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 The Prohibition of Lying

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PostSubject: The Prohibition of Lying   Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:23 pm



The Prohibition of Lying

Some non-Muslims claim that lying is permissible in Islam on the basis of a hadith we will discuss below and the following quote by Imam Abu Hammid Al Ghazali:

"Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible." (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveller, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, amana publications, 1997, section r8.2, page 745)

Al Ghazali was one of the greatest scholars of all times indeed. However, as mush as he is respected, and no matter how great he was and what an impact he had not only on Islam but on Western Philosophers, he was neither a Prophet nor infallible. We need to read the text from the beginning to know the context in which he said that, but even if he really said this as a general principle, then this is totally rejected. This does not undermine his greatness. No matter how great a person is, he can still have his slips.

As for the Prophet, pbuh, he condemned lying except in three cases:

Narrated Abu Umamah (ra), The Messenger of Allah (sa) said,


"I guarantee a house on the outskirts of Paradise for he who leaves arguing even if he is right; and a house in the middle of Paradise for he who leaves lying even when joking; and a house in the highest part of Paradise for he who makes his character excellent."[Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Etiquette, #4800]

The malice of lying is tied to hypocrisy as described by the Prophet Muhammad,

“If anyone has four characteristics, he is a pure hypocrite, and if anyone has one of them, he has an aspect of hypocrisy until he gives it up: whenever he is trusted, he betrays his trust; whenever he speaks, he lies; when he makes an agreement, he breaks it; and when he quarrels, he deviates from the truth by speaking falsely.”[Bukhari and Muslim].

The words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), ‘he is a pure hypocrite’ mean that he strongly resembles the hypocrites because of these characteristics. Some of the scholars said, this is concerning one in whom these characteristics predominate.

The Prophet, pbuh, also said,


“Maintain truthfulness, for truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Heaven. A man continues to maintain truthfulness until he is recorded in Allah’s book as truthful. Refrain from lying, because lying leads to blatant evil, and evil leads to the fire. A man continues to lie until he is recorded in Allah’s book as a liar,” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood and Al-Tirmithi).

The only three cases were it is said that lying can be permissible are: war; reconciling between two disputing parties; and a husband lying to his wife or vice versa for the sake of love and harmony.

It was narrated that Asmaa’ bint Yazeed said,


“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘It is not permissible to tell lies except in three (cases): when a man speaks to his wife in a way to please her; lying in war; and lying in order to reconcile between people.’” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1939)

Our purely monotheistic sharee’ah warns against lying in the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and there is consensus that it is haraam. The liar will have bad consequences in this world and in the next.

According to sharee’ah, lying is not permitted except in specific cases which do not lead to loss of rights, bloodshed or slander of people’s honour, etc., but which concern saving lives, reconciling between people, or creating love between husband and wife.

There is a never a day or a moment when sharee’ah permits a person to tell lies or to say whatever he wants based on lies. One of the things that have become widespread among the common people is the so called “April Fool’s Day”, where they claim that the first day of the fourth solar month is a day when lying is permitted without being subject to any shar’i guidelines.

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning),

“It is only those who believe not in the Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allaah, who fabricate falsehood, and it is they who are liars."[al-Nahl 16:105]

Ibn Katheer said,

“Then Allaah tells us that His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is not a fabricator or a liar, because only the most evil of people who do not believe in the signs of Allaah, the kaafirs and heretics who are known amongst the people for telling lies, tell lies about Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). The Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was the most truthful of people, the most righteous, the most perfect in knowledge, action, faith and certain belief.

He was known amongst his people for his truthfulness; none of them doubted that, to such an extent that he was known amongst them as Al Sadeq (The truthful) ‘al-Ameen (the trustworthy) Muhammad.’

