Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Lying and Deception

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"Best Deceiver"

The Qur'an openly states many times that Allah is the "best deceiver". All literal translations are referenced from islamicnature.com, a pro-Islamic Muslim website.[1]

Arabic: ومكروا ومكر الله والله خير الماكرين

Transliteration: Wamakaroo wamakara Allahu waAllahu khayru almakireena

Literal: And they cheated/deceived and God cheated/deceived, and God (is) the best (of) the cheaters/deceivers.[2]

Arabic: افامنوا مكر الله فلايامن مكر الله الا القوم الخاسرون

Transliteration: Afaaminoo makra Allahi fala ya/manu makra Allahi illa alqawmu alkhasiroona

Literal: Did they secure God's scheme/deceit ? So no(one) trusts God's scheme/deceit except the nation the losers.[3]

Arabic: واذ يمكر بك الذين كفروا ليثبتوك او يقتلوك او يخرجوك ويمكرون ويمكر الله والله خير الماكرين

Transliteration: Wa-ith yamkuru bika allatheena kafaroo liyuthbitooka aw yaqtulooka aw yukhrijooka wayamkuroona wayamkuru Allahu waAllahu khayru almakireena

Literal: And when those who disbelieved deceive/scheme at you to affix/affirm you, or kill you, or bring you out, and they scheme/deceive , and God deceives/schemes and God (is) best (of) the deceivers/schemers.[4]

Arabic: واذا اذقنا الناس رحمة من بعد ضراء مستهم اذا لهم مكر في اياتنا قل الله اسرع مكرا ان رسلنا يكتبون ماتمكرون

Transliteration: Wa-itha athaqna alnnasa rahmatan min baAAdi darraa massat-hum itha lahum makrun fee ayatina quli Allahu asraAAu makran inna rusulana yaktuboona ma tamkuroona

Literal: And if We made the people taste/experience mercy from after calamity/disastrous distress touched them, then for them (is) cheatery/deceit/schemes in Our verses/evidences . Say: "God (is) quicker/faster (in) cunning/scheming , that Our messengers write what you cheat/ deceive/scheme."[5]

Arabic: وقد مكر الذين من قبلهم فلله المكر جميعا يعلم ماتكسب كل نفس وسيعلم الكفار لمن عقبى الدار

Transliteration: Waqad makara allatheena min qablihim falillahi almakru jameeAAan yaAAlamu ma taksibu kullu nafsin wasayaAAlamu alkuffaru liman AAuqba alddari

Literal: And those from before them had cheated/deceived/schemed, so to God (is) all the cheatery/deceit/scheme. He knows what every self gains/acquires , and the disbelievers will know to whom (is) the house's/home's end/turn (result).[6]

Created Christianity Through Deception

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-

Deceived Muslims

Remember in thy dream Allah showed them to thee as few: if He had shown them to thee as many, ye would surely have been discouraged, and ye would surely have disputed in (your) decision; but Allah saved (you): for He knoweth well the (secrets) of (all) hearts. And remember when ye met, He showed them to you as few in your eyes, and He made you appear as contemptible in their eyes: that Allah might accomplish a matter already enacted. For to Allah do all questions go back (for decision).

Breaking Oaths

The Qur'an tells us that Allah will not call Muslims to account for what is "futile in their oaths", and deliberately breaking oaths is not much of a problem because they will be forgiven if they fast for three days.

Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts; and He is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing.
Allah will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths ye have sworn. But keep to your oaths. Thus doth Allah make clear to you His signs, that ye may be grateful.
Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths (in some cases): and Allah is your Protector, and He is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom.

The words "in some cases" of the above verse are not present in the original Arabic text. So this verse could even be giving Muslims a carte blanche to break oaths.


The following Qur'anic verses form the basis of the mainly Shi'ite doctrine of taqiyya, although, as you will see in the section on Sunni scholars, it is not limited to the Shi'ite sect.

Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.
Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty..


Sahih Bukhari

Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: Two men came from the East and addressed the people who wondered at their eloquent speeches. On that Allah's Apostle said 'Some eloquent speech is as effective as magic.'
Narrated Sahl bin Sad As-Sa'idi: ...Allah's Apostle said, "A man may seem to the people as if he were practising the deeds of the people of Paradise while in fact he is from the people of the Hell) Fire, another may seem to the people as if he were practicing the deeds of the people of Hell (Fire), while in fact he is from the people of Paradise."
Narrated Al-Bara: When the Prophet intended to perform the 'Umra he sent a person to the people of Mecca asking their permission to enter Mecca. They stipulated that he would not stay for more than three days and would not enter it except with sheathed arms and would not preach (Islam) to any of them. So Ali bin Abi-Talib started writing the treaty between them. He wrote, "This is what Muhammad, Apostle of Allah has agreed to." The (Meccans) said, "If we knew that you (Muhammad) are the Apostle of Allah, then we would not have prevented you and would have followed you. But write, 'This is what Muhammad bin 'Abdullah has agreed to..' " On that Allah's Apostle said, "By Allah, I am Muhammad bin 'Abdullah, and, by Allah, I am Apostle of 'Allah." Allah's Apostle used not to write; so he asked 'Ali to erase the expression of Apostle of Allah. On that 'Ali said, "By Allah I will never erase it." Allah's Apostle said (to 'Ali), "Let me see the paper." When 'Ali showed him the paper, the Prophet erased the expression with his own hand. When Allah's Apostle had entered Mecca and three days had elapsed, the Meccans came to 'Ali and said, "Let your friend (i.e. the Prophet) quit Mecca." Ali informed Allah's Apostle about it and Allah's Apostle said, "Yes," and then he departed.
Narrated Um Kulthum bint Uqba: That she heard Allah's Apostle saying, "He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar."

