Understanding Taqiyya ― Islamic Principle of Lying for the Sake of Allah
by Warner MacKenzie
30 April, 2007
Lying and cheating in the Arab world is not really a moral matter but a method of safeguarding honor and status, avoiding shame, and at all times exploiting possibilities, for those with the wits for it, deftly and expeditiously to convert shame into honor on their own account and vice versa for their opponents. If honor so demands, lies and cheating may become absolute imperatives.” [David Pryce-Jones, “The Closed Circle” An interpretation of the Arabs, p4]
“No dishonor attaches to such primary transactions as selling short weight, deceiving anyone about quality, quantity or kind of goods, cheating at gambling, and bearing false witness. The doer of these things is merely quicker off the mark than the next fellow; owing him nothing, he is not to be blamed for taking what he can.” [David Pryce-Jones, “The Closed Circle”, p38]
The word "Taqiyya" literally means: "Concealing, precaution, guarding.” It is employed in disguising one's beliefs, intentions, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions or strategies. In practical terms it is manifested as dissimulation, lying, deceiving, vexing and confounding with the intention of deflecting attention, foiling or pre-emptive blocking. It is currently employed in fending off and neutralising any criticism of Islam or Muslims.
Falsehoods told to prevent the denigration of Islam, to protect oneself, or to promote the cause of Islam are sanctioned in the Qur'an and Sunna, including lying under oath in testimony before a court, deceiving by making distorted statements to the media such as the claim that Islam is a “religion of peace”. A Muslim is even permitted to deny or denounce his faith if, in so doing, he protects or furthers the interests of Islam, so long as he remains faithful to Islam in his heart. (See endnotes)
Like many Islamic practices, taqiyya was formed within the context of the culture of Arab tribalism, expansionary warfare, Bedouin raiding and inter-tribal conflict. Taqiyya has been used by Muslims since the 7th century to confuse, confound and divide 'the enemy’.
A favoured tactic was ‘deceptive triangulation’; used to persuade the enemy that preparations for a raid were not aimed at them but at another tribe altogether. The fate in store for the deceived enemy target was an unexpected plunderous raid, enslavement of the women and death to the post-pubescent males.
The core foundation of hyper-masculine Arab culture is bound up in perceptions of "honour and shame". At all times, he (it's usually a male) must avoid having his face "blackened" by words or actions which are a slight upon, a challenge or affront to, his status in the family or broader social / tribal group. To be open, frank and forthright or to make self-damning admissions in his dealings (particularly with the infidel enemy) is to leave himself open and vulnerable to humiliating shame and to the subsequent disrespect from his peers. Tongues will wag in the bazaar’s coffee shops and rumours will rapidly spread that so-and-so has lost his "manliness" and status. In short, he is no longer worthy of deferential respect; to an Arab, this is worse than death itself.
The higher one is placed in the social order (or rather, on how important the individual perceives himself to be), the more imperative it becomes to strenuously avoid “loss of face”. The male's perceived loss of honour and status, must be redressed and his face "whitened", i.e. his honour regained and restored, at any cost; even to the extent of (as in the honour killing of daughters) murdering the person “responsible” for causing the initial humiliation. When taqiyya is used to avoid making an admission or concession it is simply an essential means of ensuring that ones honour and standing remain intact and untarnished. Blood feuds and vendettas, caused by an ancient humiliation of a long dead ancestor, can persist, fuelled and propelled by shame and honour, for generations. Muhammad, who is promoted as every Muslim’s exemplar, set the precedent for vengeful retaliation when he ordered the murder of those who mocked or satirised him and, as he was an Arab, caused him potential loss of face. [See link, “Muhammad’s Dead Poets Society”]
Islamic spokesmen commonly use taqiyya as a form of 'outwitting'. The skilled taqiyya-tactician doesn’t want the matter at hand to be debated or discussed; so his opponent must be outwitted or preemptively outflanked by the use of taqiyya. The objective is to divert attention away from the subject through duplicity and obfuscation.
The claim is often made that difficulties in translating from Arabic to English makes the meaning of what they say or write difficult or impossible to convey….this is simply another subterfuge. Keysar Trad has repeatedly claimed that Sheikh Hilali’s obnoxious, inflammatory and misogynistic comments have been “mistranslated”, misquoted or “taken out of context”. The aim of this ploy is to dilute or neutralise public opprobrium. The use of independent translators has, in the past, disproved his assertions. The Sheikh states what he believes to be correct according to Islamic precepts and his “interpreter” reconfigures the statement to make it palatable to the unwitting listener.
