I don’t think any two would disagree that the vilest trait for a person to have is lying. We hate liars and have no tolerance for a liar. It is pretty much the most degrading thing to say to someone, calling them a “liar”.

If it’s that bad and we hate it so much, why do we do it?

Unfortunately, there are even some of us who are very good and creative at it as well, and then there are those who are others are even compulsive liars.[1]


As Muslims we know very well that lying is a major sin. A liar is among those whom Almighty God Himself curses.[2] Condemning lying and liars has been mentioned in the Quran about 280 times.

Interesting point here is most of these verses that speak about liars and lying are Meccan verses, and that is because the level of the faith was very low and rejection of religion was high. As for the Medinian verses that speak about lying, it’s directed at the munafiqin.

This means that with true faith,[3] you don’t lie. When you read this beautiful verse, what do you understand?

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ وَكُونُواْ مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ﴾

Oh you who believe, be wary of God and be with those who are truthful.[4]

Ok, we understand that who you hang around with will influence you, and that you should not associate with liars.

We’ve also come across many hadiths from Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) that speak about how bad lying is. There is this narration from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) that says:

إِنَّ اَللَّهَ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ جَعَلَ لِلشَّرِّ أَقْفَالاً وَجَعَلَ مَفَاتِيحَ تِلْكَ اَلْأَقْفَالِ اَلشَّرَابَ وَاَلْكَذِبُ شَرٌّ مِنَ اَلشَّرَابِ .

Verily, Almighty God has placed locks for evil, and has placed alcohol as the keys to these locks, but lying is more evil than alcohol.[5]

And from Imam Hasan al-Askari (a.s.):

جُعِلَتِ الْخَبَائِثُ فِي بَيْتٍ، وَ جُعِلَ مِفْتَاحُهُ الْكَذِبَ

All evil has been placed in a house, and the key to it is lying.[6]

The key to the house, and the key to evil.

It goes without saying that lying opens up so many doors to other evil, immoral and corrupt acts. When you lie, everything else will become easy to do.

  • You lie to your parents – it becomes easy to disobey.
  • You lie to your spouse – it becomes easy to betray.
  • You lie to your teacher – it becomes easy to claim you read Hemingway.
  • You lie to your employer – it becomes easy to ask for money for work you didn’t do yesterday.
  • You lie to your friend – then you can speak about made up stories from your so-called holiday.
  • You lie to your other friend – and tell them something different to what you really weigh.
  • You lie to God – this is the path that will take you astray.

But you look at each situation, and you realise you’re losing, and you feel down and bad about yourself. That’s because you’re going against your nature.

Yes, lying is very dangerous, and that’s why Islam stood very aggressively against it.

A lie means false, a lie means corruption, a lie means deception, a lie means betrayal.

Although we hate lying and liars so much, we still have a problem within ourselves, and that it we might find it difficult to completely overcome lying. We want to be truthful, and we want to be known as trustworthy. We want to feel that what comes out of our mouth is nothing but the truth, but why do we slip sometimes??

Is it our Nafs, and our weakness? Is it us wanting to feed our ego? Is it us trying to cover up what we lack and don’t have?

Well, it’s a combination of all these reasons, and more. We don’t go for the big bites, straight away. You do not become a compulsive liar overnight!! It’s starting with the easy so-called innocent “white” lies. You become desensitized towards them, and then it very simple to get away with throwing in “big” lies in between.

Imam Ali (a.s.) says:

لاَ يَجِدُ عَبْدٌ طَعْمَ اَلْإِيمَانِ حَتَّى يَتْرُكَ اَلْكَذِبَ هَزْلَهُ وَ جِدَّهُ .

A servant [of God] will not feel the taste of faith unless they avoid lying; whether joking or serious.[7]

After that, your level of “reliability” in what you say, or do, becomes zero. And that is what we all dread the most. How much of this can we see today, unfortunately, and especially in mainstream media, and in our markets and among some people. You read a piece of information, or hear something from someone, and not only is it completely distorted, it is far from the truth.

Camouflaging the batil[8] will not make it haq, and a true believer will always pick up on it.

That’s why it is easy to pick up on a liar. A liar digs his/her own grave, because they lie, and then they have to lie more to cover up their initial lie. So, they live in a lie.

That’s the satisfaction that some get, from lying. Because it is simply presenting yourself in a way that you want to be, but you are not.

