FULFILLMENT OF PROMISE
Fulfillment of Promise-An essential part of a Muslim's Conduct .
When a Muslim undertakes a thing, he should respect the undertaking. When he enters into any contract he should honor it till the last. This is the demand of the faith that when a man talks of any enterprise, he should have the intention of taking it to completion, like the water which does not rest till it flows down to the lower level. He should be known among the people as a man of reliable promises, and there should be no fear of any breach of promises or of any dubious dealings from him.
Fulfillment of the promise is necessary. Similarly when an oath is taken, it should be redeemed. But this fulfillment of promise or the redeeming of the oath and pledges is necessary when the dealing is legitimate and concerns truth, otherwise honoring the promise in connection with something sinful and disobedience to Allah has no value, and there is no importance of oath in sin.
Allah's Messenger has said:
"If some one has taken an oath, but saw an aspect of goodness in another thing, he may break his oath and pay compensation (atonement), and should perform the act which is better and has goodness."
It is not proper for a man to insist on redeeming the oath. On such occasions it is better to break the oath. In a hadith
it is stated:
"It is sinful for a man among you to go to his wife with his oath (unredeemed) compared to his paying the compensation (atoning) which He has fixed for breaking the oath."
For this reasons no promise and covenant is proper and correct except in rightful matters. When a man has promised to do a certain good thing, then he should try his best to fulfill it, as long as it appears good to him. He should very well know that he should stick to manly talk, faith and belief. There is no room in this for breach of promises or doubts and hesitation.
Anas bin Malik says that his uncle Anas bin Nadar could not take part in the battle of Badr, and he said to the Prophet: "O Messenger of Allah! In the first battle that you fought with the polytheists I could not take part. If Allah kept me with the Prophet then they will definitely see my achievements in the second battle against the polytheists."
When in the battle of Uhad, there was fierce fighting and the Muslims were retreating. He prayed to Allah: "O Allah! I ask your pardon for the mistake that they have committed, and I declare myself innocent of the transgression of the polytheists". Saying this he rushed into the battle. In the way he met Sa'ad bin Ma'az whom he said: "O Sa'ad bin Ma'az! By the God of Nadar, Proceed towards Paradise. I smell its fragrance , in the valley of Uhad."
Sa'ad said: "O Messenger of Allah! The love for rnartyrdom, which he showed, cannot be expressed. Then he advanced."
Anas says that we found more than eighty wounds on his body, which were caused by swords, the points of lances and the shower of arrows. The polytheists had disfigured his body and it was difficult to identify him. With great difficulty his sister identified him with the help of a mole on his fingers.
Anas says that he thinks that the following verses were revealed about him or about persons like him:
"Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah " of them some have completed their vow to (the extreme), and some (still) wait; but they have never changed (their determination) in the least."
( Ahzab .. 23)
Memory and Determination-essential for Fulfillment of Promise
Fulfillment of promises depends on two factors. With these two things, fulfilling one's promises would be easy. Allah had taken a promise from Adam that he would not go near the forbidden tree, but Adam forgot the promise within a few days. He became a prey to weakness and broke his promise:
"We had already beforehand taken the covenant of Adam, but he forgot,. and We found on his part no firm resolve."
It shows that deficiency in memory and weakness of determination are two obstructions, which come in the way of performance of duty. And this is a strange thing that man, being overwhelmed by the hardships of the times, various difficulties and different pressing problems forgets the open and clear realities. To him the clear figures appear blurred, and the realities which are as striking as the light of the sun disappear from his sight.
There the necessity of a reminder becomes very pressing, to overcome the negligence and forgetfulness, and to keep this important thing before men's eyes. There are a number of verses of the Quran which were revealed for safeguarding the memory:
"Follow the revelation given to you from your Lord, and follow not, as friends or protectors, other than Him. Little it is you remember of admonition."
"This is the way of your Lord, leading straight; We have detailed the signs for those who receive admonition."
"And the raiment of righteousness-that is the best. Such are among the signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition."
