Monday, July 15, 2024 AD / Muharram 9, 1446 AH
Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani
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Question & Answer

In what cases, telling lie is permissible?

“Lie” refers to news that does not correspond to reality, and with this description “telling lie” means giving such news, whether the giver has knowledge about its opposition to reality or, based on doubly ignorance, he considers it to correspond to reality and in both cases, its indecency is natural and self-evident; As God has said about the former: ﴿وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ﴾[1]; “they attribute lies to Allah, and they know [it]”, and has said about the latter: ﴿مَا لَهُمْ بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ وَلَا لِـآبَائِهِمْ ۚ كَبُرَتْ كَلِمَةً تَخْرُجُ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ ۚ إِنْ يَقُولُونَ إِلَّا كَذِبًا﴾[2]; “They do not have any knowledge of that, nor did their fathers. Monstrous is the utterance that comes out of their mouths, and they say nothing but a lie”, but Has deemed it, because of the excess of its indecency, as idolatry and Has said: ﴿فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ﴾[3]; “So avoid the abomination of idols, and avoid false speech”!

However, “telling lie”, in the sense that it is giving news in contrary to reality, has dutiful forbiddenness, when there exists knowledge of its opposition to reality; because when there exists no knowledge of its opposition to reality, its avoidance as the title of “telling lie” is not possible, and in this sense, its prohibition with this title is considered as falsity, although avoiding its preliminaries, which are the cause of doubly ignorance, is possible and consequently forbidding them as impediments to cognition is correct, and with this description, in fact “liar” refers to someone who makes a news statement with the knowledge of its opposition to reality, in order to gain a benefit or stay safe from a harm to his supposition, but someone who makes such a statement without knowledge of its opposition to reality is not, in fact, considered as a “liar”, but is considered in a far perversity; because to his supposition he tells the truth, although because of his/her failure in gaining the preliminaries of knowledge is a guilty and deserves punishment. It is understood from here that lies are not only told by liars, but also told by those who want to tell the truth, and perhaps their lies are far greater and more dangerous, similar to the lies of some jurists and narrators who have confused the Ummah, and the lies of some imitators which are told by blindly imitating from them. Therefore, the forbiddenness of “telling lie” on the one hand means the obligation to avoid giving news contrary to reality with the knowledge of its opposition to reality, and on the other hand means the obligation to avoid ignorance, imitation, passion, worldliness, prejudice, arrogance and superstition, which causes giving such news without knowledge of its opposition to reality.

