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Islamic Ideology ( 6 Aug 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Law of Al Taqiya in Islam

By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

6 August 2012

Thomas Carlyle, the English writer, said:

"I like Muhammad for his hypocrisy-free nature…with clear and sound words he addresses the Roman Tsars and Kings of Persia. He guided them to what he loves for them in this life and in the eternal life."

He further writes in 'Heroes and Hero Worship and the Heroic in History,'

"The lies (Western slander) which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammad) are disgraceful to ourselves only."

"A silent great soul, one of that who cannot but be earnest. He was to kindle the world; the world’s Maker had ordered so."

The word Taqiya is used quite often in a derogatory way to imply that Muslims are allowed to practice deception. Let us examine this very interesting law to understand its scope and applicability. The Quran instructs as follows:

2:42. And cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is).

17:35 "Fill the measure when ye measure, and weigh with a right balance; that is meet, and better in the end."

2:282. O ye who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties: let not the scribe refuse to write: as Allah Has taught him, so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate, but let him fear His Lord Allah, and not diminish aught of what he owes. If they party liable is mentally deficient, or weak, or unable Himself to dictate, Let his guardian dictate faithfully, and get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her. The witnesses should not refuse when they are called on (For evidence). Disdain not to reduce to writing (your contract) for a future period, whether it be small or big: it is more just in the sight of Allah, More suitable as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves but if it be a transaction which ye carry out on the spot among yourselves, there is no blame on you if ye reduce it not to writing. But take witness whenever ye make a commercial contract; and let neither scribe nor witness suffer harm. If ye do (such harm), it would be wickedness in you. So fear Allah. For it is God that teaches you. And Allah is well acquainted with all things.

283. If ye are on a journey, and cannot find a scribe, a pledge with possession (may serve the purpose). And if one of you deposits a thing on trust with another, Let the trustee (Faithfully) discharge His trust, and let him fear his Lord. Conceal not evidence; for whoever conceals it, - His heart is tainted with sin. And Allah Knoweth all that ye do.

A contract in writing eliminates any scope for changing the terms later and avoids disputes.

Further, according to the sayings of the Prophet, “The two parties to a transaction have the option (of cancelling it) until they part. If they are honest and disclose any defects, their transaction will be blessed, but if they lie and conceal defects the blessing will be erased.” (Bukhari; Muslim). It is also clarified that this holds irrespective of whether the counterparty is a Muslim or a non-Muslim.

Muslim traders were known for their exceptional honesty. It was these traders who converted many to Islam and countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and East Africa are prime examples of lands which never came under Muslim rule but whose population converted to Islam.

Another authentic hadith makes clear that lying is slander.

Malik related to me from al-Walid ibn Abdullah ibn Sayyad that al-Muttalib ibn Abdullah ibn Hantab al-Makhzumi informed him that a man asked the Messenger of Allah, PBUH, "What is backbiting?" The Messenger of Allah, PBUH, said, "It is to mention about a man what he does not want to hear." He said, "Messenger of Allah! Even if it is true?" The Messenger of Allah, PBUH, said, "If you utter something false, then it is slander."  (Book #56, Hadith #56.4.10)

The verse that covers Taqiya is Surah 16:106

Anyone who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief, - except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.

The following is commentary on the verse by Mufti Muhammad Shafi from his treatise Ma’ariful Quran:

“The religious ruling is about a person who has been compelled to utter a word of infidelity (kufr) under the threat that he would be killed if he did not do that. If he feels that in all likelihood, the people threatening him have the full capability of doing just that, then, this is a state of duress. If he were to utter some word of disbelief, verbally – but, with a heart firm on faith, a heart that shuns saying what is false and evil – then, there is no sin on him. (Qurtubi Mazhari)

This was revealed when some noble Sahabah were arrested by the Meccan Mushriks. Among those arrested were, Sayyidna Ammar and his parents Sayyidna Yasir and Sayddah Summayah, Sayyidna Suhaib, Bilal and Khabbab. Out of these, Sayyidna Yasir and his wife Sayyidna Summayah and Khabbab refused to utter any word of disbelief. Sayyidna Yasir and Khabbab were killed and Sayiddah Summayah was tied to two Camels who were made to run in different directions and killing her in the most barbaric fashion by tearing her apart in two halves. These were the first to gain martyrdom for the sake of Islam. Sayyidna Ammar made a mere verbal declaration of unbelief and was released. On his release, he met the Prophet and narrated the incident with great anguish. The Prophet (PBUH) asked him “when you were making this statement, what was going on in your heart?” He answered “as for my heart, it was at peace and was firmly set on faith”. The Prophet put his mind at rest by saying that he was not to face any punishment for that. The verse 16:106 was revealed confirming it.”

