When lies are permissible
Fatwa No: 88412

  • Fatwa Date:4-8-2004 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 18, 1425
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Question

According to your site we can lie for some necessity or to protect someone. Are the following examples reason for lying? My uncle lied that his son passed in the exam. This is to keep it a secret. My wife's aunt lied that she did not give dowry (money given by bride's parents to the groom) to the groom of her daughter. Here both uncle and aunt are trying to protect their children. If these 2 examples are not correct, then can you give examples so that we can understand what lies are permitted?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His Slave and Messenger.

In principle telling a lie is forbidden. Severe threats were stated in many Ahaadeeth regarding telling lies. For instance, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Beware of telling lies (falsehood), as telling lies leads to wickedness and evil-doing, and wickedness leads to Hellfire."[Muslim]

Therefore, it is forbidden not to abide by this principle except in case of necessity or for a general need, and when there is no other means for achieving the objective except by telling a lie.

One of the means by which one achieves the objective is by using connotations or equivocations, i.e. to say a word or phrase or sentence by which one means something but the listener understands something else. But when using such a means, one should not cause the loss of the right of others, or cause harm to them.

Anyway, it seems that what your uncle has done or what your wife's aunt had done is a real lie, which is informing about or saying something contrary to the reality without real necessity.

However, if your uncle intended to mean that his son passed in some exams for example, and your aunt intended to say that a wife does not give dowry; rather, the dowry is given to her, then such statements are not considered as lies but they are a kind of Tawriyah, which is saying something while the listener could understand something else.

For more benefit on Tawriyah, please refer to Fatwa 181219.

Allaah Knows best.

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