Keeping appointments, delays and cancellation

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 (PBUH) saying “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-Israa: “And keep your promises. The promise is a responsibility.”

It is enough to know that our kind Prophet S.A.W.S. gave an appointment to one of his companions. The companion came three days later. The Prophet S.A.W.S. gently reprimanded him “You have caused me some trouble. I have been waiting expecting you since three days.” The companion probably hand an excuse for this delay. Then, he has no means to inform the Prophet S.A.W.S 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 to enable them to utilize their time. Do not be careless or irresponsible. Do not think that the appointment is so unimportant tat 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 S.A.W.S 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 promised, 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.

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