Some people do not give any importance to arriving on time. And we are not referring only to Pakistani weddings (we will address that later)! It applies to any event, be it a business meeting, an appointment, a casual get-together, or a formal dinner. It is a principle for such individuals to walk in late, regardless of the inconvenience caused to their host, friend, or business associate. They disregard it with the flick of a fly.

Such individuals offer three common arguments to defend their practice:

  1. What will happen if I arrive early or on time, and everyone else is late? What will I do with my spare time? I will be wasting it anyway! So I cautiously delay my arrival to save my own time.
  2. What is the big deal if I was detained and have arrived late? It’s not the end of the world. Everyone is alive and kicking. Why does everybody have to make such a hue and cry about being punctual all the time?
  3. I am worthy of being waited for. Of course, all dignitaries and luminaries never make timely arrivals to grace any occasion. If the best showman will arrive on time, perform and then leave, how will concerts last until the wee hours of the morning?

To address problem number one, we may take along an activity that will neither waste our precious time nor delay us unnecessarily. At a wedding full of strangers, I remember taking along a book to read. It was perfect, as I finished my assignment, had the best meal ever, and was a noted guest to arrive on time and meet everyone. A few might have considered me as crazy for burying my nose in a book in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. But it’s up to you to be creative. Similarly, one can carry their daily scheduler for planning the days ahead, or take along a list of calls to be made to various friends, family, or business associates. Take story books to read to younger kids, or watch an inspiring video on your ipad or Whatsapp with the family.

You may even leave early, as the commitment is only to arrive on time, and not to stay for x number of hours. Why do you have to wait for greasy food served at the stroke of midnight?

Problem two can be resolved simply by understanding the gravity of a broken promise. Have you broken your promise if you committed to arrive somewhere at 5:00 pm but stumbled your way in at 5:30 pm? Yes, you have. The Quran says: “…And fulfill (every) covenant. Verily, the covenant will be questioned about.” (Al-Isra 17:34)

You will be required to follow all the steps mentioned in the main feature (see pp 8-11) about rectifying a broken promise.

The last problem is a fatal one. This needs special attention and divine help; this is the disease of perceived self-importance and self-projection, when one thinks that he was sent into this world to be worshipped by all. Hence, he willingly breaks his promises, and delays his grand arrival only to seek attention and applause from the audience. For such people, I can only say: “O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.” (As-Saff 61:2-3)

A buffer is something that lessens the effect of an impact. Railway engines have iron buffers for this purpose either on them or at the end of a track. Learn to integrate buffers around your schedule to anticipate any delay, such as a traffic jam, medical emergency, sudden change of plans, etc. Always re-negotiate your commitment by informing the other person well within time so that it doesn’t hurt him as much emotionally or financially. This will allow him an option to decide, and act accordingly. Most importantly, it will renew his trust in you. Don’t just expect him to understand, figure it out, or worse, just put up with it. His life is as valuable as yours. If you can’t afford to waste your time, neither can he.