First step in purification of ethics

The famous scholar, “Ragheb”, in his book, “Mofradat” has narrated several meanings for “truthful” all proving this fact:
a- One who always says the truth
b- One who never lies
c- One who is truthful in his speech and idea, and his action proves his truthfulness.
3- Endeavour for strengthening foundations of belief in God in the heart of liars and notifying this fact to them that God’s power is beyond all powers, and He is able to solve all problems for which weak faith individuals resort to lie.
The reliance point of truthful people when facing different events is God, and liars are alone in such cases.
4- The motives of lie and roots of this moral deviation including avarice, fear, self-conceit, excessive love and hatred and such like should be eradicated so that this dangerous vice cannot find a favourable culture for its development in man.
5- The educational and association environments of liars should be cleaned from other liars so that gradually, according to the principle of “imitation” and impressibility, their own existence is purified of this vice.
This is so critical that it is narrated from Imam Ali (A.S.) in Islamic educational instructions:
Lying is not proper, either for joke or seriously, and also it is not proper that one of you give a promise to his child, and then do not fulfil it.18
It goes without saying that if parents are accustomed to truthfulness (even in giving small promises to their children); their child will never be a liar.
Lie in exceptional cases
The great jurists and ethic scholars following the traditions narrated in this respect, have mentioned some cases as exceptional from lie judgment, and have summarized some of them in two subjects: “exigency” and “reconciliation among people”.
It is narrated in a tradition from the Prophet (S):
Swear falsely and save your innocent brother from death.19
Herein, two points are notable:
First, all cases of exception actually return to one subject that lie is only permitted for more important expedients overshadowing its disadvantages, and of course, this is not restricted to “truthfulness” and “falsehood”. Rather other forbidden things such as “eating carrion”, “eating unclean food”, “orphan molestation” and such like are permitted for survival or correction, and the cases mentioned in the traditions are some examples.
For instance, since reconciliation among people and joining scattered hearts and washing out the dust of hatred and enmity from hearts is more important than the lie, which does not harm anyone else, it is permitted. The same is true in exigency cases for preserving life and honour of oneself or others, and or in planning and implementation of war plans, a lie, causing expedition in termination of war and preventing blood shedding and or repressing an unjust and corrupter enemy in this way, and also when two spouses argue about some matters, the continuation of which may result in their divorce or other corruption, but it is possible to solve their problem through one lie. In all of these cases, lie would be permitted for preservation of more important expedient affairs. If we pay attention accurately, in these cases, disadvantages and harms of lie which were already mentioned, are much less and do not overweigh its advantage and benefit.
It is also noteworthy that prescription of “lie” in such cases is just like prescription of eating carrion, which should be contented as much as the necessity, and not so that exceptions cause daring performance of this “capital sin”, and saying lie for each little issue with the pretext of lie permits.
In fact, moral mistakes are always around the exceptional cases and notes. These are the same ambiguous matters which are the “risk area” bounded by the “forbidden area”:
The forbidden degrees are divine forbidden areas; one who leads his animal near the forbidden boundaries, there is the risk of slumping in them.20
Ghazali at the end of a chapter under the title of leaving lie in “Ehyaol Oloum” writes: some people believe that fabrication of traditions in the virtues of actions and intensification of vices is permitted.
Then he adds: this is just a false desire and fancy, because its advantages never overweigh corruption of lie. Moreover, there is not any necessity for this, and there are enough correct verses and traditions in each respect. On the other hand, introducing this custom may result in discomposure and perturbation of religion.21
But we believe such foolish actions and ideas belong to the base, fool and unaware individuals who assume themselves more compassionate than God and Prophet (S) for Islam. This is a pure evil and is thoroughly harm and corruption. The danger of this action and such like fool friends is not less than the danger of enemies for Islam.
What is equivocation?
Equivocation refers to the speech, from the appearance of which something is understood, while the purpose of speaker is something else.
It is well known among our jurists that the cases in which lie is prescribed for an exigency, equivocation should be applied, and as far as equivocation is possible, explicit lie is not advisable.
It is inferred from some phrases of Sunnite scholars that the same is popular among them.
And equivocation is defined to be when a man says something with a meaning in accordance with the reality, but the speech is so that listener understands something else, and this is the purpose of speaker that while willing a correct concept, the listener understands something else.
For instance, one was asked, who the substitute of Prophet S.A is. He said, “One whose daughter was in his house”. The listener supposed that he meant the one whose daughter was in Prophet’s (S) house, but he meant “one whose Prophet’s daughter was in his house”.
A new interpretation about equivocation
But herein there is a point which may be the key of solving problems of this discussion, that is, “equivocation” does not refer to any sort of intention against appearance. Rather, equivocation appertains to the cases in which the speech is inherently ambiguous and can bear two meanings, but the mind attracts one of them in speech.
For example, the phrase (اِنَّکُمْ لَسارِقُونَ), “You are robbers” which was told to Joseph brothers, its primary meaning is the same “current robbery”, but it can also refer to the “previous robbery” (robbing Joseph from his father), which is in contrary with its primary meaning.
Or when it is asked from someone, “has that person presented this clothing to you”? In reply as equivocation, he says: “God may lengthen his life”. The listener supposes that the speaker means “yes, God may lengthen his life”, while he may not have such purpose.
1. Nahjul Balaghah, aphorisms, no. 148
2. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 262/75, and Mohajjatol Beisae, 193/5
3. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 90/77 and Mohajjatol Beisae 192/5
4. Feise Kashani, Mohajjatol Beisae, 194/5
5. Feise Kashani, Mohajjatol Beisae, vol. 5, page 195
6. Feise Kashani, Mohajjatol Beisae, 195/5
7. Nahjul Balaghah, aphorisms, no. 71
8. Nahjul Balaghah, aphorisms, no. 349
9. Feise Kashani, Mohajjatol Beisae, 196/5
10. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 8/71
11. Tabarsi, Mishqat al-Anwar, 300, Heydarieh Publications, Najaf
12. The same document, page 299
13. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 263/72
14. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 262/72
15. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, 249/72
16. The same document, volume 78, page 9
17. Nahjul Balaghah, aphorisms, no. 38
18. Hurr al-Amili, Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, 577/8
19. Hurr al-Amili, Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, 134/16
20. Sadough, Faghih, vol. 4, page 75

Check Also

Most Muslims

15 European Countries With Most Muslims

According to Mouood, quoting by World Atlas: 15 European Countries With Most Muslims By 2050, Muslims …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *