What is the votive in islam? What is the nadhr in islam? What are the types of votive?
A) Nature of The Votive
Nadhr means to determine to do something that is permissible with the purpose of worshiping Allah, to make it obligatory upon oneself, and to make a promise to Allah in this matter. “Nadhr” is an Arabic word and its plural form is “nudhūr”.
Vowing to do the deeds that are considered worship for the sake of Allah is a means of gaining rewards. For example, saying “It is my vow that I vow to fast tomorrow for the sake of Allah” or “that I vow to give such amount of money to the poor.”
However, vows made for a worldly cause are not acceptable. For instance, saying “I vow to fast for three days if my so-and-so business works out” or “I vow to give the poor that much money” is not acceptable.
This is because an act of worship and obedience carried out for a worldly purpose is not based on a lofty purpose, but a worldly desire. Therefore, this would be inconsistent with the sincerity required to exist in acts of worship. Moreover, such a vow cannot change fate and whatever is written in destiny will take place.
Perhaps it would be more appropriate to do more acts of worship, acts of obedience, goodness, and goodwill to thank Allah in case one attains some blessings in the world or remove obstacles.
However, it is obligatory to fulfill the vows made within the dimensions and conditions detailed below.
In fact, votive worship had a place in previous divine religions as well. In the Qur’an, the story about Mary is mentioned as follows, “Behold! a woman of ‘Imran said: ‘O my Lord! I do dedicate unto You what is in my womb for Your special service: So accept this of me: For You hear and know all things.’” In like manner, Mary was addressed as follows, “And if you do see any man, say, ‘I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into not talk with any human being’”
Allah Almighty says, “Let them fulfill their vows” and “O you who believe! Why do you say what you do not do?” The Prophet (saw) also said regarding vows made to do something lawful, “Whoever vows that he will be obedient to Allah, should remain obedient to Him; and whoever made a vow that he will disobey Allah, should not disobey Him.”
B) Conditions of The Votive Act
For the vow to be valid according to Islamic rules, the following conditions must be met:
1) There must be a farḍ or wājib act of worship in the kind of thing that is vowed. If a person makes a vow to “fast for three days”, “to pray ten cycles” or “to offer a sacrifice”, it will be obligatory for him to fulfill such votives. This is because there are farḍ or wājib acts of worship of their kind. However, it is not necessary to fulfill certain vows such as “to visit the sick” or “to organize a mawlid program” since such acts do not exist as farḍ or wājib.
2) The person who vows must be sane and adolescent. The vow made by a minor or a mentally ill person is not obligatory to fulfill.
3) The farḍ or wājib act, which is the kind of thing that is vowed, should not be dependent on another act but should be an act of worship on its own. For example, while a vow made to “perform two cycles of prayer” is valid, a vow to “perform ablution” or “perform the prostration of recitation” is not valid. This is because the ablution and the prostration of recitation are not performed for the purpose of worship on their own. Perhaps this is because they are means to fulfill actual acts of worship.
4) The votive act should not be a farḍ or wājib act required to be performed now or in the future.
Vows made by a rich and resident believer, such as “I vow to perform the dawn prayer tomorrow”, “I vow to perform the witr prayer”, or “to sacrifice on the Eid al-Aḍḥā this year” will not be considered valid.
5) The votive act should not be in the nature of disobedience against Allah and His Messenger (saw). For example, a vow made saying “If my job becomes successful, I vow to sacrifice myself in the way of Allah” is not considered valid.
However, it is valid to vow to do something that is normally lawful but becomes prohibited for some other reason. For example, if a person vows to fast on the first day of Eid al-Fiṭr or the four days of Eid-al-Aḍḥā. However, because fasting is prohibited on those days if he does not fast and then makes them up later the fasting is permissible. However, if he fasts on those days, his vow will be fulfilled.
According to Abu Yusuf and Imam Shafiʿi, the vow made by saying “I vow to sacrifice my son for Allah if my job becomes successful” is not valid. For this is an unlawful votive. According to Abu Ḥanīfa and Imam Muhammad, in such a case, a sheep must be sacrificed. This is because Ibrahim (as) was ordered to make such a sacrifice in place of sacrificing his son Ismail (as).
6) It should not be impossible to fulfill the votive vow. For example, if a vow is made by saying, “I vow to fast for the sake of Allah yesterday or the day before”, nothing is required. For it is impossible to fulfill such an act of worship.
If a vow is made to “fast on the day when such and such person comes” and if that person comes at night or comes in the daytime after the sun passes the meridian, it is not possible to fast anymore. If one spends the morning without doing anything that invalidates fasting, it becomes possible for him to fast by making intentions before the zawāl time.
7) If the votive is about giving property as a charity, the votive property must not exceed the wealth of the person who vows it or it should not belong to someone else. For the person who makes the vow will only be able to make a donation of as much as his property. Moreover, it is not valid to vow someone else’s property as charity.