Breaking Oaths

In Sahih Bukhari we find narrations telling us Prophet Muhammad had said if he took an oath and later found something else better, he would do "what is better" and expiate his oath.

Narrated Zahdam:

We were in the company of Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari and there were friendly relations between us and this tribe of Jarm. Abu Musa was presented with a dish containing chicken. Among the people there was sitting a red-faced man who did not come near the food. Abu Musa said (to him), "Come on (and eat), for I have seen Allah's Apostle eating of it (i.e. chicken)." He said, "I have seen it eating something (dirty) and since then I have disliked it, and have taken an oath that I shall not eat it ' Abu Musa said, "Come on, I will tell you (or narrate to you). Once I went to Allah s Apostle with a group of Al-Ash'ariyin, and met him while he was angry, distributing some camels of Rakat. We asked for mounts but he took an oath that he would not give us any mounts, and added, 'I have nothing to mount you on' In the meantime some camels of booty were brought to Allah's Apostle and he asked twice, 'Where are Al-Ash'ariyin?" So he gave us five white camels with big humps. We stayed for a short while (after we had covered a little distance), and then I said to my companions, "Allah's Apostle has forgotten his oath. By Allah, if we do not remind Allah's Apostle of his oath, we will never be successful." So we returned to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! We asked you for mounts, but you took an oath that you would not give us any mounts; we think that you have forgotten your oath.' He said, 'It is Allah Who has given you mounts. By Allah, and Allah willing, if I take an oath and later find something else better than that. then I do what is better and expiate my oath.' "

Narrated 'Abdur-Rahman bin Samura:

The Prophet said, "O 'Abdur-Rahman! Do not seek to be a ruler, for if you are given authority on your demand then you will be held responsible for it, but if you are given it without asking (for it), then you will be helped (by Allah) in it. If you ever take an oath to do something and later on you find that something else is better, then you should expiate your oath and do what is better."

Since determining what is "better" is a very subjective evaluation, one can break any agreement with anyone at any time they choose to do so just based on one's perception of what is "better".

War is Deceit

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Khosrau will be ruined, and there will be no Khosrau after him, and Caesar will surely be ruined and there will be no Caesar after him, and you will spend their treasures in Allah's Cause." He called, "War is deceit'.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle called,: "War is deceit".
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: The Prophet said, "War is deceit."

Not Restricted to War

Muslims often claim lying in Islam is restricted to its use in war, but in the following hadiths, Muhammad permits a Muslim to lie in order to kill Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf, a Jewish poet who wrote an anti-Muslim poem which offended him.

"Narrated Jabir : The Prophet said, ‘Who is ready to kill Ka’b bin Ashraf (i.e. a Jew).’ Muhammad bin Maslama replied, ‘Do you like me to kill him?’ The Prophet replied in the affirmative. Muhammad bin Maslama said, ‘Then allow me to say what I like.’ The Prophet replied ‘I do (i.e. allow you).’"
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: Allah's Apostle said, "Who is willing to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?" Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, "O Allah's Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?" The Prophet said, "Yes," Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab). "The Prophet said, "You may say it." Then Muhammad bin Maslama went to Kab and said, "That man (i.e. Muhammad demands Sadaqa (i.e. Zakat) from us, and he has troubled us, and I have come to borrow something from you." On that, Kab said, "By Allah, you will get tired of him!" Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Now as we have followed him, we do not want to leave him unless and until we see how his end is going to be. Now we want you to lend us a camel load or two of food." (Some difference between narrators about a camel load or two.) Kab said, "Yes, (I will lend you), but you should mortgage something to me." Muhammad bin Mas-lama and his companion said, "What do you want?" Ka'b replied, "Mortgage your women to me." They said, "How can we mortgage our women to you and you are the most handsome of the 'Arabs?" Ka'b said, "Then mortgage your sons to me." They said, "How can we mortgage our sons to you? Later they would be abused by the people's saying that so-and-so has been mortgaged for a camel load of food. That would cause us great disgrace, but we will mortgage our arms to you." Muhammad bin Maslama and his companion promised Kab that Muhammad would return to him. He came to Kab at night along with Kab's foster brother, Abu Na'ila. Kab invited them to come into his fort, and then he went down to them. His wife asked him, "Where are you going at this time?" Kab replied, "None but Muhammad bin Maslama and my (foster) brother Abu Na'ila have come." His wife said, "I hear a voice as if dropping blood is from him, Ka'b said. "They are none but my brother Muhammad bin Maslama and my foster brother Abu Naila. A generous man should respond to a call at night even if invited to be killed." Muhammad bin Maslama went with two men. (Some narrators mention the men as 'Abu bin Jabr. Al Harith bin Aus and Abbad bin Bishr). So Muhammad bin Maslama went in together with two men, and sail to them, "When Ka'b comes, I will touch his hair and smell it, and when you see that I have got hold of his head, strip him. I will let you smell his head." Kab bin Al-Ashraf came down to them wrapped in his clothes, and diffusing perfume. Muhammad bin Maslama said. " have never smelt a better scent than this. Ka'b replied. "I have got the best 'Arab women who know how to use the high class of perfume." Muhammad bin Maslama requested Ka'b "Will you allow me to smell your head?" Ka'b said, "Yes." Muhammad smelt it and made his companions smell it as well. Then he requested Ka'b again, "Will you let me (smell your head)?" Ka'b said, "Yes." When Muhammad got a strong hold of him, he said (to his companions), "Get at him!" So they killed him and went to the Prophet and informed him. (Abu Rafi) was killed after Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf."

