Ethics In Islam

Fulfillment of Promise


            In human conduct and ethics, fulfillment of promise or honouring of pledges, Islam values greatly and gives topmost importance being noble character of human life. The presence of this attribute in every man is extremely essential for the existence and dignity of society. This attribute forms one of those principles of humanity on which depends the honour and confidence of the whole nation and every society. Islam has stressed on the keeping of promises so that the nation shall not only lead a life of honour and dignity but also of progress. In the Qur'aan, not only fulfilling of promises has been commanded at numerous places but those who practise it have been exalted and those who do not have been condemned. Allaah says in the Qur'aan:

"...For (every) engagement will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning)." (S. 17: 34).

            The above Verse reveals that one shall be prepared for facing the trial on the Day of Judgment about not fulfilling the promises and honouring the pledges, made during his sojourn in the ephemeral world. Non-fulfillment of promises amounts to breach of trust, and a stigma or the character of a person.

            About promise Allaah says at another place in the Qur'aan:

"...and fulfill the covenant of Allaah: thus does He command you, that you may remember." (S. 6: 152).

            The Verse signifies the nature of promise in so clear and emphatic terms beyond doubt. When a man makes a promise, with another man, he actually enters into a contract or covenant with Allaah. This fact has been stated in the above quoted Verse and it has been called a covenant of Allaah. In another Qur'aanic Verse, this point has been further elaborated for our guidance. Allaah says:

"There is not a secret consultation between three, but He makes the fourth among them, - nor between five but He makes the sixth, nor between fewer nor more, but He is in their midst, wheresoever they be: In the end will He tell them the truth of their Conduct, on the Day of Judgment." (S. 58: 7).

            This Qur'aanic Verse reveals that a promise or covenant made with a man or a party anywhere or divulging of a secret or hatching of a conspiracy, whether done in privacy or public, is in the knowledge of Allaah as He is present there and listening to the conversations. As such, Allaah clearly emphasises in another Verse when one makes a promise to another man, he should fulfill it as a promise made to Allaah:

"Fulfill the Covenant of Allaah when you have entered into it and break not your oaths after your have confirmed them; indeed you have made Allaah your surety." (S. 16: 91)

            Those who make false promises i.e., make promises simply to dodge or dupe the party or person and not to fulfill it, have been cursed by the Qur'aan, and have been warned of grave consequences and grievous penalty in the following Verse:

" - On them is the Curse; for them is the terrible Home!" (S. 13: 26).

            But there are also cases in which man has no bad intention to deceive or dupe any but fails to keep his promise. He has every sincere intention to fulfill his promise in certain favourable circumstances but the following or sudden occurrence of an adverse condition renders him helpless to fulfill his promise. For example, a man borrows some money from a person with a promise to pay back the same on a certain date. At that time he is certain that he will be able to pay back his loan as the conditions then prevailing were favourable to him. But the conditions suddenly change and the borrower fails to provide for paying back the loan. Such circumstances are common in our everyday life. To save man from such adverse situations, the Quran shows a simple and effective way. It must be known that there is nothing in the authority of man. The result of all his plans and schemes are in the hand of Almighty Allah. Success and failure is from Allah: therefore, man shall work and put his trust in Allah for the result. In each and every work one should take Allah as the real Helper and Guide. Therefore, as ordained by Allah, a man should always while making a promise or determination, invariably subject its fulfillment to the Will of Allah. The Quran has instructed us in this respect as follows:

"Nor say of anything: 'I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow' without adding: 'So please Allah.'" (18:23)

This instruction is the best means for a sincere man to console himself on the one hand on his failure to fulfill his promise and seek Allah's Pleasure on the other. Therefore, while making any promise or desire, one should invariably state;

"So please Allah";

But with confidence and sincere attention and not, should one do it, to mislead, dupe or deceive anybody. Once trusting his work and promise on Allah, he should go on making his sincere efforts; Allah helps him with the achievement of success. Even if he fails to succeed in his work or fulfill his promise, he should take it as the Will of Allah and exercise patience and perseverance. But, he should do all this with sincere intention and complete faith in Allah and with a will and wish to complete his work to fulfill his promise and not to deceive or avoid his responsibility; because the Qur'an says that:

"On them is the curse; for them is the terrible Home!" (S13:25)._

'Who would like to be cursed by Allah and make his destination the 'terrible home'?

The Kind Prophet has called non-fulfillment of a promise a mean act, unrelated to Islam or humanity, and also a sign of those people who dupe and deceive others. Those who deceive others on the pretext of faith and religion are really lovers of worldly fame, which they connive to have at the cost of religion and faith. In the religious term, they are called 'hypocrites'.

Among the signs of hypocrites, the Kind Prophet has top-listed the act of breaking a promise. He said that among the three signs of a hypocrite are one is to make a promise and break it. He added that even one sign of hypocrisy is found in a man, it is a substantial proof for his being a hypocrite.

But those people who stay and stick with their promise and covenants, do not deceive others, sincerely make promises and enter into agreements, and then wish and will with enthusiasm to fulfill their promise or agreements, they are counted among the successful and virtuous people who will attain the righteous path. The Qur'an, while enumerating the virtues of good and pious servants of Allah, has clearly declared;

"But it is righteousness to fulfill the contract which you have made;"

About the reward for such people Allah says:

"Those will be the heirs who will inherit Paradise." (23:10-11)

In light of the above, we should have spirit and enthusiasm to fulfill the promise made by us in our worldly life and do our utmost not to break any agreement, covenant or promise to injure the Islamic conduct or the dignity of Muslims just to derive some material benefit which is transitory. The everlasting gain or reward is needed in the permanent life of the Hereafter in Paradise.

O Allah! we pray to you to include us among your faithful servants who honour their promise and covenants, and save us from the great offence of breaking or dishonouring the covenants or promise which we make.


(Courtesy: Yaqeen International)





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