By A. Zeynep Donmez – Ozlem Ata Translated from Turkish by Yilmaz Kaso
A chapter from the book ‘Friday of the Youth” Sydney, AUSTRALIA
KEEPING YOUR WORD
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لاَ تَفْعَلُونَ. كَبُرَ مَقْتاً عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَن تَقُولُواْ مَا لاَ تَفْعَلُونَ
“Believers! Why do you say things which you shall not do? Saying things that you shall not do is hateful in God’s sight.” (Al-Saff 61:2-3)
“Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should keep their promise when they make it.” (Usul al-Kafi, V.2, p.364)
Suppose you have an exam and you don’t have all the lecture notes. You asked a friend for the missing notes and he promised to bring them to you. You contacted him a few days before the exam, but he didn’t bring the notes. How would you feel? Or maybe you have become a tradesperson and you have sold a large number of goods. The person to whom you supplied the goods didn’t pay on the promised date. However, there were other payments that you would make with the money coming from there. Therefore, your payment plan has been turned upside down, and perhaps you couldn’t keep your promises to others. How would you feel? Or, wouldn’t it hurt if your friend didn’t keep a small promise to you, even if it didn’t have any significant consequences for you?
Well, dear youth,
As you can see, there are consequences when we keep our promises or not. Therefore, God decrees in verse 34 of Surah al-Isra, “Keep your promises. Surely, promises are responsibility.” Failure to keep certain promises may have significant negative consequences, as we have described above. In such cases, only an apology may not suffice to compensate for those consequences. The damage we have caused to the promised person should also be compensated. Otherwise, we would have harmed the person we had promised to.
As another scenario, let’s think of situations that we consider simple and that have no serious consequences for anyone. For example, you have agreed to meet your friend at a specific place and at a specific time. Let’s say your mobile phone is out of battery. Then from another friend, you got a more attractive offer and you ditched your first promised friend by thinking, “what would happen if I didn’t go once” and he stood there waiting for you. Now I’m asking you, will this friend trust you again? What does your friend think of your character, your friendship, or your honesty? If you make this mistake once, your friend may forgive you; if you do it twice, maybe he/she will tolerate it again; but at the third time, his/her relationship with you will severely deteriorate and his/her confidence in you will be completely damaged.
Trust is a fundamental factor for the peace and comfort of the individual and society; not a factor to be ignored. If there is no mutual trust, we can neither sustain family relationships, nor social or commercial relations. A sense of trust is such a humane feeling that it is essential not only among Muslims but among all people. Moreover, the messenger of God Muhammad (PBUH) stated that a Muslim is a person from whose tongue and hand the people are safe, that means, everyone should be sure that a Muslim does not harm anybody neither through acts nor through talks. That’s why Muslims need to be more sensitive about being trustworthy.
Today, most of us are not fully aware of what a promise is. We should know that every word that comes out of our mouths is a promise. We should always keep this in mind when we talk. We should only say what we plan to do and make every effort to accomplish what we say. In the verse we read at the beginning of our speech, Almighty God says, “Why do you say things which you shall not do? Saying things that you shall not do is hateful in God’s sight.” thus teaching us a basic rule that we should follow before talking or making a promise.
In the hadith we read at the beginning of our speech, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says: “Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should keep their promise when they make it.” Let us keep this advice. So, we hope that we will be among the saved ones.