Are White Lies OK?

30 April, 2020
Q Are white lies ok? Can we play tricks on our friends? Can we lie for fun on April Fool's Day?

Answer

Short Answer:

  • Are White Lies OK? Throughout his life, the Prophet had a sense of humor but he never told lies. Abu Hurairah reports: The Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah, you joke with us?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, I do not say but the truth.” (At-Tirmidhi)
  • A Muslim is not allowed to tell lies at all. There is no room for what we call “white lies”. Once you get used to white lies, it will be your norm and you will not recognize its grave consequences.

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Salam dear questioner,

Thank you for contacting us.

Can Muslims Have Fun?

Islam is not a miserable religion. Islam brings happiness to people. Islam is not against laughing and joking without exceeding the limits. 

Abdullah ibn Harith reports,

“I did not see anyone who smiled more than the Prophet.” The Prophet made putting a smile in the face of a Muslim a charity. (At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet said one of the best deeds it to bring happiness to your Muslim brother. (At-Tabarani) 

Throughout his life, the Prophet had a sense of humor but he never told lies.

Abu Hurairah reports: The Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah, you joke with us?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, I do not say but the truth.” (At-Trimidhi)

Anas ibn Malik reported that: A man came to the Prophet and said: Messenger of Allah! give me a mount. The Prophet said: We shall give you a she-camel’s child to ride on. He said: What shall I do with a she-camel’s child? The Prophet replied: Do any others than she-camels give birth to camels? (Abu Dawud)

The Prophet told the man the child of a she-camel will carry him which in a fact is a camel. 

To Tell the Truth or Not to Tell the Truth 

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Telling the truth is an important virtue and a good manner in Islam. On the other hand, telling lies is a vice and strongly prohibited in Islam. 

Telling the truth is one of the core foundations of what Islam stands on. However, lying can never lead to any good. None. 

The Quran emphasizes the significance of truthfulness and not telling lies in many verses: 

*{Allah does not guide one who is a transgressor and a liar.}* (Quran 40:28)

*{O you who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are true.}* (Quran 9:119)

*{And who is more unjust than he who invents a lie about Allah? Those will be presented before their Lord, and the witnesses will say, “These are the ones who lied against their Lord.” Unquestionably, the curse of Allah is upon the wrongdoers.}* (Quran 11:18)

Telling the Truth Is a Virtue, Lying Is a Vice

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) strongly urged Muslims to adhere to truth and avoid telling lies. He said: 

It is obligatory for you to tell the truth, for truth leads to virtue and virtue leads to Paradise, and the man who continues to speak the truth and endeavors to tell the truth is eventually recorded as truthful with Allah. And beware of telling of a lie, for telling of a lie leads to obscenity and obscenity leads to Hell-Fire, and the person who keeps telling lies and endeavors to tell a lie is recorded as a liar with Allah. (Muslim)

Lying is Hypocrisy

Prophet Muhammad made it clear that lying is one of the traits of the hypocrites. He said:

“There are three signs of a hypocrite: When he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is trusted, he betrays his trust.”  (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abdullah ibn Masud used to say, “The slave continues to lie and a black spot grows in his heart until all his heart becomes black. Then he is written, in Allah’s sight, among the liars.” (Malik)

Lady Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that:

“There was no behavior more hated to the Messenger of Allah than lying. A man would lie in narrating something in the presence of the Prophet, and he would not be content until he knew that he had repented.”  (At-Tirmidhi)

Lying Is Lying

Lying is a grave sin in Islam. A Muslim is not allowed to tell lies at all. There is no room for what we call “white lies”. Once you get used to white lies, it will be your norm and you will not recognize its grave consequences. If you do not feel guilt after telling lies, this is a sign of weak faith. Therefore, Islam prohibits lying. 

Lying for Fun

Prophet Muhammad said:

“Beware of lying, for lying is never good, whether it is done seriously or in jest.”

April Fools’ Day is an annual custom on April 1 consisting of practical jokes and hoaxes. (Wikipedia)

In most cases, these jokes take the form of lies. Therefore, people tell lies to entertain themselves. Prophet Muhammad warned Muslims against lying in order to entertain people. He said:

“Woe on anyone who speaks to entertain the people by lying, woe on him, woe on him…” (Abu Dawud)

In another hadith, Prophet Muhammad said: 

“One is not considered a true believer till he abandons lying for fun and arguing even if he was telling the truth.” (Ahmad)

Three Exceptions

Lying is forbidden in all its forms. But the Prophet made three exceptions in which lying is permissible as it serves a greater purpose.

Asma bint Yazid narrated that the Prophet said:

“it is not lawful to lie except in three cases: Something the man tells his wife to please her, to lie during war, and to lie in order to bring peace between the people.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet said: “A person who reconciles between two people and says good things, even if it is not true, is not a liar.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

I urge everyone to be aware of not telling lies and to do their best not to indulge in any form of lying for whatever reason.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

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About Dr. Mohsen Haredy
Dr. Mohsen Haredy holds a PhD in Hadith literature from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is the former Executive Manager and Editor-in-Chief of E-Da`wah Committee in Kuwait, and a contributing writer and counselor of Reading Islam. He graduated from Al-Azhar University and earned his MA in Hadith literature from Leiden University.