Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
A question like this should really be answered directly by a Muslim, so we commend you for coming to us.
Let me start by saying that lying is considered a sin in Islam, and it does not matter to whom the Muslim is lying. Lying to a non-Muslim is exactly as sinful as lying to a Muslim.
When a Muslim tells you that “Islam is peace” that is because the word “Islam” in the Arabic language comes from the root word “s-l-m” which refers to submission. In the religious sense, therefore, “Islam” means to peace we gain by submitting to God’s Will.
When we submit to God’s Will in Islam, we seek peace between us and God, between us and other people, and between us and our own souls.
Who Sent the Qur’an?
You may be surprised to learn that there are Arabic-speaking Christians, Arabic-speaking Jews, and Arabic speakers of other faiths as well. They all use the word “Allah” and understand it to be God’s name in Arabic.
Most Muslims in the world are not native Arabic speakers. Arabs are actually a minority in the Muslim world, numbering around 300 million.
Allah, God, is the One who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them. He created Adam from the soil of the earth and created his wife Eve from one of Adam’s ribs.
He sent Abraham, Noah, Moses, and Jesus to their people with the same general message. That message was simple: “God is One, worship only Him.”
God sent Muhammad with a final message, the Qur’an, to all of mankind. Islam considers all of these people—and many others known to Christians and Jews—prophets of God.
2 Billion Liars?
There are close to 2 billion Muslims in the world. Does it make sense that a group as large as that has a belief system that allows them to tell lies; to harm innocent people for no reason?
On the contrary, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, by natural growth (birth of new Muslims) and by non-Muslims freely choosing Islam as a way of life.
Despite the campaign by many to associate Islam with the oppression of women, in North America 3 out of 4 people who convert to Islam are women. Are all of them simple minded fools? Are law enforcement agencies busy trying to free people from fraud or forced conversions?
Qur’anic and Prophetic Evidence Against Lying
The honesty of Muslims has been one of the most notable qualities of believers throughout our history. That is because we understand that lying opens the door to all other sinful behavior. The importance of honesty in Islam is well understood by all Muslims and found throughout the source texts of Qur’an and books of hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad).
From among the many verses in the Qur’an which forbid falsehood are these:
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God, for God is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Qur’an 5:8)
Such (is the Pilgrimage): whoever honors the sacred rites of Allah, for him it is good in the Sight of his Lord. Lawful to you (for food during pilgrimage) are cattle, except those mentioned to you (as exception): but shun the abomination of idols, and shun the word that is false. (Qur’an 22:30)
Woe to each sinful dealer in falsehoods. (Qur’an 45:7)
Prophet Muhammad also forbade lying:
Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person. Falsehood leads to wickedness and evil-doing, and this wickedness leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is written before God as a liar. (Sahih Bukhari; Book #73, Hadith #116)
When Lying Is Ok
“White lies” are permitted where a greater good would come about, such as reuniting a husband and wife, settling disputes among people, etc. The intention here, of course, is to promote peace, not war between people.
Furthermore, at times of war, when an enemy seeks your death or to harm you or your nation, it would not be sensible to reveal all you know or to tell the truth. This is a matter of life and death.
Imagine that an army is coming to attack your city. To avoid “lying”, would anyone willingly give them the information they demanded to enable them to destroy the city or its people?
No Excuse for Ignorance Today
One of the benefits of the internet and social media is that there is a free exchange of information at our fingertips. Those with good hearts will want to use this tool to benefit themselves and others. The Qur’an is available for free on the internet. Let the Qur’an speak for itself.
Take some time to learn about Prophet Muhammad’s life and the way he treated non-believers. If you prefer, you can visit a local mosque and ask for a copy in English, or request one here.
I hope this has been helpful to you. Please keep in touch.
Satisfy your curiosity by checking out these other helpful links: