Imam Tirmidhī rahimahullah establishes a chapter titled “Chapter in Regards to Abhorrence of Lying, Falsification etc.” in his monumental “Sunan”. Under this chapter Imām Tirmidhī rahimahullah mentions the following hadīth:
It is reported on the authority of Anas radiallahu anhu from Nabī salallahu ῾alayhi wasallam with regards to “Major sins” that He (salallahu ῾alayhi wasallam) said, “(The major sins are) Assigning partners to Allah, disobedience of parents, killing a soul and false statement.”
The hadīth explains to us four major sins; however it does not mean that the major sins are limited to these four. Instead, it means that these four are included in the major sins. It is mentioned in Sharah `Aqā’id An Nasafī that in reality there is no such thing as a major or minor sin because disobedience of Allah in any command is effectively a major crime. The distinction of major and minor is merely relative. For example, killing someone is a heinous crime with immense effects while mistreating someone is comparatively a lighter crime, but it is a crime nonetheless. So, the four sins mentioned in the hadīth are counted as such major crimes that their ills are great in sight of Allah.
Interestingly enough, Imam Tirmidhī rahimahullah alayh has brought this chapter in a very awkward place. Normally one would read such a chapter among topics relating to Moral Characteristics of a Muslim, but Imam Tirmidhī rahimahullah bring the hadeeth in his book of “Buyū’” (Trade and Commerce). This is a brilliant insight of Imam Tirmidhī rahimahullah. He understands that in daily lives people regard lying as a bad quality and abstain from it, but when it comes to transactions and trade, they tend to find many justifications and loopholes to double-talk in order to secure a good deal. Many even claim that it is impossible to earn sustenance in our day and age without a bit of hoodwinking.
Nafs and Shaytān have lulled our senses to the materialistic world to such an extent that we succumb to these whispers and follow suit with small lies, misrepresentation of commodity and fraudulent behavior under the guise of “marketing tactics”, “negotiating powers” etc. If only we were to question our own hearts with the intention of seeking the pleasure of Allah on whether these tactics we employ are actually cunning measures of cheating and lying or not. If only our aim was to attain the barakah from Allah instead of meager monitory gains by such dubious measures. We would then understand the truthful nature of Sahaba when they would in fact increase the price of an item they wished to purchase to compensate the seller his equitable market value.
Imām Tirmidhī rahimahullah has brought this hadīth to highlight the need of shunning lies in all its forms, at all times and especially in our trade.