It is well known that Allah has forbidden to lie but can one do when it is a question of life and death?
How should I deal when I fear a humiliation upon speaking truth?
Translated by: Nisaar Nadiadwala
There are two important points in this question.
Firstly you must realise that Allah has declared lying as one of the biggest sins and has insisted Believers to speak the truth. He has commanded in the Qur’an, “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are truthful (in words and deeds).” (Chapter 9 - At-Tauba (Repentance), Verse 119)
There are many Hadith in which our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has stressed heavily upon being truthful. It is recorded in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that Abdullah ibn Masood (Allah be pleased with him) said, “Always adopt truthfulness and keep speaking truth and do truthful deeds because truthfulness leads to Birr (Goodness) and Birr leads you to Jannah. Save yourself from falsehood because falsehood drives you to Hell.”
This means that the result of truthfulness is Paradise and the end result of falsehood is Hell. We should always put our efforts in clinging to the truth.
In Surah al Maidah, Allah Almighty has promised us that, “This is the day (Day of Judgment), on which the truthful will profit from their truth” (5:119) It is only truthfulness that gives a salvation to human being.
Ubadah bin Samit (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “Whoever guarantees six things, for him I guarantee Paradise. Among those six things, one is, “Whenever you speak, speak truthfully”. Therefore we conclude that being truthful leads us to Paradise.
Now we analyse the questioner’s second point where the issue is how to deal when speaking truth can cost one’s life or humiliation. There are two things needs to be consider in such a situation one is ‘Exemption’ and the other is ‘Azimat’. Azimat means to take a courageous stand and stick to the truth. In sha Allah, speaking truth will protect your life as well as your honour. Truthfulness is a source of salvation and saving yourself. So Azimat means that even if there is a threat to your life yet to speak truth. We have so many incidents in the books of history that informs us how truthfulness lead them out of crisis.
The second point is ‘Exemption’. The status of Exemption is very lower than Azimat. In dire situations where one’s life is in danger then Allah has permitted him to speak a lie but the lie should be only that much quantity that can save one’s life. Allah has said in Surah Ar-Ra’d that Allah does not like Kufr but if there is a threat of losing life, he may, while keeping his faith intact in his heart, speak a handful of lie that will help him to save his life. Thus speaking lie is allowed in certain circumstances but yet being courageous and brave by remaining firm on the truth is always preferable.
There is another point that needs to be highlighted in this question, “Speaking truth can cause humiliation.” It is advisable that do not take refuge in falsehood to save your honour because it is Allah who causes honour and dishonour. You may experiment it by speaking truthfully when you fear humiliation upon speaking truth and you will notice that your honour has increased. Your duty is to speak the truth and you will see that Allah will cause your honour to be increased in the eyes of people. Allah assures that whoever humbles himself for the sake of Allaah then He will increase his honour before people.
The Qur’an declares, “Whatever comes out of the tongue of a person, is noted by Kiraman Katibeen.”
“But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of mankind) to watch you,
Kiraman (Honourable) Katibeen —writing down (your deeds),
They know all that you do.” [82:10-12]
Thus we conclude that though it is permitted to speak a lie when life is in danger but still one should not speak lie in order to save his honour.
May Allah guide us holding to truth and may He protect us from falling a prey to falsehood.
And Allaah knows best.