Skip to main content

Don't make promises you can't keep


A gift for every guest.
American celebrity Samuel Ward McAllister reputedly said the following:
“A dinner invitation, once accepted, is a sacred obligation. If you die before the dinner takes place, your executor must attend.”

The Arabic term InsyaAllah which means “God willing” or “If is God’s will” essentially conveys the same message.

Muslims are taught to add InsyaAllah to the end of a declaration of intent. For example, a friend invites you to his son’s wedding party and you graciously accept the invitation: “Thank you very much for inviting me to your son's wedding. I will be there, InsyaAllah (God willing)”.

The phrase InsyaAllah reminds Muslims that they are not privy to God’s plan and they cannot say with any certainty where they will be at a particular point in time. Sickness, death -- whether that of a family member or their own -- and other compelling situations could prevent them from fulfilling all their obligations, social or otherwise.

The above argument allows Muslims to break their commitments when circumstances beyond their control force them to go back on their promises to friends and relatives.

Yet many have chosen to interpret InsyaAllah as a means of avoiding duty and have used the term without paying serious attention to its significance. To them, it is a euphemistic way of saying “I don’t really want to attend your son’s wedding but I don’t want to make you feel bad either.” So they say InsyaAllah and don’t turn up. Somehow, that makes them feel better about their ambivalence towards the invitation, not realising that they have degraded the value of InsyaAllah.

What’s behind this talk about obligation? I am searching for the right words to explain my recent predicament. I had said “yes” to a wedding invitation last weekend but changed my mind later and began hatching a plan to evade it.
Love this elegant kebaya wedding cake. 
Blame it on fatigue. The last few months have been hectic social-wise. I had received invitations to several social gatherings back to back. I had no energy for one more evening of flashing tired smiles and making small talk to friends and strangers.

How do I decline it? Since I could not offer a plausible excuse I reluctantly made my way to the wedding reception last Saturday.

Much to my surprise the evening was better than I had imagined. My friend was very happy to see me -- the genuine look of happiness on her face touched my heart. It was well worth the effort.

McAllister’s publicly quoted utterance and the Arabic expression are useful reminders of keeping one's word.

Comments

mumsie said…
I've come across so many who used that term so loosely to evade responsibilities at work. It gives the idea that you are not committed, as if it is a 'come what may' attitude towards appointments and deadlines.
Faezah Ismail said…
Sadly, that is true. They have no awareness of standards and the need to be punctual and keep their appointments. It is very annoying when that happens!

Popular Posts

My year at The Rakyat Post

Dec 31, 2014, the last day of the year and the end of my one year stint at The Rakyat Post , an online news portal.
Educational is the best way to sum up my year at The Rakyat Post.
Leaving your comfort zone is intimidating at first; it has a steep learning curve. But now I wish I had done it sooner and the whole exercise reaffirms my motto: “learn, learn, learn”.
Einstein was spot on when he said, “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it”.
When I left theNew Straits Times to join The Rakyat Post on Jan 3, 2014, I didn’t know what to expect.
Nelson Fernandez, also known was Mohd Ridzwan Abdullah, had invited me to join him at the website this time last year.



He was charged with assembling a team to provide content for the portal. And I am glad I said yes.
Switching from traditional journalism to online journalism is challenging, as anyone who had made that transition will tell you.
Editorial content is disseminated by way of the internet as opposed to pub…

A spot of rural tranquillity in Ipoh

Your nerves are frayed and you need a dose of pleasingly rustic ambience without having to leave the city. There is such a spot for you, if you are in Ipoh. All you need to do is head for a block of flats called Kinta Heights in Pekan Lama, Ipoh, Perak, which is next to the Kinta River, one of the main branches of the Perak River.

Unbelievable, as it may seem, there are several nasi kandar outlets and sundry shops in the vicinity, set in the greenery, with a view and a walking path. I suggest that you have lunch at Ramli Nasi Kandar and after that, take a very short walk to the river bank for your rural retreat. You might be motivated to spend 10 minutes or more in total silence and tranquillity. This is the place I go to again and again.



You will feel irritated by people putting litter on the ground but I refuse to allow that to distract me. There is a 'Do not litter' notice here but some people don't seem to care. If you throw rubbish in your town, you are saying you do…

Don't Waste The Last 10 Nights of Ramadan - Mufti Menk | Deen 360