April Fools - Or Just Lying?

Can we prank our friends on April 1st and call it a white lie? Are Muslims allowed take part of this custom?

"O you who believe, fear Allah and always speak the truth." [Noble Quran 33:69]

Praise be to Allah, we praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of our own selves and from our evil deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides, none can lead astray, and whomsoever He sends astray, none can guide.

Lying is an evil characteristic, which all religions and systems of ethics warn against and which man's innate nature (Fitrah) agrees that it is wrong. Those who possess chivalry and sound reason also say this.

Truthfulness is one of the pillars on which the moral survival of the world depends. It is the foundation of praiseworthy characteristics, the cornerstone of Prophethood, the result of Taqwa. Were it not for truthfulness, the rulings of all divinely-revealed laws would collapse. Acquiring the characteristic of lying is akin to shedding one's humanity, because speaking is an exclusively human trait. [Bariqah Mahmoudiyyah, Muhammad Al-Khadimi, 3/183]

Our purely monotheistic Shari'ah warns against lying in the Quran and Sunnah, and there is consensus that it is Haram. The liar will have bad consequences in this world and in the next.

According to Shari'ah, lying is not permitted except in specific cases which do not lead to loss of rights, bloodshed or slander of people's honor, etc., but which concern saving lives, reconciling between people, or creating love between husband and wife.

There is a never a day or a moment when Shari'ah permits a person to tell lies or to say whatever he wants based on lies. One of the things that have become widespread among the common people is the so called "April Fool's Day", where they claim that the first day of the fourth solar month is a day when lying is permitted without being subject to any Shar'i guidelines.

Many bad things may result from this, and we will mention some of these.

The Prohibition of Lying

1. Allah says:

"It is only those who believe not in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, who fabricate falsehood, and it is they who are liars." [Noble Quran 16:105]

Ibn Kathir said:

"Then Allah tells us that His Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) is not a fabricator or a liar, because only the most evil of people who do not believe in the signs of Allah, the Kafirs and heretics who are known amongst the people for telling lies, tell lies about Allah and His Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him). The Messenger Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) was the most truthful of people, the most righteous, the most perfect in knowledge, action, faith and certain belief. He was known amongst his people for his truthfulness; none of them doubted that, to such an extent that he was known amongst them as 'Al-Ameen (the trustworthy) Muhammad.' Hence when Heraclius, the ruler of Rome, asked Abu Sufyan about the characteristics of the Messenger of Allah, one of the things he asked was, 'Did you ever accuse him of lying before he said what he said?' He said, 'No.' Heraclius said: 'If he refrained from telling lies about people he would not go and tell lies about Allah.' [Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 2/588]

2. It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

"The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted with something, he betrays that trust." [Al-Bukhari, 33; Muslim, 59]

An-Nawawi said:

"What the commentators and most of the scholars said - which is correct - is that this means that these characteristics are the characteristics of hypocrisy, and the one who has these characteristics resembles the hypocrites in this sense.

The words of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), 'he is a pure hypocrite' mean that he strongly resembles the hypocrites because of these characteristics. Some of the scholars said: this is concerning one in whom these characteristics predominate; one in whom these characteristics rarely appear is not included in this. This is the favored view concerning the meaning of this Hadith. Imam Abu 'Isa At-Tirmidthi narrated this meaning from the scholars and said: 'The meaning of this according to the scholars is hypocrisy in one's actions.'" [Sharh Muslim, 2/46-47]

The Most Evil of Lies

1. Lies Told About Allah & His Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him)

This is the most serious kind of lie, and the one who does this is subject to a severe warning. Some of the scholars said that the one who does this is to be denounced as a Kafir.

Allah says:

"Say: 'Verily, those who invent a lie against Allah will never be successful'" [Noble Quran 10:69]

It was narrated by Ali that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

"Do not tell lies about me. Whoever tells lies about me, let him enter the Fire." [Al-Bukhari, 106]

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

"Whoever tells lies about me, let him take his place in Hell." [Al-Bukhari, 110; Muslim, 3]

Ibn Al-Qayyim said:

"…'whoever tells lies about me, let him take his place in Hell', i.e., let him take his place in Hell where he will abide and settle; it is not like a temporary place or camp where he stays for a while and then moves on." [Tariq Al-Hijratayn, p. 169]

Lying also includes lies told about or to other people, such as:

2. Lying in Buying & Selling

It was narrated from Abu Dtharr that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

"There are three to whom Allah will not speak on the Day of Resurrection and He will not look at them or praise them, and they will have a painful torment." The Messenger of Allah repeated this three times. Abu Dtharr said: "May they be doomed and lost, who are they, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "The one who lets his garment hang below his ankles, the one who reminds others of his favors, and the one who disposes of his goods by swearing a false oath." [Muslim, 106]

