No two words can invoke as much hope and
confidence as, "I promise." As children we are taught that promises are
unbreakable pledges which cannot be defaulted on under any circumstances. But,
as we grow older, the old adage of, "promises were meant to be broken," more
often justifies the lack of commitment and follow-through placed behind these
two words. Sometimes we forget that a promise, is like a pledge or a vow, and
that it should be given only if we are absolutely sure that we can fulfill it.
As Muslims, our word should be our bond, and if we make promises, then we should
also make sure that we keep them, for Allah says,
"...surely every promise shall be questioned about." [17:39]
How many times have we heard brothers and sisters who have just gotten married
talk of the promises they have made to each other? She promises that she will
always look her best when he's at home, that the house will be immaculate at all
times and that she will be the model of obedience. He promises that he will help
her maintain their home, help her with the children and that he will practically
be the poster boy for "Great Husbands Inc."
If we revisit these very couples six-to-eight months later, we find a much
different picture than the one painted only a few short months ago. We often
find neither of them living up to the promises that they made, and this is
usually the cause of much conflict and tension in many new marriages. Brothers
and sisters, we must be careful to guard the promises we make to each other for
Allah says, "whoever fulfills his promise and guards (against evil), surely
Allah loves those who guard (against evil)." [3:76]
Broken promises in a marital relationship can lead to many problems.
When promises are broken, it breaks down the fragile walls of trust and
confidence that must be maintained in order for the relationship to flourish.
Sisters, if you promised that the dinner would be ready by the time he got home,
then make sure that it is. Brothers, if you promised to cut the grass, then make
sure you do that, before you go off to do something else. What may seem like a
little thing to you, may be something quite big to someone else. By guarding our
promises, we also guard the integrity of our relationships. This in turn fosters
a more secure sense of reliability, trust and confidence, and serves to diffuse
tensions and conflicts.
"They fulfill vows and fear a day the evil of which shall be spreading far and
Let us fulfill our vows with this fear in mind. Let us not forget that even
though we are neglectful, our scribe angels are not. If a brother comes to you
in the mosque and asks a favor of you, and you say yes, just because you said
inshaAllah, that does not give you permission to break that verbal agreement. So
many of us use inshaAllah, as a way to get out of implicit or explicit verbal
agreements we have made with each other. Many of us use inshaAllah to say yes,
when in our hearts we actually mean no. As Muslims, we are honour-bound to be
truthful with each other, and we should always say what we mean, and mean what
To no other group of individuals are broken promises more devastating, than to
children. Children are like elephants, they almost never forget. If you promise
a child something, they will remember that promise, even though they may not
verbalize it to you. When a child knows that you are a person of your word, then
it comes to trust and depend on you in a secure way. But, when a child finds out
that you are not a person of your word, this can leave numerous hidden scars
that can lead to a number of behavioral and disciplinary problems.
Abdullah said, " Lies are of no use in either seriousness or jest. Also, it is
not right for someone to promise something to his/her child/children and then
fail to fulfill that promise." Related by Abu Dawood.
By keeping our promises to our children, we are also teaching them the
importance of honour and commitment. By keeping our word to them, they will in
turn learn to keep promises made to us and to their peers. As parents, we must
always remember that the old saying, "do as I say, not as I do," does not work.
Children model themselves after behavior, and they will always do what they see
their parents doing. By keeping our promises to our children, we also reinforce
in them a sense of importance and belonging, and a knowledge that their feelings
"And whatever alms you give or (whatever) vow you vow, surely Allah knows and
the unjust shall have no helper." [2:270]
So, let us then not be among the unjust. Let us be always mindful of the vows
and promises we make to each other, so that through them we can tighten the
bonds that hold us together.