1) The Fitrah, or human nature, is averse to lying.
2) Truthfulness is one of the pillars on which moral survival stands.
3) The prohibition of lying in the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
4) The types of lies are:
a. Lies told about Allaah and His Messenger.
b. Lying during business transactions.
c. Lying about visions and dreams.
d. Relaying everything one hears.
e. Lying in jest.
f. Lying when playing with children.
g. Lying to make people laugh.
5) The punishment for lying includes:
a. Hypocrisy to enter and flourish in the heart.
b. An easy doorway being opened to evildoing and to the Hellfire.
c. The rejection of any testimony of a person who practices lying.
d. Blackening of the face in this world and the Hereafter.
e. Having the flesh of the cheeks torn and stretched to the back of the head in the Hereafter.
6) Comments of the Salaf, or first three generations of Muslims, regarding lying.
7) The rare circumstances under which lying is permissible.
8) April fool.
9) Le poisson d’avril.
All praise is due to Allaah, we praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allaah from the evil of our own selves and from our evil deeds. Whomsoever Allaah guides, none can lead astray and whomsoever He sends astray, none can guide.
Lying is an evil characteristic, which all religions and systems of ethics warn against and which man's innate common disposition, or Fitrah, agrees is wrong. Those who possess chivalry and sound reasoning will testify to this fact.
Truthfulness is one of the pillars on which the moral survival of the world depends. It is the foundation of praiseworthy characteristics, the cornerstone of Prophethood and the fruit of the consciousness of Allaah, or Taqwaa. 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 purely monotheistic Islamic Law, or Sharee’ah, warns against lying in the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and there is consensus among the Muslims that it is Haraam. The liar will have bad consequences in this world and in the next.
According to the 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 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 Islamic guidelines. Many bad things may result from this.
Allaah says that which translates as: “They only invent falsehood who do not believe in the verses of Allaah, and it is those who are the liars.” (An-Nahl: 105) Ibn Katheer the great Qur’aanic commentator, said: “After this, Allaah tells us that His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam 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 sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. The Messenger Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was the most truthful of people, the most righteous, the most perfect in knowledge, action, faith and sound 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, or ‘the trustworthy one.’ Hence when Heraclius, the ruler of Rome, asked Abu Sufyaan about the characteristics of the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, 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 tell lies about Allaah.’”
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “The signs of a 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.” (Bukhaari & Muslim) Imaam An-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 sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, ‘he is a pure hypocrite’ mean that he strongly resembles the hypocrites because of these characteristics. Some of the scholars said: ‘This concerns one in whom these characteristics predominate; one in whom these characteristics rarely appear is not included in this. This is the favoured view concerning the meaning of this hadeeth. Imaam Abu ‘Eesa At-Tirmidhi, may Allaah 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.’”
The most evil kinds of lies are:
1. Lies told about Allaah and His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam: This is of the gravest types of lying and the one who does this is subject to a severe warning. Some of the scholars have said that the one who does this is to be denounced as a kaafir, or disbeliever. Allaah says that which translates as: “Say, ‘Indeed those who invent falsehood about Allaah will not succeed.’’” (Yoonus: 69).
It was narrated that ‘Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: ‘Do not tell lies about me. Whoever ascribes false words to me will have his seat in the Hellfire.’” (Bukhaari).
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Whoever ascribes false words to me, let him take his place in Hell.” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim said: “…Whoever ascribes false words to me, let him take his place in Hell’, means let him take his place in Hell where he will abide and settle; it is not like a camp where he stays for a while and then moves on.”
2. Lying also includes lies told about or to other people, such as lying during buying and selling: It was narrated from Abu Dharr, may Allaah be pleased with him., that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “There are three types of people whom Allaah will not speak on the Day of Resurrection, nor will he look at them or praise them - and they will have a painful torment.” The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam repeated this three times. Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, then said: “May they be doomed and lost; who are they, O Messenger of Allaah?” He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam replied: “The one who lets his garment hang below his ankles, the one who reminds others of his favours and the one who sells his merchandise by swearing false oaths.” (Muslim).
It was narrated that Hakeem ibn Hizaam, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: ‘The two parties involved in a business 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.’” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah 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 sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said in a hadeeth whose authenticity is agreed upon: “The two parties involved in a business 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.” Also, Allaah says that which translates as: “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allaah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness” (Al-Maa’idah: 8).”
3. The prohibition of lying about visions and dreams: This refers to when some people claim to have seen such and such in a dream, but they are not telling the truth, then in the morning they starts to tell the people about something that they did not see.
It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Whoever relates 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 conversations, and they dislike this – or try to get away from the eavesdropper - will have molten copper poured in his ears on the Day of Resurrection. And whoever depicts an (animate) image will be punished and will be told to breathe life into it (on the Day of Resurrection) and he will not be able to do so.” (Bukhaari).