This is a clear case of lying endorsed by the prophet in order to achieve the objectives of Islam, therefore Muslims are permitted to lie (and kill) in defence of Muhammad and his character.

Marital Consent

These narrations say that a person can knowingly get two of his friends to lie about the consent given by a female and the marriage will be upheld. So if she turns him down, all he needs to do is get two friends to lie and she will be his wife legally.

Narrated Abu Haraira: Allah's Apostle said, "A lady slave should not be given in marriage until she is consulted, and a virgin should not be given in marriage until her permission is granted." The people said, "How will she express her permission?" The Prophet said, "By keeping silent (when asked her consent)." Some people said, "If a man, by playing a trick, presents two false witnesses before the judge to testify that he has married a matron with her consent and the judge confirms his marriage, and the husband is sure that he has never married her (before), then such a marriage will be considered as a legal one and he may live with her as husband."
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "A virgin should not be married till she is asked for her consent; and the matron should not be married till she is asked whether she agrees to marry or not." It was asked, "O Allah's Apostle! How will she(the virgin) express her consent?" He said, "By keeping silent." Some people said, "If a virgin is not asked for her consent and she is not married, and then a man, by playing a trick presents two false witnesses that he has married her with her consent and the judge confirms his marriage as a true one, and the husband knows that the witnesses were false ones, then there is no harm for him to consummate his marriage with her and the marriage is regarded as valid."
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو عَاصِمٍ عَنْ ابْنِ جُرَيْجٍ عَنْ ابْنِ أَبِي مُلَيْكَةَ عَنْ ذَكْوَانَ عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْبِكْرُ تُسْتَأْذَنُ قُلْتُ إِنَّ الْبِكْرَ تَسْتَحْيِي قَالَ إِذْنُهَا صُمَاتُهَا وَقَالَ بَعْضُ النَّاسِ إِنْ هَوِيَ رَجُلٌ جَارِيَةً يَتِيمَةً أَوْ بِكْرًا فَأَبَتْ فَاحْتَالَ فَجَاءَ بِشَاهِدَيْ زُورٍ عَلَى أَنَّهُ تَزَوَّجَهَا فَأَدْرَكَتْ فَرَضِيَتْ الْيَتِيمَةُ فَقَبِلَ الْقَاضِي شَهَادَةَ الزُّورِ وَالزَّوْجُ يَعْلَمُ بِبُطْلَانِ ذَلِكَ حَلَّ لَهُ الْوَطْءُ

“Abu Asem told us from Ibn Goreh, from the son of Abi Molaika, from Zokwan, from Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) that: Allah’s apostle (PBUH) said that a virgin’s consent is taken. I said: "A virgin feels shy". He said, ”Her silence is her consent.” And some people said that if a man falls in love with an orphan odalisque or a virgin and she refuses him. Then, he does a trick by bringing two false witnesses that he married her and the orphan realized it (the trick) and gave her consent and the judge acknowledged the false witnesses and the husband is aware of its falsehood, then is lawful for him to copulate with her.”[7]

Sahih Muslim

Humaid b. 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Auf reported that his mother Umm Kulthum daughter of 'Uqba b. Abu Mu'ait, and she was one amongst the first emigrants who pledged allegiance to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him), as saying that she heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: A liar is not one who tries to bring reconciliation amongst people and speaks good (in order to avert dispute), or he conveys good. Ibn Shihab said he did not hear that exemption was granted in anything what the people speak as lie but in three cases: in battle, for bringing reconciliation amongst persons and the narration of the words of the husband to his wife, and the narration of the words of a wife to her husband (in a twisted form in order to bring reconciliation between them).

Breaking Oaths

In addition to Sahih Bukhari, we find many more narrations in Sahih Muslim concerning the breaking of oaths. This time Muhammad is encouraging Muslims to do likewise and choose what is "better".

