Taqiyya (Arabic: التقية - 'fear, guard against') is the religiously sanctioned practice of lying or
dissimulation. It is usually attributed to
Originally it was allowed only in order to save lives in the face of religious persecution.
Twelver Shia cite as a first precedent an incident that supposedly took place during the time of
Ammar ibn Yasir, a follower of
Muhammad, whose parents were tortured in
front of him by the Qurashis renounced Islam & praised the Qurashi God "Hubal" to save his parents' lives.
though they were killed.
According to a canonical hadith, the prophet
Muhammad later allowed Ammar to repeat
such dissimulation if he was placed in danger again.
Muhammad said of Ammar, "Whoso
disbelieveth in Allah after his belief-save him who is forced thereto and whose heart is still content with Faith-but
whoso findeth ease in disbelief: On them is wrath from Allah. Theirs will be an awful doom" (Quran, XVI, 106).
Supposedly, the term "taqiyyah is derived from this verse of the
Quran : "Let not the believers take
disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be)
that ye but guard yourselves against them [tattaqu minhum. from the same root tqy as taqiyah], taking (as
it were) security [tuqatan. again from the same root as taqiyah]. Allah biddeth you beware (only) of Himself. Unto Allah
is the journeying" (Quran, III, 28). This history would appear to indicate that Taqiyah is especially allowed in the
case of dealings with nonbelievers.
Sunnis criticize Ammar or question the
reliability of the precentent. They give examples of many Muslims who were tortured and murdered based on their belief
during the time of
Muhammad and thereafter but nonetheless
did not renounce their faith. For example, Ammar's parents had both been tortured and killed in front of Ammar but did
not renounce the faith.
Most Sunnis believe that since a person's time of death is decided by God, it is wrong to deny the faith in order to
escape torture or death. Shi'a and some Sunnis believe that life is a gift from God and
should be preserved. In a life-threatening emergency, they believe that the preservation of life takes precedence over
anything else, in the same way that it is permissible to eat pork during famine. Obviously, this view could not be
reconciled with religious views that sanction suicide bombings.
Taqiyah is apparently sanctioned by the Sunni Muslim medieval theologian, Abu Hāmed Mohammad ibn Mohammad al-Ghazzālī
of the Shafi school. Its use is clearly much wider than saving of lives. The English translation of Ahmad ibn
Naqib al-Misri's handbook, Reliance of the Traveler, quotes Ghazzali as follows:
“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 it 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..., and
obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory. ...One should compare the bad consequences entailed by lying to those
entailed by telling the truth, and if the consequences of telling the truth are more damaging, one is entitled to lie…
Therefore, it is possible to excuse lying on almost any ground that is consistent, for example, with obligatory
spread of the Muslim faith.
The practice of Taqiyah raises obvious political issues, in that it appears impossible to trust the word of a Muslim
in a treaty if the practice is accepted. It is noteworthy in this regard that authorities consider Taqiyah to be allowed
in war and in reconciliation.
The Ayatollah Sistani, a Shi'a authority in Iraq, is quoted as follows:
1) Taqiyah is done for safety reasons. For example, a person fears that he might be killed or harmed, if he does not
observe Taqiyah. In this case, it is obligatory to observe Taqiyah.
2) Reconciliatory Taqiyah. This type of Taqiyah is
done when a person intends to reconcile with the other side or when he intends to soften their hearts. This kind of
Taqiyah is permissible but not obligatory.
3) Sometimes, Taqiyah may cause a more important obligation to be lost or missed, if so it is forbidden. For example,
when I know that silence would cause oppression and infidelity to spread and will make people go astray, in such a
situation it is not permissible to be silent and to dissimulate.
4) Sometimes, Taqiyah may lead to the death of an innocent person. If so, it is not permissible. It is therefore
haram (forbidden) to kill another person to save your own life.
The "best" type of Taqiyah according to some authorities is
Tawriah. In Tawriah, a kind of Delphic
practice, the speaker makes the "mark" believe that they are agreeing with them through ambiguity, whereas in fact they
may be saying the opposite. For example, the slogan "Islam is the religion of peace" has an ambiguous meaning, since for
Muslims, the peace is to be found only through surrender to Allah.
Taqiyah is widely cited by anti-Muslim authorities as a reason for mistrusting treaties and promises made by Muslims.
In fairness to Islam, it should be pointed out that deception in war and diplomacy are hardly estranged from Western
traditions, and that the "white lie" is sanctioned in all cultures in matters relating to love and reconciliation. Some
examples of "Taqiyeh" from the Judeo-Christian tradition, include Abraham telling the Egyptians that Sarah was his
sister rather than his wife, Jacob "cheating" Laban by artificially encouraging the birth of sheep of the type that
Laban demanded as dowry for his daughter, and Moses asking Pharoah to let the Jewish people leave Egypt temporarily to
worship their God in the desert, when the intent was clearly to escape.
Synonyms and alternate spellings:
Taqiyyeh, Taqiya, Taqiyyah. Incorrectly: Takiyeh.