Hence when Heraclius, the ruler of Rome, asked Abu Sufyaan about the characteristics of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), one of the things he asked was, ‘Did you ever accuse him of lying before he said what he said?’ He said, ‘No.’ Heraclius said: ‘If he refrained from telling lies about people he would not go and tell lies about Allaah.’ (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 2/588)

Allah (the Exalted) says in the Noble Qur'an about the basic qualities of a believer:


"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." (Qur'an 61:2,3)

Allah's Messenger, sal Allahu alayhi wa salam, was asked, "Can a believer be a miser?" He said, "Yes." He was asked, "Can a believer be a coward?" He said, "Yes." And he was asked, "And can a believer be a liar?" He said, "no."

It has been related that a man went to Allah's Messenger, sal Allahu alayhi wa salam, and said,

"O Messenger of Allah, indeed I do three sins in secret: (I drink) alcohol, fornication and lying. So inform me which of them I should abandon." He said, "Leave off lying." The man went away, and later desired to fornicate, but he thought to himself, "I will go to the Messenger of Allah and he will ask me whether I fornicated? If I say yes, he will punish me. And if I say no, I will have broken my covenant and lied." So he abstained from fornicating, and the same occurred regarding alcohol. He returned to Allah's Messenger, sal Allahu alayhi wa salam, and said, "O Messenger of Allah, indeed I have abandoned all of them."

Lying is the root of every wicked deed, and it leads to all other sins. You will not see anyone more miserable and wretched than the liar. (Gems & Jewels, Darussalam)

The most evil kinds of lies are:


1. Lies told about Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

This is the most serious kind of lie, and the one who does this is subject to a severe warning. Some of the scholars said that the one who does this is to be denounced as a kaafir.

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning),
“Say, ‘Verily, those who invent a lie against Allaah will never be successful’ [Yunus 10:69]

It was narrated that ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him),


“The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Do not tell lies about me. Whoever tells lies about me, let him enter the Fire.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 106).

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,
“Whoever tells lies about me, let him take his place in Hell.”(narrated by al-Bukhaari, 110; Muslim, 3).

Ibn al-Qayyim said,
“… ‘Whoever tells lies about me, let him take his place in Hell’, i.e., let him take his place in Hell where he will abide and settle; it is not like a manzil or camp where he stays for a while and then moves on.” (Tareeq al-Hijratayn, p. 169)

Lying also includes lies told about or to other people, such as:


2. Lying in buying and selling


It was narrated from Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are three to whom Allaah will not speak on the Day of Resurrection and He will not look at them or praise them, and they will have a painful torment.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) repeated this three times. Abu Dharr said: “May they be doomed and lost, who are they, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said, “The one who lets his garment hang below his ankles, the one who reminds others of his favours, and the one who disposes of his goods by swearing a false oath.” (Narrated by Muslim, 106)

It was narrated that Hakeem ibn Hizaam (may Allaah be pleased with him) said,
“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘The two parties involved in a transaction have the option [of cancelling it] until they part. If they are honest and truthful, their transaction will be blessed for them and if they conceal something and tell lies, the blessing of their transaction will be wiped out.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1973; Muslim, 532)

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said,


“Allaah has enjoined truthfulness and honesty, and He has forbidden lies and concealment with regard to matters which should be known and revealed to people, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said in a hadeeth whose authenticity is agreed upon: ‘The two parties involved in a transaction have the option [of cancelling it] until they part. If they are honest and truthful, their transaction will be blessed for them and if they conceal something and tell lies, the blessing of their transaction will be wiped out.’ And Allaah says, (interpretation of the meaning):

‘O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allaah as just witnesses; and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety’
[al-Maa’idah 5:8].” (Minhaaj al-Sunnah, 1/16)

3. The prohibition on lying about visions and dreams

This refers to when some of them claim to have seen such and such in a dream, but they are not telling the truth, then in the morning he starts to tell the people something that he did not see.