( A'nrnf: 26)
"Thus shall We raise up the dead; so that you may remember,"
Alive and wakeful memory and remembrance is essential for fulfilling promises. A man who forgets his promises and covenants, how can he fulfill them? That is why the following verse has been ended on a note of admonition after giving command of fulfilling them:
"And fulfill the Covenant of Allah; thus does He command you, that you may remember”
If a man has a strong memory in respect of fulfilling his promise, it is also necessary that he should have a determination to do so, a determination which should not have any laxity or slackness in this matter a determination which should be able to overcome all the rebellious desires, and which should lighten the coming burden of difficulties, It should be a determination which should be able to cross all the difficult valleys and blocks and should be able to set an example of selfless sacrifice for others.
The measures for weighing and appraising people are different with different people. The price one has to pay for remaining faithful sometimes is very high,
At times one requires to sacrifice all the wealth, property and the most desired thing in this respect.
But these difficulties, sacrifices and trials of determination prove in the end to be the steps for achieving greatness and honor, as the poet says:
"Why he, who considers his life and heart dear, should go to (seek) the beloved in her street."
The holy Quran . has severely criticized those who seek to achieve heights of success and glory In the shadow of comfortable living:
"Do you think that you will enter paradise without such trials as came to those who passed away before you? They experienced suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the prophet and the faithful who were with him cried: 'When will Allah's help come ?' Ah ! Verily, Allah's help is near."
(Baqarah : 214
When a man develops in himself the combined forces of a conscious and wakeful mind and a heart full of determination, then he can be considered to have been qualified to enter the group of the faithful people.
The Greatest Covenant
For a Muslim the most honorable and the holiest covenant is the one which he has made with his Lord, for Allah has created him with His Power. He has nourished him under the shadow of his favors and blessings, and has demanded of him that he should recognize what is the reality and admit it. No misguiding factors should cause him to deviate from the right path lest he may deny these realities or he may lose sight of them:
"Did I not enjoin on you, 0 you children of Adam! that you should not worship Satan.. for that he was to you an enemy avowed? And that you should worship Me, ( for that) this was the straight way?"
Those who do not listen to the prophets and do not follow their teachings, in their nature also there is a motivator which pricks them, shows them the path of their Lord, and tries to make them realize the greatness of the Creator, however corrupt and polluted the environment may be :
This is the meaning of this covenant which Allah has taken from all the humans:
"When your Lord drew forth from the children of Adam-from their loins-their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying).. . Am I not your Lord ( Who cherishes and sustains you)?' They said: .Yes, we do testify.' (This), lest you should say on the Day of Judgment: 'Of this we were never mindful.' Or lest you should say: 'Our fathers before us may have taken false gods but we are (their) descendants after them.. will you then destroy us because of the deeds of men who were futile?' Thus do We explain the signs in detail in order that they may turn (to Us)."
Here no regular dialogues had taken place as is clear from the apparent sense of these verses, but this is a picture of the right-natured people showing how they are mindful of Allah, how they recognize Him, how they discover His Oneness and Greatness from the proofs scattered in the universe, and shun from all the conventional customs and habits which keep men away from this Lord, and which associate some one with Allah. This style of speech and writing is common in the Arabic language.
With honoring this Covenant, a man's faithfulness is the foundation of his respect and honor in this world and of success and glory in the next world.
It is an undue misgiving and fear from Allah that we should fulfill the covenant made with Him and still be apprehensive that some disaster would befall us :
" Recall the favor, which I bestowed on you, and fulfill your Covenant with Me " I will fulfill My Covenant with you, and fear none but Me."
The Prophet used to give these instructions to the tribes which came to him, while conveying the Message of Islam, and used to place before them only a few aspects in the beginning according to the intellectual and physical capacities of the people instead of giving them the complete teachings.
Auf bin Malik says that he was with the Prophet when there were about seven, or eight or nine persons present. He asked us : "Will you not take a pledge on the hand of the Messenger of Allah ?" We stretched our hands and said: "We take a pledge on your hand, a Messenger of Allah !"
He said: "(Your pledge is) That you should worship Allah. Do not associate anybody with Him, and offer salat for five times and listen and obey." And he said in a low voice: "And do not ask for anything from the people."
Auf bin Malik says: "I saw some of these persons who had taken pledge that when their hunter fell on the ground, they did not ask anybody to pick it up and give it to them."
