Was I Sinful for Hiding from My Mom That I’m Studying Islamic Subjects?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad


My mom asked me what I was doing, and when she asked if I was studying Arabic, I said no. Then I said I was learning about hidden effects (hadith science), she then asked whether it had to do with my school, and she told me to go back to my schoolwork. I technically didn’t lie, right?

I wasn’t learning Arabic, just something that I learned due to my interest. Am I sinful for saying that? My mom doesn’t want me to pay attention to Islamic studies for now. I wasn’t learning Arabic, just an Islamic course in English that had a few Arabic phrases.


Thank you for your question. I empathize with your desire to learn your religion and the struggle that you face to hide it from your parents.


Below is the section on permissible lying from the Reliance of the Traveller:

Permissible Lying

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “He who settles disagreements between people to bring about good or says something commendable is not a liar.” This much is related by both Bukhari and Muslim, with Muslim’s version recording that Umm Kulthum added, “I did not hear him permit untruth in anything people say, except for three things: war, settling disagreements, and a man talking with his wife or she with him (A: in smoothing over differences).”

This is an explicit statement that lying is sometimes permissible for a given interest, scholars having established criteria defining what types of it are lawful. The best analysis of it I have seen is by Imam Abu Hamid Ghazali, who says: “Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it.

When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible (N: i.e., when the purpose of lying is to circumvent someone who is preventing one from doing something permissible), and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory. When, for example, one is concealing a Muslim from an oppressor who asks where he is, it is obligatory to lie about his being hidden. Or when a person deposits an article with one for safekeeping and an oppressor wanting to appropriate it inquires about it, it is obligatory to lie about having concealed it, for if one informs him about the article and he then seizes it, one is financially liable (A: to the owner) to cover the article’s cost.

Whether the purpose is war, settling a disagreement, or gaining the sympathy of a victim legally entitled to retaliate against one so that he will forbear to do so; it is not unlawful to lie when any of these aims can only be attained through lying. But it is religiously more precautionary (def: c6.5) in all such cases to employ words that give a misleading impression, meaning to intend by one’s words something that is literally true, in respect to which one is not lying (def: r10.2), while the outward purport of the words deceives the hearer, though even if one does not have such an intention and merely lies without intending anything else, it is not unlawful in the above circumstances.

“This is true of every expression connected with a legitimating desired end, whether one’s own or another’s. An example of a legitimating end of one’s own is when an oppressor intending to appropriate one’s property inquires about it, in which case one may deny it. Or if a ruler asks one about a wicked act one has committed that is solely between oneself and Allah Most High (N: i.e., it does not concern the rights of another), in which case one is entitled to disclaim it, such as by saying, ‘I did not commit fornication,’ or ‘I did not drink.’ There are many well-known hadiths in which those who admitted they deserved punishment were given prompting (A: by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)) to retract their confessions.

An example of a legitimating desired end of another is when one is asked about another’s secret and one disacknowledges it. And so on. One should compare the bad consequences entailed by lying to those entailed by telling the truth, and if the consequences of telling the truth are more damaging, one is entitled to lie, though if the reverse is true or if one does not know which entails more damage, then lying is unlawful. Whenever lying is permissible, if the factor that permits it is a desired end of one’s own, it is recommended not to lie, but when the factor that permits it is the desired end of another, it is not lawful to infringe upon his rights.

Strictness (A: as opposed to the above dispensations (rukhsa, def: c6.2)) is to forgo lying in every case where it is not legally obligatory. “

The position of Ahl al-Sunna is that lying means to inform another that something is otherwise than it really is, whether intentionally or out of ignorance. One is not culpable if ignorant of it, but only if one lies intentionally, the evidence for which is that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made intentionality a condition when he said, “Whoever lies about me intentionally shall take a place for himself in hell.” (al-Adhkar (y102), 510-12)

A Misleading Impression

What you said to your mother was not a total lie, but rather a misleading impression. In this way, I don’t see it as sinful, but I do encourage you to slowly and gradually convince your mother to let you study Arabic or Islam a few hours a week so you don’t need to lie about it. Open up to her and communicate with her and I’m sure that she will understand if you are keeping up with your grades at school. Even better, motivate her to do it with you and share what you are learning to pique her interest. In sha Allah, a kind and gentle approach will get you the results you desire.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Allah is Gentle and loves gentleness, and He grants reward for it that He does not grant for harshness.” [Ibn Maja]

Please see these links as well:

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin and completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.