Promises: A Spoken Bond

By Mariam Imran

“Oh, come on. You know you can trust me, Sarah. I won’t tell anyone”, I hastily replied on the phone, aware that I wasn’t intending to keep my promise. A pang of guilt washes over me. I was going to break a promise. “It’s just one silly old promise, it doesn’t mean anything”, I try to reassure myself. After what seemed like an eternity, I hear Sarah’s quavering voice on the other end, as she begins to trust me with her personal information. It takes not more than a minute after our phone call that I punch in another friend’s number, and spare no time to tell her: “YOU CAN NOT BELIEVE WHAT SARAH JUST TOLD ME!”

Sadly, we live in a day and age where this is an everyday practice. Keeping your word is something that is looked at with surprise, rather than being a norm. We have stopped recognizing it as a sin, rather justifying it with childish arguments such as “Well, everyone does it. What’s the big deal?” This has caused us great harm, not only on an individual level but as a society too.

As a Muslim and a Believer, it is our responsibility to take care of the promises that we make. We should recognize this as a spoken bond, one that should be kept under all circumstances. Our religion very strongly emphasizes on keeping promises and not breaking each other’s trust. It has gone so far to declare such people as hypocrites, which is indeed a very strong and harsh term.

“There are three signs of a hypocrite: whenever he speaks, he lies; whenever he makes a promise, he breaks it; and whenever he is trusted, he betrays his trust. (Al-Bukhari)”

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It is indeed quite frightening to think that one may fall in such a dangerous category if he or she doesn’t keep his or her word. In the book of guidance, we find Allah educating us about holding our oaths sacred in these words:

“Fulfill the Covenant of God when you have entered into it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them; indeed you have made God your surety; for God knows all that you do.} (An-Nahl 16:91)

There are a few sections in the Quran that portray the moral makeup of the faithful and many of them put fulfilling promises in the center of the meritorious traits of the faithful, indicating how necessary it actually is.

If we don’t take good care of this and fail to claim responsibility to fulfill our promises, then the repercussions of doing so will indeed be grave. People will stop trusting each other and will eye each other with suspicion. The community will harbor negativity and nurture mistrust, doubt and fear. The consequences are not limited to this world, but also the hereafter. Allah will question every vow that we failed to keep, about all the people we deceived. But indeed, we can’t deceive Allah. Allah says:

“And fulfill (every) covenant. Verily! the covenant, will be questioned about” (al-Isra’ 17:34)

Without further delay, we should all make it a point to take responsibility and not abuse the trust of other people. We should fear Allah and the Day of Judgement, because one day all of our broken promises will come forth to testify against us.

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