was over a stick of Araak (tree root)” which is negligible in value. Those were the three types of oath, which a Muslim should observe and use not God’s name in vain.
Q: Is there any authentic date known for the Night Journey & Ascension of the Prophet [pbuh], such as the 27th of Rajab? Um Ibrahim
A: Alhamdulillah. Actually there is no specific day of the week or a date authenticated for this event. The weakest of all opinions is that which says the journey occurred in the month of Rajab. Any and all dates defining the time of the incident are inaccurate and unauthentic.
Q: In our town’s cemetery, there are graves with headstones engraved on them the name, date of birth and date of death of the diseased. They may even contain some verses from the Glorious Qur’an. Is this permissible? Hussain.
A: Alhamdulillah. What you’ve mentioned falls under the violations and innovations. The Apostle of Allah [pbuh] instructed that no writing to be made on the grave, nor to sit on it or hang a lamp thereon. If you are able to change/remove these violations, do so. Make the grave like that of the Apostle of Allah and the Companions, one foot above the ground, without any writings, marks or signs, provided you create no problem by doing so. If however, it may generate or cause a problem, then avoid it.
And Allah knows best.