How scrupulously the pledge is being observed and how severely and strictly it is being enforced! There was no special significance of this pledge. Every group used to be instructed according to its nature and circumstances. The ruler used to be advised not to be cruel. The trader used to be instructed not to indulge in adulteration and deceit, and the employees were admonished against accepting bribes. Otherwise every Muslim is bound to follow the entire religion, all its tenets and principles, and he will be asked on the Day of Judgment about the entire Shariah. However, in the Islamic world there have appeared a few sects which take a pledge of a special kind. They should not be entertained. They are like quacks who pose as physicians. They administer spurious drugs and complicate the disease and endanger the life of their patient.
Islamic teachings cannot be divided and distributed. All of them must be followed, and their enforcement is necessary in every place at every time.
The Ideal Pledge of Ansar
Allah's Messenger took a pledge from the Ansar that they will support this Message with their lives and properties, and try their utmost in protecting the Prophethood, till the time the Message is conveyed to the Arabs and the Non-Arabs.
The Covenant entered into by the Ansar is considered as the most glorious pact in the annals of belief. In sincerity, selfless devotion and total submission to Truth. no other parallel can be found.
This covenant was completed in a glorious night of the season of Hajj. After this, people went their way and busied themselves in their affairs. But the people who had pledged their words busied themselves in fulfilling this historical covenant, and they accepted willingly all its demands and challenges.
In the Battle of Badr and in other battles of Islam against idolatry they shed their blood like water. The Prophet had great confidence in this covenant for the supremacy of the religion in times of difficulty and for raising the world of Allah. Accordingly when in the first assault in the Battle of Hunain Muslims were falling back, the Prophet did not look at the armies of the newcomer Muslims, but called his old faithful who had taken a pledge in the valley in the night of the season of Hajj, so that they may take the control of the situation.
Anas narrates that when the Battle of Hunain was fought, the tribes of Hawazan and Ghatfan participated in the fighting with their wealth, equipment and sons. The Prophet had an army of ten thousand men, which also included the indebted men at the time of victory of Mecca, but all left him. He was all alone.
At that time he gave a second call. He turned towards his right and called: "0 People of Ansar !" They said: "We are present, 0 Messenger of Allah! We are with you, rest assured." The Prophet was riding a gray mule. He got down from it and said: "I am a slave of Allah and His Messenger."
The polytheists were defeated and much booty was collected by the Islamic army. The Prophet distributed the booty among the newcomers who accepted Islam on the day Mecca was conquered and among the Muhajereen (refugees). He did not distribute anything among the Ansars. The Ansar were a little perturbed. They talked among themselves: when the situation was critical we were called and when the booty came to hand it is distributed among others. When the Prophet came to know about this he gathered them and asked:
"O People of Ansar ! What news am I hearing from your side 1" They remained silent. Then he &aid: "O People of Ansar ! Do you not like that others should take away the worldly goods with them, and you should return with Muhammed (Pbuh) to your house." They answered: "Why not O Messenger of Allah! We are pleased." The Prophet said: "If people walk in one valley and the Ansar in another valley, then I will walk in the valley of Ansar."
The fact of the matter is that this great Message needed the sharpness of the swords of Ansar. They fulfilled their promise by sacrificing their lives and everything that they had. They did not have before them the ephemeral profits of this world, nor any temporary pleasures and advantages.
The policy of the Prophet in distributing the booty of the battle was based on the levels of their sincerity and faith. The Bedouin who became Muslims at a later stage were in need of financial help so that they might not be disheartened by the difficulties coming in their way as a consequence of embracing Islam. Therefore. the Prophet wanted to give them re-assurance and comfort, and because the Ansar were endowed with full faith and unshaken belief, the Prophet left them to their condition.
In such conditions the Prophet has said:
"I give some things to a man so that he may not (on account of his bad deeds) be thrown into hell by Allah, although there are other persons more dear to me."
Forgetting the Past is a kind of Breach of Promise
The praiseworthy quality of the fulfilling of promise also demands that a man should always remember his past, so that he may take a lesson from it for his present and future. If he was a poor man and Allah has made him rich, or he was a sick man and now Allah has made him healthy, then it is not proper for him to erect a strong wall between his past and present and should not think that he was never poor nor was he ever-healthy, and should not build up his present on the basis of this pride. Such a behavior is open ingratitude and immoral.
