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Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu,

I would like to know if the days of fasting for Kaffarah of breaking an oath need to be consecutive or not.

Jazakallah khair.

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كفارة اليمين is detailed in the following verse of the Quran:

لا يؤاخذكم الله باللغو في أيمانكم ولكن يؤاخذكم بما عقدتم الأيمان فكفارته إطعام عشرة مساكين من أوسط ما تطعمون أهليكم أو كسوتهم أو تحرير رقبة فمن لم يجد فصيام ثلاثة أيام ذلك كفارة أيمانكم إذا حلفتم واحفظوا أيمانكم كذلك يبين الله لكم آياته لعلكم تشكرون

Allah will not impose blame upon you for what is meaningless in your oaths, but He will impose blame upon you for [breaking] what you intended of oaths. So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. But whoever cannot find [or afford it] - then a fast of three days [is required]. That is the expiation for oaths when you have sworn. But guard your oaths. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be grateful.

Quran 5:89

There is difference among the schools on whether the fasts need to be consecutive.

  • The stance of the Hanafis and Hanbalis, and one view of the Shafi'is is that they should be three consecutive days. They rely on the alternative recitation of the above verse which mentions continuity in the three days:

    فصيام ثلاثة أيام متتابعات

    And some have made an analogy with the other types of Kaffarah such as for Dhihar (58:4) and Murder (4:92) etc. where it is clearly stated in the Quran that the fasting should be consecutive.

  • The stance Malikis and the dominant view of the Shafi'is that they can be non-consecutive as the verse does not mention continuity in the fasting and hence it is not required.

The cautionary approach may be to fast consecutively, as it is not that difficult to do and will avoid the difference among the schools.

References:

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The qur'an treats the topic of breaking oaths in (5:89) saying:

Allah will not impose blame upon you for what is meaningless in your oaths, but He will impose blame upon you for [breaking] what you intended of oaths. So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. But whoever cannot find [or afford it] - then a fast of three days [is required]. That is the expiation for oaths when you have sworn. But guard your oaths. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be grateful.

There's a difference of opinion on whether or not one should perform the fast of the kaffarah of breaking an oath in consecutive days or not:

Ibn Kathir quotes in his tafsir after quoting that a-Shafi'i held the view that consecution is not necessary in his "al-Iman" and the view of Malik about the general statement in the verse -which can be found here in Arabic- the following:

(But whosoever cannot afford (that), then he should fast for three days.) Ubayy bin Ka'b and Ibn Mas'ud and his students read this Ayah as follows, "Then he should fast three consecutive days." Even if this statement was not narrated to us as a part of the Qur'an through Mutawatir narration, it would still be an explanation of the Qur'an by the Companions that has the ruling of being related from the Prophet . (Source qtafsir)

Imam al-Qurtobi -maliki scholar- quoted this as follows in his tafsir -see here in Arabic- :
In the following I'm translating from Arabic as the translations are mine take them with the necessary care!

قوله تعالى : فصيام ثلاثة أيام قرأها ابن مسعود ( متتابعات ) فيقيد بها المطلق ; وبه قال أبو حنيفة والثوري ، وهو أحد قولي الشافعي واختاره المزني قياسا على الصوم في كفارة الظهار ، واعتبارا بقراءة عبد الله ، وقال مالك والشافعي في قوله الآخر : يجزئه التفريق ; لأن التتابع صفة لا تجب إلا بنص أو قياس على منصوص وقد عدما .
The statement of the almighty Lord: "then a fast of three days" was recited by ibn Masu'ud (consecutive) which fixes and refers to the general case; And this is the view of abu Hanifah and a-Thawry and one of two statements of a-Shafi'i and the choice of al-Muzni in analogy to the fast of Kaffarah of Dhihaar. And based on the recitation (qira'a) of 'Abdullah (1). Malik and a-Shafi'i in his second statement said: the splitting is permissible; because consecution is an attribute that can't be declared as ordered unless there's a text or an analogy on a text which fail to exist here.
(1) ibn Mas'ud

While abu Bakr al-Jassas -hanafi scholar- quoted in his tafsir -see here in Arabic-:

قوله تعالى : فمن لم يجد فصيام ثلاثة أيام روى مجاهد عن عبد الله بن مسعود وأبو العالية عن أبي : " فصيام ثلاثة أيام متتابعات " . وقال إبراهيم النخعي : في قراءتنا : " فصيام ثلاثة أيام متتابعات "
The statement of the almighty: "But whoever cannot afford (that), hen a fast of three days" Mujahid narrated from 'Abdullah ibn Masu'd and abu al-'Aliyah from Ubay "then a fast of three consecutive days" And Ibrahim an-Nakha'i said:" In our qira'a: "then a fast of three consecutive days"

وقال ابن عباس ومجاهد وإبراهيم وقتادة وطاوس : " هن متتابعات لا يجزي فيها التفريق " . فثبت التتابع بقول هؤلاء . ولم تثبت التلاوة لجواز كون التلاوة منسوخة والحكم ثابتا ، وهو قول أصحابنا . وقال مالك والشافعي : " يجزي فيه التفريق " . وقد بينا ذلك في أصول الفقه .
And ibn 'Abbas, Mujahid, Ibrahim, Qatadah and Tawus said: "They are consecutive and it is not permissible to split them". And by their statements the "consecution" is fixed. While the recitation is not fixed as it is possible that the recitation is abrogated while the ruling is still fixed. And this is the view of our companions. While Malike and a-Shafi'i said: "It is permissible for him to split" And we have explained this in Osool al-Fiqh.

According to the Islamic Jurisprudence according the four sunni schools الفقهعلى المذاهب الأربعة of jurisprudence of sheikh al-Jaziri -for details read here in Arabic- summarizes the views as follows: The Hanafi and Hanbali school of fiqh hold the opinion that the expiation for breaking an oath is fasting three consecutive days, but while the hanafis consider such a fast if interrupted due to for example menses as void the hanbalis say it can be split in such a case.
While the shafi'is and maliki's say it can be interrupted and split, but needs the intention of expiation.

Note that ibn Hazm against his general opposition to the malikis in this case held the same opinion in his al-Muhalla.

Finally be aware that only a mature person who is legally responsible must expiate for a broken oath as the sunnah actually excludes anybody else from being responsible:

  • There are three whose actions are not recorded: a lunatic whose mind is deranged till he is restored to consciousness, a sleeper till he awakes, and a boy till he reaches puberty? (Sunan abi Dawod)

  • The pen has been lifted from three; for the sleeping person until he awakens, for the boy until he becomes a young man and for the mentally insane until he regains sanity." (Jami' at-Tirmidhi and Sunan abi Dawod and also on the authority of 'Aishah in Sunan abi Dawod, Sunan an-Nasa-i and Sunan ibn Majah)

See also on islamqa the fatwa #45676 #12700 and -in Arabic- the fatwas on islamweb #8539 #211417.

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