Saudi Arabia: We Have Become Accustomed to Lies

Lies are truly everywhere and not confined to the East as many would like to believe!  For many, “truth” is defined as what explicitly follows your agenda.  Truth does not have anything to do with objective reality. Therefore, we have become accustomed to lies the world over.  I am referring to the lies which use half truths and acceptance of half truths.  WE accept rather than challenge lies.

What is the standard definition of a lie?  According to Wikipedia, a lie is a known untruth expressed as truth.

A lie is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others, often with the further intention to maintain a secret or reputation, protect someone’s feelings or to avoid a punishment or repercussion for one’s actions. To lie is to state something that one knows to be false or that one does not honestly believe to be true with the intention that a person will take it for the truth. A liar is a person who is lying, who has previously lied, or who tends by nature to lie repeatedly – even when not necessary.

Lying is typically used to refer to deceptions in oral or written communication. Other forms of deception, such as disguises or forgeries, are generally not considered lies, though the underlying intent may be the same. However, even a true statement can be used to deceive. In this situation, it is the intent of being overall untruthful rather than the truthfulness of any individual statement that is considered the lie.

Saudi culture and Western culture are not that different when it comes to lies.  For a Saudi, if a half truth or rather if the whole truth is not revealed, that’s okay.  That is not viewed as a lie even if the whole truth may change the concept of a discussion or an issue.  A “half truth” is okay if it prevents uncomfortable confrontations.  Examples of common ‘half truths’ of which I am personally aware that have been used in Saudi Arabia many times focus around marriage, illness or finance.  A Saudi man may say he has been married if interested in or courting a woman but he may not reveal that there has never been a divorce nor any intentions to divorce.  He will make that statement intentionally for he knew that if he told a woman he remained married she would scorn him and not show any interest in him.  Illness is an uncomfortable topic for many Saudi families.  It is something that is traditionally kept private and behind closed doors.  Even within a family illness will be shielded and sometimes diagnosis of a serious illness are kept from a patient.  This is done with the intent of comforting the patient and/or family without realizing how that can also be isolating and misleading.  Last but not least there are finances.  Many Saudi men will choose to be very private about finances.  In turn, Saudi women may be the same way.  If a woman believes she has a husband who is less generous than she likes, she may either hoard funds he has given her for purposes such as food or in turn may occasionally claim to have “lost” funds.  All the actions in the examples are in essence lies but in Saudi society (and other societies) have become “acceptable” actions.  Unless such actions are challenged, they will not only remain acceptable but more will follow.

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6 Responses

  1. what does islam say about lying and punishment for it?

  2. Thank you very much for this post. It is essential that we address this aspect of our behaviour if we want a better world. How can we trust each other if we lie? All of the world’s problems, when examined, have a lie at the heart of their cause.

    I am doing my best to not lie.

  3. I can totally relate to this! Sometimes I think they omit items because they are so overly private to start with, however the marriage issue and things like that, I haven’t personally seen a lie on. I actually know two couples that are “dating” where the men fully told the women they were married and with kids and that it would remain that way. I don’t know how they can handle such a thing, but I guess different strokes for different folks. But yeah, with me and my fiance, I drill him with a million questions because I know to get a full story is like pulling teeth because he doesn’t think the details are important. But when you’re with someone, everything becomes important.

    @Irina

    On the lying part…

    Muhammad said: “Lying is wrong, except in three things: the lie of a man to his wife to make her content with him; a lie to an enemy, for war is deception; or a lie to settle trouble between people” [Ahmad, 6.459. H]

    http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Lying_for_Islam_(taqiyya)

    Shia is not the main sect of Islam in KSA, it’s Sunna, so to the extent this is taken to over there, I’m not sure.

  4. There’s definitely a fluid relationship that people here have with the truth. It’s un-nerving for those of us who require the whole story/reality in order to deal with the world. It’s like very young children (or immature adults) with dirty hands swearing they didn’t touch the cookies/wreck the car etc. Emotional intelligence seems to stop at about the age of 4…

  5. @confused

    So Mohammad is supporting lying to your wife to make her feel better, such as when a man cheats on his wife and she’s suspicious and he makes-up a lie to calm her. Sounds good! :/

  6. Welcome to Islam, dear.
    Now you know why it’s genetial. Coz it’s been like this in their culture for the last 1400 years…Even the Wholy Book justifies it.

    Think.

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