I Made Promises to God That I Can’t Keep

Question: I made promises to Allah to stop doing some negative things, like not watching TV, not reading newspapers, and not reading novels. It has become somewhat difficult for me to keep up with these. So should I keep them? Or what should I do?

Answer: Assalamu alaykum,

Dear questioner, thank you for your question.

Please read the following article in order to differentiate between a promise, oath, or vow. It seems to me that your situation falls under a promise to Allah and nothing else.

What is the Difference Between a Promise, an Oath, and a Vow?

I commend your zeal for wanting to stop these actions, but I caution you to do so gradually. It is the Devil’s (Shaytan) number one trick to make one pile up many acts of worship, or totally abstain from all pleasures, that the person eventually comes crashing down, only to find that he didn’t change anything at all.

Limit your TV watching by an hour every few weeks gradually until you stop. Reduce your novels per month until you cut them out. There is no need to stop reading the news unless you feel that it is a genuine waste of time for you and doesn’t benefit you or your family. Pick your news carefully, perhaps, by reading only the Health section or Discovery section until you only read as much as you feel you need. You probably don’t need to read more than five minutes of politics.

Instead of making promises to Allah, get a handle on how you want to improve your religion and keep the company of religious people. Read the Qur`an every day, and read the inspiring works of Imam al-Haddad and others. Pray tahajjud and ask Allah to guide you every day. Don’t miss a single obligation and remove the haram from your life one at a time. You will soon find that your bad deeds drop from you like flies and that your interests will be changed forever. And Allah knows best.

Is There a Difference Between Breaking an Oath and Breaking a Promise?

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.