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Summary of question
Is this saying, "O, Ali! Telling a lie is good in three places: in battle, for bringing reconciliation amongst persons and making promise to a wife" in contradiction with the Persian view about telling a lie such as Cyrus's saying "A Persian man does not tell a lie even in a battle.
question
Arabic view: Muhammad's (s) saying to Ali (a.s.): "O, Ali! Telling a lie is good in three places: in battle, for bringing reconciliation amongst persons and making promise to a wife (in a twisted form in order to bring reconciliation between them)." (Wasail al-Shia, vol.12, pg. 252)
Question: Is the above hadith correct? Is it dichotomous with the following saying:
Darius, the Achaemenid: "May Ahura Mazda keep "lying" away from my land and people."
The Great Cyrus: "A Persian man does not tell a lie even in a battle.
Concise answer

Although telling the truth is very important according to our religious teachings, basically it has been, though apparently and formally, accepted as a principle in most human communities. However, in certain circumstances where there is a greater interest in telling the truth than in the meanness of telling a lie in which case telling a lie can be considered as permissible. These sayings of Darius and Cyrus cannot be accepted in an absolute way.

Detailed Answer

As for the said hadith, you can refer to question 2194 (site: 2498) (Circumstances under which telling a lie is permissible) and 10616 (19564) (A Man's Telling a Lie to His Wife).

When it comes to Darius and Cyrus, the Achaemenid's sayings and their comparison with Islamic teachings, it must be said that telling the truth is very important according to our religious teachings. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says: "Do not look at the individuals' prolonged Ruku and Sojud because it may have become their habit in a way such that if they give it up they will get bothered; look at how far they are truthful and honest in their dealings."[1]

Although telling the truth is very important according to our religious teachings, basically it has been, though apparently and formally, accepted as a principle in most human communities. However, in certain circumstances where there is a greater interest in telling the truth than in the meanness of telling a lie in which case telling a lie can be considered as permissible. These sayings attributed to Darius and Cyrus cannot be accepted in an absolute way. For instance: If the truth is told to a professional criminal who will kill a completely innocent person, do you or any wise individual accept that such a murder take place as a result of telling the truth? Do you want a family to be shattered? If you are required to tell something about someone in a family and you know the right answer, do you wish to tell the truth and let the whole family shatter and get destroyed? If by telling a lie you can bring peace and reconcile between two countries or two individuals who have long been hostile and inimical to each other, will you still persist on telling the truth and abstain from telling a lie?

It is very unlikely of clever and astute kings like Cyrus or any other wise individual to tell an illogical word or to be unaware of these delicacies and exigencies which may require someone to tell a lie.

If you come across a tradition which permits lying under special circumstances, you should take it for such circumstances where the positive consequences of lying are greater than its meanness.

For further information, see the following indexes:

"Circumstances under which lying is allowed", question 2194 (site: 2498)

"A Man's Telling a Lie to His Wife", question 10616 (site: 10564)



[1] - Safinatul Behar, root word "Sidq", Kulayni, Al-Kafi, vol.2, pg. 104, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran 1365 1986.

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