What is Taqiyah ?
- :Syed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi
What is Taqiyah?
by : Syed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi
What is Taqiyah?
"He who disbelieves in Allah after his belief in Him, (is the liar) except he who is compelled while his heart remains steadfast with the faith (has nothing worry). But who opens his breast for infidelity; on these is wrath of Allah, and for them is a great torment". (chapter Nahl, verse 106).
This verse of the Qur'an refers to the incident when 'Ammar bin Yasir (May Allah be pleased with both) had to utter some words against Islam to save himself from the Quraishite infidels. It clearly allows hiding one 's true faith when one is in danger of one's life. This rule is called taqiyah.
What is the meaning of "Taqiyah"?
Answer: Its literal meaning is to safeguard; to defend; to fear; piety (because it saves one from the displeasure of Allah).
This gist of above is that the word taqiyahmeans to be on guard, to fear, to be pious. The dictionary as?Surah says, (Taqiyah, tuqat = piety)
What is its significance in Islamic terminology?
Answer: In Islamic terminology it means "to save life, honour. or property (either one's own or of other believers) by hiding one's belief or religion".
Is it something peculiar to the Shi'ism, because I have heard many people accusing the Shi'as because of taq'iyah?
Answer: Every society, religion and group practices it and has practiced it at one time or the other. You will find so many examples of taqiyahin the Old and the New Testaments, and even in the lives of the Holy Prophet of Islam, his Companions and many Sunni scholars.
But is this practice allowed in Islam?
Answer: Yes. Allah has allowed it in the Qur'an; and reason too shows the wisdom of this permission.
Shah 'Abdul 'Aziz Dehlawi writes: "It should be known that taqiyah is, in fact, allowed by shari'ah, by authority of the Qur'anic verses, "except when ;you have to guard against them" ; and "except he who is compelled while his heart remains steadfast with the faith."
Famous Sunni scholar, 'Allamah Wahidu'z zaman Khan of Haydarabad (India) says: "Taqiyah is proved from the Qur'an, "except when you have to guard against them"; and ignorant people think that taqiyah is something peculiar to the Shi'as, while it is allowed in the Sunni faith also at times."
If you hide your belief and declare yourself to believe in some anti?Islamic tenets, won't you automatically go outside the pale of Islam and become a 'Kafir'?
Answer: Belief and faith as well as the disbelief or rejection of faith (in short, Iman and Kufr) are basically the matters of "heart". That is why Allah rebuked those newly?converted Arabs who claimed to be 'Believers':
The desert Arabs say: "We believe" : Say (unto them): "You believed not; rather say "we accepted Islam" be cause the Faith has not yet entered your hearts ". The declaration by tongue has a very minor role in it., A belief without declaration is acceptable but a declaration without belief is condemned in the Qur'an in severest terms:
When come unto thee the hypocrites, they say: "We bear witness that verily you are the Messenger of Allah"; and verily Allah knows that you are certainly this Messenger; and verily Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are certainly the liars.
Now remember that the life of a Muslim is very precious in the eyes of Islam. The importance attached to even one life is seen in this verse:? And he who saves it (i.e., a human life) shall be as though he has saved the whole mankind.
And a Muslim is bound to save a life from unlawful destruction, whether it is some one else's or his own:
And cast not yourselves with your own hands into perdition.
It is for this reason that suicide has been declared a capital sin just like murder; and it is for this reason that Shi'a Shari'ah does not allow starting a jihad (war) without permission of the Prophet, Imam or their especially appointed deputies or in defense. And it is to save the life of a believer that one is allowed to utter a lie and save that precious life.
All Right. You saved a life; but you committed one of the greatest sins, i.e., lie. So, spiritually you are doomed to disgrace in either case. Then, why not tell the truth and let the enemies kill you if they want?