Abu Musa al-Ash'ari reported: I came to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) along with a group of Ash'arites requesting to give us a mount. He (the Holy Prophet) said: By Allah, I cannot provide you with a mount, and there is nothing with me which I should give you as a ride. He (the narrator) said: We stayed there as long as Allah willed. Then there were brought to him (to the Holy Prophet) camels. He (the Holy Prophet) then ordered to give us three white humped camels, We started and said (or some of us said to the others): Allah will not bless us. We came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) begging him to provide us with riding camels. He swore that he could not provide us with a mount, but later on he provided us with that. They (some of the Prophet's Companions) came and informed him about this (rankling of theirs), whereupon he said: It was not I who provided you with a mount, but Allah has provided you with that. So far as I am concerned, by Allah, if He so wills, I would not swear, but if, later on, I would see better than it, I (would break the vow) and expiate it and do that which is better.
Abu Huraira reported: A person sat late in the night with Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him), and then came to his family and found that his children had gone to sleep. His wife brought food for him. but he took an oath that he would not eat because of his children (having gone to sleep without food) He then gave precedence (of breaking the vow and then expiating it) and ate the food He then came to Allah s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and made mention of that to him, whereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace he upon him) said: He who took an oath and (later on) found something better than that should do that, and expiate for (breaking) his vow.
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who took an oath and then found another thing better than (this) should expiate for the oath (broken) by him and do (the better thing).
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who took an oath and (later on) found another thing better than that, he should do that which is better, and expiate for the vow (broken by him).
This hadith is narrated on the authority of Suhail with the same chain of transmitters (with these words): "He should expiate for (breaking) the vow and do that which is better."
'Adi reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: When anyone amongst you takes an oath, but he finds (something) better than that he should expiate (the breaking of the oath), and do that which is better.
Abd al-Rahman b. Samura reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to me: Abd al-Rahman b. Samura, don't ask for authority for if it is granted to you for asking for it, you would be commissioned for it (without having the support of Allah), but if you are granted it without your asking for it. You would be helped (by Allah) in it. And when you take an oath and find something else better than that, expiate for (breaking) your oath, and do that which is better. This hadith has also been transmitted on the authority of Ibn Farrukh.

Not Restricted to War

In addition to Sahih Bukhari, we find a narration in Sahih Muslim concerning Muhammad permitting a Muslim to lie in order to kill Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf, a Jewish poet who wrote an anti-Muslim poem which offended him.

It has been narrated on the authority of Jabir that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Who will kill Ka'b b. Ashraf? He has maligned Allah, the Exalted, and His Messenger. Muhammad b. Maslama said: Messenger of Allah, do you wish that I should kill him? He said: Yes. He said: Permit me to talk (to him in the way I deem fit). He said: Talk (as you like). So, Muhammad b. Maslama came to Ka'b and talked to him, referred to the old friendship between them and said: This man (i. e. the Holy Prophet) has made up his mind to collect charity (from us) and this has put us to a great hardship. When be heard this, Ka'b said: By God, you will be put to more trouble by him. Muhammad b. Maslama said: No doubt, now we have become his followers and we do not like to forsake him until we see what turn his affairs will take. I want that you should give me a loan. He said: What will you mortgage? He said: What do you want? He said: Pledge me your women. He said: You are the most handsome of the Arabs; should we pledge our women to you? He said: Pledge me your children. He said: The son of one of us may abuse us saying that he was pledged for two wasqs of dates, but we can pledge you (cur) weapons. He said: All right. Then Muhammad b. Maslama promised that he would come to him with Harith, Abu 'Abs b. Jabr and Abbad b. Bishr. So they came and called upon him at night. He came down to them. Sufyan says that all the narrators except 'Amr have stated that his wife said: I hear a voice which sounds like the voice of murder. He said: It is only Muhammad b. Maslama and his foster-brother, Abu Na'ila. When a gentleman is called at night even it to be pierced with a spear, he should respond to the call. Muhammad said to his companions: As he comes down, I will extend my hands towards his head and when I hold him fast, you should do your job. So when he came down and he was holding his cloak under his arm, they said to him: We sense from you a very fine smell. He said: Yes, I have with me a mistress who is the most scented of the women of Arabia. He said: Allow me to smell (the scent on your head). He said: Yes, you may smell. So he caught it and smelt. Then he said: Allow me to do so (once again). He then held his head fast and said to his companions: Do your job. And they killed him.

Ibn Majah

Cover Up Sins

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever covers (the sin of) a Muslim, Allah will cover him (his sin) in this world and in the Hereafter.” (Sahih)

Abu Dawud

War is Deceit

Narrated Ka'b ibn Malik: When the Prophet (peace be upon him) intended to go on an expedition, he always pretended to be going somewhere else, and he would say: War is deception.

Jihad is Perpetual

If jihad is perpetual, it means (according to Islamic theology) Muslims are always in a state of war. If Muslims are always in a state of war, it means deception is always permitted, regardless of the absence of any visible war against non-Muslims.

Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Three things are the roots of faith: to refrain from (killing) a person who utters, "There is no god but Allah" and not to declare him unbeliever whatever sin he commits, and not to excommunicate him from Islam for his any action; and jihad will be performed continuously since the day Allah sent me as a prophet until the day the last member of my community will fight with the Dajjal (Antichrist). The tyranny of any tyrant and the justice of any just (ruler) will not invalidate it. One must have faith in Divine decree.


Ibn Ishaq

I am the best of plotters. I deceived them with My guile so that I delivered you from them.
Ka’b’s body was left prostrate [humbled in submission]. After his fall, all of the Nadir Jews were brought low. Sword in hand we cut him down. By Muhammad’s order we were sent secretly by night. Brother killing brother. We lured him to his death with guile. Traveling by night, bold as lions, we went into his home. We made him taste death with our deadly swords. We sought victory for the religion of the Prophet.
One of the young men's fathers confronted Muhammad and said, ‘You have robbed my son of his life by your deception and brought great sorrow to me.'
By Muhammad's order we beguiled them.
‘By Allah you lie,' one said to another. ‘Liar yourself!' ‘You are a disaffected person arguing on behalf of the diseased.

