The following excerpt is from the book “Islamic Manners” by Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah (may Allah shower His mercy upon him). Although the book is short and concise, one can nonetheless acquire very deep meanings by reflecting upon its structure and themes. It is unlike other works of adab (etiquette) which often go into the particular details of the Sunnah.
Rather, “Islamic Manners” focuses on key principles and practices of the Sunnah and gives special attention to those that are often neglected by believers in the modern era. If each us were to live up to the lessons contained in this short work, we would witness remarkable transformations in ourselves, our families, our communities, and within broader society. This following section explains the spiritual importance of keeping appointments and the etiquette of dealing with delays and cancellations.
Keeping Appointments, Delays, and Cancellation
By Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah
In the first verse of Surat Al-Mai’da, Allah called upon the believers “O you the Believers, fulfill your promises.” In Surat Maryam Allah also praised Prophet Ismail (may peace be upon him) “He was true to his promise. He was a Messenger and a Prophet.”
To keep an appointment is vital to our lives, since time is the most precious commodity, once wasted it could not be replaced. If you made an appointment, whether to a friend, colleague or for business you should do your utmost to keep this appointment. This is the right of the other person who gave you part of their time and may have declined other appointments. Not only have you disrupted their schedule but you have marred your image and personality.
If your punctuality becomes lousy you will lose people’s respect. You should keep all your appointments whether it was with an important person,a close friend or someone else. You will be responding to the call of Allah in Surat Al-Issra’ “and keep your promises. The promise is a responsibility.”
It is enough to know that our kind Prophet gave an appointment to one of his companions. The companion came three days later. The Prophet gently reprimanded him ‘You have caused me some trouble. I have been waiting expecting you since three days.’ The companion probably had an excuse for this delay. Then, he had no means to inform the Prophet about his inability to meet the appointment.
Today, fast and reliable communication means are available everywhere. As soon as you realize you will not be able to keep an appointment, you should inform the other parties to enable them to utilize their time. Do not be careless or irresponsible. Do not think that the appointment is so unimportant that it does not merit a notice or an apology. This is totally irrelevant. Regardless of its importance an appointment is a commitment. It must be kept or canceled properly in advance.
Never make a promise while you do not intend to keep it or fulfill it. This is forbidden as it falls within lying and hypocrisy. Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated that the Prophet said:
‘Three traits single out hypocrites, even if he prayed and/or fast and claimed to be Muslim: If he talks, he lies. If he promises, he does not keep it. If he is entrusted, he betrays the trust.’ Imam Ghazali in Al-Ihya said that this Hadith fits those who promise while intending not to fulfill it, or those who, without excuse, decide later not to fulfill a promise. Those who promise but could not fulfill, their promise due to a proper excuse are not hypocrites. But we should be careful not to create excuses that are not valid. Allah knows our inner thoughts and intentions.”
(p 12 of “Islamic Manners” by Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghudda)
Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghudda (1917-1997) was one of the giants of Islamic scholarship in the 20th century. He was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria to a family that descended from Khalid ibn Walid (may Allah shower him with mercy). He studied under some of the leading scholars of the Ummah, including the prolific Ottoman scholar Shaykh Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari. A leading scholar in his own right, Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghudda has left his mark in the field of hadeeth and jurisprudence.
Don’t forget to check out our course: Prophetic Conduct: Islamic Manners in Everyday Life
Registration closes February 15, 2010.
Sh. Faraz Rabbani · 12 downloadable lessons · 3 live sessions
“What would the Prophet do?” That is a question we often ask ourselves, but sometimes the answer is not clear to us. This course provides important and insightful glimpses into the Prophet’s inspirational personality and manners, empowering students to build their own Islamic conduct by attempting to emulate that of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The course is an explanation and contextualization of Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah’s influential and celebrated book Islamic Manners.