When Truth Can Damage Family Ties

Question and answer details
Dear Scholar As-salam `Alaykum, I have an issue that keeps preying on my mind as I am not sure what to do and I am afraid I am doing a sin. I have a member of the family who is trying to solve some issue he created by his own lies and dishonesty. He now knows his mistake but still he doesn’t have the courage to correct his mistake. There are other people involved and who seek so the truth so that they can decide what action to take and how they should carry on this life. I know few things hidden from the people concerned that they should be aware of but the family member is unwilling to tell them and thus keep them hanging and pending. I am in contact with the people concerned and I feel very guilty not to tell them the truth but at the same time the other member is very close to me by blood and if I tell the truth, it may damage the familial relationship especially that this latter asked to just not interfere and that he will solve the problem. To be frank, I am not sure this person will solve the problem. I feel that he will just drag the problem while the other party seems to be hurt and innocent. What does Islam say about revealing and hiding truth about family members? Am I obliged to tell the other party the truth or should I keep my mouth shut and let the concerned person solve the problem?...Please help me as I do not want to do something wrong. Thank you.
Wahida C. Valiante

Wa `alaikum As-salam Sister Hanan

In your description of the problem you have raised the issue of Islam’s view on truth and justice.

A:  Islam’s view. The Qur’an says:

“O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor …” (Qur’an, Y. Ali 4:135)

However, before acting on this ayah (verse of Quran) we must also do whatever we can to try to counsel others with truth, patience and wisdom. Remember the Qur’an speaks of Justice and truth.

Here is what you can do before taking any final step. Since I do not know the age of the person, I am assuming that he/or she is an adult.

B:  Counsel the family member who is not ready to confront his/her own errors:

Some individuals take long time to confront their mistakes and they may never do. Forcing or threatening will not accomplish this; neither long argument would do. Best is to listen and be patient.

Do not judge; show some trust in his/her statement that he/she is capable of taking care of this problem.

C: The other people cannot resolve this person’s problem without his/her participation.

You can offer moral support to the other family people by asking them to have patience; and pray for this individual to come to the right path.

As I see it you have two choices, if implemented they have the potential to bring the issue out in the open. However, there is no guarantee that they will bring peace and full closure to this problem.

1-      Tell the truth and live with the consequences. Remember that the family member can still accuse you of lying and this will cause more damage to your relationships. You will end up defending yourself

2-      Listen to the relative and stay out of the problem. Let the relative and other people solve it.

Hope this helps in sha’ Allah.