A while ago I was faced with a problem and I made a vow to one of the Imams in hope of this problem being solved. I have found out that it is not permissible to make a vow to anyone except Allah. Please note that the place where the Imam is is far from me. Is it permissible to give what I vowed to the poor or should I offer expiation for that?.
This vow is invalid, because it is an act of worship to someone other than Allah. You have to repent to Allah from that, turn back to Him, repent, seek forgiveness, and regret it. A vow is an act of worship. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And whatever you spend (e.g., in Sadaqah — charity for Allaah’s Cause) or whatever vow you make, be sure Allaah knows it all” [al-Baqarah 2:270], and He will reward you for it. And the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever swears a vow to obey Allah, let him obey Him, but whoever vows to disobey Him, let him not disobey Him.”
This vow is invalid and is associating others with Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. This vow that you made to one of the dead imams, to ‘Ali, to al-Husayn, to Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qaadir or anyone else is an invalid vow and associating others with Allah. The same applies to vows made to people other than these, such as to al-Sayyid al-Badawi or al-Sayyidah Zaynab or al-Sayyidah Nafeesah or anyone else. All of that is invalid. Similarly making a vow to the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) is invalid, because a vow cannot be made to anyone other than Allah, because it is an act of worship. Prayer, sacrifice, vows, fasting and supplication should all be directed to Allah alone, may He be glorified and exalted, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything)”
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him”
This means: he has enjoined that you should worship none but Him. And Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“So, call you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and the believers) upon (or invoke) Allaah making (your) worship pure for Him (Alone) (by worshipping none but Him and by doing religious deeds sincerely for Allaah’s sake only and not to show off and not to set up rivals with Him in worship), however much the disbelievers (in the Oneness of Allaah) may hate (it)”
“so invoke not anyone along with Allaah”
Worship is the right of Allah; vowing is an act of worship, fasting is an act of worship, prayer is an act of worship, supplication is an act of worship and sacrifice is an act of worship. So they must be done sincerely for Allah alone. So this vow is invalid and you do not have to do anything, whether for the poor or for anyone else. Rather you have to repent and you do not have to fulfil this vow, because it is invalid and it is shirk. You have to repent sincerely and do righteous deeds. May Allah help you and guide you to that with which He is pleased and bless you with sincere repentance. End quote.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him).