It was narrated that Hakim ibn Hizam said that the Messenger of Allah said:

"The two parties involved in a transaction have the option [of cancelling it] until they part. If they are honest and truthful, their transaction will be blessed for them and if they conceal something and tell lies, the blessing of their transaction will be wiped out." [Al-Bukhari, 1973; Muslim, 532]

Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:

"Allah has enjoined truthfulness and honesty, and He has forbidden lies and concealment with regard to matters which should be known and revealed to people, as the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said in a Hadith whose authenticity is agreed upon:

'The two parties involved in a transaction have the option [of cancelling it] until they part. If they are honest and truthful, their transaction will be blessed for them and if they conceal something and tell lies, the blessing of their transaction will be wiped out.' And Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

'O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as just witnesses; and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety' [Noble Quran 5:8]."

[Minhaj As-Sunnah, 1/16]

3. The prohibition on Lying About Visions & Dreams

This refers to when some of them claim to have seen such and such in a dream, but they are not telling the truth, then in the morning he starts to tell the people something that he did not see.

It was narrated from Ibn 'Abbas that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

"Whoever tells of a dream that he did not see will be commanded [on the Day of Resurrection] to tie two grains of barley together, but he will never be able to do it. Whoever eavesdrops on people's conversation when they dislike that - or they try to get away from him - will have molten copper poured in his ears in the Day of Resurrection. And whoever makes an image will be punished and will be told to breathe life into it, and he will not be able to do so." [Al-Bukhari, 6635]

Al-Manawi said:

"'to tie two grains of barley together, but he will never be able to do it' - because tying one to the other is not possible ordinarily. He will be punished until he does that, and he will never be able to do it. It is as if he is saying that he will be enjoined to do something that he can never do, and is being punished for it. This is a metaphor for continuous punishment… The reason why barley (Sha'ir) is mentioned specifically is because dreams are connected to feelings (Shu'ur); the words Sha'ir (barley) and Shu'ur (feelings) come from the same root in Arabic.

The punishment for that is so severe - even though lies when awake may cause more damage, because they may involve testimony that may lead to execution or a Hadd punishment - because lying about a dream is a lie about Allah, may He be exalted, for dreams are a part of Prophethood, so they come from Him, and lying about the Creator is worse than lying about created beings." [Fayd Al-Qadir, 6/99]

4. The Prohibition of Speaking About Everything That One Hears

It was narrated by Hafs ibn 'Asim, that the Messenger of Allah said:

'It is sufficient lying for a man to speak of everything that he hears.' [Muslim, 5]

With regard to the meanings of the Hadith and reports on this topic, they discourage speaking about everything that one hears. For usually a person will hear both true things and lies, so if he were to speak of everything that he hears, he would be lying, by telling of something that did not happen. We have stated above the view of the people of truth: that lying means telling of something in a manner other than the way it happened. It is not conditional upon it being done deliberately, but its being done deliberately is a condition of it being a sin. And Allah knows best." [Sharh Muslim, 1/75]

5. Lying in Jest

Some people think that it is permissible to tell lies if it is in jest. This is the excuse that they use for telling lies on April 1st or on other days. This is wrong. There is no basis for this in the pure Shari'ah. Lying is Haram whether the one who does it is joking or is serious.

Lying in jest is Haram just like other kinds of lies.

It was narrated by Ibn 'Umar that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

"I joke, but I speak nothing but the truth." [At-Tabarani in Al-Mu'jam Al-Kabir, 12/391]

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said:

"They said, 'O Messenger of Allah, you joke with us.' He said, 'But I only speak the truth.'" [At-Tirmidthi, 1990]

A similar Hadith was narrated by At-Tabarani:

'Abdur-Rahman ibn Abi Layla said: "The companions of the Messenger of Allah told us that they were traveling with the Messenger of Allah. A man among them fell asleep and some of them went and took his arrows. When the man woke up, he got alarmed (because his arrows were missing) and the people laughed. The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, "What are you laughing at?" They said, "Nothing, except that we took the arrows and he got alarmed." The Messenger of Allah said: "It is not permissible for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim." [Abu Dawud, 5004; Ahmad, 22555]

It was narrated from 'Abdullah ibn As-Sa'ib ibn Yazid from his father from his grandfather that he heard the Messenger of Allah say:

"None of you should take the belongings of his brother, whether in jest or otherwise. Whoever has taken the stick of his brother, let him return it." [Abu Dawud, 5003; At-Tirmidthi, 2160 in brief]

6. Lying When Playing With Children

We must beware of lying when playing with children, because that will be written down (in the record of deeds of) the one who that. The Messenger of Allah warned against doing that. It was narrated that 'Abdullah ibn 'Amir said:

"My mother called me one day when the Messenger of Allah was sitting in our house. She said, 'Come here, and I will give you (something).' The Messenger of Allah said, 'What do you want to give him?' She said, 'I will give him a date.' The Messenger of Allah said: 'If you had not given him something, you would have been lying.'"

