Broken Promises

One Sahabi (r.a.), who had stayed a few days with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), was about to depart for home. He came to Rasulullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) and said: “O Rasulullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), the laws are many, the branches and off-shoots are many, the a’mal to perform are many. Can you not show me one such item which I can remember on all occasions?” Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said: “As you wish. Remember the following: Do not tell lies!”

Before coming to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), this person had a number of bad habits. However, now being in a state of iman, and being in the presence of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), he has gained the status of a Sahabi, and his internal condition had altered.

Before spending time with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) he had three bad habits: he used to steal; he used to drink alcohol; and he used to commit zina (fornicate).

Habits die hard. Back in his home environment, the urge to steal arose in him again. He was now greatly upset and in a quandary. “What’s happening? I have just spent some time with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), sat with him, listened to him, and now?” He was in deep thought, debating with himself: “This is very bad! If I were to steal, and presented myself again to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) and he were to ask: ‘You did not steal, did you?’ What then?”

Of course, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) used to receive Divine revelation (wahi), either wahi matlu’ (Quran sharif) or wahi gair-matlu’ (Hadith sharif).

“If I had stolen and I were to say ‘No, I did not steal’, then it would be an outright lie. And Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) had told me not to lie. And I had promised him I would not. There I promised one thing and here I turn back on my word! This is being unfaithful. This is breaking a promise, and also breaking a tenet of the Din. If, on the other hand, I were to speak the truth and confess, ‘Yes, I did steal,’ then it would be letting Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) down and hurting him even more!”

Is my voice reaching you? You are not falling asleep by any chance?

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) heart would definitely break. He would most definitely be grieved. I would imagine the following train of thoughts going through his mind: “He made the request, thereupon I advised him and now look at his condition. And he even stayed here!” So, breaking that promise is not just breaking one’s word, but it is also breaking a tenet of Din and breaking the heart of not just anybody but that heart which is more precious than the hearts of all the kings put together! The Sahabi (r.a.) thought, “What type of Insaniyet (humanity) is this? What type of admiyet (manliness) is this? What type of ibadat (worship) is this of mine?”

Just now I had mentioned that the Arab was renowned for keeping to his promise. This was a natural trait of his character. Also, the Sahabi (r.a.) had heard the Qur’anic ayet:
O ye Believers! Fulfil your promises. (S.5 A.1)

Allah Ta’ala is well aware of your doings. So, fulfil your promises.

The nett result of these three – the innate temperament to keep a promise, the order of Allah Ta’ala and the instruction of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) – was that the Sahabi (r.a.) told himself, “How can I steal?” His stealing came to an end!

Again I ask: Is my voice reaching you? You are not going to stay with your sheikh all the time! Did not the Sahabi (r.a.) stay with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) for a while and then return home? To sit here is to listen attentively and to create a place in your heart for these talks. This is the concept behind coming here. And, having stayed here in this manner, to return home and live accordingly. Otherwise, it is being unfaithful.

To continue: The Sahabi’s (r.a.) stealing came to an end. Then came the hour when he used to drink. Just as we have set times for breakfast, lunch, tea and supper, so he had a set time for his drinking. At the approach of meal- times one looks forward to eating. It does not necessarily mean that one is absolutely famished and craving for food. No. It is just that one is conditioned to eat at a certain time and when the time approaches the urge to eat arises, this being an indication that one is hungry.

So, when the hour approached for the Sahabi (r.a.) to drink, according to his old habit the urge to drink welled up strongly in him. This inclination to drink, this strong desire to drink, upset him and threw him into consternation. Still fresh in his mind was the awareness of having been with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam). The internal conflict, the arguments and counter- arguments again raged through him. “How can I follow this urge? If I were to drink and presented myself before Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), and Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) were to ask, ‘Did you drink alcohol, or did you not?’ what will be my answer? If I deny drinking, it will be a blatant lie. If I were to tell the truth and admit to drinking, with what face would I do it?”
Having done what one has been told not to do, any sensible person will definitely feel ashamed to admit to it openly. What rashness would it be! What defiance!

“Break my promise? Break a tenet of Din? Break the heart of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)? I will not! I will not drink!” In this way he stopped drinking. His age-old habit was broken.

Then came the time for his third bad habit: in the days of Jahiliyah (Ignorance – i.e the pre-Islamic era), he used to commit zina. The urge to commit zina welled up in him with force. Again the shock, the consternation. Still fresh in his mind was the awareness of having been with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam). Again the internal debating. “This is even more shameless than stealing and drinking,” he told himself. “After committing this indecent act, if I were to present myself before Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) and he were to ask…? If I were to say, ‘I did not,’ it would be a blatant lie. What did I promise? I will not lie. So, besides breaking a promise, I will also be breaking a tenet of Din. If, on the other hand, I do not lie and brazenly say, ‘Yes, I did,’ with what face will I say it? How will I be able to bring these words to my lips? Where will I hide my face? What of the grief to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)? How can I be so callous as to break his heart? A curse be upon me! It is better for me to die!”

This was the inner turmoil in him. Finally, sense prevailed and he left off zina. In this way he cast off all three evil habits. The basis for this achievement was Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) stating to him just one working principle, coupled with an astute appraisal of his temperament.

Yes, the person has to be of that calibre, that when he says, “Very well,” he sticks firmly to his promise. The fact that he himself had made the request in the first place and the instruction he had received was from none other than the august personality of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), grounded the resolve he had made even more firmly. Yes, the calibre of the person should be such that, having stayed with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) and listened to him, the capacity to accept Haq should blossom within him to such an extent that even being away from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) the capacity for acceptance should still remain.

Do you understand?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Assalamu alaykum,

    I am missing you brother, please come back and post your articles on my website. ALL THE BLOGGERS NEED YOU AND THE READERS.



  2. well they can always read here and stop bugging me now. Your beginning to irritate me.


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