Lying could come from wanting false-praise, or for control, or out of low self-esteem, or just become a habit.

We know that our own psyche rejects lies. We know that our epistemic way of thinking is against lies.

You call out a liar, because you can see it in their body language. Even the Quran speaks about this.[9] But again, the problem is when you get used to lying, you master it and become so good at it, you no longer sweat, or turn red, and you can even trick a lie detector.

Why do you think the Arabic word for friend “sadeeq” comes from the word truthful “sidq,” because that’s what we expect from someone close to us. To be honest and truthful. When they lie, its betrayal, and nobody likes a betrayer…

I think, sadly, lying has become an art and a means of living for some. There are some who even see it to being smart.

Lying is a sickness. It is a disease that blackens your heart.

What is the best solution to stop lying? Combat your Nafs. Overcome your fears. Don’t see truth to be a deficiency, and lying to be a cover-up for your deficiency.

Tell the truth, for or against you. Be honest, even if you get in trouble.

I would take it one step further. If you have ever told a lie to someone, or if you are living a lie, tell the truth. Break your Nafs by showing yourself that your ego is not important at all when it comes to honesty and truthfulness.

Do you not wish to at least be someone reliable? Someone that others can trust. Someone who verifies information, and relays only the Haq and the truth!!

The different cases and scenarios for lying is never-ending. You could lie because it’s a joke, or because you envy someone, or because you are covering up for something, or because you are scared, or because you are running away from something, or because you didn’t know what to say, or because you couldn’t reveal the truth, or because you want to trick and deceive, or because you think someone will get hurt, or because you live another life, or because you just didn’t know what to do, and so on…..

When we try to get to the bottom of why people lie, and when we refer to lying as a sickness, we can understand the psychological basis of this. It’s trying to conceal or cover up something you don’t have, or it’s rejecting something you do have. In both cases it shows a low level of self-esteem.

The holy Prophet (s.a.w.) refers to this when he said:

لا يَكذِبُ الكاذِبُ إلاّ مِن مَهانَةِ نفسِهِ

The only reason why a liar lies is due to feeling inferior in himself.[10]

And that’s exactly why, in Islam it is among the most severe of sins. The Prophet (s.a.w.) says:

وَمِنْ أَعْظَمِ اَلْخَطَايَا اَللِّسَانُ اَلْكَذُوبُ

Among the worst of sins is a lying tongue.[11]

I do highly recommend that we read these kind of traditions. They will give us an insight as to how bad and dangerous lying is. It will be shock-treatment for us, so we take heed and monitor our tongues. They really do send shivers down our spine.

So, it’s not just how bad lying is for a society, or it being inherently immoral, but it’s also psychologically destructive. It will give you unrealistic and fake feelings about yourself, and how is that going to help you?

In your lifetime you have come across a few lies, and experienced a “liar”. How did you feel? Were you able to easily pick up on it? If you are inflicted with the same disease, you will also be easily exposed.

There are many really bad consequences lying has, so with self-control, faith in God, self-esteem and moral awareness, you will be able to stay away from what you yourself hate the most.




[1] Or a “pathological liar”.

[2] If you wish to look at just a few verses that harshly condemn liars, see: Surah al-An’am, verse 21. Surah al-Naml, verse 105. Surah Zumur, verse 32 & 60, etc.

[3] A hadith from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says:

إِنَّ اَلْكَذِبَ هُوَ خَرَابُ اَلْإِيمَانِ

Lying is the destroyer of faith. [al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 339]

[4] Surah al-Tawbah, 119.

[5] Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 338.

[6] Nuzhat al-Nadhir was Tanbih al-Khatir, p. 145.

[7] Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 340.

[8] The Quran also refers to lying as Qawl al-Zur [Surah al-Hajj, verse 30], which also means a false/batil statement.

[9] Surah Muhamamd, verse 30. It’s also interesting to read about lying coming from your mind, but never from your heart, as the Quran says in Surah Fath, verse 11. That’s also why when a person lies, their heart rejects it by beating harder. Please read this article [in Arabic]: http://www.kaheel7.com/ar/index.php/2010-02-02-23-00-02/1311-2013-06-09-00-47-13

[10] Tuhaf al-‘Uqul, p. 45.

[11] Al-Ikhtisas, vol. 1, p. 342.


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