by Phillip Vanwinkle
AUGUST 21, 2015

What Should I Know About Islam? 3

We have learned much about Islam. As we quickly review, remember that:

  1. There are two sides to Islam: a religious side, and a political side.
  2. Truth in Islam is not determined by how Muslims act or do not act. It is determined only by their “Authoritative Sources”: the Quran, Sira, and Sunna (found in the Hadith).
  3. The Quran is not arranged in any specific order. It can be difficult to have any context just by reading your Quran. You have to also study the Hadith if you want to understand the background story about why a particular "revelation" was given.
  4. There are two periods of "revelation" spoken by the prophet: The Mecca period, and the Medina period.
  5. Allah abrogated certain passages which he had written earlier, doing away with them and giving new and altogether different passages in his later revelations.

As we begin a new, yet related study to Islam, we hope to lay the groundwork for what we know today as Jihad

As we ended our last article, we noted that the Quran does teach that Muslims are to be violent towards those outside of Islam. However, we know that our Muslim friends and neighbors have not been treating us in such a fashion. We know that they seem like perfectly nice, moral people just trying to live their lives. And that is right. That is exactly what we would hope all Muslims who wish to remain Muslim would do.

But recall too, that whether a group does or does not act according to their authoritative books, the group  does not determine what their religion teaches. Their authoritative sources do. But why? Why do their books say one thing, but they do not seem to be following it? Well, before we discuss Muslims specifically, let us ask ourselves as Christians why many who call themselves Christian do not obey what the Bible says.

There are three possibilities, and these will apply to all religious bodies:

  1. We do not study the scriptures enough to know what they teach.
  2. We do not like what the scriptures teach, so we simply disobey what it says.
  3. It is not "practical" for us to follow, so we simply do not follow (at least for now).

These are the main reasons why any of us would not do what our authoritative sources say. Muslims are no different. They act in the same way as they practice their faith.

It may be that our Muslim neighbors do not harm us because they simply do not know that they are told to in the Quran. They might not harm us because they do not agree that harming others is morally right, and so they simply refuse to do it. Or, it might be that they realize they are supposed to be cruel to non-believers, but at the moment it is not practical for them to harm others, so they simply do not obey.

While it is most likely that one of the first two options is the reason that your neighbor has not done you harm, I want us to focus on the third option, because lying beneath that option is something much more sinister.

It is not just ignorance, or realizing that they do not agree with their “holy book’s” teaching. It is knowing that they should, but at the moment it is not practical. In other words, they would subjugate—they would cause harm to their neighbors—if they found themselves in a situation where they could practice cruelty to unbelievers.

Those who study the Quran and Hadith are aware that Allah is known as the “Best of Deceivers.” They know that his prophet Muhammad practiced deception on many occasions—not only limited to war-time, but especially when there was war. This type of deception is known as Taqiyya, or “Religious Deception.”

Religious Deception

Taqiyya is the Islamic practice of lying or misleading unbelievers in order to advance or protect the Islamic community.

There are two main groups of Muslims: Shia and Sunni. Shias are the minority, and often times, in order to protect themselves, they use Taqiyya for protection against the Sunnis. Because of this, Sunni Muslims accuse the Shia Muslims of coming up with this practice. However, Sunnis practice the same thing—they call it by a different name, but it is defined the same: Muda'rat: concealment/tactical deceit for the purposes of spreading Islam.

This idea of ‘lying’ for protection is one thing that we are we talking about. The term taqiyya (Arabic: تقیة‎ taqiyyah/taqīyah) is derived from the Arabic triliteral root wāw-qāf-yā, denoting "fear," or "prudence, guarding against (a danger)". The term taqwa "piety" (lit. "fear [of God]") is from the same root.[1]

Notice the words of one Islamic Immam:

Imam Abu Hammid Ghazali says: Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying  because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is  permissible.[2]

However, as we stated at the beginning of our study together, we are not going to judge a religion only by what a person or group of people do, or say but rather, by what their authoritative resources (Quran and Hadith) teach. So what do those resources teach? The Quran teaches that it is OK to practice deception or lying if it helps the cause of Allah/Islam, or if a person finds himself in trouble among his enemies.

Any one who, after accepting
Faith in God, utters Unbelief,—
Except under compulsion,
His heart remaining firm
In Faith—but such as
Open their breast to Unbelief,—
On them is Wrath from God,
And theirs will be
A dreadful Penalty.

(Quran 16:106, Yusuf Ali Translation)

In this passage, Allah says he will “dreadfully penalize” anyone who rejects or turns away from Islam—unless he is forced to reject it, but inwardly remains a true believer.

This passage was supposedly given to Muhammad after one of his companions, Ammar Ben Yasir, cursed Muhammad and began praising pagan gods—while he was being tortured. Both Sunni and Shi'a commentators alike observe that verse 16:106 refers to the case of 'Ammar B. Yasir, who was forced to renounce his beliefs under physical duress and torture.

The term for the related concept of kitman ("secrecy, concealment") is derived from a root kāf-tā-mīm (ك ت م), meaning "conceal". The two terms taqiyyah and kitman may be used synonymously, although the former has the more inclusive meaning of "dissimulation" in general, while the later refers to the "concealment" of one's convictions by silence or omission.[3]

We see then that Ammar only cursed Mohammad after being tortured, and since that was the case, it was not held against him. It appears that if a person is a Muslim and says “I reject Islam” and means it, then he will be in trouble and possibly be put to death (we will cover this later). However, this passage seems to say that if a Muslim forsakes Allah, but only because he is compelled to by force, there is no problem.

