On Lies That Do Not Harm Anyone: Ruling On Double
Entendres - All Circumstances
Islamic Rulings -
Living Shariah Verdicts
Islamic Questions & Answers
What is the ruling on lies that will never harm
Praise be to Allaah.
Lying is haraam in all cases, expect those which are
exempted by the Lawgiver, and what is mentioned here
is not one of those cases, because of the general
meaning of the evidence, such as the verse in which
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): "O you
who believe! Fear Allaah, and be with those who are
true (in words and deeds)" [al-Tawbah 9:119]. In al-Saheehayn
and elsewhere it is narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn
Mas'ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The
Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) said: "I urge you to be truthful, for
truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness
leads to Paradise. A man will continue to be truthful
and seek to speak the truth until he is recorded with
Allaah as speaker of truth (siddeeq). And beware of
lying, for lying leads to immorality and immorality
leads to Hell; a man will continue to tell lies until
he is recorded with Allaah as a liar." And it was
narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas'ood also said: Lying
is not appropriate whether in earnest or in jest.
Recite if you wish (interpretation of the meaning): "O
you who believe! Fear Allaah, and be with those who
are true (in words and deeds)" [al-Tawbah 9:119]. Then
he said: Do you find any concession allowing that to
And Allaah is the Source of strength. May Allaah send
blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and
companions. End quote.
Al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah li'l-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah
Ruling on double entendres
What is the ruling on double entendres?.
Praise be to Allaah.
Double entendre refers to when a person means
something other than the apparent meaning of the
words. It is permissible subject to two conditions:
1 – that the word may be interpreted in that fashion
2 – that there be no wrongdoing involved.
If a man says, "I only sleep on a watd" – a watd is a
piece of wood placed on the wall for things to be hung
from (i.e., a hook), but the man says that what he
meant by watd was a mountain, this is an acceptable
kind of double entendre, because the word watd may
also mean a mountain, and there is no wrong being done
to anyone in this case.
Similarly if a man says, "I only sleep under the saqaf
(lit. roof)," then he sleeps on the roof, and says
that what he meant by saqaf was the sky, this is also
acceptable, because the sky is called saqaf in the
verse where Allaah says (interpretation of the
"And We have made the heaven a roof [saqafan], safe
But if you use double entendres in order to wrong
someone, that is not permitted, such as if a person
deprives another of something that is his due, then he
goes to the qaadi (judge), but the one who was wronged
has no proof, so the qaadi asks the one who took away
his right to swear that he does not have anything that
belongs to the claimant, and he swears saying,
"Wallaahi maa lahu ‘indi shay'," and the qaadi rules
in his favour, then some of the people speak to him
and told him that his oath was a false oath (yameen
ghamoos) which may doom him to Hell. It says in the
hadeeth, "Whoever swears an oath when asked to do so,
in order to deprive a Muslim man of his rights
unlawfully, will meet Allaah when He is angry with
him." The person who swore this oath said, "I did not
mean to deny, I meant to affirm, and what I meant by
saying "maa lahu" was "Of Whose I have something."
[i.e., I have something that belongs to Allaah –
because all things belong to Allaah]. Even though what
he said may mean this, his intention was to wrong
another and not give him his due, so it is not
permissible. Hence it says in the hadeeth: "Your oath
is according to what your companion believes."
Twisting the meaning will not avail you anything
before Allaah, and you are now swearing a false oath.
If a man accuses his wife of betraying him and she is
innocent of that and he swears an oath and says, "By
Allaah she is my sister," and says that he meant she
is his sister in Islam, then this is a valid
statement, because she is his sister in Islam and she
has been falsely accused.
Majmoo' Duroos wa Fataawa al-Haram al-Makki, 3/367, by
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen.
It is forbidden to lie in all
My mother is still alive and is over one hundred
years old. She is in a difficult situation because she
cannot understand things, and she asks whether it is
evening when it is morning, and she repeats words more
than five times. She cannot move from where she is,
and if she has been sleeping she is not able to sit
up, etc. Her children answer all her questions, but
their answers may be lies, such as when she asks them
in the evening whether it is the morning, and they
tell her yes, even though it is the evening, and so
on. My question is: if they tell her lies, are they
sinning or not? The second question is: is there any
kafaarah (expiation) which they should pay to make up
for her fasts and prayers, or not? Please advise us,
may Allaah reward you with good.
Praise be to Allaah.
You should not tell her lies; you should tell her the
truth, because telling her lies does not serve any
purpose or benefit her in any way, or make her happy.
With regard to prayer and fasting, there is no
kafaarah to be paid, and there is no sin on her,
because she has become like a child. So long as she
cannot tell what is what, and her feelings and mind
have changed, she is not obliged to pray or fast,
because she is not held accountable for that. She is
now like a little child who is free of responsibility
and there is no sin involved, in sha Allaah. And
Allaah knows best.
Fataawa al-Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Humayd, p. 43