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Taqiyya (Arabic: التقية - 'fear, guard against') is the religiously sanctioned practice of lying or dissimulation. It is usually attributed to Shia Muslim practice.

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.

Most 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.

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