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Reply to allegation that in Islam lying is permissible for spreading faith and is called taqiyya

by Waseem A. Sayed PhD

The allegation is made that in Islam lying is deemed permissible so long as it is resorted to for the purpose of spreading the faith and that this philosophy is called taqiyya. The 107th verse of Chapter 16 of the Holy Quran is generally cited in support of this allegation.

Before dealing with this allegation specifically, let me make some general comments.

This allegation is not new – it has been around for a long time and have been refuted not only in detail and by reference to the Holy Quran but also common sense invalidates all such claims: Could even a single person – let alone a whole world – have been won over by Muhammad(sa) on the basis of such [God forbid] lying, cheating and fabricating?

By an orientalist, I have not found a truer, sounder, more logical assessment of Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, then so eloquently summarized by Thomas Carlyle [May 8, 1840] in the beginning of his famous Lecture: THE HERO AS PROPHET. MAHOMET: ISLAM.

“Our current hypothesis about Mahomet, that he was a scheming Impostor, a Falsehood incarnate, that his religion is a mere mass of quackery and fatuity, begins really to be now untenable to anyone. The lies, which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man, are disgraceful to ourselves only. …… It is really time to dismiss all that. The word this man spoke has been the life-guidance now of a hundred and eighty millions of men these twelve hundred years. These hundred and eighty millions were made by God as well as we. A greater number of God’s creatures believe in Mahomet’s word at this hour, than in any other word whatever. Are we to suppose that it was a miserable piece of spiritual legerdemain, this which so many creatures of the Almighty have lived by and died by? I, for my part, cannot form any such supposition. I will believe most things sooner than that. One would be entirely at a loss what to think of this world at all, if quackery so grew and were sanctioned here.”

“…… A false man found a religion? Why, a false man cannot build a brick house! If he do not know and follow truly the properties of mortar, burnt clay and what else be works in, it is no house that he makes, but a rubbish-heap. It will not stand for twelve centuries, to lodge a hundred and eighty millions; it will fall straightway…..”

Let me now turn to the the allegation specifically that there is a philosophy in Islam called taqiyya that permits Muslims to lie if necessary for the good of the faith!  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The verse generally cited for this is 16:107.

Whoso disbelieves in Allah after he has believed — save him who is forced thereto while his heart finds peace in the faith — but such as open their breasts to disbelief, on them is Allah’s wrath; and they shall have a severe punishment.

In this verse the case of a person recanting his or her faith is mentioned but permission to lie is certainly not given.  A verdict is reserved for such people as cannot find the strength to bear extreme torture – their case is further discussed in verse 111 where the conditions are laid out under which such people may find forgiveness for their weakness to which reference is made in verse 107:

Then, surely, thy Lord — to those who fled their homes after they had been persecuted and then struggled hard in the cause of Allah and remained steadfast — aye, surely, after that thy Lord is Most Forgiving, Merciful.

Here it is stated that such a person must take certain actions to merit being forgiven by God.  Such a person should migrate from such a place and then occupy himself hard in the preaching of the faith to those around him in his new place of residence and establish his allegiance to the faith by his actions steadfastly – such a person would indeed find God to be Most Forgiving and Merciful.

Commentary. Whereas vv. 109,110 referred to those persons who revert to disbelief and open up their hearts to it and join the ranks of the enemies of Islam, the verse under comments deals with such persons regarding whom judgment had been reserved (verse 107). The judgment given in their case is that if they migrate from their homes and strive in the cause of God and endure with patience all the hardships that may befall them in the cause of God and endure with patience all the hardships that may befall them in the way of Islam, then, and not till then, will God pardon their past lapse. The Surah being of Meccan origin, Jihad mentioned in the verse is not fighting with the sword but is only “striving” to promote the cause of Islam.

The Holy Quran stresses the need for truth so repeatedly and so forcefully and we see this in the life of the Holy Prophet so brilliantly illustrated that there can be no doubt in any one’s mind that the so-called philosophy of taqiyya or anything like it could be taught by Islam, the Holy Quran or the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa).

Hypocrisy is so vehemently condemned in the Holy Quran that it is one of the earliest things talked about and then repeatedly stressed again and again,

The subject is dealt with in verses 2:9 to 2:21 in the very beginning of the Holy Quran.

Verse after verse of the Holy Quran talks about the need for truthfulness but let me just quote these few and I invite everyone to go read the Holy Quran and see the stress laid upon truth by the Holy Quran:

O ye who believe! be strict in observing justice, and be witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against parents and kindred. Whether he be rich or poor, Allah is more regardful of them both than you are. Therefore follow not low desires so that you may be able to act equitably. And if you conceal the truth or evade it, then remember that Allah is well aware of what you do. [4:136]

In deed so much stress is laid in the Holy Quran that it specifically mentions the case discussed by the people who make this allegation… contrary to what they allege the Holy Quran says that Muslims must be true and just even when dealing with their enemies:

[5:9] O ye who believe! be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do.

Now let me end by quoting two more verses where Muslims are told to have their words and deeds to be in accord with each other:

O ye who believe! why do you say what you do not do? [61:3]

Most hateful is it in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do. [61:4]

In the end let me invite everyone interested in learning more about Islam to visit www.alislam.org