And it was narrated by Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:

"Whoever says to a child, 'Come here and take this,' then does not give him something, this is counted as a lie." [Abu Dawud, 4991]

7. Lying to Make People Laugh

It was narrated by Mu'awiyah ibn Haydah that he heard the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) say:

'Woe to the one who talks to make the people laugh and tells lies, woe to him, woe to him." [At-Tirmidthi, 235. Abu Dawud, 4990].

The Punishment For Lying

The liar is warned of destructive punishment in this world, and humiliating punishment in the Hereafter. These include:

1. Hypocrisy in The Heart

Allah says:

"So He punished them by putting hypocrisy into their hearts till the Day whereon they shall meet Him, because they broke that (covenant with Allah) which they had promised to Him and because they used to tell lies. [Noble Quran 9:77]

'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said:

"You may know the hypocrite by three things: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted with something he betrays that trust.". He said: "Recite this ayah (interpretation of the meaning):

'And of them are some who made a covenant with Allah (saying): 'If He bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will verily, give Sadaqah (Zakah and voluntary charity in Allah's Cause) and will be certainly among those who are righteous.' * Then when He gave them of His Bounty, they became niggardly [refused to pay the Sadaqah (Zakah or voluntary charity)], and turned away, averse. * So He punished them by putting hypocrisy into their hearts till the Day whereon they shall meet Him, because they broke that (covenant with Allah) which they had promised to Him and because they used to tell lies." [Noble Quran 9:75-77]

[Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 6/125]

2. Guidance to Evildoing & to The Fire

It was narrated by 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud that the Messenger of Allah said:

"Truthfulness is righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. A person will continue to tell the truth until he is written with Allah as one who tells the truth. Lying is evildoing, and evildoing leads to Hell. A person will keep on telling lies until he is written as a liar." [Al-Bukhari, 5743; Muslim, 2607]

As-San'ani said:

This Hadith indicates that whoever continues to speak the truth, it will become a feature of his, and whoever deliberately tells lies and persists in it, it will become a feature of his. This is the same as any other good or evil characteristic, if a person persists in it: it becomes a feature of his.

This Hadith indicates how serious the matter of telling the truth is, and that it may lead a person to Paradise, and it indicates how ugly lying is and how it may lead a person to Hell. This is in addition to the consequences in this world, for the one who tells the truth will have his words accepted by people, and his testimony will be accepted by judges and he will be liked for what he says, whereas for the liar the opposite will be the case. [Subulus-Salam, 2/687]

3. His Testimony Will Be Rejected

Ibn Al-Qayyim said:

[The reason why the testimony of the liar is rejected]

The strongest reason why testimonies, Fatawa and reports may be rejected is lying, because it corrupts the very essence of the testimony, fatwa or report. It is like the testimony of a blind man concerning sighting the new moon, or the testimony of a deaf man concerning having heard the admission of someone. The lying tongue is like some faculty that is no longer working. Indeed it is even worse than that, for the most evil thing a man may possess is a lying tongue. [A'lam Al-Muwaqqi'in, 1/95]

4. Blackening of The Face in This World & in The Hereafter

Allah says:

"And on the Day of Resurrection you will see those who lied against Allah (i.e. attributed to Him sons, partners) their faces will be black" [Noble Quran 39:60]

Ibn Al-Qayyim said:

Hence on the Day of Resurrection Allah will make blackened faces the sign of the one who told lies about Him and His Messenger. Lying has a great effect in blackening the face and covering it with a mask of shame which every truthful person will be able to see. The feature of the liar is clearly visible in the face, and everyone who has the eyes to see can see it. But Allah will bless the truthful person with dignity and respect, so whoever sees him will respect him and love him, and He will give the liar humiliation and shame, so whoever sees him will loathe him and despise him. And Allah is the Source of strength. [A'lam Al-Muwaqqi'in, 1/95]

5. The Liar Will Have The Flesh of His Cheeks Torn to The Back of His Head

It was narrated that Samurah ibn Jundub (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

