In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Neither Conceal Nor Distort!
Allaah [The Most High] said:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّٲمِينَ بِٱلۡقِسۡطِ شُہَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوۡ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمۡ أَوِ ٱلۡوَٲلِدَيۡنِ وَٱلۡأَقۡرَبِينَۚ إِن يَكُنۡ غَنِيًّا أَوۡ فَقِيرً۬ا فَٱللَّهُ أَوۡلَىٰ بِہِمَاۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلۡهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعۡدِلُواْۚ وَإِن تَلۡوُ ۥۤاْ أَوۡ تُعۡرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرً۬ا
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah; even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do. [Surah An-Nisaa. Ayah 135]
[وَإِن تَلۡوُ ۥۤاْ أَوۡ تُعۡرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرً۬ا – and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do]- Meaning: Allaah [Glorified be He and Free is He from all imperfections] mentions two reasons that will inevitably lead to concealment of truth:
The first of them is distortion and the second is to turn away from giving truthful witness, because when a proof that supports the truth is manifested and the one who wants to repel it finds no way of doing so, he refrains from mentioning it and thus becomes a silent devil, and sometimes he distorts it. Distortion is of two types: Distorting words and distorting meanings. Distorting words is when one utters a word in a context in which it does not establish the truth – either adding to the word or omitting something from it, or substituting it with something else- to the extent that the listener is made to believe something, whilst something else is intended by it, just as the Yahood [i.e. those Yahood who disbelieved in the Prophet and hated him] used to distort words when giving Salaam to the Prophet [i.e. saying As-Saamu Alayka (death be upon you), instead of saying Assalaamu alaykum)]. This is one type of distortion.
The second type of distortion is related to meanings – distorting the wording- giving it an interpretation that is not intended by the one who uttered it and pretending not to know its unintended meaning or dropping other meanings intended by it. Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَإِن تَلۡوُ ۥۤاْ أَوۡ تُعۡرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرً۬ا – and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do]. [Ref 1]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] said:
Beware of kadhib [lying], for indeed it corrupts one’s ability to illustrate information based on what it should be in reality; corrupts one’s ability to illustrate information and his ability to teach the people. The liar portrays what is non-existent as something present and what is present as something non-existent. He portrays truth as something false and falsehood as something true; portrays good as evil and evil as good, so this corrupts his conception and knowledge, which then becomes a punishment upon him. Then he portrays what is not true to the one deceived by him – the one inclined towards him- and thus corrupts his conception and knowledge. The soul of the liar turns away from the existing reality -inclined towards what is non-existent and gives preference to falsehood.
And when his conception and knowledge is corrupted, which is the basis of every wilful chosen deed, his deeds become corrupt and are marked by lies, and thus those deeds would emanate from him just as lies emanate from the tongue. He neither benefits from his tongue nor his deeds. This is why lying is the basis [or foundation] of immorality, just as the Prophet [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] said, “Indeed lies lead to immorality [or wickedness] and indeed immorality [or wickedness] leads to the fire. [Bukhaari 2606/2607]
Firstly, lies emerges from the heart and then on the tongue, so it corrupts it; then it transfers to the limbs and corrupts its actions, just as it corrupts the statements of the tongue. So, it prevails over his statements, deeds and state of affairs; corruption becomes deeply rooted in him and its disease leads to destruction if Allaah does not grant him cure with the medication of truthfulness, which uproots it [i.e. lying] from its original source. This is why the basis [or foundation] of all the deeds of the hearts is based on truthfulness, and the basis of their opposites – such as showing off, self-amazement, pride, being glad [with ungratefulness to Allaah’s Favours], conceitedness, boastfulness, insolence, weakness, laziness, cowardice, disgrace and other than them- is lies. The origin of every righteous deed- whether carried out in private or public- is based on truthfulness; and the origin of every corrupt deed – whether carried out in private or public- is lies.
Allaah punishes the liar by preventing him from those affairs that will bring him well-being and benefit, and He rewards the truthful one by granting him the ability to attain the beneficial affairs related to the worldly life and afterlife. There is nothing similar to truthfulness with regards to the manner in which it brings about the affairs of well-being in this life and the next, and there is nothing similar to lying with regards to the manner in which it corrupts and harms one’s worldly affairs and the afterlife.