C) Types of Votive
The vow is generally divided into two types, conditional and unconditional.
1) Conditional Votive
These are also called “muʿallaq votives” that are divided into two kinds:
a) Vows attached to a condition that is desired to happen. For example, a vow made for “if my illness gets better, I vow to fast for so many days” or “to make a sacrifice” is a conditional votive. If the disease in question is cured, it will be wājib to fulfill the vow. However, it is not possible to make a vow based on a wish for healing made in an unlawful way. For example, a vow that is made by saying “O blessed person! If you heal my disease or make my job successful or give me a child or return my lost property, I vow to spend such amount of money for your tomb” will be considered invalid. Whereas, if the wish for healing, in this case, is done by asking it from Allah, then the vow will be considered valid.
b) Vows attached to a condition not desired to happen. For example, if a person smokes again after making a vow to forbid himself from smoking, saying, “If I smoke from now on, I vow to fast for a month”, this person will be free. If he wishes, he fulfills this vow, that is, he fasts for a month or if he wishes, he performs the atonement of an oath. Because the condition of not smoking is not something he wants. This vow is a kind of an oath.
A conditional vow is not fulfilled prior to the realization of that condition. For example, in a vow made by saying, “I vow to fast for three days when my son is discharged from the military,” the vow will not be fulfilled if he fasts before his son is discharged. When his son comes, he has to fast again.
2) Unconditional Votive
These are called muṭlaq (absolute) vows. It is divided into two:
a) Definite (muʿayyan) vows: It is a votive to be made at a certain time without any condition. For example, to make a vow by saying “I vow to fast on the last day of this month.”
If a date has been set for the votive sacrifice, it should be sacrificed on that date. If there is no such date, it can be slaughtered at an appropriate time. However, slaughtering the votive sacrifice on the day of Arafa (the day before the Eid al-Aḍḥā) may lead people to misunderstand that normal sacrifices can be slaughtered the day before. Therefore, if the votive sacrifice is to be sacrificed together with other sacrifices, it should be preferred on the days of Eid-al-Aḍḥā.
According to Ḥanafi jurists other than Imam Zufar, it is null and void to determine the place, time, certain amount of money, and the poor in an absolute vow. These do not need to be fulfilled. For example, in vows made by saying, “I vow to fast on Friday”, “I vow to perform such prayers in the Ka’ba”, and “I vow to give this money to such and such poor people in such and such a town”. If the person fasts on another day or prays that many cycles in another mosque, or if he gives that amount of money to another poor in another town, he will have still fulfilled his vow.
In short, restrictive conditions such as place, person, time and similar conditions might cause hardships and difficulties to fulfill so they are not required to be complied with in this case. Some of these are meaningless conditions. It is meaningless to be forced to give a certain amount of money and to keep it for a long time as a votive. Instead, another amount of the same value would be able to fulfill the job.
b) Indefinite (ghayr muʿayyan) vows: These are absolute vows made without any condition or time. A vow made to “fast for three days” or “to slaughter a sacrifice” are of this nature.
Unconditional vows must also be fulfilled. A vow made at a certain time can be fulfilled on another day. The specified place and person can also be changed.
If the subject of the vow is a sacrifice, it should be chosen from animals that are lawful to be sacrificed. Like ram, cattle, and camel. However, chicken, rooster, turkey, rabbit, deer, etc., are animals that are not normally sacrificed, they should not be made the subject of sacrifice.
It is necessary to fast for only one day for a person who vows by saying “let the fasting be obligatory upon me.” Without determining the amount, if a person vows to “fast for many days”, he must fast for ten days according to Abu Ḥanīfa, and seven days according to Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad.
It is not permissible to say, “I vow so much money to such and such person”, “I vow to light candles at such and such tomb” or “I vow to sacrifice an animal for such and such a person to come”.
The one who vows a sacrifice cannot eat the meat of the votive himself, nor can his wife, ascendants, and descendants, that is, his parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren. He should give it as charity to the poor. If they eat from it, they have to give as a charity the value of the amount that they ate.
If a vow or the atonement of an oath is not fulfilled, it cannot be enforced by the judge because these are only related to the religion and are duties towards the responsible believer himself.
 Āl ʿImrān, 3: 35.  Maryam, 19: 26.  Al-Ḥajj, 22: 29.  Al-Ṣāff, 61: 2.  Al-Bukhari, Aymān, 28, 31; Abū Dawūd, Aymān, 19, al-Tirmidhī, 2; al-Nasā’ī, Aymān, 27, 28; Ibn Maja, Kaffarāt, 16.  Al-Shurunbulālī, Marāq al-Falaḥ, p. 117 ff.; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 690 ff.; Bilmen, ibid, p. 318 ff.