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What is the criterion of taqiyyah [dissimulation

What is the criterion of taqiyyah [dissimulation




Reply: Taqiyyah means concealing one’s conviction and faith from the enemies to avoid worldly, spiritual or religious harms, and it is one of the religious obligations of every Muslim on which the Holy Qur’an emphasizes.

Taqiyyah from the Qur’anic viewpoint   

The Glorious Qur’an has referred to this obligation in many verses. Here are some of them:

﴿ لاَّ يَتَّخِذِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْكَافِرِينَ أَوْلِيَاء مِن دُوْنِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَلَيْسَ مِنَ اللّهِ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلاَّ أَن تَتَّقُواْ مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً ﴾

“The faithful should not take the faithless for allies instead of the faithful, and whoever does that Allah will have nothing to do with him, except when you are wary of them out of caution.”[1]

This verse vividly testifies to the fact that friendship with the infidels is not permissible. But, in case of dissimulation [taqiyyah], i.e. when one intends to save his life or parry dangers, then outward friendship and concordance with them is permissible.

﴿ مَن كَفَرَ بِاللّهِ مِن بَعْدِ إيمَانِهِ إِلاَّ مَنْ أُكْرِهَ وَقَلْبُهُ مُطْمَئِنٌّ بِالإِيمَانِ وَلَـكِن مَّن شَرَحَ بِالْكُفْرِ صَدْرًا فَعَلَيْهِمْ غَضَبٌ مِّنَ اللّهِ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ ﴾

“Whoever renounces faith in Allah after [affirming] his faith—barring someone who is compelled while his heart is at rest in faith—but those who open up their breasts to unfaith, upon such shall be Allah’s wrath, and there is a great punishment for them.”[2]

Regarding the circumstances surrounding the revelation of this verse, the exegetes [mufassirūn] thus say:

One day, ‘Ammār ibn Yāsir, his father and his mother were captured by the enemies and the infidels asked them to renounce Islam and acknowledge disbelief [kufr] and polytheism [shirk]. All those who were with ‘Ammār bore witness to the Oneness of God and the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (). Therefore, some of them attained martyrdom while others were tortured by the enemies. In order to avoid the enemies’ torture, ‘Ammār uttered what the infidels wanted him to utter, and so, he was freed.

When he met the Messenger of Allah () he was very regretful and dejected for what he had said. So, the Holy Prophet () comforted him and then the aforementioned verse was revealed.[3]

From this verse and statements of exegetes, it becomes clear that hiding one’s inner conviction for the sake of saving his life and avoiding material and non-material harms was practiced during the time of the Prophet () and so it is acceptable in Islam.

Taqiyyah from the Shī‘ah viewpoint

Because the despotic Umayyad and ‘Abbāsid governments throughout history were inimical to the Shī‘ah and resolved to eliminate them,[4] the Shī‘ah used taqiyyah as per Qur’anic injunctions by hiding their true beliefs. In doing so, they saved their lives as well as the lives of their Muslim brethren under those critical circumstances.

It is clear that with an atmosphere full of despotism and strangulation the Shī‘ah had no other way to protect themselves against the storm of oppression that was threatening their lives than using taqiyyah. As such, if tyrant kings and their agents had not been inimical to the Shī‘ah and if they had not taken as the main agenda of their governments the brutal carnage of the Shī‘ah, there would have been no reason for the Shī‘ah’s resorting to taqiyyah.

It is necessary to note that taqiyyah is not practiced only by the Shī‘ah. In fact, other Muslims also make use of the shield of taqiyyah vis-à-vis such murderous enemies who show hostility to the Muslims of all schools of thought like the Kharijites [khawārij] and oppressive governments that resort to all unlawful ways. When they see that they cannot confront their enemies, Muslims conceal their inner beliefs in order to save their lives.

On this basis, if all the members of Muslim community have mutual understanding and live in unity and cooperation, there will be no ground for taqiyyah among the Muslims.

[1] Sūrah Āl ‘Imrān 3:28.

[2] Sūrah an-Nal 16:106.

[3] See Jalāl ad-Dīn as-Suyūī, Ad-Durr al-Manthūr (Beirut), vol. 4, p. 131.

[4] For more information on the merciless killing of the Shī‘ah perpetrated by the Umayyad and ‘Abbāsid caliphs, see Abū’l-Faraj al-Isfahānī, Maqātil a-ālibiyyīn; Allāmah Amīnī, Shuhadā’ al-Faḍīlah; Muḥammad Jawād Mughniyyah, Ash-Shī‘ah wa’l-Ḥākimūn.

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