This is a breach of promise which leads man to disruption. Many times such a man gets away from the blessings of Allah, and after this he does not get the guidance and inclination to come under the shadow of this blessing.
It is said that in Medina a man, known as Sa'alba, went to a meeting of Ansar, and keeping them as witness declared that if AIIah blessed him with favor, he would pay the dues of every rightful claimant, would give money in charity and would show kindness to his relatives. Incidentally his cousin died and he inherited all his property. He however did not fulfill his promise nor did he care for what he had declared. Thereupon AIIah revealed the following verses:
"Amongst them are men who made a Covenant with Allah, that if he bestowed on them of His bounty, they would give (largely) in charity, and be truly amongst those who are righteous. But when He did bestow of His bounty, they became covetous, and turned back (from their covenant), averse (from its fulfillment). He has put as a consequence hypocrisy into their hearts, (to last) till the day whereon they shall meet Him.. because they broke their Covenant with Allah, and because they lied (again and again). Do they not know that Allah does know their secret (thoughts) and their secret counsels, and that Allah knows well all things unseen ?"
The worst example of breach of promise, ingratitude and disloyalty is that tale of Bani Israel which Hazrat Abu Huraira has quoted from the sayings of the Prophet. The Prophet has said:
“There were three persons in Bani Israel, a leper, a bald man and a blind man. Allah wanted to test them. He sent an angel to everyone of them. The angel who went to the leper asked him what he coveted most. He replied: "Fair complexion, beautiful skin and a cure for my disease, for which I am hated by the people." The angel touched his body with his band and his leprosy was removed and he became the owner of a fair complexion and a beautiful skin. The angel again asked him: "What thing you like most 1" He said: "Camel." The angel gave him a pregnant she-camel and prayed: "May Allah increase this property of yours."
Then he went to the blind man and asked him what he coveted most. He replied: "May Allah give me back my sight," The angel touched his eyes and his sight ~'as restored. He asked for the second time as to what thing he liked most. He replied: "A goat." The angel gave him a pregnant goat.
Then he went to the bald man and asked him what thing he liked most. The bald man replied: "Beautiful hair, and my ugliness be removed as people run away from me." The angel touched him and his disease was cured and he had a tuft of beautiful hair. Then he asked him what thing he liked most. He answered: "A cow." The angel gave him a pregnant cow and prayed to Allah to give him prosperity.
All the three animals gave birth to their offshoots. Their numbers increased. One had a flock of camels, the second one had a large number of cows and the third one became the owner of many goats.
Then the angel appeared before the leper in the form of a man and said: "I am a poor man. All my' relatives have been separated from me in the journey, and now my only support is Allah and through Him you. I request you in the name of the Being who gave you fair complexion and a beautiful skin, to give me a camel. Will you help me in this journey of mine ?” He replied that there is an abundance of rights. The angel said: "1 recognize you. Were you not suffering from leprosy and people were hating you ? Were you not needy and Allah gave you lot of property ?”
He replied: "No. This property I received from my father and grandfather in inheritance." The angel said: "If you are a liar, then may Allah return you to your old condition."
'In the same form he went to the bald man and talked to him in the same manner. He also gave the same reply which the first one had given. The angel then gave a curse and said that if he was a liar then may Allah return him to his old condition.
Then he went to the blind man and talked to him in the same manner, and begged for a goat to be given to him. The blind man said: "I was really a blind man, but Allah restored my sight. You may take away whatever you like and leave whatever you want to leave. By God, I cannot enter into any dispute with you about a thing which I have taken by Allah's pleasure." The angel told him to keep his things with him. The purpose was merely to test them. Allah was pleased with him and his two companions became the victims of His wrath.
In trade, business, and other financial and economic matters an atmosphere of confidence can be created only when the fulfillment of promise is considered a duty.
It is necessary that the written conditions should' conform to the limits of the Shariah, otherwise there would be no sanctity in them, and a Muslim will not be bound to honor them.
Islam has given extra consideration to the marriage contract. Allah's Messenger has said: "Among the conditions which you mutually agree upon, the most deserving of fulfillment is the contract by which you make the private parts halal
(permissible) for yourselves."
For this reason it is not lawful for a husband to manipulate a single dirham
that rightfully belongs to his wife, or to consider the bond with which he is tied as unimportant.