Consider the following statement by Mr. Trad on the February 24 2006.
Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, told Reuters that Australian Muslims
agreed with Costello's (Australia’s Treasurer, Peter Costello) sentiments about being good, law abiding citizens.
"But to continually single out the Muslim community like this is very unhelpful, it's very divisive and it does stir up Islamophobia”,
"We're proud to be Australian and our religion strongly stipulates that if you make an oath, whether it's an oath of citizenship or any other oath, that you honour it, abide by it."
However, the Prophet Muhammad seems to have a different idea on the subject.
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 67, Number 427:
“By Allah, and Allah willing, if I take an oath and later find something else better than that. Then I do what is better and expiate my oath.' "
Role playing as the victim:
When placed under scrutiny or criminal investigation, (even when there is overwhelming, irrefutable evidence of guilt or complicity), the taqiyya-tactician will quickly attempt to counter the allegation by resorting to the claim that it is, in fact, the accused who are the 'the victims'. Victims of Islamophobia, racism, religious discrimination and intolerance. Currently, this is the most commonly encountered form of distraction and 'outwitting'….. Defence by offence.
Manipulative ambiguity and Semantics:
Sheik Hilali and the late Yasser Arafat are both on public record as (a) 'condemning' the 9/11 attacks, in ambiguous terms, to the Western media and (b) praising suicide bombings, or “ martyrdom operations”, to their Arabic speaking audiences .
Islamic spokesmen will rarely unequivocally condemn a specific act of terrorism and direct questions will be skillfully evaded.
(NB: because Muslims regard Islamic attacks as “jihad”, and not terrorism, their spokesmen can truthfully deny any support for terrorism.)
Interviewers would be better advised to ask the more precise question “do you believe in jihad against the unbelievers?
However, a direct question requiring a simple "YES" or "NO" reply is rarely forthcoming and is usually deflected by responding with a tangentially irrelevant rejoinder or, in an attempt to neutralise the original question, counter-challenging with another question such as “are you in favour of killing children in Iraq?”…..Touché and Checkmate!
Diversion, deflection and "tu quoque”:
Questions relating to the 9/11 terrorist attacks will usually be diverted by either making outrageously wild conspiracy claims “the CIA did it to give the U.S. an excuse to attack Muslims,… Mossad was the perpetrator… No Jews came to work at the World Trade Centre on September 11” etc. or by making an irrelevant counter reference to “the plight of the Palestinians”,.. Iraqis,.. colonialism,.. the crusades, or US foreign policy’s support for Israel” as the 'root causes' of terrorism.
Then, of course, there’s the ever popular, specious allegation that George Bush is a bigger terrorist than Osama bin Laden.
Diversionary “tu quoque” response ploys usually start with the words “but” or “what about…?” in an attempt to turn, and transfer an equal culpability back on their interlocutor.
Islamic spokesmen practice a form of taqiyya defined in psychology as 'cognitive denial' by repetitive and persistent demands of 'where is the evidence!' and 'prove it!' whenever there is Muslim complicity in terrorist acts, evidence, which they know very well, for security or legal sub-judice restraints, can not be disclosed. If indeed the “evidence” were to be publicly presented, they would then move on to the familiar “prejudicial to the defendant receiving a fair trial--grounds for a mistrial” default position.
Rather than admitting that a proposition concerning a subject under discussion can be partly true, an Islamic spokesman will flatly deny a claim or proposition in absolute terms. For example, "It is impossible to be a Muslim and a terrorist”; this semantic argument is purely a matter of definition, because radical Islamists don’t define their violent attacks as terrorism, but jihad. (i.e. holy war in the way of Allah) .Another popular assertion is that 'Islam forbids suicide', which is true, but by virtue once again of definition, irrelevant, because suicide bombings are regarded as “martyrdom operations” and are therefore not forbidden, but on the contrary, admirable and praiseworthy. Muslim spokesmen are also fond of using extreme hyperbole. Their refutations regularly include the word “percent”. e.g. “I am 150% certain that Jews orchestrated September 11”…. “I guarantee the accused is 200% innocent”.
Exploiting cognitive dissonance:
Islamic spokesmen regularly perplex and baffle interviewers and their audiences as they resort to double talk, 'clichés and platitudes' concerning Islam. A state of cognitive dissonance (i.e. holding two contradictory beliefs and attempting to resolve them) is therefore induced in viewers and readers as they attempt to mentally process the claim that Islam is a peaceful religion despite the indisputable evidence before them of Islamist involvement in terrorist acts or criminal conduct.