"The Messenger of Allah often used to say to his companions, 'Has anyone among you seen a dream?' Then whoever Allah willed would tell of his dream. One day he said to us, 'Two (angels) came to me last night and woke me up, then they said to me, 'Let's go!'… so we set out and came to a man who was lying flat on his back and another man standing over his head with an iron hook, and behold, he would put the hook in one side of the man's mouth and tear off that side of his face to the back (of the neck) and similarly tear his nose from front to back and his eye from front to back. Then he turned to the other side of the man's face and did just as he had done with the other side. Hardly had he completed this side when the first side was restored to its normal state. Then he went back and did that all over again. I said to my two companions, 'Subhan Allah! Who are these two persons?' They said to me, 'Move on, move on!' (Then he said, describing how the two angels explained the things that he had seen): 'As for the man you came across, the sides of whose mouth, nostrils and eyes were being torn off from front to back, he is the symbol of the man who goes out of his house in the morning and tells so many lies that it spreads all over the world.'" [Al-Bukhari, 5745]

The Comments of The Salaf on Lying

1. 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said:

"A man may speak the truth and persist in doing so until there is in his heart not even room for evil the size of a needle. Or a man may tell lies and persist in doing so until there is in his heart not even room for truth the size of a needle."

2. And it was narrated that he said:

"It is not correct to tell lies whether in jest or in seriousness," Then 'Abdullah recited the ayah:

"O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds)" [Noble Quran 9:119]

3. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq said:

"Beware of lying, for it has nothing to do with faith."

4. It was narrated that Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas said:

"The believer may acquire all sorts of characteristics except treachery and lying."

5. It was narrated that 'Umar said:

"True faith is not achieved until one gives up lying in jest." [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 5/235, 236]

Permissible Kinds of Lies

Lying is permissible in 3 cases:

1. War

2. Reconciling between two disputing parties

3. A husband lying to his wife or vice versa for the sake of love and harmony

It was narrated from Umm Kulthum bint 'Uqbah that she heard the Messenger of Allah say:

"He is not a liar who reconciles between people and narrates something good or says something good." [Al-Bukhari, 2546; Muslim, 2605]

It was narrated by Asma´ bint Yazid that the Messenger of Allah said:

"It is not permissible to tell lies except in three (cases): when a man speaks to his wife in a way to please her; lying in war; and lying in order to reconcile between people." [At-Tirmidthi, 1939]

April Fool

Regarding the subject of "April Fool", the origin of this lying is not known for sure. There are differing opinions concerning that:

Some of them said that it developed from the celebrations of spring at the equinox on March 21.

Some of them said that this innovation appeared in France in 1564 CE, after the introduction of a new calendar, when a person who had refused to accept the new calendar became the victim of some people who had subjected him to embarrassment and made fun of him, so he became a laughing-stock for others.

Some of them said that this innovation goes back to ancient times and the pagan celebrations connected to a specific date at the beginning of spring, so this is the remnant of pagan rituals. It was said that hunting in some countries was unsuccessful during the first days of the hunt in some countries. This was the origin of these lies which are made up on the first day of April.

Le Poisson D'avril

The Europeans call "April Fool" le poisson d'avril (lit. "April Fish"). The reason for this is that the sun moves from the zodiacal house of Pisces to the next house, or because the word poisson, which means fish, is a distortion of the word passion, which means suffering, so it is a symbol of the suffering endured by Jesus (Peace be upon him), according to the claims of the Christians, and they claim that this happened in the first week of April.

Some of the Kuffar call this day All Fools' Day, as it is known to the English. That is because of the lies that they tell so that those who hear them might believe them and thus become a victim for those who are making fun of him.

The first mention of April Fool in the English language was in a magazine known as Dreck Magazine. On the second day of April in 1698 CE, this magazine mentioned that a number of people were invited to come and watch the washing of black people in the Tower of London on the morning of the first day of April.

One of the most famous incidents that happened in Europe on April 1st was when the English newspaper, the Evening Star, announced in March 1746 CE that the following day - April 1st - that there would be an parade of donkeys in Islington, in England. The people rushed to see these animals and there was a huge crowd. They continued waiting and when they got tired of waiting, they asked about when the parade would be. They did not find anything, then they knew that they had come to make an exhibition of themselves, as if they were the donkeys!

We are sure that lying did not exist during the first and best generations of Islam. It did not come from the Muslims, but rather from their enemies. It does not matter what the origins of April fool are. The things that happen on April Fools' Day are many. Some people have been told that their child or spouse or someone who is dear to them has died, and unable to bear this shock, they have died. Some have been told that they are being laid off, or that there has been a fire or an accident in which their family has been killed, so they suffer paralysis or heart attacks, or similar diseases.

Some people have been told about their wives, that they have been seen with other men, and this has led them to kill or divorce their wives.

These are the endless stories and incidents that we hear of, all of which are lies which are forbidden in Islam and unacceptable to common sense or honest chivalry.

We have seen how Islam forbids lying even in jest, and it forbids frightening a Muslim whether in seriousness or in jest, in words or in actions.

This is the law of Allah in which is wisdom and care for people's circumstances.

And Allah is the Source of Strength.