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The Concept of Promises in Islam

Islam is a religion centred on singling God out for all acts of devotion. At the heart of Islam is the Quran, the ultimate guide, which enlightens our senses. Promise-keeping has significant importance and Muslims are ordered to keep their promises. The fulfilment of the promise is a virtue, which Islam recommends. The breaking of promises is a vice, which it prohibits. Allah has ordered us to fulfil all the promises. Allah says:

وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ إِذَا عَاهَدتُّمْ وَلَا تَنقُضُوا الْأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمُ اللَّهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ

“Fulfill the covenant of Allah when you have taken it and do not break oaths after their confirmation while you have made Allah a witness over you. Verily, Allah knows what you do.” (Surah An-Nahl 16:91)

Keeping a promise means fulfilling it and never breaking it. Breaking a promise is condemned in Islam and is conceder a big sin. Breaking a promise can lead to hellfire. Allah and Messenger (PBUH) have to order us to fulfil our promises. People make promises and agreements with each other. Islam gives a great deal of Importance in keeping promises. It is an important aspect of Islam and it is considered bad if promises are not kept. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ كَبُرَ مَقْتًا عِندَ اللَّهِ أَن تَقُولُوا مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ

“O you who believe, why do you say what you do not do? Great, it is in contempt to Allah that you say what you do not do.” (Surah As-Saff 61:2-3)

As good Muslims, we should consider the importance of keeping our words in Islam and take them to the deepest heart. We have to be the best Muslims we could by learning this one quality in everyday lives. The explanation above teaches us how we should be taking lightly the words we said by our mouth. As we never know somebody may suffer because we are unable to keep our words.

The reward for keeping a promise and the gravity of breaking it, among these benefits are the following:

  1. A promise predictable characters in a society
  2. A promise is a scale throughout the universe
  3. A promise creates a connection with Allah
  4. A promise compels highly responsible
  5. A promise is a religious obligation
  6. A promise dealings in social life
  7. A promise is to speak the truth
  8. A promise is a mutual trust
  9. A promise brings many benefits
  10. A promise of Muslim never deceitful
  11. A promise makes a point of keeping it
  12. A promise is a means of attaining security
  13. A promise is a steadfast anchor of the soul
  14. A promise to consult and then take a decision
  15. A promise turn lead to goodness in this world

Fulfil all the duties which Allah has ordained, honesty, moral responsibility, and trust. Keeping promises is an important aspect of human life and every person considers it very bad to do anything in infringement of a promise. Islam requires the parents to keep the promises that they make with their children. Allah says:

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ

“The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith, and they rely upon their Lord.” (Surah Al-Anfal 8:2)

Fulfilling promises is one of the attributes of the pious according to the Book of Allah, and one of the greatest means of attaining taqwa. Believers face many difficulties in their life we can’t think they have a very good life. But the believers who are possibly going through suffering, Allah is giving them a feeling in their hearts that could not be bought with the wealth of this worldly life. Allah says:

وَلَمَّا رَأَى الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا هَٰذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۚ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا

“When the believers saw the companies, they said: This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us, and Allah and His Messenger spoke the truth. And it only increased them in faith and acceptance.” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:22)

Allah promises to His believers that He will protect them from any kind of difficulty or problem. We all should know no one is a greater saver than Him. The ultimate promise of Allah to His believers is Jannah. All our deeds and actions in this world should bring us closer to Allah and earn Jannah. It is a means of expiating bad deeds and gaining admittance to Paradise. Allah says:

يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِي أُوفِ بِعَهْدِكُمْ وَإِيَّايَ فَارْهَبُونِ

“and fulfil (your obligations to) My Covenant (with you) so that I fulfil (My Obligations to) your covenant (with Me).” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:40)

Breaking promises is not allowed in Islam because it will lead to dishonesty and Muslims should be honest in every situation. Keeping promises will lead to honesty. Breaking a promise is also considered a lie and Muslims are forbidden, not to lie and is an act of Kufr. It will lead to breaking the trust of others. Islam always tells us to help and fulfil others’ needs. Keeping a promise will result in great reward by Allah in the sense of heaven.

The Holy Quran denounces the breaking of promise in the following ayat too:

  • “And fulfil the Covenant of Allah.” (Quran 6:152)
  • “O you who believe! Fulfil the obligations.” (Surah Al-Ma’ida 5:1)
  • “And verily, Hell is the Promised abode for them all!” (Surah Al-Hijr, 43)
  • “This is your Day,- (the Day) that ye were Promised.” (Surah Al-Anbiya, 103)
  • “When will this promise come to pass,- if ye speak the truth?” (Surah Yunus, 48)
  • “When will this promise (come to pass) if ye are telling the truth?” (Surah Saba, 29)
  • “(Allah) and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusion!” (Surah Al-Ahzab, 12)
  • “When will this promise come to pass, if ye are telling the truth?” (Surah Al-Anbiya, 38)
  • ”It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do.” (Quran 61:3)
  • “And those who are keepers of their trusts and their covenant.” (Surah Al-Mum’inūn, 23:8)
  • “O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do.” (Surah As-Saff 61:2-3)
  • “…and the performers of their promise when they make a promise…” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:177)
  • “and fulfil the promise, surely (every) promise shall be questioned about.” (Surah Al-‘Isra’, 17:34)

A promise is a declaration or an assurance that one will do something or that a particular thing will happen. Allah Almighty is the creator of this world. Allah has revealed a Quran for all mankind. Quran is the book of guidance for all mankind. Allah spoke of His creation through the Quran. Quran has its unique style of narration or we can say the style of Allah’s narration. In the Quran, Allah has committed promises to His believers and we all know Allah does not break His promises. Allah says:

فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ

“When you have made the decision, then rely upon Allah. Verily, Allah loves those who trust Him.” (Surah Ali Imran 3:159)

However, Allah has asked all Muslims to fulfil their promises just like the Prophet PBUH did. The Holy Prophet was known for his promise-keeping so widely that even his enemies used to entrust him with their belongings. Promises that Allah’s creation makes with other creations. Allah, too, makes promises but Allah’s promises in the Quran are extremely different from the promises that we make as Muslims to each other. Allah’s promises never break! Allah says:

إِنَّ أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ الْيَوْمَ فِي شُغُلٍ فَاكِهُونَ هُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُهُمْ فِي ظِلَالٍ عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ مُتَّكِئُونَ

“Verily, the companions of Paradise that Day will be busy in amusement, they and their spouses in shade, reclining on adorned couches.” (Surah Ya Seen 36:56)

On the Day of Judgment, Allah will ask you about every promise that you made to another and whether you kept that promise or not. It doesn’t matter if it was as small as you promising to return a friend a pen or you promising to return a friend a huge amount of money. Any unfulfilled promise will be asked about. And you must not be in a situation where you have no answer for Allah. May Allah make it easy for us to fulfil all our promises to people and the main promise to Allah to follow His path and become good Muslims. Ameen