The Muslims For America group was distributing the above flier at the Conservative Political Conference; you can read the full text here. In 2009, when Pamela Geller brought Geert Wilders to CPAC with my assistance, Muslims For America distributed a flier claiming that Wilders had — you guessed it — taken Qur’an verses out of context in his film Fitna. So during my address that night I took the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, a mainstream Muslim commentary on the Qur’an, and showed that Wilders’ explanation of the verses was entirely correct and in accord with mainstream Islamic understandings.
Perhaps still smarting from that very public debunking, Muslims For America included a gratuitous ad hominem attack against me, as well as Pamela Geller and Frank Gaffney, in this year’s flier about taqiyya. More importantly, like Qasim Rashid in the Washington Post a couple of weeks ago, they’re lying about lying in Islam. Did some marching orders go out from somewhere telling Islamic spokesmen in the West to start blowing out billows of fog about divinely-sanctioned deception in Islam?
In any case, the Muslims For America flier asserts:
TAQIYYA is a concept being heard frequently today, the idea that Muslims have a universal practice of “Taqiyya” that allows them to conceal their faith of Islam or lie to non-Muslims, for the sake of expanding the Islamic religion – a practice that commentators like Frank Gaffney, Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer have purported to be highly practiced, with such practice particularly hinted against American Muslims, who are currently ascending our political stratospheres.
The Truth on Taqiyya?
The word “Taqiyya” does not exist in the Quran. In addition, there is no Islamic code of law that universally recognizes “Taqiyya” or encourages its practice.
The origin of Taqiyya, as discussed by scholars like John Esposito and Shafique Virani, is mentioned as an offshoot practice of some Shia Muslim populations, in which, Shia Imams like Muhammad Al-Baqir, of around 1256 CE, seem to have encouraged their congregations to conceal their Shia backgrounds, out of fear of mass-killing deliberately aimed against Shias. Of note, many Shia Muslims have lived as a minority and documentation of the unfortunate and sad persecution against them is well noted.
In turn, Muhammad Al-Baqir is one of thousands of Imams to have preached his interpretation of the Quran, just as any Minister would preach his understanding of our good Bible towards his congregation.
Yes – Islam does allow Imams to preach their understandings of the Quran, but such preaching is never recognized as Islamic Code, rather, it is simply the musings of one Muslim practitioner, not God.
For commentators to stretch the words of a handful of Imams, like Muhammad Al-Baqir, and pass it off as universally-practiced Islamic code, is the height of intellectual dishonesty and lie.
Nothing works against Muslims For America and our efforts to get Muslims united against thugs like Al-Quaida, more than political commentators who question our good deeds in making sure that America wins the War on Terror.
This all sounds great. And certainly taqiyya as a specific concept was indeed elaborated by Shias who were under threat from Sunnis. But the concept itself is rooted in the Qur’an, and consequently is found among both Sunnis and Shi’ites.
Qur’an 3:28 warns believers not to take unbelievers as “friends or helpers” (ÙŽØ£ÙŽÙˆÙ’Ù„ÙÙŠÙŽØ§ — a word that means more than casual friendship, but something like alliance), “unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them.” This is a foundation of the idea that believers may legitimately deceive unbelievers when under pressure. The word used for “guard” in the Arabic is tuqÄtan (ØªÙÙ‚ÙŽØ§Ø©Ù‹), the verbal noun from taqiyyatan — hence the increasingly familiar term taqiyya.
Ibn Kathir says that the phrase Pickthall renders as “unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them” means that “believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers” may “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 [taqiyya] is allowed until the Day of Resurrection.” While many Muslim spokesmen today maintain that taqiyya is solely a Shi’ite doctrine, shunned by Sunnis, the great Islamic scholar Ignaz Goldziher points out that while it was formulated by Shi’ites, “it is accepted as legitimate by other Muslims as well, on the authority of Qur’an 3:28.” The Sunnis of Al-Qaeda practice it today.
Also, there is Muhammad’s statement, “war is deceit.” He also allowed for lying in battle and between a husband and wife. And when he gave permission to one of his followers, Muhammad bin Maslama, to murder one of his critics, Ka’b bin al-Ashraf, he also gave Muhammad bin Maslama permission to lie to Ka’b in order to lure him close enough to be killed.
And Muhammad is the “excellent example of conduct” for Muslims (Qur’an 33:21).
So why is Muslims For America lying about lying in Islam? And why did CPAC give them a platform?
Pamela Geller has another angle on this story here.