Al Tabari

The Jews of the Qaynuqa replied, ‘Muhammad, do you think that we are like your people? Do not be deluded by the fact that you met a people with no knowledge and you made good use of your opportunity.'
The Messenger and his Companions continued in the fear and distress that Allah has described in the Qur'an. Then Nu'aym came to the Prophet. ‘I ‘ve become a Muslim, but my tribe does not know of my Islam; so command me whatever you will.' Muhammad said, ‘Make them abandon each other if you can so that they will leave us; for war is deception.'
‘Prophet, this group of Ansar have a grudge against you for what you did with the booty and how you divided it among you own people.' ‘Ansar, what is this talk I hear from you? What is the grudge you harbor against me? Do you think ill of me? Did I not come to you when you were erring and needy, and then made rich by Allah?' ‘You came to us discredited, when your message was rejected by the Quraysh, and we believed you. You were forsaken and deserted and we assisted you. You were a fugitive and we took you in, sheltering you. You were poor and in need, and we comforted you.



All quotations are taken from authoritative Sunni (i.e. orthodox Islamic) sources, none are taken from Shi'ite sources.


Imam Abu Hammid Ghazali says: "Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible (N:i.e. when the purpose of lying is to circumvent someone who is preventing one from doing something permissible), and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory... it is religiously precautionary in all cases to employ words that give a misleading impression..."
Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law
Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Edited and Translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller (p. 745, r8.2)
It is permissible to swear at Rasulullah when one is under duress and to recite the Kalima of Kufr in the fear of losing property or of getting murdered provided that the heart is at comfort.
Chapter "Al Dheema"
Nizam al-Din al-Shashi, Usul al-Shashi (p. 114)


If you [Muslims] are under their [infidels'] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them, with your tongue, while harboring inner animosity for them. … Allah has forbidden believers from being friendly or on intimate terms with the infidels in place of believers — except when infidels are above them [in authority]. In such a scenario, let them act friendly towards them.
Jami' al-Bayan 'an ta'wil ayi'l-Qur'an al-Ma'ruf: Tafsir at-Tabari
Abu Ja'far Muhammad at-Tabari, Beirut: Dar Ihya' at-Turath al-'Arabi, 2001 (vol. 3, p. 267)
Let not the believers take the disbelievers as patrons, rather than, that is, instead of, the believers — for whoever does that, that is, [whoever] takes them as patrons, does not belong to, the religion of, God in anyway — unless you protect yourselves against them, as a safeguard (tuqātan, ‘as a safeguard’, is the verbal noun from taqiyyatan), that is to say, [unless] you fear something, in which case you may show patronage to them through words, but not in your hearts: this was before the hegemony of Islam and [the dispensation] applies to any individual residing in a land with no say in it.
Surah 3 Ayah 28
Tafsir al-Jalalayn, trans. Feras Hamza, 2012 Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought
(unless you indeed fear a danger from them) meaning, except those believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers. In this case, such believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly. For instance, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' said, "We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them. Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, "The Tuqyah is allowed until the Day of Resurrection.
Undoubtedly, there is no harm in practicing Taqiyyah if a believer is caught up between non-believers and his life or property is under threat from them. In such circumstances he should conceal his enmity from them. Infact, he should talk in such a manner that his words should show passion. His hear should not confirm what he is saying. Taqiyyah does not have an effect on one's heart; it only has an external effect.
Surah 3. Al-i'Imran, Ayah 28
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Tafseer Kabeer, published in Istanbul (vol. 2, p. 626)
The non-believers once caught Ammar bin Yasir and they forced him to say praise their false gods and to condemn Prophet Muhammad. They forced him to an extent that Ammar bin Yasir gave in an exceeded to their demands. After that, when he returned to the Prophet Mohammed, Ammar narrated the whole story to him. Prophet Muhammad asked him, how do you feel in your heart? To which Ammar replied, I am fully content with Allah's religion in my heart. To this Prophet Mohammed said, if non-believers ask you to say the same again, say it. At which time the following ayah was descended:

"Anyone who after accepting faith in Allah utters disbelief (save under compulsion and even then his heart remains firm in faith) on them is Wrath from Allah and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty"
Surah 16. An-Nahl, Ayah 106
Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, Al-Durr Al-Manthur Fi Tafsir Bil-Ma'thur, Cairo edition (vol. 4, p. 132)
All scholars of the Muslim Ummah agree on the fact that at times when one is forced, one can denounce Islam.
Tafsir Ma'alim at-Tanzeel
Husain bin Masood al-Baghawi, published in Bombay (vol. 2, P. 214)


Again, all quotations are taken from authoritative Sunni (i.e. orthodox Islamic) sources, none are taken from Shi'ite sources.



In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful

Peace, blessings and mercy of Allah be upon you.

