Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 224

وَلَا تَجْعَلُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ عُرْضَةً لِّأَيْمَٰنِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوا۟ وَتَتَّقُوا۟ وَتُصْلِحُوا۟ بَيْنَ ٱلنَّاسِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ


 Muhsin Khan
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And do not make [your oath by] Allāh an excuse against being righteous and fearing Allāh and making peace among people. And Allāh is Hearing and Knowing.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The main import of the statement is that oaths should not be an excuse for not doing what is best under the circumstances. One should not hesitate to revoke an oath one has taken if it becomes clear that revoking it is better from the Islamic point of view. The promotion of goodness and reconciliation takes precedence over one’s commitment to an oath.

The sūrah emphasises that God knows all and hears all, and that He is forgiving and lenient, in order to establish in people’s minds the fact that these matters are ultimately referred to God Almighty for judgement, and to urge them to be conscious of Him and seek His pleasure and grace in all such matters.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *

3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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The scholars are unanimous that Surah al-Baqarah is Madani and that it was the first Surah revealed in Madinah. [Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in Fath al-Bari no. 160/8].

Despite it being the first Surah to be revealed in Madinah, it contains Ayaat from a later period also. In fact, according to Ibn Abbas [as mentioned in Ibn Kathir] the last Ayat revealed to the Prophet was Ayat no. 281 from Surah al-Baqarah and this occurred 8 days or so before his death [which corresponds to the year 11 Hijri].

8. Reasons for Revelation

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The accepted interpretation of the opening part of this passage is that attributed to `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās who is quoted as saying: “Do not allow the fact that you have made an oath prevent you from doing what is good and righteous; rather, do what is right and atone for your oath.” According to Ibn Kathīr, a similar view is attributed to a host of leading scholars.

To support this interpretation, the Prophet’s statement, reported by Abū Hurayrah and related by Muslim, is often quoted. The Prophet said: “Whoever made an oath and later realized that it would be better to do something different, let him atone for his oath and do what is better.” Al-Bukhārī cites the statement reported by Abū Hurayrah that the Prophet said: “For someone to insist on honouring his oath concerning his relationship with his wife is, in God’s sight, far worse than to relent and pay the atonement God has prescribed for going back on an oath.

A case in point is the vow made by Abū Bakr, the Prophet’s leading Companion, that he would never forgive one of his relatives, Misţaĥ, for taking part in the campaign to slander the Prophet’s wife, `Ā’ishah, who was also Abū Bakr’s daughter.

On that occasion a passage was revealed, declaring `Ā’ishah’s innocence of what was said against her. Then a verse follows in the same sūrah calling on believers to always choose the better course of action. This verse may be translated as follows: “Let not those of you who have been graced with God’s favour and are well-off withhold their generosity from their relatives, or the needy, or those who leave their homes for the cause of God. Let them forgive and forebear. Do you not wish that God should forgive you your sins? God is much-Forgiving, Merciful.” (24: 22) Abū Bakr relented and atoned for his oath, and reinstated his generous help to Misţaĥ.

God is even more gracious in offering this concession not only for inadvertent vows that need no atonement, but also for vows made in earnest and with full intention. The Prophet was reported to have often overlooked off-hand or casual vows made out of habit or in the heat of the moment. Premeditated vows must be revoked and atoned for, if keeping them results in, or leads to, something evil, harmful or inequitable. Some jurists, however, are of the opinion that making a false vow, knowing that it is false, can never be atoned for. Mālik says in his famous book, al-Muwaţţa’: “The best I have heard on this subject is that a casual vow is made in total good faith. If it is subsequently proven to be false, it requires no atonement. If a false vow is made deliberately, with the intention of appeasing someone, or for material gain, that is too grave to be atoned for.

9. Relevant Hadith

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  • Allah's Messenger said "By Allah! It is more sinful to Allah that one of you implements his vow regarding (severing the relations with) his relatives than (breaking his promise and) paying the Kaffarah that Allah has required in such cases." [Muslim]


  • Allah's Messenger said "By Allah! Allah willing, I will not vow to do a thing and then see a better act, but I would do what is better and break my vow."  reported that Allah's Messenger said "Whoever makes a vow and then finds what is better than his vow (should break his vow,) pay the Kaffarah and perform the better deed.[Muslim & Bukhari]



  • Allah's Messenger said "Whoever swore and (unintentionally) mentioned Al-Lat and Al-`Uzza (two idols) in his vow, should then say, `There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah'..[Muslim & Bukhari


  • Allah's Messenger said "The Laghw in the vows includes what the man says in his house, such as, `No, by Allah,' and, `Yes, by Allah'. [Abu Dawud]


10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone


12. External Links

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