It is mentioned in the hadith:
"If a man has married a woman for a small or a big dower (mehr) and in his heart he has the intention of not paying that dower, then he has deceived her. If he dies and he has not paid her right, then on the Day of Judgment he will be presented before Allah as a rapist. And a man who has borrowed money from another man while he did not have the intention of re-paying the debt, then he has deceived him, and consequently he defrauded him. If he dies in this condition, without paying back his debt, then he will meet Allah as a thief." (Tibrani) There is nothing surprising about this, as there are a number of Quranic verses which insist on fulfilling the promises and warn against indulging in disloyalty and breach of promises:
"And fulfill your promise. Verily, you will be answerable for your promises."
"And fulfill the covenant of Allah when you have entered into it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them.. Indeed you have made Allah your surety.. for Allah knows all that you do."
Allah clarifies that breach of promises and disloyalty destroy confidence, create disorder and disruption, cut relationships, reduce power and make individuals weak and low:
"And be not like a woman who breaks into untwisted strands the yarn which she has spun, after it has become strong. Nor take your oaths to practice deception between yourselves, lest one party should be more numerous than another: for Allah will test you by this.. and on the Day of Judgment He will certainly make clear to you (the truth of) that where in you disagree."
Many times a man enters into a contract, but breaks it in the greed of more profit elsewhere. Or one nation makes an agreement with another nation, but the greed of better advantages and other considerations compel her to break the agreement. The religion considers it highly objectionable that for the sake of a temporary benefit virtuousness be trampled, and deception and trickery should enter in the dealings among men. Islam makes it compulsory for an individual as well as a group to be honest, decent and sincere, so that in all the-" conditions of poverty and riches, and victory and defeat the covenants be safeguarded. That is why after giving a command to honor the covenants, Quran says:
" And take not your oaths to practice deception between yourselves, with the result that some one's foot may slip after it was firmly planted.. and you may have to taste the evil (consequences) of having hindered (men) from the path of Allah, and a mighty wrath descend on you. Nor sell the Covenant of Allah for a miserable price.. for with Allah is (a prize) far better for you, if you only knew."
The Entire Humanity deserves Fulfillment of Promise
The promise given to everybody should be fulfilled, whether the other party is a Muslim or an infidel, for morality, greatness and righteousness cannot be cut into pieces, that some people are treated with meanness and others are treated decently.
The fulfillment of promise and covenant depends on truth and straight dealing. As long as it is based on righteousness, it should be fulfilled in relation to every individual and at every time.
In connection with the covenants with Non-Muslims the Prophet is reported to have said that if in the time of Islam he were invited to enter into such a contract, he would gladly accept the offer.
A'mar bin Al-Hamaq says that he has heard the Messenger of Allah as saying:
"If a man gave shelter to a man for life, and subsequently killed him, then I have no connection with the killer, even if the murdered person be an infidel. "
This statement of the Prophet shows how Islam treats even those who have not accepted it as their religion. On the other hand the behavior of the Jews is worth noting. They do not like to fulfill their promises with others. They do not consider it a good thing to treat others justly and decently. They consider them- selves' Allah's son and His favorite'. Their belief is that Allah has reserved his blessing and shelter for the Jewish race only. As against this, have a look at the Islamic teachings. It makes complete arrangements for safeguarding all those whose responsibility it has assumed, and with whom it has entered into a covenant. Quran addresses the Mulims and speaks about the infidels thus:
"0 you who believe! violate not the sanctity of the symbols of Allah, nor of the sacred month, nor of the animals brought for sacrifice, nor the garlands that mark out such animals, nor the people resorting to the sacred house, seeking of the bounty and good pleasure of their Lord. But when you are clear of the sacred precincts and of pilgrim garb, you may hunt, and let not the hatred of some people in (once) shutting you out of the sacred mosque lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Help one another in righteousness and piety and do not help one another in sin and rancor." (Maida: 3)
It is remarkable how beautifully the viewpoint of the non-believers and their beliefs have been stated. Although they are idolaters, yet they have been mention- ed as seekers of Allah's pleasure and blessings, and Muslims, however powerful they may become, they have been asked to co-operate with one another in the acts of righteousness and piety and not to help one another in .the acts of sin and rancor.
