Within Shi'ite Islamic
tradition, the concept of Taqiyya
(تقية - 'fear, guard against') refers to a dispensation allowing believers to conceal their faith when under threat, persecution
The word "al-Taqiyya" literally means: "Concealing or disguising one's beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of imminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury." A one-word translation would be
According to many Shia
, Taqiyyah can only be legally used by a Muslim
verbally when he or she is being wrongly persecuted. The situation may be when revealing the truth is more important than saving one's life. In such a case, one must not conceal the faith and must uphold the truth. When one is guilty and is trying to conceal his or her guilt he is not said to be using taqiyyah, he or she is considered a liar and Taqiyyah isn't valid in this case. In effect, the practice of al-taqiyyah is a resolution to a given aporia or paradox. Namely, the devotee is forced to choose between on the one hand, the threat or harm of a sacred body (their own, or another’s); and on the other a temporary disavowal of faith, or the sacred word. In either case, a devotee is harmed. Therefore, it is thought that the lesser of two evils is to conceal, while not abandoning one’s faith (the word).
assert that Taqiyya is an act of hypocrisy that serves to conceal the truth. According to them, Taqiyya constitutes a lack of faith and trust in God because the person who conceals his beliefs to spare himself from danger is fearful of humans, when he should be fearful of God only.
Shi'as justify the practice using the following verse from the Qur'an:
- "[Yusufali 16:106] Any one 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."
And the following
- "[Yusuf Ali 3:28] Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.
Ibn Kathir says:“(unless you indeed fear a danger from them) meaning, except those believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers. In this case, such believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly.For instance, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' said, "We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them.'' Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, "The Tuqyah is allowed until the Day of Resurrection. (http://www.tafsir.com/default.asp?sid=3&tid=8052 )
According to Twelver Shia, the first use of Taqiyya historically took place during the time of Muhammad when the Quraishites began torturing Muslims
. Ammar ibn Yasir
, a follower of Muhammad
, whose parents were tortured in front of him by the Qurashis has renounced Islam & praised the Qurashi God "Hubal" to save his parents' lives. Yasir's parents were killed in front of him in the end, because they didn't renounce Islam. According to a canonical hadith
, the prophet Muhammad
later gave his permission for him to repeat such an act if he was placed in danger again.
Most Sunnis criticize Ammar for his actions or question the reliability of the story. Sunnis cite the examples of many Muslims who were tortured and murdered merely based on their belief during the time of Muhammad, Umayyad and Abbasids but 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.
Sunnis believe that God decides when someone is going to die. Therefore, they believe it is wrong to deny the faith in order to escape torture or death. By contrast, the 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.
Sa'id ibn Zayd
and Fatimah bint al-Khattab
were married and both hid their faith from Umar ibn al-Khattab
, until Umar found out they were Muslims. Umar also became a Muslim that same day.
Muslims have a mixed view of the practice.
Most Sunnis generally assert that the Shi'a doctrine of taqiyya isn't in accordance with its acceptable use (to save one's life). They assert that Shi'as have been using taqiyya as a tool of deception, not to save their own lives, but to cause strife for the Sunni Calipha (which was resented by Shi'as) and to legitimize their own minority faith in the eyes of a majority by whom it is constantly surrounded. They point to the prominent Shi'a work Al Kafi
(v9 p116) as evidence to what they call the Shia misuses of taqiyya. It reads, "Mix with them [non-Shi'a] externally but oppose them internally." They say that although taqiyya to save one's life can be considered legitimate at times, the way Shi'as have applied taqiyya by misrepresenting historical occurrences and sayings is forbidden. Allegations such as these are found in many Sunni writings, classical and contemporary. For example, in Minhaj as-Sunnah
, Shaykh Ibn Tayymiah
of the Hanbali
school of Sunni jurispudence said to narrate knowledge from everyone but the Shi'a "because they invent ahaadeeth and adopt them as part of their religion."
Taqiyya does not constitute a part of either the Shi'a Roots
or Branches of Religion
, in the same manner as, for example, the Hijab
rules do not.
The practice was a method of self-preservation for the Shi'as who historically were the minority and severely persecuted and oppressed by Sunni Muslims. Shi'as say that Sunnis would sometimes force them to curse the House of Ali - believing that no devout Shi'a could commit such an act . As a result, the practice of Taqiyya normalized. In other words, if a Shi'a Muslim's life is in danger, he may lie as long as he holds his faith true in his heart. states:
bgcolor=#F0FFF0|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.
Use in politics
A good example of the invocation of this concept to discredit attempts at dialogue is Graham Allison's article in the YaleGlobal of June 13, 2006 entitled The word "taqiyya" has also appeared in an indictment in a United States federal prosecution, .
Despite the prevailing currently popular usage of the term, not all scholars who are critical of aspects of Islamic Culture uniformly agree with the paradigm. Most notably, Daniel Pipes posted a highly critical response to a poster on his weblog who emulated such views. Pipes defended the more traditional notions regarding the concept and staunchly rejected the more popular usage that has appeared in recent years.
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- Cook, Michael (2003). Early Muslim Dogma: A Source-Critical Study. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-54572-2
- Daftary, Farhad (1992). The Isma'ilis: Their History and Doctrines. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-42974-9
- Hafizullah Emadi (1998). The end of taqiyya: reaffirming the religious identity of Ismailis in Shughnan, Badakhshan - political implications for Afghanistan. Middle Eastern Studies. 34(3), 103-120.
- Hafizullah Emadi (2000). Praxis of taqiyya: perseverance of Pashaye Ismaili enclave, Nangarhar, Afghanistan. Central Asian Survey. 19(2), 253-264.
- Firro, Kais (1999). The Druzes in the Jewish State: A Brief History. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-11251-0
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