Most Muslims will argue that this only applies during wartimes. It is therefore permissible, because in their minds there is a different set of laws for people who are at war. However, the Quran also teaches that Taqiyya / Muda'rat  may be practiced by pretending to be friendly with outsiders to Islam, even though, inwardly you curse them.

Let not the Believers
Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than
Believers: if any do that,
In nothing will there be help
From God: except by way
Of precaution, that ye may
Guard yourselves from them,
But God cautions you
(To remember) Himself;
For the final goal
Is to God.

(Quran 3:28, Yusuf Ali)

Notice that it says "do not become friends with unbelievers." Simple enough, right? But then it says unless—unless it is to guard yourself against them.

Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully (illā  an tattaqū minhum tuqāt).

The two words tattaqū ("you fear") and tuqāt "in fear" are derived from this root, and the abstract noun taqiyyah refers to the general principle connected with the situation described here, first recorded in a Qur'anic gloss by Al-Bukhari (9th century).[4]

This passage is not about pretending to be a Muslim, it is about pretending to be friendly when inwardly you do not want to be friendly. Also, this passage does not appear to be a ‘war’ passage. What does this passage mean? What did the companions of Muhammad understand about this passage?

Regarding 3:28, Ibn Kathir writes, "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." He quotes Muhammad's companion, Abu Ad-Darda', who said, "we smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them" (Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.8  pg 89), and Al-Hasan who said "the Tuqyah is acceptable till the Day of Resurrection.”[5]

We must ask, what is meant by “believers who in some areas” and “or times of fear for safety from the disbelievers”?  We will see in just a moment, but notice that he says taqiyya is allowed until the day of resurrection. As noted earlier, one of Muhammad’s friends and close companions, Abu Ad-Darda, said "we smile at people as if we are their friends, but inwardly we curse them." The people who were closest to Muhammad understood that this was the idea of taqiyya, to pretend to be friendly outwardly, but to hate them inwardly.

But wait…why? Why would they need to pretend to be friendly? Because the Quran teaches Muslims to “Fight those who do not believe in Allah” (cf. Quran 9:29; 9:123; 48:29).

Here is the interesting part: Muslims are told to fight against unbelievers, but sometimes Muslims are in no position to fight against them, to try to subjugate them. So what do they do then? Do they share their plans, and say “we won’t attack you now, but as soon as we get a majority, then you'd better watch out, 'cause we will subjugate you then.” No, Allah instructs them to use deceit.

Notice Ibn Kathir’s words again: “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.”

If Muslims are in “some areas” or “in fear,” then they are told to show outward friendship, but not inward. Now, please know this: This is what Islam teaches. Your friends who are Muslim will probably have no idea about this. The average Muslim living in the West knows practically nothing about Islam. And he is probably friendly to you, because he believes he is supposed to be friendly.

As we have stated over and over, Islam is not defined by the people, but by the teachings of the Quran and Hadith. And these books teach Muslims that it is fine to lie, and deceive people as long as Islam is protected or advanced, and your life is spared in the process. 

Jesus' Teachings vs. Muhammad's Teachings

Christians can see a stark contrast between what Allah teaches his followers, and what Jesus teaches us. Does Jesus say that it is OK to deny him if you are being forced to? No!

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28)

He continues:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matt 10:33)

Even in times of persecution Jesus says, we are to confess him. Again:

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Rev 2:10)

 Jesus says that we ought not be afraid to be tried, or put in prison, even killed for his cause. We are to be faithful unto (lit. in order to/in the face of) death. If we end up dying while being persecuted, we will be victorious in the life to come.

That is completely opposite to what taqqiya is: “Any one who, after accepting Faith in God, utters Unbelief,—Except under compulsion…” in other words, it is OK to deny Allah if your life is in danger. These two teachings are as distant from one another as night and day.

Does Jesus say to pretend to be friendly toward others, while inwardly you curse them? How does Jesus tell Christians to deal with those in the world?

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 5:14-16)

Paul instructs:

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Gal. 6:10)

Notice, Paul says the household of faith (Christians) is to be treated well, but not only them. We are to treat all men well as we have opportunity. He tells us also that we should strive to add these things to our lives:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

 Jesus says:

But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matt 5:37)

In other words, we are to mean what we say. If you say yes, let it mean yes; if you say no, let it mean no. This is completely opposite of the idea of taqqiya—the idea of pretending to be friendly outwardly, but cursing someone inwardly.

These and a host of other passages teach us that we are to be honest in our dealings with people. Even in times of duress and conflict, we are still to uphold the Truth, even if it means we die in the process.

This is just one difference between the god of Islam and the God of the Bible.

This study has set the groundwork for the next discussion, which will be on the concept of Jihad. We will talk about what the authoritative Muslim sources teach about it, and just who is to be involved in Jihad.

But please remember this. The practice of outward friendliness while inwardly cursing is what the Islamic god has instructed for his followers. Based upon this idea, we shall see just how the different stages of Jihad works. 

Come back next month for the follow-up to this article as we answer the question, “What is Jihad?” 


  1. ^ root:وقي ( Lewisohn, L. "Taḳwā (a.)." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman; , Th. Bianquis; , C.E. Bosworth; , E. van Donzel; and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2010. Brill Online. University of Toronto. 13 July 2010
  2. ^ Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveller. How Taqiyya Alters Islamist Rules of War
  3. ^ Virani, Shafique N. (2009). The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, a Search for Salvation. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 47f.
  4. ^ Goldziher (1906:216)
  5. ^ bin Kathir, Isma'il bin 'Umar (26 October 2002) [c. 1370]. "The Prohibition of Supporting the Disbelievers". Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Azim. Dar-us-Salaam Publishing. Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 25 May 2011.

Tags: Islam