by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
Adherence to ethics, code of morality and good conduct constitutes to be an important, integral and major part of Islamic teachings. Prophet (SAW) said that he was sent to give perfection to the attributes of ethics, morality and good human conduct. [Muwatta, Musnad Ahmad] Languages are poor to translate the word “Khulq”, or “Akhlaaq”. It means endearing etiquettes, generosity, gentility, good manners, hospitality, humility, magnanimity, nobility, winning conduct and behavior.
The Holy Qur’an also mentions this attribute of Prophet (SAW) in Aayah 4 of Surah Qalam: “[Ya Rasul Allah] truly you have a strong character.” Prophet (SAW) was the teacher of good conduct and he supplicated thus: “Ya Allah make me the follower of good morals as no one can guide to the path of good morals except You, and keep me away from bad morals, and no one except You can save me from them.”
Prophet (SAW)’s life was and is without doubt the best example of good morals as mentioned in Aayah 159 of Surah Al-Imran: “By an act of mercy from Allah, you [Ya Rasul Allah] were gentle in your dealings with [unbelievers] them … ”
Before embracing Islam, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari sent his brother Unays to Makkah to find out about Prophet (SAW). On his return Unays reported that Prophet (SAW) called people to the noble qualities. [Sahih Muslim]
It was the custom of Quraysh to climb to the mountaintop and call their fellow tribesmen to warn if there was an impending danger. When Allah (SWT) commissioned him for prophet hood, he (SAW) climbed mount al-Safa, called the people of Makkah and said: “O People of Quraysh, tell me if I were to tell you that I see a cavalry on the other side of the mountain, would you believe me”? They all answered, “Indeed, for we trust you, and we have never known you to tell a lie.” [Sahih Bukhari, Kitab-ut-Tafsir].
Sahih Bukhari records the dialogue between Abu Sufyan bin Herb the Quraysh representative and Heraclius, the emperor of Rome. Though a non-Muslim at that time, Abu Sufyan could not help but attest to the nobility, honesty, integrity, generosity and truthfulness of Prophet (SAW). Truth has a great power and force.
When persecution of Muslims crossed limits in Makkah, Prophet (SAW) advised Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia, which was ruled by a just king called Negus. Qurayshsent two ambassadors to Negus with precious gifts requesting him to extradite the Muslims to Makkah. Jafar ibn Abu Talib rose to refute the accusations of the ambassadors and said: “O King! We were in a state of ignorance and immorality, worshipping idols, eating dead meat, and committing all sorts of iniquity. We honored no relative and assisted no neighbor. The strong among us exploited the weak. Then Allah sent us a prophet, one of our own people, whose lineage, truthfulness, loyalty and purity were well known to us. He called us to worship Allah alone and to reject all the stones and idols which we and our ancestors used to worship. He commanded us always to speak the truth, to remain true to trust and promise, to assist the relative, to be good neighbors, to abstain from blood and things forbidden, and to avoid fornication, perjury and false witness. He commanded us not to rob the wealth of the orphan or to falsely accuse the chaste women.” [Musnad Ahmad 1: 202]
Hazrat Jafar (RA)’s eloquent statement of facts moved the king’s heart and he realized the truth. He decided in favor of the Muslims and did not extradite them as Quraysh had pleaded.
Islam’s emphasis on nobility, ethics and morality can impress any open minded person who has an objective and unbiased approach. That is why in a few years time Islam revolutionized the then corrupt society. Prophet (SAW) once said that good moral conduct is a virtue.
Teaching of morals in Islam has a dual purpose. On one hand it exhorts to practice virtues, on the other it commands to give up the vices. There is a long list of vices, and one of them is to lie or utter falsehood. Imam Navavi (RehmA) has defined “lie” as a report contrary to facts. Either the report may be given deliberately or out of ignorance. If it is deliberate and intentional than it is an outright sin, while in ignorance it is not.
Lying is the worst vice. It may be by tongue or by action or both and in all cases it is highly condemnable. Lying weakens the Iman (faith) and exhibits the inner hollowness. Lying is against the teachings of all prophets. Whoever lies, his heart is dulled. Lying renders the heart incapable to receive guidance. Aayah 3 of Surah Al-zumar says: “Allah does not guide any ungrateful liar…”
Prophet (SAW) said. “Lying leads you to sin and sin takes you to Hell. Persistence in lying is recorded in the history sheet to be used as a witness against the liar on the Day of Judgment.
Lying has many faces in our society and new ones are being invented. The one which is more common these days is to create a big story on a mere whim or suspicion. It is not only belief in something which is untrue but passing it on to others without doing an objective inquiry or investigation. At times a minor thing is blown out of proportion and a mountain is made out of a mole for character assassination of some one who is disliked. Allah (SWT) says in Aayah 6 of Surah Al-Hujurat: “Believers, if a troublemaker brings you a news, check it first, in case you wrong others unwittingly and later regret what you have done.”
