What Are the Guiding Principles of a Promise?


After speaking to a scholar, they said don’t rely on people. For example, if someone says they will do something, I was told to expect the other not to do so, as this is normal, and you can’t expect people to sacrifice their time for you. The notion I got was that this behavior is normal and that I shouldn’t trust others. But I see this as betrayal due to the inconvenience it has caused the other person, and as far as I know, Islam teaches us to be punctual and give early notice if you can’t do something. Also, excuses which are provided are usually in-genuine in my eyes as I would have sacrificed sleep or skipped a meal in order to fulfill my word. I wanted to know what is acceptable, as many people ‘promise’ you to do things that they do not end up doing.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

I pray you are in good faith and health. Thank you for your question.

The Guiding Principle of a Promise

A person should only commit to a promise if he can fulfill it. Otherwise, he should let know the other person as soon as he can’t fulfill it, and not leave it till the end and let the appointed time pass by and leave the other person waiting and in a lurch.

Keeping Promises and Contracts

Allah Most High said: O you who believe, fulfill the contracts. [Quran, 5:1]

And Allah Most High said: 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. [Quran, 61:23]

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘The signs of a hypocrite are three: whenever he speaks, he lies, whenever he promises, he breaks his promise, and whenever he is trusted, he betrays his trust.’
In another narration, the Prophet said, ‘Even if he fasts and prays and claims to be a Muslim.’ [Bukhari]

Imam Khalil Nahlawi explains that what is meant by this hadith is that it is unlawful for one to make a promise while intending to break it, as such an intention is deemed hypocrisy. If one intends to fulfill it, then making a promise is permissible.

Striving to Fulfil a Promise is Sunna – Six Good Deeds to Assure Entry into Paradise

Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Accept six deeds from me, and I assure your acceptance into Paradise. When one of you speaks, let him not lie. When one of you promises, let him not break it. When one of you is trusted, let him not betray it. Lower your gaze, restrain your hands from harming others, and guard your chastity.” [Musnad Abu Yaʿla]

One should strive to fulfill a promise, as doing so is sunna. Breaking a promise that one intended to fulfill is disliked and unbecoming of a believer. If another depended upon the promise to make a financial commitment or significant undertaking, then it would be religiously binding to fulfill. [Nahlawi, Al-Durar al-Mubaha fil Hadhr wal Ibaha]

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Related Answers
(331) 120 – What is Hypocrisy in Speech? – Birgivi’s Path of Muhammad – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube
Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms, and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart: Hamza Yusuf (Book)

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I pray this helps with your question.

[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete the hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled in an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and ‘Aalimiyya sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for several years. He has taught hifz of the Quran, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to children and adults onsite and online extensively in the UK and Ireland. He taught at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences. He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His interest is a love of books and gardening.