Originally published by the Gatestone Institute
Dr. Ben Carsonâs recent assertion that the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya encourages Muslims âto lie to achieve your goalsâ has prompted the Washington Postâs Glenn Kessler to quote a number of academics to show that the presidential candidate got it wrong:
The word âtaqiyyaâ derives from the Arabic words for âpietyâ and âfear of Godâ and indicates when a person is in a state of caution, saidÂ Khaled Abou El Fadl, a professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles and a leading authority on Islam.
âYes, it is permissible to hide the fact you are Muslimâ if a person is under threat, âas long as it does not involve hurting another person,â Abou El Fadl said.
The other academics whom Kessler quotesâincluding Omid Safi, director of the Duke University Islamic Studies Center, and Noah Feldman of Harvard Law Schoolâmake 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 âpietyâ and its root meaning is âprotectâ or âguard againstââand the Koran verses that advocate it (3:28 and 16:106) do so in the context of self-preservation from persecutionâthat 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 Muhammadâs example, and his exampleâalso known as the prophetâs Sunnaâis derived from the many volumes of Hadith.
The importance of Muhammadâs example is seen in that the Sunnis, approximately 90% of the worldâs Muslim population, are named after his Sunna. As one Muslim cleric puts it, âMuch 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…â
It is therefore careless or disingenuous for Kessler and his âexpertsâ to ignore Muhammadâs 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, âTaqiyyaÂ in order to deceive the enemy is permissible.â
This sounds similar to Carsonâs assertion that taqiyya allows Muslims âto lie to achieve your goals.â
As proof, Mukaram documents two canonical anecdotes from Muhammadâs Sunnaâhis example to Muslimsâthat make clear that the prophet allowed his followers to lie and deceive non-Muslims above and beyond the issue of self-preservation:
The Assassination of Kaâb ibn Ashraf
An elderly Jewish leader,Â Kaâb ibn Ashraf, mocked Muhammad, prompting the prophet to exclaim, âWho will kill this man who has hurt Allah and his messenger?â A young Muslim named Ibn Maslama volunteered on condition that to get close enough to Kaâb to murder him, he needed permission to lie to the Jew.
Allahâs messengerÂ agreed. Ibn Maslama traveled to Kaâb and began to complain about Muhammad until his disaffection from Islam became so convincing that Kaâb eventually dropped his guard and befriended him.
After behaving as his friend for some time, Ibn Maslama eventually appeared with another Muslim also pretending to have apostatized. Then, while a trusting Kaâbâs guard was done, they attacked and slaughtered him, bringing his head to Muhammad to the usual triumphant cries of âAllahu Akbar!â
The Disbanding of the Confederates
In another account, after Muhammad and his followers had attacked, plundered, and massacred a number of non-Muslim Arabs and Jews, the latter assembled and were poised to annihilate the Muslims once and for all (at the Battle of the Trench, 627).Â Â But then Naim bin Masâud, one of the leaders of these âconfederates,â as they became known in history, secretly went to Muhammad and converted to Islam. The prophet asked him to return to his tribesmen and alliesâwithout revealing that he had joined the Muslim campâand to try to get them to abandon the siege. âFor,â Muhammad assured him, âwar is deceit.â
Masâud returned, pretending to be loyal to his former kinsmen and allies, and began giving them bad advice. He also subtly instigated quarrels between the various tribes until, no longer trusting each other, they disbanded.
Masâud became a hero in Islamic tradition. He is often seen as being responsible for helping an embryonic Islam grow at a time when its existence was threatened. One English language Muslim site even recommends his actions asÂ illustrative of how Muslims can subvert non-Muslims.
In the two examples above, Muslims deceived non-Muslims not because they were being persecuted for being Muslimâthe Washington Postâs definition of taqiyyaâbut in order to make Islam supreme. (The Arabs and Jews met Muhammad at the Battle of the Trench because Muhammad and his followers first attacked them at the Battle of Badr and massacred hundreds of them on other occasions.)
Despite these stories being part of the Sunna to which Sunnis adhere, UCLAâs Abou El Fadlâthe primary expert quoted by the Washington Post to show that Islam does not promote deceitâclaims that âthere is no concept that would encourage a Muslim to lie to pursue a goal. That is a complete invention.â
Tell that to Kaâb ibn Ashraf, whose head was cut off for believing Muslim taqiyya. The prophet of Islam allowed his followers to lie to the Jew to slaughter himâjust as he encouraged Masâud to lie to his non-Muslim family and allies.
Thus, Dr. Ben Carson got it right when he said that taqiyyaâallows, and even encourages you to lie to achieve your goals.â The all-important example of the prophet makes that clear.
(At-Taqiyya fi’l-Islam, or âDissimulation in Islam,â p. 32)