Prophet (SAW) commanded us to avoid suspicion and mistrust, because it is a major lie. (Bukhari) The Holy Qur’an says in this context in Aayah 12 of Surah Al-Hujarat: “Believers, avoid making too many assumptions – some assumptions are sinful – and do not spy on one another or speak ill of the people behind their backs: would any of you like to eat the flesh of your dead brother? No, you would hate it. So be mindful of Allah: Allah is ever relenting, most merciful.”
Prophet (SAW) also said: “Shun lie and adopt truth, because truth gives contentment and peace, while lying creates suspicion [mistrust]. (Tirmidhi – Kitabuzzuhd)
Islam teaches us to be extra careful about attesting to some one’s character. It should be done in a way as not to give an impression of a slightest iota of suspicion. He (SAW) said: “If any one of you wants to praise and attest to the morals or character of your brother, you then should say: “I think so and so about the person, Allah (SWT) knows the truth.” (Bukhari – Kitab-u-Shahadah)
Lying to get time off from work, to get a false certificate, to get financial aid by providing false proofs, to lie in dealings in social or commercial relations, all these are different forms of falsehood. The worst form is to stand witness to support a false claim and help a dishonest claimant. Allah (SWT) has strictly forbidden it in Aayah 30 of Surah Hajj: “Shun the filth of idolatrous beliefs and practices and shun false utterances.” Allah (SWT) has mentioned false witness with Shirk (infidelity and polytheism) Prophet (SAW) also has equated false witness with shirk as quoted by Tirmidhi.
Falsehood after all is falsehood, but to lie about Allah (SAW) is the worst of lies. Allah (SWT) says in Aayah 21 of Surah “Al-An’am: “Who does greater wrong than someone who fabricates a lie against Allah or denies His revelation? Those who do such wrong will not prosper.”
To claim prophet hood after the final Prophet is also the worst kind of falsehood. Prophet (SAW) said that 30 individuals in my Ummah will claim false prophet hood after me, though I am the last and final Prophet.” (Abu Dawood – Kitabul Fitan)
Some people lie about their dreams. Prophet (SAW) has given a stern warning and said: “Whoever says that he saw a dream, which in fact he did not, he than will be required to knot barley on the Day of Judgment, which he wouldn’t be able to do.” (Sahih Bukhari – Kitab-ut-Taabir). “Knotting barley”, a proverb in classical Arabic means an impossible task.
Fasting is a great act of worship, but lying washes out its reward. Prophet (SAW) said that a person who does not give up lying while fasting, then Allah (SWT) does not need him to give up his food and drink.”
Lying has been forbidden even in jokes and humorous conversation. In todays so called civilized world, lying has been given an art form. Worldly success seems to depend how skilled one is in the jugglery of words and can portray a lie as a truth. At times we witness its display in arguments and counter arguments in the judicial courts and in the arena of international politics. Prophet (SAW) said: “A person’s Iman (faith) can not achieve perfection until he does not give up lying even in jokes and quarrels in spite of being truthful.” [Musnad Ahmad 2: 352] That does not mean that humor and jokes are not permitted in Islam. Of course they are permitted but without any touch of lies, fabrication or falsehood. Some times a salesman lies to promote his trade or business, which according to Prophet (SAW) may increase the sale, but it takes out the auspiciousness from his earnings. [Muslim – Kitab-ul-Masaqat]
The essence of today’s discourse is that lying in the sight of Islam is a major sin. It deprives man of his dignity and trust. There are many Aayahs of the Qur’an and Traditions of Prophet (SAW) condemning lying.
Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar (RA) relates that Prophet (SAW) said: “When a person lies, the angel distances himself from the liar by a mile. (Tirmidhi)
Ummul Momineen Aayesha (RAnha) says: “The worst vice in the sight of Prophet (SAW) was lying. When a person used to lie, Prophet (SAW) never used to disclose it until the liar made repentance. (Tirmidhi)
Hazrat Abdullah bin Masood (RA) said: “A black spot appears on the heart of the liar, when he first lies. Persistence in lying blackens his entire heart. He is written as a liar in his record with Allah. [Muwatta of Imam Malik]
Think before you say something about others. Be very cautious and extremely careful while making comments about a person in his absence. Avoid suspicion and mistrust and think good of people. May Allah clean our hearts, and enable us to watch our tongue and our acts, Aamin!
The Friday Khutbahs are published to enhance your knowledge of Islam. The references of Quran and Hadith are the approximate translation of the Arabic text. The editors have not verified the accuracy of the the English translation. The scholarly reader is encouraged to refer to the original Arabic script if there is any doubt. Kindly notify us if the translation can be enhanced.