An Islamic apologist, A.M., frequently sends me articles that he claims demonstrate the inaccuracy of what I say about Islam. However, usually the articles he sends don't refute anything I say, but rather demonstrate the rather breathtaking talent that some people have for deception and misdirection.
So it is with this piece about the Islamic doctrine of deception, taqiyya. The author, who identifies himself only as Ibn al-Hashimi, quotes a number of Shi'ite authorities approving of deceptive practices, and concludes:
Lying is a big sin in Islam, and the best believer is the one who always tells the truth. The Shia faith is a deranged ideology, one which advocates cussing (Tabarra), prostitution (Mutah), self-flagellation (Matam), and deceit (Taqiyyah). It is not possible that the Deen of Haqq (the Religion of Truth) would advocate deceit, lying, and hiding. Taqiyyah is a practise of a cult or a secret society, and it is not used by those who follow the Religion of God. Declared one Imam of the Shia: “…Taqiyyah is the distinctive feature of the Shia.” We would have to agree with him on this point.
So taqiyya is just another invention of the dirty Shi'ites, and the true Muslims, i.e. the Sunnis, don't practice it. This anti-Shi'ite polemic, however, fails to mention a few inconvenient facts. Chief among these is that Sunni authorities have found sanction for this practice in the Qur'an itself: “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” (Qur’an 3:28).
The Sunni Qur’an commentator Ibn Kathir explains that in this verse “Allah prohibited His believing servants from becoming supporters of the disbelievers, or to take them as comrades with whom they develop friendships, rather than the believers.” However, exempted from this rule were “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 [taqiyyah] is allowed until the Day of Resurrection.'"
This practice is also sanctioned by the Qur’an warning Muslims that those who forsake Islam will be consigned to Hell — except those forced to do so, but who remain true Muslims inwardly: “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” (Qur’an 16:106). Ibn Kathir explains that “the scholars agreed that if a person is forced into disbelief, it is permissible for him to either go along with them in the interests of self-preservation, or to refuse.”
Moreover, Sahih Bukhari, the hadith collection that Sunnis consider the most reliable, records three times Muhammad's statement that "war is deceit." Are we to suppose that no Sunni who reads that thinks it is a principle worth implementing?
Another hadith in a collection considered reliable by Sunnis has Muhammad saying that lying is permissible "in three cases: in battle, for bringing reconciliation amongst persons and the narration of the words of the husband to his wife, and the narration of the words of a wife to her husband (in a twisted form in order to bring reconciliation between them)" (Sahih Muslim 6303). Muhammad also gave the killer of Ka'b bin al-Ashraf permission to lie in order to deceive Ka'b and lure him to his death.
Another venerable Sunni commentator on the Qur'an, as-Suyuti, says that "it is acceptable (for a Muslim) to eat the meat of a dead animal at a time of great hunger (starvation to the extent that the stomach is devoid of all food); and to loosen a bite of food (for fear of choking to death) by alcohol; and to utter words of unbelief..."
So why didn't "Ibn al-Hashimi" mention any of this? After all, if he had taken up this and other material from Sunnis and explained why he didn't think it was valid today, that would be one thing. But when he just ignores it and acts as if all the justification for religiously-sanctioned deception is on the Shi'ite side, it makes me wonder if he is just practicing...religiously sanctioned deception.