Are Muslims Encouraged to Lie to Non-Muslims?

Once again the anti-Muslim bloggers have been having a field day, this time with the concept of “taqiyah” or dissimilating (lying). It is said that the Qur’an teaches the Muslims are allowed to lie to non-Muslims, and that Muslims can thus have a secret agenda. Thus when they assert that theirs is a religion of peace, they can secretly be planning religious war against non-Muslims.

Let’s take a look at this.

First there are several verses in the Qur’an that are said to support such lying. The most common is , 2:26, taken from the Yusof Ali translation. (Others include 2:225 and 16:106)

2:26: “The believers never ally themselves with the disbelievers, instead of the believers. Whoever does this is exiled from GOD. Exempted are those who are forced to do this to avoid persecution. GOD alerts you that you shall reverence Him alone. To GOD is the ultimate destiny.”

The key sentence is “Exempted are those who are forced to do this to avoid persecution,” in which the word “taqiyah” appears meaning “to take preventative measures” or in this case “to avoid.” In this case persecution.

Let’s begin by reminding ourselves that for Muslims the only legitimate interpretation of the Qur’an is based entirely on the Arabic by a trained interpreter – so that any amateur interpretation by a non-Muslims reading English has no relevance to what Muslims actually believe.

And let’s remind ourselves that all verses in the Qur’an are situational. Muslims understand that they were revealed in specific contexts, and refer to these contexts. In this case the context is clear, the possibility of persecution.

And let’s remind ourselves that words in Arabic, in context, have specific meanings. Take the word translated here as “disbeliever.” To whom does it refer? Jamal Badawi, a well known contemporary scholar of Islam, maintains (with good backing from classical Islamic sources) that the term does not refer to Christians, Jews, and other monotheists but rather to heretical Muslims. Thus his interpretation would be that Muslims, if faced with persecution by heretical Muslims, could befriend those heretics in order to save their own lives.

And indeed this has been, for over 1000 years, the traditional interpretation of these verses. Even apart from this classical interpretive tradition, and modern interpretations by Muslim scholars, these verses cannot be read to justify secret agendas. Rather they justify lying about one’s specific religious beliefs to avoid persecution by heretics. The various interpretations offered at the blogsites that pop up on Google are bogus both from the standpoint of a clear reading of the text and the classical Muslim interpretive tradition. They appear to be trying to manufacture fear and mistrust where none is justified.

Ultimately, to reiterate an earlier posting, “if Christians want to know what Islam teaches then the only source to whom they can reliably turn is contemporary Muslims themselves. They are the only legitimate spokespersons for their religion. When Christians choose to listen to this Muslim voice they will find that it may be troublingly inconsistent. Different Muslims will say different things about specific issues; consequentially different things. How do we judge between them? We don’t. We must deal with Islam as it presents itself to us in specific situations through specific people. There is no short cut to actual dialogue with our immediate Muslim neighbors. No website, no blog, (including this one), and no book, is a substitute for face to face conversation. Anything less is merely looking into the mirror of our own fears, bias, and ignorance.”

  • Matthew Pope

    Taqiyya is a shi’ite concept. i understand not all Muslims practice this. but you ALL use kitman. i believe most of the denial of the qurans content is due to lack of knowledge from Muslims. but let me draw your attention to a particular Hadith, that you failed to mention in this deceiving post of yours: Bukhari (49:857) – “He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar.”

    In fact there are many verses permitting Muslims to lie to non believers. You can only focus on one as the others are so damaging, you wouldn’t be able to post your Kitman nonsense.

    Qur’an (9:3) – “…Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters…”
    The dissolution of oaths with the pagans who remained at Mecca following its capture. They did nothing wrong, but were evicted anyway.

    Qur’an (2:225) – “Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts”

    Qur’an (66:2) – “Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths”

    Qur’an (3:54) – “And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers.” (see also 8:30 and 10:21)

    that the rest of the verse (and the next) mandate murder in undefined cases of “corruption” and “mischief.”

    • roberthunt

      Mr. Pope, I have edited your comment to remove inappropriate language. Please note that I am not a Muslim, nor do I represent the Muslim community. I’m simply trying to make sure that other information and viewpoints are available. I also note, as I did in my original column, that Islam is not what you or I believe the Qur’an teaches, it is what Muslims themselves interpret the Qur’an to mean. You point would be valid if you could show a modern Muslim teacher who teaches that it is acceptable for Muslims to lie, whether by omission or commission, and for what reasons.

      I fear that your obvious distaste for Muslims and Muhammad makes it difficult for you to engage in an objective study of Islam and its followers.

      • Matthew Pope

        How many imams and sheikhs do you think let it out in the open what is taught inside mosques? That is the point in your post and my comment, Kitman, Taqiyya. History repeats itself as all muslims are taught to blindly follow the Quran. Deception has always been used by muslims, from Muhammad breaking the treaty of Hudaibiya, by slaughtering all the Meccan pagans 2yrs after signing a 10yr peace treaty. And Muhammad stating ‘War is deceit.” at the murder of Usayr ibn Zarim and his thirty unarmed men by Muhammad’s men after he “guaranteed” them safe passage. To recent events like:

        1. Yassir Arafat was famous for telling Western newspapers about his desire for peace with Israel, then turning right around and whipping Palestinians into a hateful and violent frenzy against Jews.

        2. The transmission from Flight 93 records the hijackers telling their doomed passengers that there is “a bomb on board” but that everyone will “be safe” as long as “their demands are met.” Obviously none of these things were true, but these men, who were so intensely devoted to Islam that they were willing to “slay and be slain for the cause of Allah” (as the Qur’an puts it) saw nothing wrong with employing Taqiyya in order to facilitate their mission of mass murder.

        3. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) insists that it “has not now or ever been involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, or supported any covert, illegal, or terrorist activity or organization.” In fact, it was created by the Muslim Brotherhood and has bankrolled Hamas. At least nine founders or board members of ISNA have been accused by prosecutors of supporting terrorism.

        Prior to engineering several deadly terror plots, such as the Fort Hood massacre and the attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was regularly sought out by NPR, PBS and even government leaders to expound on the peaceful nature of Islam.

        The near absence of Qur’anic verse and reliable Hadith that encourage truthfulness is somewhat surprising, given that many Muslims are convinced that their religion teaches honesty. In fact, it is because of this ingrained belief that many Muslims are quite honest. When lying is addressed in the Qur’an, it is nearly always in reference to the “lies against Allah” – referring to the Jews and Christians who rejected Muhammad’s claim to being a prophet.

        Finally, the circumstances by which Muhammad allowed a believer to lie to a non-spouse are limited to those that either advance the cause of Islam or enable a Muslim to avoid harm to his well-being (and presumably that of other Muslims as well). Although this should be kept very much in mind when dealing with matters of global security, such as Iran’s nuclear intentions, it is not grounds for assuming that the Muslim one might personally encounter on the street or in the workplace is any less honest than anyone else.

  • Amy Kochan Hemming