My father has an illicit relationship with a woman other than my mother and he refuses to marry her and he spends on her abundantly, and at the same time, he is tightfisted on his house. My mother knew what he spends on her, without his knowledge, through reading a list he keeps in his pocket. She used tricks to make sedition between them by claiming that someone called us and said that he spent that sum and that sum on that woman. My father asked my testimony and I supported my mother’s claim. Are my mother and I sinful by lying on my father, or is it considered “permissible” lying? How do you counsel us to solve this problem? Jazakum Allahu Khairan.


In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful

Praise be to Allah, prayers and peace be upon His kind Messenger, his family members, companions and followers.

Lying is a grave sin and a bad conduct that should not be resorted to by anyone who believes in Allah and in the Day of Judgment, except under the compelling strokes of necessity, because, as the prophet, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, said: “That lying leads to dissolution, and that dissolution leads to hellfire, and a person is always lying and seeks lying until he is registered unto Allah that he is a liar”. If someone is compelled to lying, he can indirectly say something that his listener can understand something else. However, your father should be reached out by a sincere advice that he should fear Allah and that his relationship with that woman is against his reputation, his old age, and his religion, that would expose him to Allah’s wrath and contempt. I would say to him what the Arab poet has said: “Suffice it to you old age and Islam to restrain you”.

As for your mother, it would be better for her that she would approach your father in their privacy and tell him that she knows what is going on between him and that woman, and that she is patient on that situation in consideration for the family and intimate ties between them and that her patience has reached a warning limit of no more if he goes on like this, and that she reminds him of Allah and frightens him of His wrath and contempt, that he may come back to his senses and sincerely repent to Allah. Allah knows best.
Lying for repulsing evil
Dr. Salah Al-Sawy, AMJA Online, Question ID: 937, November 17, 2005
Shaykh al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
In this verse [al-Maa’idah 5:51] Allaah tells us that whoever takes the Jews and Christians as friends is one of them because of his taking them as friends... [Aal ‘Imraan 3:28]
This verse explains all the verses quoted above which forbid taking the kaafirs as friends in general terms. What that refers to is in cases where one has a choice, but in cases of fear and taqiyah it is permissible to make friends with them, as much as is essential to protect oneself against their evil. That is subject to the condition that one’s faith should not be affected by that friendship and the one who is behaves in that manner out of necessity is not one who behaves in that manner out of choice.
It may be understood from the apparent meaning of these verses that the one who deliberately takes the kuffaar as friends by choice and because he likes them, is one of them.

Adwa’ al-Bayaan, 2/98,99
. . .

Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about the ruling on mixing with the kuffaar and treating them kindly hoping that they will become Muslim. He replied:

Undoubtedly the Muslim is obliged to hate the enemies of Allaah and to disavow them, because this is the way of the Messengers and their followers. [Quotes al-Mumtahanah 60:4 & al-Mujaadilah 58:22]
Based on this, it is not permissible for a Muslim to feel any love in his heart towards the enemies of Allaah who are in fact his enemies too. [Quotes al-Mumtahanah 60:1]
But if a Muslim treats them with kindness and gentleness in the hope that they will become Muslim and will believe, there is nothing wrong with that, because it comes under the heading of opening their hearts to Islam. But if he despairs of them becoming Muslim, then he should treat them accordingly. This is something that is discussed in detail by the scholars, especially in the book Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah by Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him).
Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 3, question no. 389.
The Arabic word tawriyah [translated here as deliberate ambiguity] means to conceal something.

Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): [Quotes al-Ma'idah 5:31 & al-A’raaf 7:26]

With regard to the meaning in sharee’ah (religious) terminology, it refers to someone who says something that may appear to have one meaning to the listener but the speaker intends something different that may be understood from these words. For example, he says, “I do not have a dirham in my pocket,” and that is understood to mean that he does not have any money at all, when what he means is that he does not have a dirham but he may have a dinar, for example. This is called ambiguity or dissembling.

Deliberate ambiguity is regarded as a legitimate solution for avoiding difficult situations that a person may find himself in when someone asks him about something, and he does not want to tell the truth on the one hand, and does not want to lie, on the other.

Deliberate ambiguity is permissible if it is necessary or if it serves a shar’i (religious) interest, but it is not appropriate to do it a great deal so that it becomes a habit, or to use it to gain something wrongfully or to deprive someone of his rights.

Al-Nawawi said:

The scholars said: If that is needed to serve some legitimate shar’i interest that outweighs the concern about misleading the person to whom you are speaking, or it is needed for a reason that cannot be achieved without lying, then there is nothing wrong with using deliberate ambiguity as an acceptable alternative. But if there is no interest to be served and no pressing need, then it is makrooh (disliked), but is not haram (impermissible). If it is a means of taking something wrongfully or depriving someone of their rights, then it is haram in that case. This is the guideline in this matter. Al-Adhkaar.

Some scholars were of the view that it is haram to resort to deliberate ambiguity if there is no reason or need to do so. This was the view favoured by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him). See al-Ikhtiyaaraat.

There are situations in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught that we may use deliberate ambiguity, for example:

If a man loses his wudoo (ablution) whilst praying in congregation, what should he do in this embarrassing situation?

The answer is that he should place his hand over his nose and leave.

The evidence for that is the report narrated from ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If anyone of you breaks his wudoo whilst praying, let him hold his nose and leave.” Sunan Abi Dawood.

