Friday, May 6, 2011

Breaking Promises = Breaking Lives

The words we utter carry immense power. Bitter words can hurt. Kind words can bring life to a dead heart. But words assuring kindness when breached can ruin lives.

"The value of words is often diminished when the whispering of action speaks a different truth." ~Anonymous 

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Hayaa’ and "trustworthiness" will be the first to go from this world; therefore keep asking Allah for them." (Baihaqi)

Amanah in arabic means trustworthiness. Being trustworthy implies being honest, punctual, fair in dealings, honouring trusts, keeping promises and commitments. The opposite of amanah is betrayal or treason. Which implies failure to keep amanah in accordance with the expectaions of the one who trusted us with it. A promise is not something that needs a stamp on it. All words of assurances uttered by us to someone become a promise. Our one insensitive action of irresponisiblity can ruin the next 50 years of someone's life!

“And keep the promise; the promise is a responsibility.” ~Quran (17:34)

Islam puts a lot of stress on keeping promises. Along with not offering namaz, adultery, backbiting, murder  breaking promises is a gunahe-kabira too. In fact it's a trait that makes you a hypocrite and hypocrites have been declared worse than kuffar in Quran.

“Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe.
Those with whom you make an agreement, then they break their agreement every time and they do not guard (against punishment).” ~Quran (8:55-56)

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr: Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said “Four traits whoever possesses them is a Munaafiq (hypocrite) and whoever possesses some of them has an element of hypocrisy until he leaves it: 
1. The one who when he speaks he lies,
2. When he promises he breaks his promise,
3. When he disputes he transgresses and 
4. When he makes an agreement he violates it.” ~(Bukhaari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 34, and Muslim)

Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said “There are three signs of a hypocrite: 
1. when he talks he speaks untruth,
2. when he makes a promise he does not keep it, 
3. and when he makes a contract he deceives, although he may be offering prayers, observing fast and calling himself a Muslim.” (Muslim)

Pause and read again: "3. and when he makes a contract he deceives, although he may be offering prayers, observing fast and calling himself a Muslim."

The Hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire: no helper wilt thou find for them;"~Quran (4:145)

Most of the time we find excuses to explain away why we did not keep a promise. Sometimes, owing to our arrogance or carelessness we dont even bother about giving any explanations. Without realizing that someone might be anxiously waiting and relying on the fulfillment of our promises. Since most of us have become immune to Allah's word therefore let me also give you a insight into the damage a broken promise is capable of causing.
  1. When you break a promise you, you train the other person's subconsious how no one can be trusted in their lives. We all know about the harm lack of trust can cause.
  2. You make them believe that this world is a bad place to live in and full of people who lie, break promises and betray. So you train them to be ungrateful to Allah by hating His creatures as well.
  3. You force people to be unhappy by depriving them of the benefits that trusting others in their relationships can bring to them. 
  4. In case the magnitude of the trust you made someone put in you is really big, by breaching it you cause immense hurt leading to extreme depression (please don't underestimate depression). Thus you not only make them incapable of social interaction, but also leave them struggling with variuos mental and physical diseases for years to come.
  5. You set a bad example by sending people (who look upto you, your children, friends etc) messages that its ok to be dishonest. The ones who are fortunately saved from the torment of your breached promises are being subconsioulsy trained by you to ruin other's lives the same way and be ok about it.
  6. In Islam we are all related by being sisters and brothers to eachothers. Islam encourages its believers to trust other believers unless proven otherwise. Because that helps bring peace to individuals. So by breaking promises you are making it hard for your sisters/brothers in islam to stick to the soul of islam.
  7. When you assure/promise someone of something by saying "InshaAllah" you make Allah a witness of that promise. You might be unaware that unfulfilled promise is a like a debt, to which now the Almighty stands a wtiness to, invoked by you! We all know the implications of dragging Allah's name in vain over matters we dont intend to nor strive to stay honest to.
So one broken promise and you cause a chain reaction of broken relationships, broken trusts, mental and phsycial ailments and not to forget a whole new bunch of promise breachers. You make this life and world a hell for someone by either hurting them or teaching them to hurt others. And probably never even realizing that for every ounce of pain and mess in their lives you cause a chain reaction of sins accumulating in your a'amal account as well.

Pause for a moment and think what that means. Can you imagine how you have messed the rest of someone's life? Forget others can you imagine how you have ruined your  own world and akhirah?

Even when parents lie and break promises to their children they force them to believe how untrustworthy this world is. That effects their relationships with every person in their lives, be it friends, family, colleagues etc. Thus they grow up to be bitter and pessimistic individuals being more prone to failure and depression in their lives. (Read more about Erikson's Stages of development: Trust vs Mistrust)

Therefore, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) prohibited men from breaking promises to their children. He said: “And a man shall not make a promise to his child and not fulfill it.”

For most people breaking a promise is not something big. They always find an excuse to justify their behavior; without realizing how they might have put someone else at disarray; how they could have turned a content heart full of positive dua into disrest and curses for them!
Remember there's no obedience to creation without any obedience to the Creator. If you choose to obey people (your parents, husbands etc) for a worldly thing at the cost of disobeying Allah (leaving namaz, breaking promises, lying to his creatures etc) then that obedience is only shirk.

