Your best friend comes up to you and tells you news that makes you jump for joy. No sooner have you expressed your happiness than he quickly tells you it is untrue. You stare at him blankly and ask him why he lied. He says to you: ‘It’s April Fool’s Day’.
Does Islam sanction such behavior? Can it regard such behavior as a harmless custom? Can we concoct lies containing happy or sad news, as long as we quickly inform the other person that it is a lie or cry out ‘April Fools!’?
To start with, we must know that a lie is defined as giving information about something, where that information is at variance with the truth. A lie is forbidden in Islam.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Be truthful, for indeed truth guides us to righteousness, and righteousness leads us to Paradise. A man remains honest and steadfast in ascertaining the truth until he is recorded with Allah as a truthful person. A lie guides us to wickedness, and wickedness leads us to Hell. A man keeps lying and seeking out lies until he is recorded with Allah as a liar.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Safwan ibn Salim relates the following:
We asked: “O Messenger of Allah! Can a believer be a coward?”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Yes.”
We asked: “Can he be stingy?”
He said: “Yes.”
We then asked: “Can he be a liar?”
The Prophet said: “No.”
Lying is one of the traits of a hypocrite. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The signs of the hypocrite are three: If he speaks, he lies. If he makes a promise, he breaks it. And if he is given a trust, he betrays it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Islam gives a severe warning against lying. The Prophet said to his Companions:
“Tonight, I was visited by two. They bid me forth, saying: ‘Go’.
I went with them until we came upon a man lying on his back. Someone else was standing over him, wielding an iron hook. He came to one side of his face, and pulled his lower lip to the back of his neck. Then he pulled his nose and then his eyes to the back of his head. Then he went over to the other side of the man’s face and did the same. Then the man’s features returned to their original place and the same thing happened again.
It was then said: “This was a man who would come out of his home and utter a lie that could fill the world to the horizons.” (Al-Bukhari)
It is even sinful to tell a lie to a child. `Abdullah ibn `Amir recounted the following from his childhood:
My mother called for me one day when the Prophet peace be upon him) was sitting in our house. She said: “Come here and I’ll give you something.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) then asked her: “What is it that you wish to give him?”
She said: “A date.”
He said: “If you had not intended to give him something, a lie would have been recorded against you.” (Abu Dawud)
The sinfulness of lying includes lies told jokingly. The Prophet said: “I will guarantee a house in the center of Paradise for one who abandons the telling of lies, even in jest.” (Abu Dawud with an authentic chain of transmission)
There are only a few exceptions to the general prohibition against lying. One is the lie that is uttered to bring peace between two people. Another is the lie used as a stratagem in war. The third is the white lie spoken by a husband to his wife or by a wife to her husband. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
April Fool’s Day is truly a foolish and banal custom followed in some societies on the arrival of April First. The custom calls upon people to concoct a special lie for the occasion. Some people try to see how far their lie can spread.
We should not have any doubt that this custom of concocting lies on April Fool’s Day is contrary to Islamic manners. Indeed, it is contrary to Islamic Law. Whoever concocts a lie falls into sin for doing so.
A Muslim should be ever vigilant to safeguard his tongue from lies and warn others against lying.