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Islamic Ruling On Lies And Liars
- Yusuf Estes - March 2001

Ruling On Lies And Liars

Allah, The Creator of mankind, told us in the 96th chapter of His Quran; "Lies, aggression and hostility come from the prefrontal lobe of the brain (behind the forehead)"; 1,400 years before Sigmund Freud existed.


Position of Islam Regarding Lies And Liars
According to Quran & Sunnah

Allah Almighty tells about the source of lying inside the brain of humans, fourteen hundred years ago. Allah tells us how He will deal with the liars, the lying sinful liars, in surah Al Alaq. (chpater 96).

"Allah will grab him by the (naseyah) [frontal lobe of the brain], the lying sinful (naseyah).

How could anyone have imagined 1,400 years ago, the frontal lobe of the brain was the source of lying, agression and transgression? Yet, this is decribed in Quran as the exact location inside of the human mind for these horrible characteristics.

We can say, 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 (Fitrah) 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 taqwah. 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.

(Bareeqah Mahmoodiyyah, Muhammad al-Khaadimi, 3/183) 

Our purely monotheistic Shari'ah warns against lying in the Quran and Sunnah, and there is consensus that it is haram. The liar will have bad consequences in this world and in the next. 

According to Shari'ah, 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 Shari'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 shari'ah guidelines. 

Many bad things may result from this, some of which we will mention below. 

The prohibition of lying. 

1. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“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."

[al-Nahl 16:105] 

Ibn Kathir said: 

Then Allah tells us that His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah 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 Allah, the kafirs and heretics who are known amongst the people for telling lies, tell lies about Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah 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-Ameen (the trustworthy) Muhammad.’

So, when Heraclius, the ruler of Rome, asked Abu Sufyan about the characteristics of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah 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 Allah’ 

(Tafseer Ibn Kathir, 2/588) 

2. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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.” 

(Narrated by al-Bukhari, 33; Muslim, 59) 

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 the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah 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; one in whom these characteristics rarely appear is not included in this. This is the favored view concerning the meaning of this hadeeth. Imam Abu ‘Eesa al-Tirmidhi (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated this meaning from the scholars and said: ‘The meaning of this according to the scholars is hypocrisy in one's actions.’” 

(Sharh Muslim, 2/46-47) 

The most evil kinds of lies are: 

1. Lies told about Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah 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 kafir. 

Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“Say: ‘Verily, those who invent a lie against Allah will never be successful’”

[Yunus 10:69] 

It was narrated that ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him): “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘Do not tell lies about me. Whoever tells lies about me, let him enter the Fire.’” 

(Narrated by al-Bukhari, 106). 

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever tells lies about me, let him take his place in Hell.”

(narrated by al-Bukhari, 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 Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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.” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) repeated this three times. Abu Dharr 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.” 

(Narrated by Muslim, 106) 

It was narrated that Hakim ibn Hizaam (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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.’” 

(Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1973; Muslim, 532) 

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymeeyah 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 the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said in a hadeeth 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 (interpretation of the meaning):

‘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’

[al-Ma'idah 5:8].” 

(Minhaj 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 Allah 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-Bukhari, 6635) 

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 (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 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. 

(Fayd al-Qadeer, 6/99) 

4. The prohibition of speaking about everything that one hears 

It was narrated that Hafsa ibn ‘Aasim said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah 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 Allah 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 Shari'ah. Lying is haram. whether the one who does it is joking or is serious. 

Lying in jest is haram. just like other kinds of lies. 

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘I joke, but I speak nothing but the truth.’” 

(narrated by al-Tabarani 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 Allah have mercy on him) in Saheeh al-Jami, 2494) 

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: “They said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, 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-Tabarani in al-Awsat (8/305) and classed as hasan by al-Haythami in Majma’ al-Zawaa’id, 9/17 

‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Laylaa said: the companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that they were traveling with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah (peace and blessings of Allah 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-Jami’, 7658) 

It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Sa'ib ibn Yazeed from his father from his grandfather that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be

This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jami’, 7658) 

It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Sa'ib ibn Yazeed from his father from his grandfather that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah 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-Jami’, 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 Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) warned against doing that. It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Aamir (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “My mother called me one day when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was sitting in our house. She said, ‘Come here, and I will give you (something).’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘What do you want to give him?’ She said, ‘I will give him a date.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘If you had not given him something, you would have been lying.’” 

And it was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah 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-Jami’, 1319. 

7. Lying to make people laugh 

It was narrated that Mu’aawiyah ibn Haydah said: “I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah 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). 

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 (interpretation of the meaning): 

“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

[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.”. He said: “Recite this ayah (interpretation of the meaning):

‘And of them are some who made a covenant with Allah (saying): “If He bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will verily, give Sadaqah (Zakaah and voluntary charity in Allah's Cause) and will be certainly among those who are righteous.”

Then when He gave them of His Bounty, they became niggardly [refused to pay the Sadaqah (Zakaah or voluntary charity)], and turned away, averse.

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

[al-Tawbah 9:75-77].” 

(Musanaaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 6/125) 

2. Guidance to evildoing and to the Fire 

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood said:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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.’” 

(Narrated by al-Bukhari, 5743; Muslim, 2607) 

al-San’aani said: 

This hadeeth indicates that whoever continues to speak the truth, it will become a feature of his, and whoever deliberately tells lies and persists in it, it will become a feature of his. This is the same as any other good or evil characteristic, if a person persists in it, it becomes a feature of his. 

This hadeeth 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. 

Subul al-Salaam, 2/687 

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, Fatwas 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. 

A’laam al-Muwaqqi’een, 1/95 

4. Blackening of the face in this world and in the Hereafter 

Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And on the Day of Resurrection you will see those who lied against Allah (i.e. attributed to Him sons, partners) their faces will be black" [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, 1/95 

5. The liar will have the flesh of his cheeks torn to the back of his head 

It was narrated that Samurah ibn Jundub (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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, 'Subhaan 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.’” 

(Narrated by al-Bukhari, 5745) 

The comments of the Salaf 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. And it was narrated that he said: “It is not correct to tell lies whether in jest or in seriousness,” then ‘Abd-Allaah recited the ayah (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Fear Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds)”

[al-Tawbah 9:119] 

3. Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq 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. It was narrated that ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “True faith is not achieved until one gives up lying in jest.” 

(Musanaaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 5/235, 236) 

Permissible kinds of lies 

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. 

It was narrated from Umm Kalthum Bint ‘Uqbah that she heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: “He is not a liar who reconciles between people and narrates something good or says something good.” 

(Narrated by al-Bukhari, 2546; Muslim, 2605) 

It was narrated that Asma’ Bint Yazeed said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah 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) 

This hadeeth was classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jami’, 7723



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