Al-Manaawi said: “’To tie two grains of barley together, but he will never be able to do it’ – were used because tying one to the other is not physically possible. 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 the lies told while 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”.
4. The prohibition of relaying everything that one hears: It was narrated that Hafs ibn ‘Aasim, may Allaah be pleased with him said: “The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: ‘It is sufficient for a man to be a liar due to his relaying of everything that he hears.’” (Muslim).
With regard to the meanings of the Hadeeth and reports on this topic, they discourage relaying everything that one hears. For usually a person will hear both true things and lies, so if he were to relay 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 the 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.
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 all other lies. It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: ‘‘I joke, but I speak nothing but the truth.’” (Tabaraani).
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The people said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, you joke with us.’ He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam replied: “Yes, but I only speak the truth.’” (Tirmidhi) .
‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Abi Laylaa said: “The companions of the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam told us that they were travelling with the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. 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 sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam asked: “What are you laughing at?” They replied: “Nothing, except that we took the arrows and he got alarmed.” The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “It is not permissible for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.” (Abu Daawood & Ahmad).
It was narrated from ‘Abdullaah ibn al-Saa’ib ibn Yazeed from his father from his grandfather that he heard the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam say: “None of you should take the belongings of his brother, whether in jest or otherwise. Whoever has taken (even) the stick of his brother, let him return it.” (Abu Dawood & Tirmidhi,).
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 does that. The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam warned against doing that. It was narrated that ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Aamir, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said: “My mother called me one day when the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was sitting in our house. She said, ‘Come here, and I will give you (something).’ The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam asked: ‘What do you want to give him?’ She replied: ‘I will give him a date.’ The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: ‘If you had not given him anything, you would have been lying.’”
And it was narrated that Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: ‘Whenever someone says to a child, ‘Come here and I will give you this,’ then does not give him anything, this is counted as a lie.’” (Abu Dawood).
7. Lying to make people laugh: It was narrated that Mu’aawiyah ibn Haydah, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “I heard the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam say: ‘Woe to the one who tells lies make the people laugh, woe to him, woe to him.’” (At-Tirmidhi & Abu Dawood).
The liar is warned of destructive punishment in this world and humiliating punishments in the Hereafter. These include:
1. Hypocrisy entering the heart and flourishing there: Allaah says that which translates as: “So He penalised them with hypocrisy in their hearts until the Day when they will meet Him – because they failed Allaah in what they promised Him and because they [habitually] used to lie.” (At-Tawbah: 77).
‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “You will know the hypocrite by three traits: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted with something he betrays that trust.” Then he, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “Recite this verse (which translates as): “And among them are those who made a covenant with Allaah [saying]. ‘If He should give us from His bounty, we will surely spend in charity, and we will surely be among the righteous.’ But when He gave them from His bounty, they were stingy with it and turned away while they refused. So He penalised them with hypocrisy in their hearts until the Day when they will meet Him – because they failed Allaah in what they promised Him and because they [habitually] used to lie.”” (At-Tawbah: 75-77).”
2. An easy doorway being opened to evildoing and to the Hellfire: It was narrated that ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: ‘Truthfulness is righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A person will continue to tell the truth until he is written with Allaah 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.’” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
As-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; it also indicates how repugnant 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. The rejection of testimony: Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim said (Regarding the reason why the testimony of the liar is rejected): “The strongest reason why testimonies, Islamic Rulings, or Fatwas, and reports may be rejected is due to lying. This is 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 a 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: Allaah says that which translates as: “And on the Day of Resurrection you will see those who lied about Allaah [with] their faces blackened…” (Az-Zumar: 60). Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Hence on the Day of Resurrection Allaah 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 Allaah 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 Allaah is the Source of strength”.
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 Allaah have mercy on him, said: “The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam often used to ask his companions, ‘Has anyone among you seen a dream?’ Then whoever Allaah willed would tell of his dream. One day he sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam 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 sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam 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 becomes widespread.” (Bukhaari).
The comments of the Salaf on lying:
1. ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, 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. It was also narrated that ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “It is not correct to tell lies whether in jest or in seriousness,” then he recited the verse of the Qur’aan which translates as: “O you who have believed, fear Allaah and be with those who are true (in words and deeds)” (At-Tawbah:119) .
3. Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “Beware of lying, for it has nothing to do with faith.”
4. It was narrated that Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The believer may acquire all sorts of characteristics except treachery and lying.”
5. It was narrated that ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “True faith is not achieved until one gives up lying in jest.”
Lying is permissible in three special 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 Kalthoom bint ‘Uqbah, may Allaah be pleased with her, that she heard the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam say: “He is not a liar who reconciles between people and narrates something good or says something good.” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
It was narrated that Asmaa’ bint Yazeed, may Allaah be pleased with her, said: “The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam 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.”” (Tirmidhi).