The Islamic 'defence' script:
Islamic spokesmen repeat the same predictable duplicitous clichés concerning Islam in Europe, as do their counterparts in Australia and America. They appear to follow a well prepared script as they repeat "Islam is tolerant and peace loving”. In instances where they find themselves presented with, and cornered by, undeniable evidence that murderous radicals are indeed guilty as charged the spokesman will then fall back on the old chestnut that the culprits are only a “small minority” and not “true Muslims” anyway. Islamic spokeswomen use taqiyya when making the somewhat Orwellian claim that wearing the hijab, niqab, burqa etc. is “liberating” and “empowering”, and that, for reasons known only to them, these symbols of submissive exclusion offer them more freedom than Western women, thereby implying that women in Muslim countries are somehow 'freer' than women in the West. This ruse is designed to preclude further examination into the well documented inferior status of females in Islamic societies. Being put on the spot, and having to admit their true obedient and subservient status, would be embarrassing and therefore shame inducing so resorting to denial and exaggerative taqiyya is their only option.
There’s a common and oft repeated lie that “Islam” means peace”, it doesn’t, it translates as “submission” (to Allah).
Islamic falsehoods are echoed uncritically by Western politicians and other apologist dupes, for example "A small group of fundamentalists have hijacked a great and noble religion”. This timely, skilful, misleading and diversionary theme of the 'hijacking' of Islam was introduced into public, political and media discourse by an Islamic 'spokesman' in the United States shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has become an “accepted fact” repeated, ad nauseum, ever since.
The "Islam has been hijacked” myth is now a clichéd media and political reference which serves to deflect attention from the empirical proof of a fourteen hundred year continuity of the doctrinal, political and religious nature of Islamic jihad.
A related theme that “a small minority of Muslims are engaged in terrorism” is utterly irrelevant as terrorism is always perpetrated by 'small minorities' or more accurately small groups or cells. Surveys consistently reveal that between 10-15% of all Muslims sympathise with the aims and methodology of this radical strain of Islam which has been “hijacked”. This means, that within an estimated world population of 1.2 billion Muslims, there are 120-180 million people prepared to fund, facilitate and in general, give moral and financial assistance to the jihadists….. “a small minority”?....you decide!
The indisputable truth is that there has been no “hijacking” of Islam. Islamic extremists can, and do, find ample inspiration, justification and encouragement for their violent ideology in the Quran and Hadith.
Taqiyya as impressions and perception management
Pathos and the tactical use of children:
Australian television viewers may recall that interviews with terrorist suspects raided by ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) and AFP (Australian Federal Police) frequently featured women in hijabs holding small children or a crying baby as they plaintively protested their husband's innocence and attested to his innate piety, decency and kind-hearted nature.
Trembling fingers and quavering voices pointed out damage, disruption and disarray to the family home. In some interviews the suspect / father holds the child, whilst denying any involvement in, or knowledge of, radicalism .
Sheikh Hilali’s daughter, in a newspaper interview, played the taqiyya pathos card by claiming that, because the cold northern winter was imminent, her father was travelling to Lebanon to “hand deliver” thousands of blankets to “orphanages” and homeless victims of the war between Israel and Hizbollah.
In the same Israel /Hezbollah war, a photojournalist filmed a Lebanese man, strewing, for the purpose of emotional impact, the contents of a large cardboard box full of children’s stuffed toys amongst the wreckage and debris. This was obviously for the benefit of a large contingent of international TV film crews who were about to be taken on a guided tour of the bombed buildings later that morning.
Photos of carefully placed baby’s bibs and dummies (pacifiers) also appeared to be extraordinarily abundant on the internet, as were “staged” photos of a “body” being removed from the piles of collapsed concrete. One sequence of photos clearly shows the “body” in question, alive and well, walking around with his “rescuers” before and after the “retrieval” of his dusty, “lifeless body”. This is taqiyya by imagery!
The above are examples of taqiyya in the age of impressions and perception management and are designed to, dupe, play on the emotions of, and elicit sympathy from, the compassionate, unwitting public.