Answer: When a person is in such a situation that no matter whichever course of action he chooses he has to commit an evil, then the reason says that he should select the lesser evil. Or if he is forced to destroy or damage one of his two possessions, then surely he would damage or destroy the less?expensive item to save the more precious one. Imam Fakhru 'ddin ar Razi says commenting on the events of the Prophet Musa (as) and Khidr (as), mentioned in Surah al-Kahf:
When one is confronted by two damaging alternatives, it is wajib to bear the lesser one in order to ward off the greater one; and this was the principle followed in the three actions (done byKhidr)'.
Islamic Shari'ah abounds with examples of this principle. Prayer is the most important pillar of Islam. But if you are praying and a child falls down a well, and there is no one else to save the child, the Shari'ah commands you to leave your prayer, and try to save the child. If you ignored this command, that prayer would not be accepted, and you would be guilty of neglecting to save a life.
Now, suppose the unbelievers are determined to kill a Muslim, not because he has committed any crime but just because of his faith. The said Muslim goes into hiding and you know where he is. The unbelievers come to you and ask you whether you knew where that person was. You are caught between two evils: either you say 'No' and become a liar, or you say 'Yes' and cause the murder of an innocent Muslim. The reason says that telling a lie in that situation is preferable than the truth which would lead to murder.
Now suppose that the unbelievers have caught a Muslim and that Muslim happens to be 'You'. They put two alternatives before you: Either renounce Islam or be killed. If the flame of true Faith is lighting your heart, mere words of tongue cannot extinguish it at all. Those words of disbelief will be just like a dark cover to hide the light of your faith from the unbelievers, but they can have no adverse effect on the flame itself. And if you do not hide that flame behind that cover, your life will be forfeited and with that you will lose the possibility of serving Islam at some other time. In short, by uttering a few false words against Islam you will save your life as well as your faith; and by not uttering those words your life will come to its end and with it will vanish all chances of Islamic services which you could have rendered had you been alive. Allah, therefore, has allowed you to save your life by uttering a few false words against Islam.
Say whatever you like, but the fact remains that taqiyah is just another form of Nifaq (hypocrisy).
Answer: Far from it. In fact taqiyah is opposite of Nifaq. Remember, Iman and Kufr, when seen with their 'declaration', can be divided in four categories only:
(1) Correct belief of Islam by heart and its declaration in words.
This is open Iman (faith).
(2) Belief against Islam by heart and expression of that anti?Islamic belief in words. This is open Kufr (infidelity). These two categories are opposite to each other and cannot combine in one place.
(3) Belief against Islam in heart but declaration of Islam in words. This is Nifaq (hypocricy).
(4) Correct belief of Islam by heart but declaration of anti?Islamic belief in words. This is taqiyah, and these two categories (Nifaq and Taqyah are, likewise, opposite to each other and can never be found in one place.
You claimed above that many companions of the Holy Prophet practiced it. Can you give an example?
Answer: We have mentioned in the very beginning the example of 'Ammar bin Yasir (ra): The Quraishites brutally martyred Yasir and his wife Sumaiyah just because of their faith. They were the first martyrs of Islam.
When the parents were killed, 'Ammar pretended to renounce Islam, and thus saved his life. Someone told the Prophet that 'Ammar had become kafir. The Prophet said: "Never; verily the flesh and blood of 'Ammar is saturated with true faith." Then 'Ammar came to the Holy Prophet bitterly weeping that he had to utter evil words against Islam so that he could slip away from the clutches of the infidels. The Prophet asked him; 'How did you find your heart?" 'Ammar said: "Steadfast in Faith". The Holy Prophet told him not to worry and advised him to repeat those words if the infidels again asked him to do so. And it was not only the Holy Prophet who liked the choice of 'Ammar (ra). Even Allah confirmed his action in the verse which has been written in the beginning: He who disbelieves in Allah after his belief in Him (is the liar) except he who is compelled while hiS heart remains steadfast with the faith (has nothing to worry). But he who opens his breast for infidelity, on these is the wrath of Allah, and for them is a great torment.