[Allaah (The Most High) said]:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ
O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds) [9:119]
هَٰذَا يَوْمُ يَنْفَعُ الصَّادِقِينَ صِدْقُهُمْ ۚ
This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth. [5:119]
فَإِذَا عَزَمَ الْأَمْرُ فَلَوْ صَدَقُوا اللَّهَ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُمْ
And when the matter (preparation for Jihad) is resolved on, then if they had been true to Allah, it would have been better for them. [47:21]
وَجَاءَ الْمُعَذِّرُونَ مِنَ الْأَعْرَابِ لِيُؤْذَنَ لَهُمْ وَقَعَدَ الَّذِينَ كَذَبُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ
سَيُصِيبُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
And those who made excuses from the Bedouins came (to you, O Prophet) asking your permission to exempt them (from the battle), and those who had lied to Allah and His Messenger sat at home (without asking the permission for it); a painful torment will seize those of them who disbelieve. [9:90] [Ref 2]
Do Not Misconstrue The Six Levels of Comprehension
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh al-Uthaymeen [rahimahullaah] said:
Knowledge (Ilm) is to comprehend the reality of something as it truly is, with certainty.
The levels of comprehension are six:
[Al ‘Ilm – Knowledge], which is to comprehend the reality of something as it truly is, with certainty.
[Al Jahlul Baseet- slight ignorance], which is absence of full comprehension.
[Al Jahlul Murakkab-, Aggravated/compounded ignorance], which is to comprehend something in a way contrary to its true reality.
[Al Wahm – Delusion], which is to think that one comprehends something despite the presence of that which should cause you to realize that you are incorrect.
[Ash Shakk- Doubt], which is to think that you comprehend something, yet you are aware of something contrary to it which you think has the same possibility of being the truth.
[Dhann – Preponderant belief], which is comprehension of something, despite the presence of something which is contrary to it, but which is less likely to be true.
Do Not Slander
The Prophet [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said;
“The worst form of usury is the violation of someone’s honour”
Verily, the worst act of usury is to attack the honour of a Muslim without a just cause. [Abu Daawud 4876]
Verily, the worst act of usury is to attack the reputation of a Muslim: Meaning, the greater in evil and the more severely prohibited is to unleash the tongue against the honour of a Muslim by belittling him, behaving arrogantly towards him and speaking ill against him by way of slander or verbal abuse. This becomes more severe in prohibition because honour is more noble than one’s self and wealth.
Without a just cause- Meaning, this shows that there are cases in which one is allowed to speak about someone, saying, “Such and such is an oppressor or transgressor”, or making a mention of an innovator and an open sinner with the intention to issue warning. [Ref 4] This [i.e. violating the honour of a Muslim] has been referred to as usury because the transgressor establishes his honour and then goes beyond it, so it is as if he has added an increase that encroaches the boundaries in relation to the honour of a Muslim which is more valuable than his wealth. Al-Qaadhee [rahimahullaah] said, “Attacking a Muslim’s honour is to deal with him more than what he deserves of that which is to be said about him, or more than what is allowed to be said about him, and this is why it is likened to usury and considered one of its types; then it is considered worse because it contains more harm and severer in corruption”. [Ref 5]
[Ref 1: An Excerpt from ‘Badaa’i At-Tafseer Al-Jaami Limaa Fassarahu Al-Imaam Ibnul Qayyim (rahimahullaah). Vol 1. Page 300-303. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: Al-Fawaa’id’ pages 202-203. paraphrased]
[Ref 3: Sharh Usool Ath-Thalaatha- Explanation of the three fundamental principles. English Translation pages 37. By Shaikh Abu Talhah (may Allaah have mercy upon him and his wife Aameen)]
[Ref 4: An Excerpt from ‘Awnul Mabood Sharh Sunan Abee Daawud’ 13/152. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 5: An Excerpt from ‘Mirqaatul Mafaateeh Sharh Mishkaat Al-Masaabeeh’ 8/3157. Slightly paraphrased]