SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Lying is a major sin. In what circumstances lying is allowed? Can one lie to save his/her life?
The brief answer
Telling the truth and fight against lying is very important in Islam so much so that in most cases lying is counted more unclean than wine. But when it can prevent the murder of a human or attack on Islam or enmity amongst believers, etc., then it might be allowed in extreme circumstances. Of course if lying can be prevented by giving an answer that somehow will not harm a believer or the cause of Islam and will not be counted as lying, is better.
The detailed answer
Telling the truth and fighting against lying is very important in Islamic teachings. Imam Sadegh (AS) said, do not look at individuals long praying sessions, maybe it has become a habit for them and if they leave it, they will feel uneasy. But look at their honesty and telling the truth, which means telling the truth and honesty are signs of believers. In a Hadith (narration) Imam Baqer (AS) said, the Almighty Allah has designated locks for evil and mischiefs and their key is alcohol (because the cause of preventing evil is wisdom and alcohol can disable it) then he said, lying is worse than alcohol.
The relation between lying and other sins is somehow that the sinner never can tell the truth because telling the truth will bring shame to the liar and in order to cover the effects of the sin liar keeps lying. One of the worst effects of lying is to destroy the confidence. The most important asset of a society is the general confidence and the worst act that can destroy this confidence is lying, betrayal and cheating. That is why in Islam fighting against lying is very important. However in some emergency circumstances truth can be said in a way that will bear no harm to Islam and believers or will prevent discord amongst Muslims.