Truthfulness and Keeping to One’s Word, What is the Islamic Hukm on this?
“O you who believe! Be afraid of Allaah, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds).” [al-Tawbah 9:119] Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said (2/414)
It means: "Be truthful and adhere to truthfulness, and you will be among its people and will be saved from calamity, and this will make a way out for you from your problems.”
There might be brothers and sisters who are not fully aware of the Islamic hukm about saying something like ‘I will do this for you’ and then change their mind without telling the person that they have changed their mind.
Some of us are of the impression that it is ‘halal’. After all, doesn’t someone have the right to change their mind! Ofcourse we can change our mind, but we must follow the Islamic method of doing so. We must tell that person we’ve changed our mind, or we’re still thinking about it, otherwise this is considered ‘lying’. Hakeem ibn Hizaam (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Two parties to a deal have the option of changing their minds until they part; if they are open and honest, their deal will be blessed, and if they conceal and tell lies, the blessing of their deal will be diminished.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 4/275 and Muslim, 1532.)
If you tell a brother (or sister) that you will meet him at a certain time and place, and then change your mind, would you think this is fine? No, this is haram. You’ve got to try your best to meet the brother at that time and place even though you haven’t made a promise to Allah, because You’ve given your word. Doesn’t our word mean anything? Of course we can call that brother and re-arrange, but you are obliged to call.
My advice is: Don’t give your word if you’re still deciding or if you’re bound to change your mind. If you say anything like ‘I will..(do so and so etc)’ with or without nsha’allah, then you have given your word and Allah is your witness.
If you make a promise to Allah (swt) to do so and so and you deliberately don’t do it then that’s worse, you must do kaffara (expiate) for it. Kaffara is done in the following order, either:
You free a slave (something not possible in most parts of the world)
You a) feed 10 poor people or b) clothe 10 poor people (go to Islamic Relief or Muslim Aid website and pay)
Fast three consecutive days (only if you can’t afford the above)
So, that’s how serious it is when you break a promise. Please don’t take it lightly. Because even if you do kaffara Allah (swt) has to accept it otherwise we will be deserving of his Wrath!
I pray to Allah (swt) that we try our utmost to endow ourselves with truthfulness and honesty. Indeed, the foundation of belief itself is truthfulness. Without truthfulness and honesty how would one know whether someone is Muslim!
So, please beware of Allah (swt) whenever we give anyone our word or make a promise in Allah’s name.