Muslim scholars, in their books of Fiqh have further clarified that Taqiya is permitted only under conditions of coercion where the coerced apprehends that the coercer is both capable of carrying out the threat and also most likely to do so, and the threat is to his life or limb.

The standard of morality for Muslims is very high:

        A Muslim is not permitted to lie even against those who lie against them

        A Muslim is not allowed to fornicate with the women of another who fornicated with his women.

        A Muslim is not allowed to kill by burning even in retaliation.

The simple principle applied is that whatever is prohibited remains prohibited and is not permissible even in retaliation. For more details, use the link below.

Al Taqiya is the law of all Civilised countries

Incidentally, India and most of the civilized world have codified the Qur’anic law of `Taqiya' in their statutes. To that extent, they follow the Shariah.

For example, confessions made to a police officer are inadmissible as evidence in a court of law as coercion is assumed unless rebutted through presence of a magistrate while recording the confession.

Section 26: Confession by accused while in custody of police not to be proved against him: No confession made by any person whilst he is in the custody of a police officer, unless it is made in the immediate presence of a magistrate shall be proved as against such person.

Contract made under duress or coercion is voidable.

As per section 15-13 "A contract become voidable when the consent of one or more of the parties to a contract is obtained by coercion, undue influence, misrepresentation or fraud an agreement which is enforceable by law at the option of one or more parties but not at the option of the other or others is a voidable contract.

Al Taqiya as per Mahabharata

Hindu scriptures are far more elaborate and more ancient than any other scripture. They are therefore the most interesting source of information, knowledge and wisdom and it would do Muslims a great deal of good to study these scriptures. Allah has left out in the Quran what we Muslims can learn from other scriptures and that is Allah’s way of bringing people together. To my mind, refusal to study and benefit from other scriptures is also kufr as it is a denial of the favour that Allah has bestowed on other communities.  For comparison, consider the following from Mahabharata book 8 section 69 which is taken from the link below:

“O son of Pandu, this mystery connected with morality, this mystery that was declared by Bhishma, by the righteous Yudhisthir, by Vidura otherwise called Kshatri, and by Kunti, of great celebrity. I will tell thee that mystery in all its details. Listen to it, O Dhananjaya! One who speaks truth is righteous. There is nothing higher than truth. Behold, however, truth as practiced is exceedingly difficult to be understood as regards its essential attributes. Truth may be unutterable, and even falsehood may be utterable where falsehood would become truth and truth would become falsehood. In a situation of peril to life and in marriage, falsehood becomes utterable. In a situation involving the loss of one's entire property, falsehood becomes utterable. On an occasion of marriage, or of enjoying a woman, or when life is in danger, or when one's entire property is about to be taken away, or for the sake of a Brahman falsehood may be uttered. These five kinds of falsehood have been declared to be sinless. On these occasions falsehood would become truth and truth would become falsehood. He is a fool that practices truth without knowing the difference between truth and falsehood. One is said to be conversant with morality when one is able to distinguish between truth and falsehood. What wonder then in this that a man of wisdom, by perpetrating evens a cruel act, may obtain great merit like Valaka by the slaughter of the blind beast? What wonder, again, in this that a foolish and ignorant person, from even the desire of winning merit, earns great sin like Kausika (living) among the rivers?"

Krishna also taught that lying, half truths and deception are acceptable in war and the whole World follows the same without exception. Interestingly, lying during lovemaking is said to be sinless. Makes eminent sense since neither party is deceived by the lying during lovemaking. It only serves to enhance the pleasure of love making.

The scope for Al-Taqiya is far narrower in Islam than what is taught by Krishna in Mahabharata and covers only situations where there is a credible threat to life or limb.

Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to