I'm faced with a situation where I have to either lie or backbite. Which one is the lesser sin?

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You won’t have to do both. You can keep your answers ambiguous this way you are neither lying nor backbiting. Both are sins that Allah will punish. We should never ever lie because if someone lies it means they have no faith in Allah. If someone lies all the time, then Allah will not help them read because they lie and what might happen is that no one will believe them because they lie.

In the Quran in Surah Mumim verse 28, Allah said that he does not guide anyone who lies. So if someone lies, Allah will not help them. In Surah Tawbah verse 77, Allah says he will punish those who used to tell lies.

In the Quran in Surah Hujurt verse 12, Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicion is sin. And do not spy, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother You would hate it. And have taqwa (faith) of Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” So, backbiting and spying is equal to eating the flesh of your brother’s dead body so hate backbiting

Prophet Muhammad (s) said in the Sahih Hadith that if what you said about them is true, that is backbiting but if what you said about them is false then that is slandering.

“who believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet (i.e. abstain from all kinds of evil and dirty talk).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad (s) said in a Hadith that a hypocrite does 3 things, when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, and when is trusted he breaks the trust.

Another Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (s) said, Whosoever possesses these 4 characteristics, is a sheer hypocrite; and anyone who possesses one of them, possesses a characteristic of hypocrisy until he gives it up. (These are:) When is entrusted with something, he proves dishonest; when he talks, he tells a lie; when he makes a covenant, he acts treacherously; and when he quarrels, he utters foul language.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

And in another Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (s) said “Lying is evildoing and evildoing leads to hellfire.”

Another Hadith he said true piety is not achieved until one gives up lying as a joke

A Hadith from Abdullah ibn Jarad, he asked “Oh Messenger of Allah, can a believer be an adulterer? And he said: “That may happen.” He said: Can a believer be a thief? He said: “That may happen.” He said: Can a believer be a liar? He said” No; rather lies are fabricated by those who do not believe”

Another narration, “Can a believer be a coward? He said, “Yes, he can be coward. Then it was asked whether a believer could be a miser? He replied, “Yes, he can be a miser”, it was then asked whether a believer could be a liar? He replied, “No, a believer cannot be a liar.” (Imam Malik, Mishkaat)

Another Hadith says there was no behavior that was more hated to the Messenger of Allah (swt) than lying

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