Taqiyya and the Deceptive definition of Jihad:
The contemporary political meaning of jihad is clear: it is “Jihad of the sword” and not the peaceful internal struggle for spiritual improvement as their spin-doctors would have us believe. Islamic fundamentalists consider jihad to be the sixth pillar of Islam, a binding duty and integral to the faith. Claiming that Jihad is a subjective and psychological state to become a better person is taqiyya. In contemporary terms, Jihad means – HOLY WAR - against the unbelievers and it is in this context that Al Qaeda training manuals and other radical preachers use and refer to jihad.
The study of taqiyya is crucial to an understanding of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism. Its use ranges from the issuing of false terrorist threats, operational and strategic disinformation issued by Al Qaeda in the form of 'intelligence chatter' for the purpose of throwing national defence groups into confusion. Terrorist in captivity resort to taqiyya during interrogation. It is most frequently used by Muslim 'spokesmen' whilst intentionally making misleading public statements concerning Islam and terrorism.
The Arabs have a story which exemplifies subtle, semantic dissimulation (taqiyya) perfectly. Legend has it that Mohammed’s nephew, son-in-law and future Caliph, Ali, was sitting on a stool outside his dwelling when one of his allies ran red-faced and gasping into the village and hid in Ali’s home. Perceiving that the man was being pursued, Ali promptly got up and sat on another nearby stool. A few minutes later, a group of angry pursuers ran into the encampment and asked Ali if he had seen the man they were pursuing. Ali responded with the statement “AS LONG AS I HAVE BEEN SITTING ON THIS STOOL I HAVE SEEN NO ONE”
This story demonstrates why nothing an Islamist says can be taken at face value. Every statement and utterance needs to be thoroughly analysed, or “unpacked”.
After yet another violent incident in Sydney, involving “Males of Middle-Easter Appearance”, a spokesman for the Muslim community appeared on a Sydney television evening newscast. In the brief soundbight he defensively declared “our religion teaches us that we must be kind to one another” ….and indeed it does, it simply depends on how we are to interpret the words “one another”, as these verses from the Quran demonstrate:
Muslims are harsh against the unbelievers, merciful to one another. – (Q 48:25)
Muhammad is Allah's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.
Through them, Allah seeks to enrage the unbelievers*. – (Q48:29)
So, was this spokesman lying?
Or was he telling the truth?
The answer is both, YES,… and NO! –Or, perhaps neither, and if you are confused by this apparent contradiction?,. You’re meant to be, because he was practising taqiyya; ……where the devil is ALWAYS in the detail.
* The precise identity of the “unbelievers” in the above references requires no further explanation.
1. Imam Abu Hammid Ghazali says: "Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it.
When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible." (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveller, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, amana publications, 1997, section r8.2, page 745)
2. Bukhari Vol 3: 857 “Narrated Um Kulthum bint Uqba”:
That she heard Allah's Apostle saying, "He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar."
3. Bukhari Vol 4: 269 “Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: The Prophet said, "War is deceit."
4. Bukhari Vol 5: 668 “Narrated Zahdam:
“When Abu Musa arrived (at Kufa as a governor) he honored this family of Jarm (by paying them a visit). I was sitting near to him, and he was eating chicken as his lunch, and there was a man sitting amongst the people. Abu Musa invited the man to the lunch, but the latter said, "I saw chickens (eating something (dirty) so I consider them unclean." Abu Musa said, "Come on! I saw the Prophet eating it (i.e. chicken)." The man said "I have taken an oath that I will not ea (chicken)" Abu Musa said." Come on! I will tell you about your oath. We, a group of Al-Ash'ariyin people went to the Prophet and asked him to give us something to ride, but the Prophet refused. Then we asked him for the second time to give us something to ride, but the Prophet took an oath that he would not give us anything to ride. After a while, some camels of booty were brought to the Prophet and he ordered that five camels be given to us. When we took those camels we said, "We have made the Prophet forget his oath, and we will not be successful after that." So I went to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle ! You took an oath that you would not give us anything to ride, but you have given us." He said, "Yes, for if I take an oath and later I see a better solution than that, I act on the later and gave the expiation of that oath"
5. Bukhari Vol 6: 138 Narrated Aisha:
“That her father (Abu Bakr) never broke his oath till Allah revealed the order of the legal expiation for oath. Abu Bakr said, "If I ever take an oath (to do something) and later find that to do something else is better, then I accept Allah's permission and do that which is better, (and do the legal expiation for my oath ) ".http://www.islam-watch.org/Warner/Taqiyya-Islamic-Principle-Lying-for-Allah.htm