This is a request for assistance from any readers who are knowledgeable on the topic. Please kindly refrain from answering if your knowledge of Islam consists primarily of passing around inflammatory memes on social media, thanks.
Background: Yesterday in my extensive goofing off online, a friend pointed me to Wikipedia’s darkly amusing catalog of all the different ways people lie. In skimming the article, I stumbled on the reference to Taqiya, a concept that was heretofore completely unknown to me.
If I am understanding the article correctly, the concept is that a Muslim may deny the faith in the face of mortal danger. My question is: Could someone who has a well-informed understanding of this concept please speak up and illuminate me?
I want to make sure I’m not misreading, because this is an idea so completely foreign to Christianity that I’m scandalized by it. Here’s this morning’s second reading:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal.
But the word of God is not chained. Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory.
This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.
Christian moral thinking doesn’t require us to seek out martyrdom. We may use moral means to avoid persecution, and there are many examples in the lives of saints of martyrs who evaded (legitimately) martyrdom earlier in life, and then embraced it later on. Saints Peter and Paul were both repeatedly delivered from death, until the time of their martyrdom finally came. (For that matter, our Lord evaded death until the time for His Crucifixion came.)
But Christianity places extreme importance on not, ever, actively denying the faith.
There’s no combox directly on this blog. If you are credibly knowledgeable on Islamic thought concerning whether it is permissible to deny the Muslim faith in face of persecution, please comment or share links over at this blog’s Facebook discussion group. It’s a public group, and rules of civilized behavior apply. I am not requesting a debate, and I’d ask readers to charitably refrain from creating one. I’m just interested in getting accurate information on what Muslims do and do not believe.
As I’m aware there are often competing opinions within a given religion concerning contentious topics, I’d be likewise interested in hearing from someone expert enough to parse out any such debates so that the intelligent but uninformed non-Muslim can make some sense of the state of the discussion.
Chinese Martyrs, courtesy of Wikimedia [Public Domain]