With regards to “April Fool” (in Arabic: Kithbat Neesaan, or the lies of April), the origin of this lying is not known for sure. There are differing views concerning this:
Some of them said that it developed from the celebrations of spring at the equinox on March 21.
Some of them said that this innovation appeared in France in 1564 CE, after the introduction of a new calendar, when a person who had refused to accept the new calendar became the victim of some people who had subjected him to embarrassment and made fun of him, so he became a laughing-stock for others.
Some of them said that this innovation goes back to ancient times and the pagan celebrations connected to a specific date at the beginning of spring, so this is the remnant of pagan rituals. It was said that hunting in some countries was unsuccessful during the first days of the hunt. This was the origin of these lies which are made up on the first day of April.
The Europeans call “April Fool” le poisson d’avril (lit. “April fish”). The reason for this is that the sun moves from the zodiacal house of Pisces to the next house, or because the word poisson, which means fish, is a distortion of the word passion, which means suffering, “so it is a symbol of the suffering endured by Jesus” (peace be upon him), according to the claims of the Christians; and they claim that this happened in the first week of April.
Some of the disbelievers call this day ‘April Fools’ Day’, as it is known to the English. That is because of the lies that they tell so that those who hear them might believe them and thus become a victim for those who are making fun of him.
The first mention of April Fool in the English language was in a magazine known as ‘Dreck Magazine’. On the second day of April in 1698 CE, this magazine mentioned that a number of people were invited to come and watch the washing of black people in the Tower of London on the morning of the first day of April.
One of the most famous incidents that happened in Europe on April 1st was when the English newspaper, the ‘Evening Star’, announced in March 1746 CE that the following day – April 1st – that there would be an parade of donkeys in Islington, in London, England. The people rushed to see these animals and there was a huge crowd. They continued waiting and when they got tired of waiting, they asked about when the parade would be. They did not find anything, then they realised that they had come to make an exhibition of themselves, as if they were the donkeys!
‘Aasim Ibn ‘Abdullaah Al-Qurawayti wrote about the origin of these lies, saying: “Many of us celebrate what is known as April fool or, if it is translated literally, the “trick of April”. But how much do we know of the bitter secret behind this day?
When the Muslims ruled Spain, approximately one thousand years ago, they were a force that could not be destroyed. The western Christians wished that they could wipe Islaam from the face of the earth; and they succeeded to some extent. They tried to limit the spread of Islaam in Spain and to put an end to it, but they did not succeed. They tried numerous times and never succeeded. After that, the disbelievers sent their spies to Spain to study and find out the secret of the Muslims’ strength which could not be defeated. They discovered that adhering to taqwa, or piety or consciousness of Allaah, was the reason.
When the Christians discovered the secret of the Muslims’ strength, they started to think of strategies to break this strength. On this basis they began to send wine and cigars to Spain for free.
This tactic on the part of the west produced results, and the faith of the Muslims began to weaken, especially among the young generation in Spain. The result of that was that the western Catholic Christians subdued the whole of Spain and put an end to the Muslim rule of that land which had lasted for more than eight hundred years. The last stronghold of the Muslims, in Grenada, fell on April 1st; hence they considered this to be the “trick of April.”
From that year until the present, they celebrate this day and consider the Muslims to be fools. They do not regard only the army at Granada to be fools who are easily deceived; rather they apply that to the entire Muslim Ummah. It is ignorant of us to join in these celebrations, and when we imitate them blindly in implementing this evil idea, this is a kind of blind imitation which confirms the foolishness of some of us in following them. Once we know the reason for this celebration, how can we celebrate our defeat?
After knowing this reality, let us make a promise to ourselves never to celebrate this day. We have to learn from the Spanish and adhere to the reality of Islaam and never allow our faith to be weakened again.”
I say: it does not matter what the origins of April fool are. What is more important is to know the Islamic ruling regarding lying on this day, which we are sure, did not exist during the first and best generations of Islam. It did not come from the Muslims, but rather from their enemies.
The things that happen on April Fools’ Day are many. Some people have been told that their child or spouse or someone who is dear to them has died, and unable to bear this shock, they have died. Some have been told that they are being laid off, or that there has been a fire or an accident in which their family has been killed, so they suffer paralysis or heart attacks, or similar afflictions.
Some people have been told about their wives, that they have been seen with other men, and this has led them to kill or divorce their wives.
There are the endless stories and incidents that we hear of, all of which are lies which are forbidden in Islaam and unacceptable to common sense or honest chivalry.
We have seen how Islaam forbids lying even in jest, and it forbids frightening a Muslim whether in seriousness or in jest, in words or in actions. This is the law of Allaah in which is wisdom and care for people’s circumstances.