Is one permitted to tell a lie under certain circumstances?


Huzooraa was requested for guidance regarding the ahadith, which seem to allow lying during wars or in order to reconcile quarrelling spouses or other people. 

In a letter dated 28 January 2019, Huzooraa gave the following guidance: 

“In the Holy Quran and authentic ahadith, lying has been called أكْبَرُ‭ ‬الْكَبَائِرِ, that is ‘one of the greatest among the grievous of sins’ and the Holy Prophetsa has repeatedly admonished us to stay away from it.

“As far as the narration mentioned in your letter is concerned, one such narration has been recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim and it is narrated by Hazrat Umm Kulthumra bint Aqaba. The words of that narration are cautious and in need of interpretation. The words of the narration are as follows: 

لَيْسَ الْكَذَّابُ الَّذِي يُصْلِحُ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ وَيَقُولُ خَيْرًا وَيَنْمِي خَيْرًا

“One who says and promotes a good word for the sake of reconciliation between people is not a liar. 

“An example of this is when a conciliator conveys to one party the good things that have been said by the other party about them and remains silent about what has been said against that party. Such a conciliator cannot be called a liar.

Sunan al-Tirmidhi has recorded this narration as narrated by Hazrat Asmara bint Yazid in the following words: 

لَا يَحِلُّ الْكَذِبُ إِلَّا فِي ثَلَاثٍ يُحَدِّثُ الرَّجُلُ امْرَأَتَهُ لِيُرْضِيَهَا وَالْكَذِبُ فِي الْحَرْبِ وَالْكَذِبُ لِيُصْلِحَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ

‘It is not lawful to lie except in three cases; something the husband tells his wife to please her, to lie during war and to lie in order to bring peace between people.’

“Firstly, this narration of Sunan al-Tirmidhi is not acceptable because it contradicts a clear commandment of the Holy Quran and other narrations from among the authentic [sahihahadith. Secondly, Islam has never justified lying on any occasion. On the contrary, it teaches not to abandon the truth even at the expense of one’s life. 

“The Promised Messiahas has also guided us in this regard. Hence, while responding to the same allegation raised by a Christian, Huzooras writes in his book, Nur-ul-Quran No. 2: 

‘The Holy Quran considers uttering falsehood akin to idolatry, as Allah the Exalted states: 

فَاجْتَنِبُوا‭ ‬الرِّجْسَ‭ ‬مِنَ‭ ‬الْأَوْثَانِ‭ ‬وَاجْتَنِبُوا‭ ‬قَوْلَ‭ ‬الزُّورِ

‘[“Shun therefore the abomination of idols and shun all words of untruth.”] … The fact of the matter is that no hadith permits lying at all; rather, the following words are found in a hadith:

ان‭ ‬قتلت‭ ‬وأحرقت

‘[“(Tell the truth) even if you are killed and set alight.”] … Moreover, supposing there was a hadith that contradicted the Holy Quran and the authentic ahadith, it would not be deemed worthy of attention because we accept only those ahadith that are not contrary to the authentic ahadith and the Holy Quran. 

‘Indeed, in some ahadith, an indication towards the permission of tauriyah can be found. In order to instil hate for this practice, it has been called kizb [falsehood]. When an ignorant and foolish person comes across such a word [i.e. kizb] in a hadith, which has merely been used in order to convey the meaning in a simplified manner, he may take the term kizb in its literal sense. That is because he is unaware of the unequivocal commandment in Islam that falsehood is considered to be an impurity, unlawful and akin to shirk. However, tauriyah, which is not kizb [falsehood] per se but resembles kizb, has been allowed for the common people upon their being compelled. However, despite this, it is stated that those who even abstain from the use of tauriyah possess greater moral excellence … Nonetheless, despite this, there are many other ahadith from which it becomes evident that tauriyah stands in contrast to a high standard of righteousness and that the clear truth is better, even if one be slain or set alight as a result.’ (Nur-ul-Quran No. 2, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 9, pp. 403-405)

“Hence, it is in no way acceptable to believe that lying is allowed in any hadith. Therefore, if there is any way of reconciling these ahadith to bring them in accordance with the Quran and the sunnah, then we will accept these ahadith upon such reconciliation. Otherwise, we will not deem these ahadith worthy of acceptance because they would be against the clear teachings of the Holy Quran and the Messengersa of Allah.”

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