Al-Teebi said: The command to hold his nose is so that it will look as if he has a nosebleed. This is not a lie, rather it is a kind of ambiguity. This concession is granted so that the Shaytan will not trick him into staying put because of feeling embarrassed in front of people.

Mirqaah al-Mafaateeh Sharh Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh.

This is a kind of ambiguity that is permitted, so as to avoid any embarrassment and so that whoever sees him leaving will think that he has a nosebleed.

Similarly If a Muslim faces a difficult situation where he needs to say what is against the truth in order to protect himself or someone who is innocent, or to save himself from serious trouble, is there a way for him to escape the situation without lying or falling into sin?

Yes, there is a legal way and a permissible escape that one can make use of if necessary. It is equivocation or indirectness in speech. Imam al-Bukhaari (may Allah have mercy on him) entitled a chapter of his Saheeh: “Indirect speech is a safe way to avoid a lie”. (Saheeh al-Bukhari, Kitaab al-Adab (Book of Manners)).

Equivocation means saying something which has a closer meaning that the hearer will understand, but it also has a remote meaning which what is actually meant and is linguistically correct. The condition for this is that whatever is said should not present a truth as falsity and vice versa. The following are examples of such statements used by the salaf (pious predecessors) and early imams (religious leaders), and collected by Imam Ibn al-Qayyim in his book Ighaathat al-Lahfaan:

It was reported about Hammad (may Allah have mercy on him), if someone came that he did not want to sit with, he would say as if in pain: “My tooth, my tooth!” Then the boring person whom he did not like would leave him alone.

Imam Sufyan Al-Thawri was brought to the khaleefah al-Mahdi, who liked him, but when he wanted to leave, the khaleefah told him he had to stay. Al-Thawri swore that he would come back. He then went out, leaving his shoes at the door. After some time he came back, took his shoes and went away. The khaleefah asked about him, and was told that he had sworn to come back, so he had come back and taken his shoes.

Imam Ahmad was in his house, and some of his students, including al-Mirwadhi, were with him. Someone came along, asking for al-Mirwadhi from outside the house, but Imam Ahmad did not want him to go out, so he said: “Al-Mirwadhi is not here, what would he be doing here?” whilst putting his finger in the palm of his other hand, and the person outside could not see what he was doing.

Other examples of equivocation or indirectness in speech include the following:

If someone asks you whether you have seen so-and-so, and you are afraid that if you tell the questioner about him this would lead to harm, you can say “ma ra aytuhu”, meaning that you have not cut his lung, because this is a correct meaning in Arabic [“ma ra aytuhu” usually means “I have not seen him,” but can also mean “I have not cut his lung”]; or you could deny having seen him, referring in your heart to a specific time and place where you have not seen him. If someone asks you to swear an oath that you will never speak to so-and-so, you could say, “Wallaahi lan ukallumahu”, meaning that you will not wound him, because “kalam” can also mean “wound” in Arabic [as well as “speech”]. Similarly, if a person is forced to utter words of kufr (disbelief) and is told to deny Allah, it is permissible for him to say “Kafartu bi’l-laahi”, meaning “I denounce the playboy” [which sounds the same as the phrase meaning “I deny Allah.”]

(Ighaathat al-Lahfaan by Ibn al-Qayyim. See also the section on equivocation (ma’aareed) in Al-Adaab al-Shar’iyyah by Ibn Muflih).

However, one should be cautious that the use of such statements is restricted only to situations of great difficulty, otherwise:

Excessive use of it may lead to lying.

One may lose good friends, because they would always be in doubt as to what is meant.

If the person to whom such a statement is given comes to know that the reality was different from what he was told, and he was not aware that the person was engaging in deliberate ambiguity or equivocation, he would consider that person to be a liar. This goes against the principle of protecting one’s honour by not giving people cause to doubt one’s integrity.

The person who uses such a technique frequently may become proud of his ability to take advantage of people.

End quote. From Madha taf’al fi’l-haalaat al-aatiyah (What to do in the following situations)?
Telling half-truths is permissible under the following conditions:

1 - there is a legitimate reason for doing so If there is no legitimate (under the shari`ah) reason, then it is not permissible. [Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar 9/613.]

2 - the 'hidden' true meaning is not too far fetched

3 - the statement does not lead to someone else suffering injustice or losing one of their rights.

4 - one does not swear to the half-truth in the name of Allah [Ibn Muflih, al-Adab al-Shar`iyyah]


..the purpose is to stay safe from any possible harm coming through them. The words (“unless you have a fear of them”) appearing in this verse means that…friendship with disbelievers is not permissible except when you are in a situation where you want to defend yourself against them.
Surah Al-Imran 3:28-30
Muhammad Shafi Usmani, Maarif ul Quran (p. 57)
That is: If the faithful are trapped in the midst of the infidels and if they, as a mean of safeguard, take them as their friends for appearances sake, then there is nothing wrong in it; but here emphasised that we should fear Allah and not indulge in doing a thing which would harm the interests of the religion...
Surah 3 Ayah 28
Shams Pirzada, Dawat ul Quran, trans. Abdul Karim Shaikh
"(3:28) The believers may not take the unbelievers for their allies in preference to those who believe. Whoever does this has nothing to do with Allah unless he does so in order to protect himself from their wrong-doing..."