At another place we have taken a survey of the covenants between Muslims and Non-Muslims and the revealed teachings of Allah in this connection. (Refers to a book in Arabic by the author)
Re-payment of Debt is Necessary One of the things on which Islam has insisted most and has considered it very important is the re-payment of loan. With Allah, right behavior in this respect is more important than attending to other rights. Islam has ended all the misgivings and avarice and greed which make the debtor their victim, as a result of which he tries to find excuses to avoid re-payment or finally does Dot re-pay.
In this connection Islam has advised that a loan should be taken only in inevitable circumstances. To try to borrow money in a matter where it is avoidable is a very dangerous thing, and it should be avoided. In one hadith
it is mentioned that it is one of those sins for which retribution is necessary.
"When a borrower dies, he will be subjected to retribution on the Day of Judgment. However, in three cases it is permitted: first when a man loses his strength fighting in the cause of Allah and borrows in order to prepare to fight against his and Allah's enemies, secondly when a man near whom a Muslim has died and he borrows to meet the expenses of his funeral, and third the man who is afraid that he would remain unmarried and to safe- guard his religion he borrows to meet the expenses of marriage. Allah will pardon them on the Day of Judgment."
In another tradition it is stated that Allah's Messenger has said:
"On the Day of Judgment Allah will call the borrower and he will be made to stand before Him. Then he will be asked: "O son of Adam I For what purpose did you take the loan? And why did you waste the rights of others ?" He will reply: "O our Lord I You know that I had borrowed, but I did not eat it, nor drank, nor wasted it, but sometimes an accident of fire occurred, sometimes there was a theft or it was lost, or a loss was incurred." Allah will say:
"O My slave! You have told the truth. I have more right to re-pay it." Allah will call for some acts of virtue and will weigh them in a balance, and his acts of virtue will be heavier than his evil acts, and he will enter the Paradise with the favor of his Lord."
This shows that Allah will accept the excuses of those who were compelled to borrow being forced by the circumstances, and were unable to re-pay it on account of various genuine difficulties,
But there are men who are the slaves of their carnal desires and pleasures, and whose own wealth is not sufficient to meet the demands of their desires; they at once rush to borrow money, regardless of the consequences. They do not care to be free of this burden of loan, Such a person according to the hadith
is a shameless thief.
Allah's Messenger has said:
“He who takes others' property (as a loan) with intention of repaying it, (then is unable to repay) then Allah repays his loan. And he who takes a loan with the intention of not re-paying it, then Allah will destroy and ruin him,"
Islam wants that the loans should be given different kinds of guarantees, so that they may be considered live properties, and their re-payment should become definite and essential, and nobody should be able to escape re-paying this due, committed to writing, although performance of other acts of worship earns great rewards.
Abu Qatawa says that one person asked:
. . "O Messenger of Allah I If I am killed in the cause of Allah, will all my sins be pardoned ?" He replied: "Yes, If you are killed, and If you are patient, thankful and seeker of Allah s pleasure, If you remain in the front ranks and attack the enemy and do not retreat." Then the Prophet asked him what did he say. The person repeated his question and the Prophet replied: "Your sins will be pardoned, but your loan will not be pardoned. Just now Jibrail has informed me about this."
Since the wise people knew how the debt falls as a lightning on a Muslim's honor and his earnings for the Hereafter, they used to advise people to get themselves free from all debts before putting their lives in danger.
It is narrated through Abu Darda that while proceeding for a jihad,
the Prophet used to stop at a junction of the streets and shout to the soldiers
"O people! If anybody has to repay a debt and if he feels that he would die in the battle and the debt would not be repaid, then he should return. He need not come after me, because this thing will not be enough to save him from hell."
Today the Muslims have made borrowing and lending an amusement. To satisfy their hunger and the sexual desires they take loan, and they indulge into paying interests to the Jews and the Christians, which Allah has totally prohibited as haram.
As a result of this they have become aliens in their own land, and they are deprived of their properties and are wandering helplessly.
Re-payment of loan is very difficult.
How many rights would have been trampled, if there were no fear of the law enforcement!
Allah likes those of His slaves who fulfill their covenants, and after destroying a number of townships, has stated about them:
“ We did not find most of them true to their covenant,. and most of them We found rebellious and disobedient.