Breaking an oath

Q: My family consists of a father, a mother, five brothers, and two sisters. I am the middle brother. My father works as a Khatib (preacher) in a Masjid (mosque) administered by the Ministry of Endowments. He is used to direct us to follow the Straight Path as established by Allah (Exalted be He) and His Messenger (peace be upon him), but none of my siblings pay heed to his advice. (Part No. 23; Page No. 89) Whenever I try to advise my siblings to obey Allah (Exalted be He) by performing Salah (Prayer), observing Sawm (Fast), being kind to neighbors, and adhering to the Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet), they make a mockery of me. This has driven me once to swear to beat my younger brothers if they ever neglect to offer Salah in the Masjid. My intention is to train them to observe Salah regularly in the Masjid because Salah is the cornerstone of Islam and the link which communicates a Muslim with his Lord. This is based on the following Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The Salah of a person who lives near a Masjid will only be valid if offered in the Masjid." I have even beaten one of my younger brothers because he refuses to offer Salah and always lies about Salah. Sometimes when I ask him whether he has offered Salah or not, he tries to evade the question or invent an excuse for not offering Salah. My mother has got angry with me because of beating him. My brothers and sisters are in the habit of listening to songs and watching immoral films, which aim at undermining the foundations of Islam and diverting the attention of Muslims away from the Straight Path.I am asking about whether or not I will be held accountable before Allah (Exalted be He) for the sins committed by my siblings. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says: O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allâh, but do that which they are commanded. (Part No. 23; Page No. 90) How does Islam view living within a family whose members are far astray from the path of Allah (Exalted be He) and His Messenger? Do I have to observe Sawm for three days to expiate for swearing to beat my younger brothers?

A: You are required to continue advising and directing your siblings. You can cooperate with your father and righteous people in guiding them to the path of righteousness and distancing them from evil company; perhaps Allah (Exalted be He) will guide them. You should avoid them if they persist in abandoning Salah. As for your oath, if you have broken it, you will have to offer Kaffarah (expiation), which involves feeding ten Miskins (needy persons), or providing them with clothing, or emancipating a believing slave. If none of these is affordable, you must observe Sawm for three days.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.