This means that it is lawful for a believer, helpless in the grip of the enemies of Islam and in imminent danger of severe wrong and persecution, to keep his faith concealed and to behave in such a manner as to create the impression that he is on the same side as his enemies. A person whose Muslim identity is discovered is permitted to adopt a friendly attitude owards the unbelievers in order to save his life. If he considers himself incapable of enduring the excesses to which he may be subjected, he may even state that he is not a believer.

"...Allah warns you to beware of Him for it is to Allah that you will return."

One should not be overwhelmed by the fear of other human beings to the extent of losing the fear of God. Human beings can harm a man but the most they can do is to ruin his transient, earthly life. God, on the other hand, can subject him to everlasting torment. If one is constrained in extraordinary circumstances to resort to a prudent concealment of faith (taqiyah) in order to save one's life, this concealment should remain within reasonable limits. The most one is permitted to do is to protect one's life and property without jeopardizing either the interests of Islam or of the Muslim community as a whole, and without causing loss of life and property to other Muslims. One must never allow saving one's own life to lead to the propagation of unbelief at the expense of Islam and to the dominance of unbelievers over Muslims. Here the believers are warned that, no matter how dangerous the circumstances surrounding them, they cannot escape God's reproach if they give substantial aid to those rebelling against Him, and cause any harm to God's chosen religion, to the community of believers or to any individual believer. For, it is to God that one will ultimately return for reckoning.
Surah 3 Ayah 28
Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, Tafhim al-Qur'an


All quotations are taken from respected Sunni (i.e. orthodox Islamic) sources, none are taken from Shi'ite sources.

I say our scholars agree on the fact that when needed, telling a lie is allowed, and this is Taqiyyah. But if we name this Taqiyyah, a lot of the scholars raise an objection, since Shi'as use this term. So the difference between Shi'a and Sunni is only the word difference.
Muhammad bin Aqeel Shaafiyee, al-Nasa'ih al-Kaafiyah (p. 109), Bombay edition
All the scholars agree on the fact that if a cruel man comes to kill a person who is hiding, or comes to wrongfully take someone else's possessions, and asks for information about that (possession), then it is Wajib on everyone to conceal it and deny knowledge of its whereabouts. This is not only permissible but Wajib because its purpose is to protect an oppressed one from the grasp of an oppressor
Al-Nawawi, Al Minhaj Be Sharh Sahih Muslim (vol. 2, p. 106-266), published in Luknow
It should be known that Taqiyyah is permissible, proven from the Qur'an one such verse is ," Let not the believers take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah. " and the other statement of Allah [swt]:

“He who disbelieves in Allah after his having believed, not he who is compelled while his heart is at rest on account of faith, but he who opens (his) breast to disbelief-- on these is the wrath of Allah, and they shall have a grievous chastisement.”

The definition of Taqiyyah is to oppose one’s life, property or honor and this can be of two types. Firstly, the enmity may be based on religion of belief, like a Kaafir and Muslim. Secondly, it may be based on the worldly things, like property, place, women and other belongings. Thus, Taqqiyah is also of two kinds
Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi, Tauhfa Ithna Ashariyya, p. 337
Taqiyyah is allowed at times of fear, and Tabbara said that our companions say that in times of need, Taqiyyah is allowed; rather, in some cases to create an environment of unity, it can also be used. And all the narrations which are present speak for it.
Ahmed Fehmi Mesri, Hashia al-Mihal wa An-Nahal (vol. 1, p. 195), published in Cairo
Similarly, Kufr is the worst act. But when one is forced to commit it through a threat of murder then it is permissible to adopt Taqiyyah and recite the Kalima of kufr; and such a person should not be deemed a Kaffir. Verily, the Shari'a has deemed it a favorable act to recite Kalima of Kufr under Taqqiyah
Abu Shakoor Saalmi, al-Tamheed fi Bayan al-Tauwheed (Ch. 1, pp. 18-19), published in Delhi

See Also

  • Lying - A hub page that leads to other articles related to lying

External Links


  1. For an in-depth analysis of these verses and responses to common apologetics, see: Allah the Best Deceiver.
  2. 3. Ali-Imran - The Family Of 'Imran (سورة آل عمران) - Revealed in Madinah (English: Literal) - IslamicNature, accessed August 25, 2011
  3. 7. Al-A'raf - The Heights (سورة الأعراف) - Revealed in Makkah (English: Literal) - IslamicNature, accessed August 25, 2011
  4. 8. Al-Anfal - Spoils Of War (سورة الأنفال) - Revealed in Madinah (English: Literal) - IslamicNature, accessed August 25, 2011
  5. 10. Yunus - Jonah (سورة يونس) - Revealed in Makkah (English: Literal) - IslamicNature, accessed August 25, 2011
  6. 13. Ar-Ra'd - The Thunder (سورة الرعد) - Revealed in Makkah (English: Literal) - IslamicNature, accessed August 25, 2011
  7. The corresponding English narration (Sahih Bukhari 9:86:101) adds an extra clause "and then she attains the age of puberty", which we can see is not present in the Arabic version of the hadith and thus was most likely added by the translator Muhsin Khan himself.