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Whoever tells of a dream that he did not see will be commanded [on the Day of Resurrection] to tie two grains of barley together, but he will never be able to do it. Whoever eavesdrops on people’s conversation when they dislike that – or they try to get away from him - will have molten copper poured in his ears in the Day of Resurrection. And whoever makes an image will be punished and will be told to breathe life into it, and he will not be able to do so.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6635)

Al-Manaawi said, “to tie two grains of barley together, but he will never be able to do it’ – because tying one to the other is not possible ordinarily. He will be punished until he does that, and he will never be able to do it. It is as if he is saying that he will be enjoined to do something that he can never do, and is being punished for it. This is a metaphor for continuous punishment… The reason why barley (sha’eer) is mentioned specifically is because dreams are connected to feelings (shu’oor); the words sha’eer (barley) and shu’oor (feelings) come from the same root in Arabic.

The punishment for that is so severe – even though lies when awake may cause more damage, because they may involve testimony that may lead to execution or a hadd punishment – because lying about a dream is a lie about Allaah, may He be exalted, for dreams are a part of Prophethood, so they come from Him, and lying about the Creator is worse than lying about created beings.
(Fayd al-Qadeer, 6/99)


4. The prohibition of speaking about everything that one hears

It was narrated that Hafs ibn ‘Aasim said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘It is sufficient lying for a man to speak of everything that he hears.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 5)

With regard to the meanings of the hadeeth and reports on this topic, they discourage speaking about everything that one hears. For usually a person will hear both true things and lies, so if he were to speak of everything that he hears, he would be lying, by telling of something that did not happen. We have stated above the view of the people of truth: that lying means telling of something in a manner other than the way it happened. It is not conditional upon it being done deliberately, but its being done deliberately is a condition of it being a sin. And Allaah knows best.” (Sharh Muslim, 1/75)


5. Lying in jest

Some people think that it is permissible to tell lies if it is in jest. This is the excuse that they use for telling lies on April 1st or on other days. This is wrong. There is no basis for this in the pure sharee’ah. Lying is haraam whether the one who does it is joking or is serious.
Lying in jest is haraam just like other kinds of lies.

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said,
“The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘I joke, but I speak nothing but the truth.’” (narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer, 12/391)

This hadeeth was classed as hasan by al-Haythami in Majma’ al-Zawaa’id, 8/89, and classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) in Saheeh al-Jaami, 2494)

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said, “They said,
‘O Messenger of Allaah, you joke with us.’ He said, ‘But I only speak the truth.’ (narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1990)

Abu ‘Eesa said: this is a saheeh hasan hadeeth.

A similar hadeeth was narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Awsat (8/305) and classed as hasan by al-Haythami in Majma’ al-Zawaa’id, 9/17

‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Laylaa said: the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us that they were travelling with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). A man among them fell asleep and some of them went and took his arrows. When the man woke up, he got alarmed (because his arrows were missing) and the people laughed. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,
"What are you laughing at?” They said, “Nothing, except that we took the arrows and he got alarmed.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “It is not permissible for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 5004; Ahmad, 22555 – this version narrated by Ahmad). This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7658)

It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Saa’ib ibn Yazeed from his father from his grandfather that he heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say,
“None of you should take the belongings of his brother, whether in jest or otherwise. Whoever has taken the stick of his brother, let him return it.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 5003; al-Tirmidhi, 2160 in brief) The hadeeth was classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7578

6. Lying when playing with children

We must beware of lying when playing with children, because that will be written down (in the record of deeds of) the one who that. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) warned against doing that. It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Aamir (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “My mother called me one day when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was sitting in our house. She said, ‘Come here, and I will give you (something).’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘What do you want to give him?’ She said, ‘I will give him a date.’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘If you had not given him something, you would have been lying.’”

And it was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said, The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever says to a child, ‘Come here and take this,’ then does not give him something, this is counted as a lie.’” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 4991). This hadeeth was classed as hasan by Shaykh al-‘Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1319.

7. Lying to make people laugh

It was narrated that Mu’aawiyah ibn Haydah said: “I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say, ‘Woe to the one who talks to make the people laugh and tells lies, woe to him, woe to him.’” (narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 235. He said: this is a hasan hadeeth. Also narrated by Abu Dawood, 4990).


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