Importance of Promises in Islam-Quran and Sunnah related to Promises

On defining Promise: “A declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified”

In our today’s time, what is going on around us all? We are faced with too many social issues. The bond of relationships is becoming weaker and weaker with the passage of time. So why is that so?

The answer is simple that we ignored the basic guidelines given to us by the Quran and Sunnah. Our beloved Prophet SAW gave us guidance for each aspect of our life. He SAW emphasized the basics to be fulfilled carefully. And the basics are like our behavior, attitude and of course our promises that we make in our lives.

Prophet SAW life is the epitome of perfection and He SAW is the role model for every Muslim.

A famous incident from the life of Prophet SAW

Hudaibiya treaty is significant in this regard. There was made a treaty with non-Muslims on these mentioned few points, namely,

  • Any non-Muslim who flee back to Muslims even after accepting Islam will be turned back.
  •  Non-Muslim will not return back any Muslim who left Islam.

Abu Jandal Ibn e Suhayl fleed from non-Muslims and accepted Islam, at that time he was chained and was hoping but even after this condition, as promised Prophet Muhammad SAW returned him back to non-Muslims and asked him to be firm. Such was the importance of the promise according to Muhammad SAW.

How Quran talks for Promises

Hoping but even after this condition, as promised Prophet Muhammad SAW returned him. Quran at many points speaks for the promises and there is much emphasis is given in the Quran as well. Few verses from Quran speak well for the significance of the Promises.

Allah says: وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا مَالَ الْيَتِيمِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ أَشُدَّهُ ۚ وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ ۖ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْئُولًا
“And fulfill (every) covenant. Verily! The covenant will be questioned about.” (Surah Isrâ 17:34)

وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ إِذَا عَاهَدْتُمْ وَلَا تَنْقُضُوا الْأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمُ اللَّهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ
“And fulfill the Covenant of Allah (Bai`ah: pledge for Islam) when you have covenanted.”
(Surah Nahl 16:91)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَوْفُوا بِالْعُقُودِ ۚ أُحِلَّتْ لَكُمْ بَهِيمَةُ الْأَنْعَامِ إِلَّا مَا يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ غَيْرَ مُحِلِّي الصَّيْدِ وَأَنْتُمْ حُرُمٌ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ مَا يُرِيدُ

“O you who believe! Fulfill (your) obligations.” (Surah Maeda 5:1)

كَبُرَ مَقْتًا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَنْ تَقُولُوا مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ  يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ
“O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.” (Surah Saff 61:2,3)    

“But those who fear their Lord (Allâh) and keep their duty to Him, for them are built lofty rooms; one above another under which rivers flow (i.e. Paradise). (This is) the Promise of Allâh: and Allâh does not fail in (His) Promise.” [Surat Az-Zumar: 20].

In the story of Moses, Allah says: “So, did We restore him to his mother, that she might be delighted, and that she might not grieve, and that she might know that the Promise of Allah is true.” [Surat Al Qasas: 13].

“The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he talks he lies, Whenever he promises, he breaks his promise. Whenever he makes a covenant he proves treacherous.”[Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The Five Compilers of Hadith (Imams Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Nasa’y, and Ibn Majah) reported on the authority of Abdullah ibnAmr ibn Al `As who narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: 

“Whoever has the following four (characteristics) will be a pure hypocrite and whoever has one of the following four characteristics will have one characteristic of hypocrisy unless and until he gives it up.

  1. Whenever he makes a promise, he breaks it.
  2. Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie.
  3. Whenever he makes a covenant, he proves treacherous.
  4. Whenever he quarrels, he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner.”
    Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-as (RA) reported: Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Four are the qualities which, when found in a person, make him a sheer hypocrite, and one who possesses one of them, possesses one characteristic of hypocrisy until he abandons it. These are: When he is entrusted with something, he betrays trust; when he speaks, he lies; when he promises, he acts treacherously; and when he argues, he behaves in a very imprudent, insulting manner.” (Al-Bukhari)

“Those that keep their plighted faith and act aright,-verily Allah loves those who act aright.” (Surah Imran 3:76)

To keep promises is in the basic teachings of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad SAW. It is also important to remember that breaking promises is one of the greatest sins in Islam as it destroys and disturbs the peace of society and weakens the bonds of relationships.

Let me close my talk with the famous lines by Hazrat e Ali RA, he said, “To fulfill promises is the highest form of integrity.”

And at another place, Ali RA emphasized the importance of promises by saying, “When you make a promise to your child, you must fulfill it.”

I pray to Allah SWT to make us all the true followers of our religion. As it is not the words and outlooks that matter but what matters is our actions, our deeds, and our promises that we make with each other.