Are Muslims Encouraged to Lie to Non-Muslims?

Are Muslims Encouraged to Lie to Non-Muslims? October 9, 2010

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.”

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  • Adam

    If you want to see and call apples as oranges then that’s your problem Mr. Pope but don’t force your understanding on others.

    Below are some quotes from Koran and documented sayings of Muhammad copied from muslim sources:

    “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allaah, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds).” [al-Tawbah 9:119]

    Ibn Katheer said (2/414): “It means: be truthful and adhere to truthfulness, and you will be among its people and will be saved from calamity, and this will make a way out for you from your problems.”

    Mohammed said “You must be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man will keep speaking the truth and striving to speak the truth until he will be recorded with Allaah as a siddeeq (speaker of the truth). Beware of telling lies, for lying leads to immorality and immorality leads to Hellfire. A man will keep telling lies and striving to tell lies until he is recorded with Allaah as a liar.” (Moslem)

    In the lengthy hadeeth of Abu Sufyaan describing his meeting with Heraclius, Abu Sufyaan said: “[Heraclius] said, ‘What does he [meaning the Prophet] command you to do?’ I said, ‘He says: worship Allaah alone and do not associate anything in worship with Him, and abandon that which your forefathers did. He commands us to pray, to be truthful, to be chaste and to uphold the ties of kinship.’” (Bukhari)

    These are a few verses and traditions and I’m quite sure that there would be more like them.

    Your post is indicative of you being incapable of studying Islam objectively, so I don’t think I’ll comment again.

    PS. I’m not a Muslim.

    • Chris

      Not to attack you Adam, but the assertion of secondary sources does not eliminate the relevance of the primary sources noted by Mr. Pope. The Koran (academic spelling) does allow for the action of lying to non-believers. Further, the situational analysis that is presented in the main article is completely out of context as the Koran is a life manual meant to deal with all things.

      Sectarian use of the Koran is one of the leading problems in the muslim world today, some of the groups (the majority) are peace loving but Pope was right when he said that the Imans are the problem. I just sat through an interesting dissertation by a devout muslim, who is a very good friend of mine, who openly discussed the ways that some imans (the better ones) are college educated, take a test on theology and are certified, while others simply stand up in the Mosque or Maddrass and start screaming anti Christian or sectarian rhetoric. This is similar to blaming all of Christianities faults on the ministers who get their license off the internet.

      I guess in conclusion, I believe that Pope was correct in his assessment of the text, and adam was correct in regards to certain sects.

  • Antoine Bisset

    I find it hard to imagine that the Moslems would permit the existence of any. translation of the Koran that did not faithfully reflect the original meaning.
    These are the people that issued a death sentence on a novelist.

    Looking at point quoted “if Christians want to know what Islam teaches then the only source to
    whom they can reliably turn is contemporary Muslims themselves…”
    That would be the murderers of Lee Rigby, the murderous thugs of IS, the radical preachers of Finsbury Park mosque et al, or the dissemblers of The Moslem Council?