Praise be to Allah, we praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of our own selves and from our evil deeds. Whomsoever Allah 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 nature (fitrah) agrees that it is wrong. Those who possess chivalry and sound reason also say this.
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, the result of taqwaa (piety). 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 sharee‘ah (Islamic Law derived from Quran and authentic Sunnah) warns against lying in the Quran and Sunnah, and there is consensus that it is haraam (forbidden). The liar will have bad consequences in this world and in the next.
According to sharee‘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 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 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 sharee’ah guidelines.
Many bad things may result from this, and we will mention some of these.
The Prohibition of Lying
1. Allah says:
“It is only those who believe not in the Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, who fabricate falsehood, and it is they who are liars.” [Surah al-Nahl (16):105]
Ibn Katheer said:
“Then Allah tells us that His Messenger (r) is not a fabricator or a liar, because only the most evil of people who do not believe in the signs of Allah, the disbelievers and heretics who are known amongst the people for telling lies, tell lies about Allah and His Messenger (r). The Messenger Muhammad (r) 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.’ Hence when Heraclius, the ruler of Rome, asked Abu Sufyaan about the characteristics of the Messenger of Allah (r), 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 Katheer, 2/588)
2. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (r) 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-Bukhaari, 33; Muslim, 59)
“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 (r): ‘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. Imaam Abu ‘Eesa al-Tirmidhi (t) 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)
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 other kinds of lies.
It was narrated by Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (r) said: “I joke, but I speak nothing but the truth.” (narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer, 12/391)
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)
‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Laylaa said: “The companions of the Messenger of Allah (r) told us that they were traveling with the Messenger of Allah (r). 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 (r) said, “What are you laughing at?” They said, “Nothing, except that we took the arrows and he got alarmed.” The Messenger of Allah (r) said: “It is not permissible for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 5004; Ahmad, 22555 – this version narrated by Ahmad)
It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Saa’ib ibn Yazeed from his father from his grandfather that he heard the Messenger of Allah (r) 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)
Lying to make people laugh.
It was narrated by Mu‘aawiyah ibn Haydah that he heard the Prophet (r) 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 and 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.
“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-Allah 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 aayah (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.” [Surah at-Tawbah (9):75-77]
(Musanaaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 6/125)
2. Guidance to evildoing and to the Fire.
It was narrated by ‘Abd-Allah ibn Mas’ood that the Messenger of Allah (r) 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-Bukhaari, 5743; Muslim, 2607)
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, 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, fatawaa 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 .
“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 (r) 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-Bukhaari, 5745)
April fools’ Day
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 diseases.
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.
These are the endless stories and incidents that we hear of, all of which are lies which are forbidden in Islam and unacceptable to common sense or honest chivalry.
We have seen how Islam 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 Allah in which is wisdom and care for people’s circumstances.
And Allah knows best.