All commentaries of the Qur'an narrate that it was revealed concerning the above incident of 'Ammar (ra).
Is there any other verse sanctioning such a cause of action?
Answer: Yes. See the following verse which says:
Let not the believers take the disbelievers as their friends rather than the believers; whoso shall do this then he has no relation with Allah except when you have to guard Yourselves against them for fear from them; but Allah cautions you of Himself for unto Allah is the end of your journey. Say, whether you conceal what is in your hearts or manifest it, Allah knows it; and He knows all that is in the heavens and all that is?in the earth; and verily Allah has power over all things.
The reason of this permission is given in this very aya:
"Say whether you conceal what is in your hearts or manifest it, Allah knows it". Here Allah assures the Muslims that Faith is a spiritual thing, connected with heart;. and if your faith inside your heart is un?impaired, then Allah is pleased with you whether you manifest that faith or hide it. It is all the same with Allah, because He knows your hidden secrets, and even when you hide your faith from unbelievers, Allah knows it and recognizes it. As explained in reply to Question No. 1, taqiyah and tuqat both are synonymous. as-Suyuti writes inter alia under this verse: "And Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim have narrated through al?'Awfi from Ibn 'Abbas (that he said about this verse): 'So taqiyah is by tongue. Whoever is compelled to say something which is disobedience of Allah and he speaks it because of those people's fear while his heart remains steadfast in the faith, it will do him no harm; verily taqiyah is with the tongue only.'
"... And 'Abd ibn Hamid has narrated from al-Hasan (al-Basri) that he said: 'Taqiyah is lawful upto the day of resurrection. And 'Abd (ibn Hamid) has narrated from Abu Raja' that he was reciting, 'illa an tattaqu minhum taqiyatan'; and 'Abd ibn Hamid has narrated from Qatadah that he was reciting (likewise) .... taqiyatan with ya".
Imam Fakhruddin ar-Razi has mentioned some rules concerning taqiyah under this verse, some of which are given here:
"Third Rule: Taqiyah is allowed in matters related to manifestation of friendship or enmity; and it is also allowed in matters connected to professing (their) religion. But it is certainly not allowed in matters which affect other persons, like murder, fornication, usurpation of property, perjury, slander of married women or informing the unbelievers about the weak points in the Muslims' defence.
"Fourth Rule: The Qur'anic verse apparently shows that taqiyah is allowed with dominant unbelievers. But according to the madhhab of Imam Shafi'i (May Allah be pleased with him) if the condition between (various sects of) the Muslims resembles the condition between the Muslims and the polytheists, then taqiyah (from the Muslims too) is allowed for the protection of one's life.
"Fifth Rule: Taqiyah is allowed for protection of life. The question is whether it is allowed for the protection of property; possibly that too may be allowed, because the Prophet (saw) has said: 'The sanctity of a Muslim's property is like the sanctity of his blood'; and also he (saw) has said:
'Whoever is killed in defence of his property, is a martyr'; and also because man greatly needs his property; if water is sold at exorbitant price, wudhu' does not remain wajib and one may pray with tayammum to avoid that small loss of property; so why should not this principle be applied here? And Allah knows better.
"Sixth Rule: Mujahid has said that this rule (of taqiyah) was valid in the beginning of Islam, because of the weakness of the believers; but now that the Islamic government has got power and strength, it is not valid. But 'Awfi has narrated from al-Hasan (al-Basri) that he said: 'Taqiyah is allowed to the Muslims upto the day of resurrection.' And this opinion is more acceptable because it is wajib to keep off all types of harm from one's self as much as possible."
Imam Bukhari has written a full chapter, Kitabul Ikrah, on this subject of compulsion, wherein he writes, inter alia:
And Allah said 'except when you hale to guard yourselves against them for fear from them'. And it is Taqiyah.
