Did you know that what Islam teaches about lying is wildly different from what the Bible teaches? Learning about Islam’s teachings is important for every Christian especially when we have Muslim friends. This knowledge gives us insight into our Muslim friend’s faith and practices and how they impact their lives.
We’re going to dive into what Islam teaches about lying, then we will compare it to what the Bible says, and at the end we’ll outline effective ways to discuss this topic with your Muslim friend!
What does Islam teach about lying?
In general, lying is haram in Islam– this means it is not permitted. However, Islam has specific rules and allowances for lying, so the issue is not as black-and-white as some people would like to believe. There are different levels of lying according to Islam, and these levels dictate the morality of each scenario.
The worst type of lying is against Allah and Muhammad:
“And, for what your tongues describe, do not utter the lie, (saying) this is lawful and this is unlawful, in order to forge a lie against Allah; surely those who forge a lie against Allah shall not prosper. A little enjoyment and they shall have a painful punishment.” (The Quran, Surah 16:116-117)
The sixth imam of Islam claimed that “To attribute falsehood to Allah and this Holy Prophet (S) is the greatest sin.” (Hadith Book of Wasa'il ul-Shia)
This can include lying about what Allah has said, or claiming that Allah is in support of one’s actions when the Quran says otherwise. The same would go for Muhammad, lying to him at the time he was living, or later about something he said or did.
There are severe punishments that are described for liars in the Quran and Hadith, one example is in Hadith Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol. 8, no: 118). Muhammad told the story about two men coming to him in a dream. The men told him that there was a man who had been a liar, and Muhammad saw in the dream that his punishment after death was having his cheek torn from his face every day until the day of Resurrection.
When can Muslims lie?
Allah, through Muhammad, permitted lying in these situations: to persuade a woman (especially to please the wife), during war to gain victory for Allah, and to reconcile two parties. Muslims are also allowed to lie during a journey or expedition, and even deny their faith for self-preservation when they are in a non-Islamic territory.
Here are two examples from the Hadith that teach Muslims when lying is allowed:
“Asma bint Yazid narrated that the Messenger of Allah [Muhammad] 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.’" Vol. 4, Book 1, Hadith 1939
Muhammad said to his cousins Ali at the time of recording his will and testament: O ‘Ali, Allah even likes a falsehood for the sake of peace and dislikes truth that spreads corruption.’” Wasa’il ul-Shi’a
Allah is known as a deceiver
“And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers.” Quran 3:54
The word in Arabic for schemed in this verse is “makr,” which is translated to mean deceiver/schemer. So, if translated word for word, this verse essentially says:
“The disbelievers lied and deceived, and Allah lied too and deceived(the disbelievers): and Allah is the best deceiver.” This key verse connects with another point where Muslims are taught it is permissible to be deceptive with unbelievers (non-Muslims).
What does the Bible say about lying?
The Bible explicitly teaches that lying is a sin in all circumstances, and Satan is considered the “father of lies.” Lying is Satan’s tool to manipulate us and try to pull us away from God.
In contrast to what Islam teaches, Jesus says that denying Him in order to save your life will result in separation from Him and God. He takes us at our word, just like he says in Matthew 5:37:
“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.”
The Bible also teaches that sins are not judged on different levels– all of them result in death. There is no small or white lie! Furthermore, liars and murderers are in the same category and deserve God’s wrath.
However, keep in mind that in Christ, our sins are forgiven. That’s not to say that we can sin freely, but that as we continue becoming more like Christ, we may sin, and when we do, the Lord is merciful and forgives when we ask.
How to talk about lying with your Muslim friend?
You may be wondering, “When would I ever get the opportunity to talk about lying with my Muslim friend?” Well, hopefully you’ll never be in the position where your Muslim friend lies to you, and you definitely won’t ever lie to them, so that’s a good question! If you and your Muslim friend are in a conversation about the Quran and Bible or about your different beliefs, you may be able to ask them what the Quran teaches about lying. Try to lead into this conversation gently, whether it be by sharing a story about a time you were lied to or perhaps a news story centered around lying.
Remember, there might be a difference between what your Muslim friend says about lying versus what the Quran says. Try to bring up a few Quranic verses and ask them how they interpret those.
A conversation about lying may not be an easy one, but it could open your Muslim friend’s eyes to the moral differences between what Jesus taught and what Allah teaches. Any conversation, no matter how hard the topic may be, can be used to bring your Muslim friend one step closer to Jesus!
Please note that not all Muslims follow the Quran strictly, so please do not take this blog post as a sign to assume all Muslims are liars. This is not what we are saying. Our goal in this blog post is to reveal to you the “gray areas” that Islam has in its teachings which even confuses Muslims who sincerely study their faith looking for truthful answers.
Dear Lord, please keep lies from my lips. May Your Truth be the light of my path, may I speak truthfully in everything I do. I ask you to bless my conversations with my Muslim friend, so that they can point them to You. Amen.