Speaking The Truth Or A Lie…
There are as many advantages for truthfulness as there are disadvantages for lying. Truthfulness is one of the most beautiful traits and lying one of the ugliest. The tongue translates man’s external feelings to the outside. Therefore, if lying stems from envy and or enmity, it is one of the most dangerous sign of anger. If it stems from stinginess or habit, it is from the effects of burning lusts of man.
If a man’s tongue becomes poisoned with lying and its filth appears on him, its effects are like the effects of the autumn wind on the leaves of trees. Lying extinguishes the light of man’s existence and lights the fire of treachery in him. It also has an amazing reaction in terminating the ties of unity and harmony between and spreading hypocrisy.
Rasulullah (SAW) said “The three signs of a hypocrite are: lying, betraying trust and going back on his word (not fulfilling a promise).” Therefore hypocrites are liars, because they lie to themselves. Noble Qur’an says about them:
فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ۬ فَزَادَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مَرَضً۬اۖ وَلَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمُۢ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكۡذِبُونَ
“In their heart, there is a disease and Allah increases their disease and they shall have a painful chastisement because they lie.” (Surah Baqarah 2:10)
إِذَا جَآءَكَ ٱلۡمُنَـٰفِقُونَ قَالُواْ نَشۡہَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ ٱللَّهِۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ ۥ وَٱللَّهُ يَشۡہَدُ إِنَّ ٱلۡمُنَـٰفِقِينَ لَكَـٰذِبُونَ
“When the hypocrites come to you, they say: We bear witness that you are most surely Allah’s Messenger; and Allah knows that you are most surely His Messenger, and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are surely liars.” (Surah Munaafiqoon 63:1)
For people with evil intentions lying is an open door for them to reach their selfish goals by concealing the facts behind their magical words and capturing innocent people with their poisonous lies.
Liars have no time for them to think or reflect. They rarely consider the possible conclusions, claiming that “no one will ever discover their secrets”. In their words we find many mistakes and contradictions. Liars will eternally become covered with shame, failure and disgrace. Therefore, it is true to say that “liars have bad memories”.
Islam and reason command that if a Muslim’s soul, honor or essential belongings are endangered, it is his obligation to defend them by any means possible, including lying.
Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Lying is not permitted except in three cases: a man speaking to his wife to make her happy; lying in times of war; and lying in order to reconcile between people.” (Tirmidhi)
Necessary lying has its limitations. It must stop on the border of necessity. Nevertheless, we should not ignore the fact that lying is a great evil, and that if some harm is removed by lying (when permitted) it is with the view of countering the greater evil with the lesser one.
Is Lying ever justified? Why Islam always encourages telling the truth?
Is Lying ever justified? There are no absolute justifications in Islam and Rasulullah (SAW) has asked us to tell the truth even under the harshest circumstances of oppression. However, one may choose not to tell the truth in the following situations:
- He is under oppression and there is danger of losing his life if he told the truth. Shaikh Sa’adi narrates a story, “A cruel king ordered an innocent man from village present in his court to be killed because of his lack of manners. Hearing this, the villager started to curse the king in his native language. The king asked the prime minister, who understood that villager’s language, to tell him what that villager was saying. The wise minister, instead of telling the truth, told the king this villager is sorry for his conduct, praising his greatness and asking for his mercy. The king was affected and he spared the life of that innocent villager.” Shaikh Sa’adi calls this a “lie with wisdom.”
- To promote mutual relationship between spouse, i.e., if wife asks you, “Am I beautiful?” or “Do you love me?” there is nothing wrong with saying “Yes,” even if this is not the case. While these types of lying are tolerated, it is crucial not to step over the bounds of what is and is not acceptable. For instance, if a wife asks her husband if he is having an affair and the husband lies and says that he isn’t (when he is) to make her “happy” is not a permissible lie. This scenario is not what the above hadith permits. This is a deceptive lie which the husband is engaging in to serve his own agenda.
- This also applies during war. If a prisoner is captured by the enemy and perhaps asked how many soldiers are with his army, he can lie about the number in order to protect his own fighters.
- While making peace between two quarreling parties, instead of igniting them against each other, i.e., “He said such and such bad thing about you,” just say, “He says such and such good thing about you.” Tradition: He is not a liar who tries to bring peace between two people by trying to tell the truth.
- To make unbelievers realize the truth as described in Surah al-Anbiya (21:62-65) When Prophet Abraham (AS) broke all the idols except the biggest one, the unbelievers entered the temple. Prophet Abraham (AS) hid and put his ax in the hand of the chief idol. They asked, “Who broke our gods?” Prophet Abraham (AS) said, “Ask the chief idol, he has the ax.” They said, “Don’t you know he can’t speak or do anything?” Prophet Abraham (AS) said, “That’s what I have been telling you, so worship Allah (SWT), rather than these stones that cannot harm or profit you.”
Lies often roll off the human tongue just as fast as the moths are attracted to an open flame. The consequences of both are sometimes equally flammable. Being truthful is an endearing quality that we all would be blessed to attain in our lifetime and is a commodity that is becoming more and more scarce in this present world as the hands of time relentlessly spin round and round.