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Verse 5:89 (translation from Irfan ul-Quran):

Allah does not persecute you for your purposeless (and frivolous) oaths, but takes you to task for your (solemn) oaths which you affirm (deliberately). (If you breach such oaths) the atonement is feeding ten poor persons with an average (quality) food which you serve to your family, or providing them (the poor) with the clothes, or freeing one neck (i.e., a slave). But the one who does not find (all this) shall fast for three days. This is the atonement for your oaths which you affirm (and then break). So, always guard your oaths. It is this way Allah explains most clearly His Revelations to you so that you may become grateful (by obeying His commandments).

What qualifies as an "oath," and what is the history of revelation for this ayah?

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    A good place to get started is Sunan Ibn Majah Volume 3 "The Chapters on Expiation", just 21 short Hadith, you'll get your answer with a perfect picture. – servant-of-Wiser Apr 9 '15 at 2:48
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Now first of all according to the tafsir books this Verse was revealed with his predecessors so you should read them together!

According to tafsir att-tahrir wa at-Tanwir التحرير والتنوير a group of man (sahaba) wanted to refraining from all lusts of dunya to get near the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in rank.

According to the Imams at-Tabari and al-Wahidi the narration (in Arabic) was reveled because of this story:

روى الطبري والواحدي أن نفرا تنافسوا في الزهد . فقال أحدهم : أما أنا فأقوم الليل لا أنام ، وقال الآخر : أما أنا فأصوم النهار ، وقال الآخر : أما أنا فلا آتي النساء ، فبلغ خبرهم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فبعث إليهم ، فقال : ألم أنبأ أنكم قلتم كذا ؟ قالوا : بلى يا رسول الله ، وما أردنا إلا الخير ، قال : لكني أقوم وأنام وأصوم وأفطر ، وآتي النساء ، فمن رغب عن سنتي فليس مني فنزلت هذه الآية

(My own translation so be careful)

A group of people compete in asceticism. One of them said: as for me. i shall offer Salat (prayer) all night long and don't sleep, and an other one said: as for me. i shall observe Saum (fasting) during the day. And the other said: I shall abstain from women and shall have a woman (wife). News of that reached the Messenger of Allah and he praised Allah then said: "I have been told that you said such and such things?, they answered: Yes o Messenger of Allah, but we only wanted to do good (deeds). He said: But I stand (in prayer) and sleep, I fast and I break my fast, and I marry women. Whoever turns away from my Sunnah is not of me."

You may find in the Sahih books and some Sunan books a Narration which is similar but they don't claim this to be the reason for revealing those Verses!

Here's a link to the Version from Sahih al-Bukahri and a link to the Version of Sunan an-Nasa-i.

In some Narration those who decided to refrain from all(or almost) lusts of dunya where Abu Bakr أبو بكر, Ali علي, ibn Masu'd ابن مسعود, ibn O'mar ابن عمر, abu Dhar أبو ذر, Salim mawla abi Hudaifa سالم مولى أبي حذيفة, al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad المقداد بن الأسود, Salman al-Farisi سلمان الفارسي and Mi'qal ibn Moqrin (i hope i didn't transliterate it wrong) معقل بن مقرن and they met at the house of 'Othman ibn Madhu'n عثمان بن مظعون. But this would mean that this happened at the early days of hijra as 'Othman didn't have a house in Medina and died in 2a.H. On the other hand in Sunan Abi Dawod there's a Hadith in which the speech is directed to 'Othman, which seems to support this story!

A third story says that some Sahaba wanted to do like Christians and interdicted to themselves some kind of meat, some of their (nap or length of the sleep) sleep, some of their physical acts with their wife's and they made oaths to oblige themselves!

I think about the oaths you can use the comment of @servant-of-Wiser

But if you still have questions feel free to ask!

And Allah knows best!

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An oath regards to the person by Allah's name, or the quran (although i have heard it is haraam to swear by anything other than Allah's name, but i'm not sure about this). So basically, when you say "wallah" (an arabic word meaning 'by Allah'), you are taking an oath, as you are swearing by Allah's name. regarding the history of it, i have a book that says it was revealed after the treaty of Hudaibiyah- roughly towards the end of 6 ah- early 7 ah. regarding it's background and context, i'm not too sure, so i'm really sorry but i hope i've helped :)

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