Yes, “telling lie”, meaning giving such news with the knowledge of its opposition to reality, although is forbidden in the primary case, it can be permissible in the secondary case, and it is the case that the expediency of “telling lie” in the criteria of Sharia is much more than its corruption, and it has four forms: Taqiyya, war, peace and advice; in the way that giving a news according to reality, whenever it requires the killing of a Muslim unjustly or a bigger sedition than that; as God has said: ﴿مَنْ كَفَرَ بِاللَّهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ إِيمَانِهِ إِلَّا مَنْ أُكْرِهَ وَقَلْبُهُ مُطْمَئِنٌّ بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَكِنْ مَنْ شَرَحَ بِالْكُفْرِ صَدْرًا فَعَلَيْهِمْ غَضَبٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ﴾[4]; “Whoever renounces faith in Allah after [affirming] his faith —barring someone who is compelled while his heart is at rest in faith— but those who open up their breasts to unfaith, upon such shall be Allah’s wrath, and there is a great punishment for them”, and giving a news according to reality during the war, whenever it requires the fear and dread of Muslims or safety and courage of Islam’s enemies, is not permissible; as God has said: ﴿وَإِذَا جَاءَهُمْ أَمْرٌ مِنَ الْأَمْنِ أَوِ الْخَوْفِ أَذَاعُوا بِهِ ۖ وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَإِلَى أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنْبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ ۗ وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لَاتَّبَعْتُمُ الشَّيْطَانَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا﴾[5]; “When a report of safety or alarm comes to them, they immediately broadcast it; but had they referred it to the Apostle or to those vested with authority among them, those of them who investigate would have ascertained it. And were it not for Allah’s grace upon you and His mercy, you would have surely followed Satan, [all] except a few” and giving a news according to reality, whenever it requires demonstration or continuation of disputation between two individuals or groups of Muslims, is not permissible; as God has said: ﴿فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَصْلِحُوا ذَاتَ بَيْنِكُمْ﴾[6]; “So be wary of Allah and settle your differences” and Has said: ﴿إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ﴾[7]; “The faithful are indeed brothers. Therefore make peace between your brothers and be wary of Allah, so that you may receive [His] mercy” and Has said: ﴿لَا خَيْرَ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِنْ نَجْوَاهُمْ إِلَّا مَنْ أَمَرَ بِصَدَقَةٍ أَوْ مَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ إِصْلَاحٍ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ ۚ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِ اللَّهِ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا﴾[8]; “There is no good in much of their secret talks, excepting him who enjoins charity or what is right or reconciliation between people, and whoever does that, seeking Allah’s pleasure, soon We shall give him a great reward”, and giving a news contrary to reality is permissible, whenever it is out of benevolence and, for example, for awakening the unawares and guiding the misguided; As God has said about Joseph peace be upon him: ﴿فَلَمَّا جَهَّزَهُمْ بِجَهَازِهِمْ جَعَلَ السِّقَايَةَ فِي رَحْلِ أَخِيهِ ثُمَّ أَذَّنَ مُؤَذِّنٌ أَيَّتُهَا الْعِيرُ إِنَّكُمْ لَسَارِقُونَ﴾[9]; “When he had furnished them with their provision, he put the drinking-cup into his brother’s saddlebag. Then a herald shouted: ‘O [men of the] caravan! You are indeed thieves!”, whereas they were not thieve and Joseph peace be upon him out of benevolence and for awakening them said like this, and about Abraham peace be upon him Has said: ﴿قَالَ بَلْ فَعَلَهُ كَبِيرُهُمْ هَذَا فَاسْأَلُوهُمْ إِنْ كَانُوا يَنْطِقُونَ﴾[10]; “He said, ‘Rather it was this biggest of them who did it! Ask them, if they can speak”, whereas the biggest idol did not break other idols, and Abraham peace be upon him said like this out of benevolence and for guiding the misguided.

It is understood from here that giving news contrary to reality is permissible in these four cases, but provided that silence or Tawriya[11] is not enough instead; because should silence or Tawriya is enough instead, there will be no turn for that. Just as its permission in these four cases must not become a pretext for oppressive rulers and their henchmen to deliver every lie to the people and hide every truth from them with motives such as preserving their sovereignty; because the purpose of the mentioned law is a facility for benefactors to defend the rights of the oppressed and to keep the interests of the downtrodden and to guide the misguided toward God, not a facility for the oppressors in order to preserve their sovereignty and to waste the rights of the oppressed and to mislead the people; as one of our companions informed us, said:

«سَمِعْتُ الْمَنْصُورَ يَقُولُ: لَيْسَ لِلظّالِمِ قَصْرُ صَلاةٍ وَلا إِفْطارُ صَوْمٍ وَلَا اضْطِرارٌ فِي مَخْمَصَةٍ وَلا كِذْبٌ فِي مَصْلَحَةٍ وَلا تَقَيِّةٌ فِي خِيفَةٍ»; “I heard Mansoor says: for the oppressor there is no breaking of prayer and no eating of fast (while traveling) and no emergency in difficulty and no lie in expediency and no Taqiyya in fear”.

Because all of these laws are enacted out of God’s mercy and oppressors do not deserve God’s mercy; as God has said: ﴿أَلَا لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ﴾[12]; “Be aware that the curse of Allah is upon the oppressors”!

↑[1] . Al 'Imran/ 75
↑[2] . Al-Kahf/ 5
↑[3] . Al-Hajj/ 30
↑[4] . An-Nahl/ 106
↑[5] . An-Nisa/ 83
↑[6] . Al-Anfal/ 1
↑[7] . Al-Hujurat/ 10
↑[8] . An-Nisa/ 114
↑[9] . Yusuf/ 70
↑[10] . Al-Anbiya/ 63
↑[11] . [Translator note: to say something intending other than what is normally understood from it; this is a way to refrain from lying.]
↑[12] . Hud/ 18
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