.... And Hassan (Basri) said: 'Taqiyah is upto the Day of Resurrection .... And the Prophet (s.a:w.) said: 'Deed are according to intention.
As-Sayid ar-Radi (the compiler of Nahj ul Balaghah) writes, inter alia, in explanation of the verse 3:28?29:
"Then Allah made an exception (in. this rule of not keeping friendship with the unbelievers) and that exception is the situation of taqiyah; so he said and it is also read (taqiyatan), and both words have the same meaning. "It means that Allah bas permitted in this situation (when one is afraid of ahem) to show their friendship and one's inclination towards them 'with tongue' but not with intention of heart."
Also, there are four verses in the Qur'an which allow eating unlawful food when one is starving to death and no lawful food is available: One of them says:
Verily, verily; He has but prohibited that which dies of itself and blood and swine flesh and whatsoever has other name than Allah's invoked upon it; but whoever is forced to it without the desire (for it) not to transgress (the limits) then it a no sin on him; verily Allah is Forgiving, Merciful'.
The same thing has been repeated in 5:3, 6:145 and 14:115. As explained earlier, the life of a believer is the most precious thing. And it is for this reason that one has been allowed to eat such abominable things as dead body or pork when life depends on it. The same principle will apply if safety of life depends on uttering a few false words. That is why the Prophet (saw) has categorically said: He who has no taqiyah has no religion.
And Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) has said:
Taqiyah is religion and the religion of my forefathers: He who has no taqiyah has no faith.
Though this practice is allowed in the Qur'an and hadith, nevertheless it is something evil. I do not believe that Allah would like us to resort to it even if it is allowed. Answer. You have just now seen that taqiyah is not only allowed but even wajib in some cases. Do you think that Allah would make something wajib without liking it. Also, the Prophet (saw) makes taqiyah synonymous with religion, and Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) confirms it in clear words.
However, if you ponder on the Qur'an you will see that the Holy Book of Allah presents taqiyah in a very commendable light. In the verse 40:28 Allah says:
And said a man who was a believer from among the people of Pharaoh: who used to conceal his faith ...
It shows that Allah was well pleased with that hiding of the faith because it had great benefits, as Abu Talib kept his faith secret because it had great benefits. Just because Abu Talib did not announce his Faith, he was able to protect the life of the Holy Prophet (saw): Likewise, that believer from the family of Pharaoh was able to protect Prophet Musa (as) by not declaring his Faith openly. Anyhow, his Faith based on taqiyah was so pleasing to Allah that he was counted as a "Siddiq" (Most Truthful). The Holy Prophet (saw) has said: "There are three siddiqin: (1) Habib Najjar; (2) The faithful from the family of Pharaoh arid (3) 'Ali bin Abi Talib".
Not only "the Believer from the Family of Pharaoh" but, according to Al-Baidawi, even the Prophet Musa (as) had spent a considerable period of his life in taqiyah: See his Commentary under the following ayat, Said (Pharaoh): Did we not cherish you amidst us as a child? And you did dwell amidst us for years of your' life.
Coming back to the time of the Holy Prophet of Islam, we know that the Holy Prophet kept his Mission secret for 3 years; and we have seen how 'Ammar bin Yasir resorted to taqiyah. This was in Meccan period. Even after Hijrah there remained in Mecca many believers whose Islam was unknown to others. When the peace of treaty was concluded in Hudaibiyah in 6 A.H. many Muslims were displeased with its terms. Hadhrat Umar bin Khattab was so incensed that he protested to the Holy Prophet (saw), and in later days he used to say: I did not entertain any doubt about the prophethood of the Holy Prophet?since I accepted Islam exc;pt on that day of Hudaibiyah.
Replying to that group, Allah explains one of the reasons of that treaty and one of the causes why war was not waged at that time: And were it not for the believing men ? and believing women, not having known them you might' have trodden them down; a crime would have afflicted you because of them without (your) knowledge.
