Lies And Liars
Allah tells us how He will deal with the liars, the lying sinful liars, in surah Al Alaq.
كَلَّا لَئِنْ لَمْ يَنْتَهِ لَنَسْفَعًا بِالنَّاصِيَةِ
“Allah will grab him by the (naseyah) (frontal lobe of the brain) the lying sinful (naseyah).” (Surah Alaq 96:15)
Without doubt that, lying is one of the most evil characteristics, of which all religions and systems of ethics warn against and which man’s innate common sense agrees that it is wrong. Any who possess normal chivalry and sound reason would be obliged to same the same. Truthfulness is one of the pillars on which the moral survival of the world depends. It is the foundation of praiseworthy characteristics, the foundation of Prophethood, the result of Taqwa. Were it not for truthfulness, the rulings of all divinely-revealed laws would collapse. Acquiring the characteristic of lying is akin to shedding one’s humanity, because speaking is an exclusively human trait. Our pure Shariah warns against lying in the Quran 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 Shariah, lying is not permitted except in specific cases which do not lead to loss of rights, bloodshed or slander of people’s honor, 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 Shariah permits a person to tell lies or to say whatever he wants based on lies.
Many bad things may result from this, some of which we will mention below.
Prohibition of lying:
1) Allah says:
إِنَّمَا يَفْتَرِي الْكَذِبَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَاذِبُونَ
“It is only those who believe not in the Ayah (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, who fabricate falsehood, and it is they who are liars.” (Surah al-Nahl 16:105)
Ibn Katheer said: “Then Allah tells us that Rasulullah (SAW) is not a fabricator or a liar, because only the most evil of people who do not believe in the signs of Allah, the kefirs and heretics who are known amongst the people for telling lies, tell lies about Allah and Rasulullah (SAW). Rasulullah (SAW) 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-Ameen (the trustworthy).”
When Heraclius, the ruler of Rome, asked Abu Sufyan about the characteristics of Rasulullah (SAW) 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 Allah.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 2/588)
2) It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (RA) that Rasulullah (SAW) said: “The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted with something, he betrays that trust.” (Al-Bukhari)
Al-Nawawi said: “What the commentators and most of the scholars said which is correct is that this means that these characteristics are the characteristics of hypocrisy, and the one who has these characteristics resembles the hypocrites in this sense.”
The words of Rasulullah (SAW) “He is a pure hypocrite” means that he strongly resembles the hypocrites because of these characteristics. Some of the scholars said: this is concerning one in whom these characteristics predominate; one in whom these characteristics rarely appear is not included in this. This is the favored view concerning the meaning of this Hadith. Imam Abu ‘Eesa al-Tirmidhi narrated this meaning from the scholars and said: “The meaning of this according to the scholars is hypocrisy in one’s actions.”
The most evil kinds of lies are:
1. Lies told about Allah and Rasulullah (SAW). 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. Allah says:
قُلْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُونَ
“Say: ‘Verily, those who invent a lie against Allah will never be successful.” (Surah Yunus 10:69)
Ali (RA) says that: Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Do not tell lies about me. Whoever tells lies about me let him enter the Fire.” (Al-Bukhari)
Abu Hurairah (RA) says that Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Whoever tells lies about me let him take his place in Hell.” (Al-Bukhari)
2) Lying in buying and selling. Abu Dhār (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (SAW) said: “There are three to whom Allah 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.” Rasulullah (SAW) repeated this three times. Abu Dhār (RA) said: “May they be doomed and lost, who are they, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “The one who lets his garment hang below his ankles, the one who reminds others of his favors, and the one who disposes of his goods by swearing a false oath.” (Muslim) Hakim ibn Hizam (RA) said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “The two parties involved in a transaction have the option (of canceling 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.” (Al-Bukhari) Ibn Taimiyyah said: “Allah 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 Rasulullah (SAW) said in a Hadith whose authenticity is agreed upon: “The two parties involved in a transaction have the option (of canceling 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 Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا ۚ اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as just witnesses; and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety.” (Surah al-Maa’idah 5:8)
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.
Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) that Rasulullah (SAW) 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.” (Al-Bukhari) Al-Manawi 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 is mentioned specifically is because dreams are connected to feelings the words barley and 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 hard punishment – because lying about a dream is a lie about Allah, 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.
4) The prohibition of speaking about everything that one hears. Hafsa ibn ‘Aasim said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “It is sufficient lying for a man to speak of everything that he hears.” (Muslim) With regard to the meanings of the Hadith 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 Allah knows best.
