Dr. Ben Carson’s recent assertion that the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya encourages Muslims “to lie to achieve your goals” has prompted the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler to quote a number of academics to show that the presidential candidate got it wrong:
The word “taqiyya” derives from the Arabic words for “piety” and “fear of God” and indicates when a person is in a state of caution, said Khaled Abou El Fadl, a professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles and a leading authority on Islam.
“Yes, it is permissible to hide the fact you are Muslim” if a person is under threat, “as long as it does not involve hurting another person,” Abou El Fadl said.
The other academics whom Kessler quotes—including Omid Safi, director of the Duke University Islamic Studies Center, and Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School—make the same argument: yes, taqiyya is in the Koran but it only permits deception in the case of self-preservation, nothing more.
Although the word taqiyya is related to the Arabic word “piety” and its root meaning is “protect” or “guard against”—and the Koran verses that advocate it (3:28 and 16:106) do so in the context of self-preservation from persecution—that is not the whole story.
None of the academics quoted by Kessler bothered to acknowledge that the Koran is not the only textual source to inform Muslim action. They ignore the Hadith, the collected words and deeds of Muhammad. Koran 33:2, for instance, commands Muslims to follow Muhammad’s example, and his example—also known as the prophet’s Sunna—is derived from the many volumes of Hadith.
The importance of Muhammad’s example is seen in that the Sunnis, approximately 90% of the world’s Muslim population, are named after his Sunna. As one Muslim cleric puts it, “Much of Islam will remain mere abstract concepts without Hadith [whence the Sunna is derived]. We would never know how to pray, fast, pay zakah, or make pilgrimage without the illustration found in Hadith…”
It is therefore careless or disingenuous for Kessler and his “experts” to ignore Muhammad’s example as recorded in the Hadith in their discussion of taqiyya.
As usual, for the complete truth, one must turn to scholarly books written in Arabic. According to Dr. Sami Mukaram, an Islamic studies professor specializing in taqiyya, and author of the only academic book exclusively devoted to it, “Taqiyya in order to deceive the enemy is permissible.”
This sounds similar to Carson’s assertion that taqiyya allows Muslims “to lie to achieve your goals.”
As proof, Mukaram documents two canonical anecdotes from Muhammad’s Sunna—his example to Muslims—that make clear that the prophet allowed his followers to lie and deceive non-Muslims above and beyond the issue of self-preservation…