This verse clearly says that there were believing men and believing women in Mecca whose Islam was unknown, not only to the pagans but even to the Muslims of Medina. And Allah describes such practicers of taqiyah a: 'believing men' and 'believing women'. In short, these verses, traditions and incidents clearly show and demonstrate that if one is in danger of one's life because of his faith, then it is allowed to utter words against one's true belief of Islam, to save the life which is more important and that 'lie' will not be counted against him. as-Sayid ar-Radi says:
" ... and we know that taqiyah affects only externally (i.e.' its effect is only on the tongue) and not internally (on the heart, spirit, soul). When someone forces another one to do something, (and that thing happens to be connected with heart) then the oppressor has no way of knowing that his wish has been complied with, except through some utterings by the tongue from which he will conclude that he has succeeded in changing the heart of the oppressed. Therefore, the best course of action at the time of taqiyah is to show the friendship with the unbelievers by words, to mix with them and live with them with good manners, but the heart must remain firmly with the previous feelings towards them, of hidden enmity and the belief of aloofness from them. "And such a man (who finds himself in such a situation) should?as far as possible use dissimulation and double?entendre (i.e. words and sentences that admit two interpretations?one correct, one wrong; the speaker intends correct meaning and the unbelievers take it to mean the other meaning).'
Best way to perform Taqiyah
What is the meaning of the last paragraph of as-Sayid ar-Radi quoted here?
Answer: He has alluded here to the best way of taqiyah, which is called tawriyah. Sometimes a sentence or phrase may be used in such a way that the hearer takes it to conform with his own ideas, while the speaker takes it to mean a quite different thing. A good example of tawriyah is found in a talk of the "believer from the family of Pharaoh". Islamic traditions say that he was a cousin of Pharaoh. When his partiality towards Prophet Musa (as) became known, some courtiers of Pharaoh told him that his cousin was a secret follower of Musa and did not believe in divinity of Pharaoh.
Pharaoh was naturally furious, and asked his cousin to explain it. The court was full. "The believer from the family of Pharaoh" asked them:
The Believer: Tell me who is your Lord?
The Believer: Who is your Creator?
The Believer: Who is your sustainer, who guarantees your livelihood and removes your troubles?
Then the Believer declared: "O King! I keep you and all these present as my witness that their Lord is my Lord, and their Sustainer is my Sustainer; and the One , who looks after their lives and livelihood is the One who looks after my life and livelihood. I have no Lord or Creator except their Lord, Creator and Sustainer ..."
Pharaoh's anxiety vanished and the backbiters were severely tortured and put to death. But, in spite of the joy of Pharaoh on this declaration, the real intention of "The Believer" is quite clear. Also two examples from New Testament come here to mind. Tawriyah of Jesus Christ St. Matthews reports, Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him (Jesus) in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying: Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Show me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.
Taqiyah of St. Paul
St. Paul was brought before a gathering of the Jews who wanted to punish him for his faith in Christianity Now read the accounts from the 'Acts': But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; to the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between . the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisee, confess both. And there arose a great cry: and the Scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove„saying, We find no evil in this man.
Many examples of this kind of taqiyah could be quoted from Shi'a sources. But, as many of them entail explanations of Arabic grammar, I prefer not to write them here. However, one is given here to complete this topic. A preacher was asked during his sermon: "Who was the supreme most after the Holy Prophet? Abu Bakr or 'Ali?" He replied: It may be interpreted as "He whose daughter was in his (i.e., Prophet's) house." i.e.; Abu Bakr. And may as easily mean "He that his (Prophet's) daughter was in his house". i.e. 'Ali.
When Taqiyah is not allowed
If Taqiyah is allowed by Islam, then why did not Imam Husain (as) resort to it? Why did he sacrifice his all on the altar of truth instead of taking refuge in taqiyah? Answer. Taqiyah is based on the principle of opting for the lesser evil. Telling a lie is not as big a sin as destroying a life. Therefore, lie is preferable to putting oneself in danger of life.
