Ruling On Lies That Do Not Harm Anyone: Ruling On Double Entendres - All Circumstances

Islamic Rulings - Living Shariah Verdicts

Islamic Questions & Answers

What is the ruling on lies that will never harm anyone?.

Praise be to Allaah.

Lying is haraam in all cases, expect those which are exempted by the Lawgiver, and what is mentioned here is not one of those cases, because of the general meaning of the evidence, such as the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): "O you who believe! Fear Allaah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds)" [al-Tawbah 9:119]. In al-Saheehayn and elsewhere it is narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas'ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "I urge you to be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man will continue to be truthful and seek to speak the truth until he is recorded with Allaah as speaker of truth (siddeeq). And beware of lying, for lying leads to immorality and immorality leads to Hell; a man will continue to tell lies until he is recorded with Allaah as a liar." And it was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas'ood also said: Lying is not appropriate whether in earnest or in jest. Recite if you wish (interpretation of the meaning): "O you who believe! Fear Allaah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds)" [al-Tawbah 9:119]. Then he said: Do you find any concession allowing that to anyone?

And Allaah is the Source of strength. May Allaah send blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.

Al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah li'l-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa'l-Ifta' (26/51).

Ruling on double entendres

What is the ruling on double entendres?.

Praise be to Allaah.

Double entendre refers to when a person means something other than the apparent meaning of the words. It is permissible subject to two conditions:

1 – that the word may be interpreted in that fashion

2 – that there be no wrongdoing involved.

If a man says, "I only sleep on a watd" – a watd is a piece of wood placed on the wall for things to be hung from (i.e., a hook), but the man says that what he meant by watd was a mountain, this is an acceptable kind of double entendre, because the word watd may also mean a mountain, and there is no wrong being done to anyone in this case.

Similarly if a man says, "I only sleep under the saqaf (lit. roof)," then he sleeps on the roof, and says that what he meant by saqaf was the sky, this is also acceptable, because the sky is called saqaf in the verse where Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"And We have made the heaven a roof [saqafan], safe and well-guarded"

[al-Anbiya' 21:32]

But if you use double entendres in order to wrong someone, that is not permitted, such as if a person deprives another of something that is his due, then he goes to the qaadi (judge), but the one who was wronged has no proof, so the qaadi asks the one who took away his right to swear that he does not have anything that belongs to the claimant, and he swears saying, "Wallaahi maa lahu ‘indi shay'," and the qaadi rules in his favour, then some of the people speak to him and told him that his oath was a false oath (yameen ghamoos) which may doom him to Hell. It says in the hadeeth, "Whoever swears an oath when asked to do so, in order to deprive a Muslim man of his rights unlawfully, will meet Allaah when He is angry with him." The person who swore this oath said, "I did not mean to deny, I meant to affirm, and what I meant by saying "maa lahu" was "Of Whose I have something." [i.e., I have something that belongs to Allaah – because all things belong to Allaah]. Even though what he said may mean this, his intention was to wrong another and not give him his due, so it is not permissible. Hence it says in the hadeeth: "Your oath is according to what your companion believes." Twisting the meaning will not avail you anything before Allaah, and you are now swearing a false oath.

If a man accuses his wife of betraying him and she is innocent of that and he swears an oath and says, "By Allaah she is my sister," and says that he meant she is his sister in Islam, then this is a valid statement, because she is his sister in Islam and she has been falsely accused.

Majmoo' Duroos wa Fataawa al-Haram al-Makki, 3/367, by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen.

It is forbidden to lie in all circumstances

My mother is still alive and is over one hundred years old. She is in a difficult situation because she cannot understand things, and she asks whether it is evening when it is morning, and she repeats words more than five times. She cannot move from where she is, and if she has been sleeping she is not able to sit up, etc. Her children answer all her questions, but their answers may be lies, such as when she asks them in the evening whether it is the morning, and they tell her yes, even though it is the evening, and so on. My question is: if they tell her lies, are they sinning or not? The second question is: is there any kafaarah (expiation) which they should pay to make up for her fasts and prayers, or not? Please advise us, may Allaah reward you with good.

Praise be to Allaah.

You should not tell her lies; you should tell her the truth, because telling her lies does not serve any purpose or benefit her in any way, or make her happy.

With regard to prayer and fasting, there is no kafaarah to be paid, and there is no sin on her, because she has become like a child. So long as she cannot tell what is what, and her feelings and mind have changed, she is not obliged to pray or fast, because she is not held accountable for that. She is now like a little child who is free of responsibility and there is no sin involved, in sha Allaah. And Allaah knows best.

Fataawa al-Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Humayd, p. 43


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