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 Shariah. 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. Abu Hurairah (RA) said: “They said, “O Messenger of Allah, you joke with us.” Rasulullah (SAW) said, “But I only speak the truth.” (Al-Tirmidhi) Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Laylaa said: the companions of Rasulullah (SAW) told us that they were traveling with Rasulullah (SAW). 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. Rasulullah (SAW) said, “What are you laughing at?” They said, “Nothing, except that we took the arrows and he got alarmed.” Rasulullah (SAW) said: “It is not permissible for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.” (Abu Dawud)
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. Rasulullah (SAW) warned against doing that. It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Aamir (RA) said: “My mother called me one day when Rasulullah (SAW) was sitting in our house. She said, ‘Come here, and I will give you (something).’ Rasulullah (SAW) said, ‘What do you want to give him?’ She said, ‘I will give him a date.’ Rasulullah (SAW) said: ‘If you had not given him something, you would have been lying.” Abu Hurairah (RA) said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: ‘Whoever says to a child, ‘Come here and take this,’ then does not give him something, this is counted as a lie.’” (Abu Dawud)
7) Lying to make people laugh. Mu’awiyah ibn Haydah said: “I heard Rasulullah (SAW) say: “Woe to the one who talks to make the people laugh and tells lies, woe to him, woe to him.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
The Punishment For Lying:
The liar is warned of destructive punishment in this world, and humiliating punishment in the Hereafter. These include:
1) Hypocrisy in the heart. Allah says:
فَأَعْقَبَهُمْ نِفَاقًا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يَلْقَوْنَهُ بِمَا أَخْلَفُوا اللَّهَ مَا وَعَدُوهُ وَبِمَا كَانُوا يَكْذِبُونَ
“So He punished them by putting hypocrisy into their hearts till the Day whereon they shall meet Him, because they broke that (covenant with Allah) which they had promised to Him and because they used to tell lies.” (Surah al-Tawbah 9:77)
Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood said: “You may know the hypocrite by three things: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted with something he betrays that trust”
2) Guidance to evildoing and to the Fire. Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Truthfulness is righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. A person will continue to tell the truth until he is written with Allah as one who tells the truth. Lying is evildoing, and evildoing leads to Hell. A person will keep on telling lies until he is written as a liar.” (Al-Bukhari) This Hadith indicates how serious the matter of telling the truth is, and that it may lead a person to Paradise, and it indicates how ugly lying is and how it may lead a person to Hell. This is in addition to the consequences in this world, for the one who tells the truth will have his words accepted by people, and his testimony will be accepted by judges and he will be liked for what he says, whereas for the liar the opposite will be the case.
3) His testimony will be rejected. Ibn al-Qayyim said: (The reason why the testimony of the liar is rejected) “The strongest reason why testimonies, Fatwa’s and reports may be rejected is lying, because it corrupts the very essence of the testimony, Fatwa or report. It is like the testimony of a blind man concerning sighting the new moon, or the testimony of a deaf man concerning having heard the admission of someone. The lying tongue is like some faculty that is no longer working, indeed it is even worse than that, for the most evil thing a man may possess is a lying tongue.”
4) Blackening of the face in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah says:
وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تَرَى الَّذِينَ كَذَبُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ وُجُوهُهُمْ مُسْوَدَّةٌ ۚ أَلَيْسَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ مَثْوًى لِلْمُتَكَبِّرِينَ
“And on the Day of Resurrection you will see those who lied against Allah their faces will be black” (Surah al-Zumar 39:60)
Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Hence on the Day of Resurrection Allah will make blackened faces the sign of the one who told lies about Him and His Messenger. Lying has a great effect in blackening the face and covering it with a mask of shame which every truthful person will be able to see. The feature of the liar is clearly visible in the face, and everyone who has the eyes to see can see it. But Allah will bless the truthful person with dignity and respect, so whoever sees him will respect him and love him, and He will give the liar humiliation and shame, so whoever sees him will loathe him and despise him. And Allah is the Source of strength.” (A’laam al-Muwaqqi’een)
5) The liar will have the flesh of his cheeks torn to the back of his head. Samurah ibn Jundub (RA) said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) often used to say to his companions: “Has anyone among you seen a dream?” Then whoever Allah willed would tell of his dream. One day he said to us: “Two (angels) came to me last night and woke me up, then they said to me, ‘Let’s go!’… so we set out and came to a man who was lying flat on his back and another man standing over his head with an iron hook, and behold, he would put the hook in one side of the man’s mouth and tear off that side of his face to the back (of the neck) and similarly tear his nose from front to back and his eye from front to back. Then he turned to the other side of the man’s face and did just as he had done with the other side. Hardly had he completed this side when the first side was restored to its normal state. Then he went back and did that all over again. I said to my two companions, ‘Subhan Allah! Who are these two persons?” They said to me, “Move on, move on!” (Then he said, describing how the two angels explained the things that he had seen): “As for the man you came across, the sides of whose mouth, nostrils and eyes were being torn off from front to back, he is the symbol of the man who goes out of his house in the morning and tells so many lies that it spreads all over the world.” (Al-Bukhari)
The Comments Of The Pious On Lying:
1) Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood said: “A man may speak the truth and persist in doing so until there is in his heart not even room for evil the size of a needle. Or a man may tell lies and persist in doing so until there is in his heart not even room for truth the size of a needle.”
2) Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood said: “It is not correct to tell lies whether in jest or in seriousness,” then ‘Abd-Allaah recited the ayah:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ
“O you who believe! Fear Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds)” (Surah al-Tawbah 9:119)
3) Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (RA) said: “Beware of lying, for it has nothing to do with faith.”
4) It was narrated that Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas said: “The believer may acquire all sorts of characteristics except treachery and lying.”
5) Umar (RA) said: “True faith is not achieved until one gives up lying in jest.”
Permissible kinds of lies:
1) Lying is permissible in three cases: WAR ,RECONCILING BETWEEN TWO DISPUTING PARTIES AND A HUSBAND LYING TO HIS WIFE OR VICE VERSA FOR THE SAKE OF LOVE AND HARMONY.
2) Umm Kulthum Bint ‘Uqbah says that she heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say: “He is not a liar who reconciles between people and narrates something good or says something good.” (Al-Bukhari)
3) Asma’ Bint Yazeed said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) 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.” (Al-Tirmidhi)