Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam
‘Taqaiyyya’ literally means ‘fear, caution, carefulness, guarding against
danger, or wariness. In Islamic terminology, the term refers to a precautionary
denial of religious belief in cases of potential persecution, constraint and
when there is a possibility of harm.
Taqaiyya has become commonplace in social media and journalistic discourse,
particularly since 9/11, because Muslims claim that Islam is a religion of
peace and Jihad is mainly a struggle against one’s own evil desires, whereas
non-Muslims can see that many Muslims are engaged in killing each other as well
as non-Muslims in several parts of the world. They also see that when the
leader of so-called Islamic State “Khalifa” al-Baghdadi and his followers said
that “Islam has never been a religion of peace, not even for a day; it has
always been a religion of war,” Muslim ulema and media remained largely
silent,as if they agreed with him. It has also become easy now, in the present
internet age to get acquainted with Islamic history which is strewn with
episodes of war and atrocities of all sorts.
hereditary kings that wore the religious garb of being a Khalifa engaged in
brutal atrocities of all kinds on their own people as well as others.
Non-Muslims today can also read classical theological books in which Jihad is
described as a fight against infidels who refuse to accept Islam. So, when
Muslims claim that Islam is a religion of peace and Jihad is mainly against
one’s own nafs or negative ego, non-Muslims take it as an example of
however, is not the case. Muslims speak from their heart. They are saying only
what they have been taught in their homes and schools. They are saying only
what they believe in, regardless of what militant Jihadis may be saying and
see in some detail what Taqiyya stands for; it’s history, meaning and usage.
mostly practiced by Shias when they are subject to persecutions or compulsion.
Taqaiyyya, though not so much common among Sunnis, is permitted under certain
conditions such as threats to life, loss of property; while martyrdom in such
cases is more honourable.
of Islamic traditions suggest that Taqaiyya is agreed upon by scholars of
several schools of thought in Islam. Sunnis restrict it to deal with non-Muslim
persecutors and when under compulsion and persecution, while Shia scholars also
justify it to deal with Sunni Majority Muslims and other necessary issues.
scholars allow Taqaiyya only under utmost compulsion and when there is fear of
persecution. A popular exegete of the Quran Al-Tabari comments, “if anyone is
compelled and professes unbelief with his tongue, while his heart contradicts
him, in order to escape his enemies, no blame falls on him because God takes
his servants as their hearts believe” (also quoted in the Encyclopaedia of
Imam Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad Al-Ghazali writes in his
masterpiece and the most authoritative book on Islam, IhyaUlum Al Din(“The
Revival of the Religious Sciences”), “safeguarding of a Muslim’s life is a
mandatory obligation that must be observed and that lying is permissible only
when the shedding of a Muslim’s blood is at stake”.
the 9/11 attacks, a blame is often made by writers and commentators on social
websites and in mainstream media that Muslims use Taqaiyyato deceive
non-Muslims for the objective of expanding their religion. This is mainly a
misunderstanding of the word Taqaiyyya.
Orientalist Stefan Jakob Wimmer explains that Taqaiyya is not a tool to deceive
non-Muslims and spread Islam but instead a defensive mechanism to save one’s
life when it is in great danger, such as Muslims' lives during the Reconquista.
Similar views are shown by Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen from the University of
To sum up,
Taqaiyyamay be exercised under utmost conditions of persecutions or
life-threatening situations but it is not allowed for Muslims to deceive
non-Muslims in any other interactions. The use of Taqaiyya for expanding the
religion of Islam is incompatible with Islamic objectives, as it corrupts the
soul of Islam based on submission, truth, mental and spiritual purity. Islam
teaches Muslims to be straightforward in their dealings with others, both
Muslims and non-Muslims. The Quran clearly condemns the acts of lying and
deception in several verses;
will judge between us in truth. And He is the Knowing Judge” (30:26). At a
place, the Quran terms ‘lying’ a disease of the heart which gets worse if left
uncorrected, “In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease:
and for them is a painful punishment because they habitually used to lie”
(2:10), “Allah does not one who is a transgressor and a liar” (40:28), “This is
the Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness..”.
teachings of the Quran make it incumbent upon us not to deceive anyone by lying
or cunning, then how can Taqaiyya be allowed to deceive non-Muslims?!
should understand that Muslims are speaking from their heart when they make
claims of peace and a permanent struggle against one’s own evil desires that
they have to wage as Jihad. However, people must distinguish between Islam and
Muslims. Islam is one thing and Muslims quite another. This is actually the
case with all religions and philosophies. Christianly is a region of
forgiveness and turning the other cheek, but Christians are the only people to
have used atom bombs on peaceful citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to
speak of killing six million Jews in the Holocaust and innumerable pogroms,
massacres, genocides and atrocities of all sorts. Can we blame Christianity for
these atrocities? I suppose not. Same is the case with teachings of Islam and
the practices of Muslims. Muslims do not practise Taqaiyya, except in extreme
cases of persecution and only to save their lives.
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