Before making a promise one should determine the circumstances and timing of the intended promise: only thereafter should the promise be made. If there is a possibility that one might not be able to discharge the promise, then one should gracefully opt out and NOT make the promise.
To knowingly and intentionally make a false promise (knowing full well that the promise cannot be fulfilled) is harãm (forbidden). This constitutes a grave sin and should be avoided at all cost. Anas (RA) states that Nabi (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) mentioned the following in a number of his sermons:
“That person has no Imãn who has no trust, and that person has no Deen who does not fulfill his promise.” (Mishkaat)
The meaning of “no Imãn” here refers to “No complete Imãn” and “No Deen” refers to “Not complete Deen”. However, the emphatic repetition of “No” strengthens the importance and veracity of the non-fulfillment of promises.
In another hadith, Abu Hurayra (RA) reports to have heard Nabi (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) saying:
“The signs of a hypocrite are three … despite fasting and performing salãh and thinking that he/she is a true Muslim …the three signs shall still be manifest. These signs are:
1. When he speaks, he lies.
2. When he makes a promise, he does not fulfill it.
3. When something is entrusted to a person he/she abuses the trust.”
These are very severe warnings. The classification of a person as a munãfiq (hypocrite) is indeed serious. He/she is in the category of not having complete Deen.
Darul Ihsan Media Desk