The perils of lying

13/11/2016| IslamWeb

Lying is a reprehensible quality against which the Islamic Sharee’ah (Islamic legislation) has issued severe warnings. Man’s sound nature is instinctively repelled by such a quality and all sound-minded and noble people refuse it to indulge in it.

Truthfulness is one of the pillars of the survival of the Universe, the origin of all praiseworthy qualities, the cornerstone of Prophethood and the natural fruit of piety. Lying, on the other hand, is an act by which one breaks away from the sound innate human nature.

In Islam, lying has been warned against and prohibited in the Quran, the Prophetic Sunnah (tradition) and the consensus of the Muslim scholars. Lying has very evil consequences in both this life and the life to come.

Lying has only been permitted under very stringent conditions and in particular situations when it does not result in depriving anyone from his/her rights, shedding blood or slandering others and the like. In fact, lying has only been permitted in a situation to save someone’s life, reconcile between two disputing parties or bring about more love and compassion between spouses.

There is no special day or time during which Islam permits people to lie and say whatever they wish. On the first day of April (what is known as April Fools’ Day), people deem lying and saying anything they wish lawful, without having any basis to their claims. There is a great deal of evil resulting from such a practice, which we will mention later.

Statements of the Salaf (pious predecessors) regarding lying:

· Ibn Mas`ood, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Truthfulness leads to piety and piety leads to paradise. A man persists in speaking the truth until no trace of evil will be left in his heart nor can transgression remain therein. On the other hand, a man continues to lie until not so much as the space that a needle occupies of piety would be left in his heart.”

· Ibn Mas`ood, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Lying is not accepted in jest or seriousness.” Then he, may Allah be pleased with him, recited the verse (which means): {O you who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are truthful.} [Quran 9:119]

· Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Beware of lying as it opposes faith.”
· Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “A believer can get accustomed to all qualities except lying and deception.”

· Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “One will never achieve the reality of faith until he refrains from lying even if it is in jest.”

Permissible Lying:

Lying is considered lawful in Islam for three different reasons: war, reconciling between disputing people and between spouses for the purpose of arousing love and compassion and to prevent disputes. It is also lawful to tell a lie under extenuating circumstances. An example of this is the case of a Muslim who hides himself or his money from a tyrant who is bent on killing him or taking his money from him by force. If one knows the whereabouts of this Muslim or his money and is asked about it, it is permissible for him in this case to lie in order to save a Muslim's life or his property. However, it is better to give an equivocal answer (that is, one which is not clear or definite in meaning), and that can be interpreted in more than one way in order to shun lying altogether.

The sum and substance of this discussion has been derived from the Hadeeth by Umm Kulthoom, may Allah be pleased with her, who said, “The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “A liar is not the one who tries to bring about reconciliation between the people and speaks good to avert dispute or to convey good.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Asmaa’ bint Yazeed, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “Lying is not permissible except for three reasons: lying to one’s wife to please her (for the purpose of arousing love and compassion and prevent disputes), lying during war and lying when reconciling between disputing people.” [At-Tirmithi, and al-Albaani who classified it as Sound]