Now, if safety of one's own life depends upon putting another believer's life in danger, then, by the same reasoning, taqiyah is not allowed, because one believer is going to die in any case. So, it is better for you to die than to cause the death of another believer. By the same reasoning, if there is a likelihood that one's taqiyah may destroy the belief of other believers, then taqiyah is forbidden to such a person. Take for example the case of Imam Husain (as). The character of Yazid is well known and we need not go into its details here. Such a person demands allegience from Imam Husain (as), the grandson of the Holy Prophet of Islam and symbol of Islamic values and religious uprightness. Yazid had written to his governor of Madina to demand allegiance from Imam; and, if Imam refused, then the governor was to send his head to Damascus. So Imam Husain (as) was well aware of the consequences of his rejection of that demand. Still, he knew that if he did swear allegiance to Yazid, Muslims would think that Yazid was the rightful successor of the Holy Prophet (saw), and thus all the debaucheries of Yazid would become a part of Islam. In short, Islam would have been completely disfigured if Imam Husain (as) had accepted Yazid as the legal Khalifah of the Holy Prophet. Thus we come to the conclusion that if someone is of such a status that if he, resorted to taqiyah, others would be misled into un-Islamic tenets and beliefs, then the basic principle demands that he should sacrifice his life but save others from going astray. One or more lives are not as important as one or more people's Faith and spiritual deliverance.
In the end, it should be reiterated that taqiyah is not an specialty of the Shi'as. Every sect of Islam accepts the principle. Quotations from Sahih Bukhari and Sunni Commentaries of the Qur'an have been given in this article. Imam Shafi'i allowed taqiyah even from the Muslims as well as from the infidels. And all great scholars of Sunni sect, without any exception, have written that taqiyah is valid upto the Day of Judgement. Those interested. in detailed references should see 'Fulk un Najut' of Maulana Ali Muhammad and Maulana Amirud?Deen (Lahore, Pakistan) where scores of references have been given from page 89 to page 116. The Sunni scholar, Najmuddin Tufi Hanbali writes:
"Know that the long arguments for and against taqiyah are useless …. but there is no doubt in its validity and legality. Of course, common people do not like its name (taqiyah) because it has been identified with the Shi'as. Otherwise, the whole world uses it naturally, though some call it 'tolerance', others name it as 'diplomacy, and some call it 'common sense'. And it is proved by proofs of Shari'ah (Islam).
Keeping in view, all these verses of the Qur'an and the Prophet's traditions, and looking at all these historical facts in the lives of the Holy Prophet (saw), his companions and even previous Prophets as well as the Sunni scholars, how is it that the Wahhabis go on accusing the Shi'as of various ridiculous beliefs and then declaring that even if the Shia's deny such beliefs they should not be believed because they practice taqiyah? Answer. Well, our books are readily available in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, Swahili, English and many other languages. They are on sale in Iran, Iraq, Gulf States, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, East Africa, U.K, Canada, U.S.A and other countries. There are books on theology, jurisprudence, and social, ethical and philosophical subjects. Some are meant for our children's education, others for youths and grown up people. Let the Wahhabis produce proof from our books in support of those baseless accusations. Unfortunately, they go on repeating those foolish things from their own books and think that they have vanquished the Shi'as!! What will they say if we start writing that: "The Wahhabis believe that Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abdul Wahhab was their prophet, and that is why they hate the Holy Prophet, Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah (saw) so much and always try to distract the Muslims from showing love and respect to the Holy Prophet of Islam (saw), but they do not dare to declare this belief openly because then, they would be turned out of Mecca and Medina and would lose their power?base."? How will they refute this allegation? What will be their defense when we will reject their words of mouth and their writings, as we will go on asserting that it was all a pack of lies just to safeguard their hold on the sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina?
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