“I’ll be there in five minutes” … “I’ll finish it tomorrow” …”I won’t do this again” .. “I’ll meet you later”. There are examples of many promises we say daily, but we don’t keep. A promise is a commitment by someone to do or not to do something. Keeping promises is an important principle in life. How needy we are today of this principle!
Islam emphasizes the need to keep promise and considers breaking a promise as a big sin.
Let’s show examples of how you should keep your promise regardless of the faith, gender or age of whom the promise was made to.
1- Promises are Made to Keep:
(The Treaty of Al-Hudaybiyah)
“On the day of Hudaibiya, the Prophet made a peace treaty with the non-muslim tribe that rules Mecca on three conditions:
- Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) would turn back to them any person who flee to prophet Muhammad (Even if this person converted to Islam).
- The non-muslim tribe won’t turn back any Muslims going to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions would come to Mecca the following year and would stay there for three days and would enter with their weapons in cases, e.g., swords, arrows, bows, etc.
Abu Jandal came hopping, his legs being chained, but the Prophet returned him to Al-Mushrikun.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
After the treaty Abu Jandal Ibn Suhayl escaped and exclaimed to the Muslim people that they would return him to the polytheists when he comes to them as a Muslim?! The Prophet kept his promise and had to return him but encouraged him to remain steadfast.
2- Breaking Promises Is Worse than Lies:
(Hudbaifa b. al-Yaman)
Breaking a promise is as lie. In fact, it may be worse than lying. It’s deception. The Prophet Muhammad is an example of truthfulness and honesty for us. He was the most honest and truthful person of his time.
At Madinah, after the Hijrah, Hudhaifa (one of the Prophet’s Companions) became closely attached to the Prophet. He participated in all the military engagements except Badr. Explaining why he missed the Battle of Badr, he said: Nothing prevented me from being present at Battle of Badr except this incident. I came out with my father Husail (to participate in the Battle), but we were caught by the disbelievers of tribe Quraish.
– They said: (Do) you intend to go to Muhammad?
– We said: We do not intend to go to him, but we wish to go (back) to Medina. So they took from us a covenant in the name of God that we would turn back to Medina and would not fight on the side of Muhammad So, we came to the Messenger of Allah and related the incident to him.
– He said: Both of you proceed (to Medina); we will fulfil the covenant made with them and seek God’s help against them.” (Sahih Muslim)
3- Don’t Make Promises You Don’t Intend To Keep:
(The Mother’s Promise)
It’s very important to keep your promise to your child because if you break it, you make him lose trust in your words, disrespect you and feel unimportant in your world. This child grows up thinking that fulfilling promises isn’t important.
The Prophet Muhammad taught us to keep our word even with children and if someone intentionally breaks a promise then it’s a form of lying; for you are guaranteeing something is true when you know it is not.
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amir:
“My mother called me one day when the Messenger of Allah was sitting in our house.
– She said: Come here and I shall give you something.
– The Messenger of Allah asked her: What did you intend to give him?
– She replied: I intended to give him some dates.
– The Messenger of Allah said: If you were not to give him anything, a lie would be recorded against you” (Sunan Abi Dawud)
A Promise Is a Promise:
Promises mean a lot to people because they suggest appreciation, value and empathy. Trust is built through a series of experiences shared with others, then when you tell a lie (break a promise), everything that you say in the future may be treated as suspect.
If you can’t deliver something on time because of an uncontrollable event, most people will understand that it’s unintentional; but if you intentionally can’t keep a promise, don’t make it. It’s considered hypocrisy in Islam if you break the promise.
The Messenger Muhammad said:
Four characteristics constitute anyone who possesses them a sheer hypocrite, and anyone who possesses one of them possesses a characteristics of hypocrisy till he abandons it: when he talks he lies, when he makes a promise he violates it, when he makes a covenant he acts treacherously, and when he quarrels, he deviates from the Truth.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)
To sum up
When someone else breaks a promise to you, doesn’t that make you feel violated?
When you make a promise, you plant a little seed of hope and expectation in the hearts of the people you love. Think again next time before you say you will do something for them, and try to make that little extra effort and fulfill your promise without delaying it.
And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned.” (17:34)
“And they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive” (23:8)