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Understanding Kaffarah (Kaffara): The Islamic Atonement for Violating Sacred Obligations

Kaffarah, also known as Kaffara, is a significant concept in Islamic jurisprudence. Stemming from the Arabic root kaf • fa • ra, it translates to "atonement" or "expiation" and refers to a compensatory act required when certain sacred obligations are violated.

Kaffarah and Fidyah: Distinguishing Between Two Forms of Islamic Compensation

Kaffarah (Kaffara): A compensatory penalty for intentionally breaking specific sacred obligations, such as deliberately breaking a Ramadan fast.

Fidyah (or Fidya): A compensatory act or fee for not meeting a religious obligation due to valid reasons, such as illness preventing one from fasting.

Identifying Violations: When is Kaffarah (Kaffara) Required in Islam?

The Quran and Hadiths outline five primary violations necessitating Kaffarah (Kaffara):

  • Deliberately breaking a Ramadan fast.
  • Violating a sworn oath.
  • Transgressing the sacred rites of the Hajj pilgrimage.
  • Manslaughter, whether voluntary or involuntary.
  • Engaging in zihar, an archaic practice of estranging one's wife in a specific manner.

Defining Penalties: What Constitutes Kaffarah (Kaffara) in Different Violations?

The specific Kaffarah (Kaffara) varies based on the violation and the violator's circumstances. Commonly prescribed Kaffarah's (Kaffara) include:

  • Providing food for the needy.
  • Observing a specific number of fasts.
  • Certain violations allow for a choice between these penalties, while others enforce a sequential order based on the individual's capacity.

Calculating Kaffarah (Kaffara): Rates and Requirements for Specific Islamic Violations

Ramadan Fast Violation:

  • Fast for two continuous Islamic months, or
  • If not feasible, feed 60 needy individuals.

Breaking an Oath:

  • Choose to feed or clothe 10 needy individuals, or
  • If financially incapable, fast for three days.

Hajj Violations: The penalties vary, depending on the nature of the transgression. They can range from animal sacrifices, feeding the poor, to observing additional fasts.

Guidelines for Fulfilling Your Duty: How to Pay Kaffarah (Kaffara) in Islam?

Kaffarah (Kaffara) payments, most commonly for fast and oath violations, can be complex due to their specific requirements. For those needing assistance, MAA International offers a dedicated Kaffarah (Kaffara) payment and distribution via our website.


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