“I promise to pay the bearer the sum of Rupees…” This is written on every currency note to say that it is genuine and not counterfeit. The Reserve Bank of India promises the bearer to pay the value of the note. All financial and banking functions run smoothly as society has full faith in the currency. The economy will collapse if this promise is not kept and not fulfilled in letter and spirit.
A promise is also written in a promissory note but a promissory note is not currency. It is a debt instrument that contains a written promise by one party who issues it to pay another party a sum of money at a future date. It is a lending instrument and may contain terms and conditions duly specified and agreed upon by the two parties. It enables us to avail of small personal loans from some non-banking source. The strength and the importance of a promise is quite evident here also. We can invest our money in promissory notes as well.
Earlier, business transactions were made on barter system also. We also make many promises in our day-to-day transactions. Life becomes comfortable and orderly if we keep our promises, whether written or oral. Breach of promise is bound to make us suffer. This is true in national and international matters also.
Agreements are legally binding arrangements between parties who make promises with each other on certain matters. We accept the terms and conditions given therein and mutually agree to act accordingly. Contract is another form of agreement, based on solemn affirmations and promises. We promise to speak the truth in all such matters as also in the judicial matters whenever required to depose therein.
Marriages are also contracts and agreements. Though performed differently in different communities, castes and tribes, their essence is the same. The parties to the wedlock promise and agree to live as husband and wife together throughout their life. That they will respect each other’s parents, will not insult each other, and will live a faithful life, etc, are some of the commitments they make. The husband and wife are enjoined to stay on the path of truth and dharma and shun falsehood and vice.
In Muslims, the Nikah ceremony starts with the recitation of Khutbah in Arabic in which the broad contours of Islamic faith are spelt out. The praise of Allah, His forgiveness and His guidance is sought and humanity as a whole is reminded that our Allah has created us from a single parent whose offsprings have spread in the whole world and that we should obey Him and His Messenger. The ceremony then culminates with the Ejaab-o-Qabool (Offer & Acceptance) of the bride and the bridegroom in the presence of witnesses. This is, in short, a contract and a promise between a man and woman who enter into wedlock.
The gravitational attraction between the planets in the universe is also a form of natural agreement between them by which every planet moves in its own orbit. This is elaborated in Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion. In fact, all scientific laws like Newton’s Law of Gravitation, Quantum Theory, Electromagnetism, Atomic Theory, etc, are nothing but natural agreements. Different systems in our own body work in cohesion and in tandem with each other only due to this natural agreement between them. Who oversees, controls and enforces all these natural agreements is a matter of reflection, but in many ways it is the greatest proof of the existence of God.
Vow and Vachan are a form of promise in almost all religions in the world. Some of these vows taken during marriage ceremonies in different communities have been discussed earlier. Vows are also taken during one’s first entry and initiation in any religion or sect, during attaining adulthood and during occasion of prayers and religious mass gatherings, so that we may not deviate from the right path and remain steadfast on righteousness and in the service of mankind.
Promises are the bedrocks and at the core of our religious beliefs and faith. In some it has been promised that the Lord is good and compassionate. He has promised all the good things to the faithful. The Lord is trustworthy and cares for those who trust him. He gives strength and power to the weak. He is always with us. So we should not be afraid of anything or be discouraged. He is the provider of all the things which we need, like our food, clothing and shelter. If we trust in him, He will make our path easy. Allah has promised us that if we call upon Him, He will surely respond. If we remember Him, He will remember us. If we seek Allah’s forgiveness, he will not punish us. Paradise awaits us if we believe in Allah and do good deeds. Allah addresses the whole mankind and tells them that the promise of Allah is true. So, let not the chief deceiver (Satan) deceive you. If you are grateful, Allah will surely bless you. Call upon Him and He will respond to you. If you believe in Allah and do good deeds, paradise awaits you.
—The writer is a retired telecom engineer