So if you are fortunate enough to realize any percentage of the damage you have caused what would you do? Would you keep delaying making amends assuming you and the other person have a very long life to live? Would just a simple sorry suffice? Would a few tears from you suffice? Would that help the victim of your oppression start living a normal and blissful life? Would it wash away your sins? I dont think so. You have to revert the evil you put inside them and stop the chain reaction! You have to revive the trust inside them that you breached not for yourself but for every other human as well! You have to make them unlearn the bitterness and distrust! You have to help them heal! You have to fulfill your promises! Whether you do that or not, you realize that or not, you stand responsible for it. Sooner or later you will be questioned about it!

“…Surely every promise shall be questioned about.” ~Quran (17:39)

“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.” ~Quran (61:2,3)

So does the solution lie in never making any promises? That will be like cutting yourself off from all human interactions and relationships. By Allah's hikmah and grace our relationships are a source of strength for us. Even being related by Islam we will always be making promises and responsible for fulfilling them. So be careful about what you say, assure and promise someone. If you tell someone you'll be there on time, then be on time; if you assure someone of your help, help them! If you assure someone of being their in their hard time, make sure you live up to your words! The following narration is recorded in Bihār al-Anwār:

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) promised a man that he would wait for him at an appointed place near a stone. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) waited there but the man did not turn up. Morning turned into afternoon while the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) stood in the blazing sun. Some of his followers saw him and said: “Please stand in some other place." He (S.A.W) replied:“I cannot move away from here till that man returns.” The man arrived at last. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) said:“If that man had not come, I would have continued to stand till death!”

When you call someone a friend every word you say to them becomes a promise and hence your responsibility. If you keep assuring someone of something and keep breaching their trust you are being two faced.

Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said: “You will find that among the worst people is someone who is two-faced, showing one face to some and another face to others.” [Sahih Bukhari]

So if you really care about your akhirah then instead of running away from the responsibility of your words...

     1. Pray that Allah gives you the character and strenght to stay true to your words. Dua is the weapon of a   believer.

"Keep praying because possible and impossible is in our thinking;Nothing is impossible for Allah." ~Hazrat Umar (R.A)

     But does dua without any accompanying action mean anything? No!

"Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls)" `(Quran 13:11)

     2. Along with  dua DO what it takes to fix what you can and fulfill your promises. Allah will show you a way to achieve all of that. Allah gives us a solution to the problem too:
    "And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend."~Quran (41:34)

    Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)  said: “Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out , and behave good-naturedly towards people.” [At-Tirmidhi]

    We are all made weak and prone to sin. And that is why we all need reminders. It's sad how easy it has become for most of us to breach other's trust, break our vows and yet act so indifferent to it. Even though fulfilling promises is an obligation for a believer, the reward for it is the most precious of all things i.e. the love of Allah Almighty.

    “Whoever fulfills his promise and guards (against evil), Surely Allâh loves those who guard (against evil).” ~Quran (3:76)

    "And when our verses are recited to him, he turns away arrogantly as if he had not heard them, as if there was in his ears deafness. So give him tidings of a painful punishment."
    ~Quran (31:8)

    So if this article makes any sense to you; If you (want to) have the heart that can't dare act deaf to the verses of Allah; If love of Allah matters any bit to you; then before time brings you to your last breathe, take a tiny moment out of your busy routine and look back! Look back and take action! For knowledge without action is futile (Hazrat Abu Bakr). Hold yourself accountable before Allah holds you accountable. Leaving a promise unfulfilled might seem like a small thing to you but it might still be making someone's life a living hell. A reason big enough to rank you a loser in both the worlds.

    “A believer’s promise to his believing brother is a vow that has no expiation (It cannot be broken). But one who goes back on his word declares his opposition and enmity to Allah, and invokes the anger of Allah.” ~(Wasa’il ul-Shia)

    Allah bless us all with the tawfeeq to keep true to our words, forgive us for our breached promises, helps us seek and get forgiveness of those whose trust we breached, to make amends for what we messed up, to change what we can, and most of all help us keep our promises with Him, ameen.


    humaira said...

    Good Going dear...

    Saira Andleeb said...

    Thanks Humaira. JazakAllah :).

    muneeb said...

    MASHALLAH..exceptional,alarming n thought provoking..keep it up.. ;)

    seemab said...


    Syra said...

    Jazakallah. A great piece of writing and compilation, mashallah.

    Sarmad said...

    Very inspiring!

    This reminds me of something an American-born shaikh once told a teenager who asked him "why do I have to be a great muslim? why isn't being a good person enough?" And he smiled and said: "if you think your Prophet and your Creator are just good enough and so-so beings, then sure, be a so-so Muslim. But if you think your Prophet is the best of all Creation, and that your Creator is the most merciful and forgiving, then don't you owe it to Him by at least trying to be the best Muslim you can be?"