In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah extol the mention of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in the highest company of Angels and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family, his Companions and all those who follow him exactly till the Day of Judgement.
Dear brothers and sisters, Allah the Most High says:
“O you who believe! Fear Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” [Qur’an, 9:119]
Respected brothers and sisters, what do you do if one of your dearest friends asks you if he or she looks fat in a certain outfit? Or if one of your relatives asks you about a very sensitive issue that, if you reply to the query, will cause humiliation to you and your family? In these circumstances, most of us would opt to tell a ‘white lie’, which according to the understanding of society, is not a ‘real’ lie since you are telling it only to prevent someone from getting hurt or to protect yourself.
However, the line between ‘white lies’ and other kinds of lies is constantly being blurred. Why? Because it is easier and sometimes quicker to simply lie than to engage in a more productive discourse.
My beloved people, know that, Islam rejects lying in all forms. However, there are a few instances where even Islam allows lying for the sake of brotherhood, which I will discuss later In Shaa Allah. Lying is something that almost everyone does, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We sometimes lie without even meaning to do it! Like if an annoying neighbour calls on the phone and you tell your child to say that you are in the shower or otherwise indisposed so you don’t get stuck on the phone for an hour. That’s a lie. Other lies are more evil and salacious.
Someone might tell a lie in order to get a better job. Isn’t it routine for many job seekers to embellish their CVs just a bit to get noticed? This type of lie might land a person a coveted job but it also might make someone else, who has the proper credentials, lose out on the position simply because they have been more truthful. And what about lies concocted against Allah and His Final Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)? These lies are the most evil of all and created by the enemies of Islam who want to tarnish the Final Revelation from Allah at all costs.
Being truthful and trustworthy is among the greatest virtues a human can possess. Lying leads to corruption and deceit. For example, just take a look at how many politicians across the world have been elected as pillars of trust by the denizens of their states, only to be hauled off to jail towards the end of their term due to corruption and blatant lying. They lied to get elected and those lies snowballed into other vices like misappropriating government funds or engaging in illicit deeds.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“You must be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man will keep speaking the truth and striving to speak the truth until he will be recorded with Allah as a Siddeeq (speaker of the truth). Beware of telling lies, for lying leads to immorality and immorality leads to Hellfire. A man will keep telling lies and striving to tell lies until he is recorded with Allah as a liar.” [Muslim]
During his life, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was known as Al-Amin, or ‘The Honest’, his entire life before he even received his mission as Allah’s final Prophet at the age of 40. Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was so trusted in his community that people kept their valuables with him because he was the only one they could trust!
There are, however, a few choice instances where lying is acceptable in Islam. The reason they are acceptable is not to cheat or be deceptive with others but rather as a benefit and sometimes even a saving grace.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) 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]
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 woman 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’, this is not a permissible lie and actually not what the above Hadith permits. This is a deceptive lie that the husband is using to serve his own agenda. However, if a woman asks her husband if she is the ‘salt of the Earth’ and everything he imagined his wife would be (but he does not think she is at all), it is permissible for him to lie in the affirmative to please her, which in turn will create even more affection between them. The same 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. As for reconciling people, this type of lying is not meant to inflict harm but rather to be beneficial. For example, if someone accidentally reveals a secret about his brother to a third party and the brother finds out, it is permissible for a lie to be told so that the brothers will not break their ties of kinship over the mistake. However, lying about other things like property rights or things of that nature would not be permissible given again that they serve a greedy agenda that has nothing to do with maintaining the family bond.
Lies often roll off the human tongue just as fast as 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 lifetimes and it is a commodity that is becoming more scarce in this world, as the hands of time relentlessly spin round and round.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Rabi’ul Thani 9, 1441 A. H. (December 6, 2019).