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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Truth and lies - Taqiyya in Islam and Christianity

This article is a continuation of the theme regarding how hypocritical it is to criticise Islam, particularly when the criticism comes from Christians. People should remove the plank in their own eye before looking at the speck in someone else's eye.

This article addresses the attacks on Islam regarding lying. Funnily enough, a number of the critics that accuse Islam of promoting deceitfulness are actually lying about it by not correctly explaining the conditions under which lying is considered acceptable.

Islam does have a rule, called taqiyya, which allows hiding one's Islamic faith if it means saving one's life. It appears in Sura 16, verse 106 and says:

Whoever disbelieves in Allah after his belief... except for one who is forced [to renounce his religion] while his heart is secure in faith. But those who [willingly] open their breasts to disbelief, upon them is wrath from Allah, and for them is a great punishment.

Taqiyya essentially means disimulation or feigning.

There is also the concept of kitman, which is lying by omission.

One could go into an entire expository just on taqiyya and kitman, but in essence, lying is only permitted in the following circumstances:
  • within marriage to keep the peace 
  • between tribes/nations to keep the peace 
  • to save one's life, so for instance saying they are not a believer - however, their heart has to still be towards Allah
In each occasion, it is in relation to keeping peace or saving lives. Not all Muslims agree with this and believe that those who use taqiyya are afraid of man when they should be afraid of Allah.

Taqiyya is not mandatory. It is not a requirement that needs to be fulfilled. In fact, the Koran condemns lying. For instance:

Sura 2:42 - And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know [it] Sura 78:35 - No ill speech will they hear therein (in heaven) or any falsehood

Sura 39:3 - Unquestionably, for Allah is the pure religion. And those who take protectors besides Him [say], "We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position." Indeed, Allah will judge between them concerning that over which they differ. Indeed, Allah does not guide he who is a liar and [confirmed] disbeliever.

However, let's look at whether Christians who accuse Muslims of lying may in fact need to look a little closer afield, say at their own bible.

Firstly, there are numerous scriptures in the bible that demand truth, such as:

Proverbs 12:17 - He who speaks truth declares righteousness, But a false witness, deceit.

Proberbs 12:19-20 - The truthful lip shall be established forever, But a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy

Proverbs 12:22 - Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.

In Proverbs 6:16 - 19 -  a lying tongue is one of the seven things listed as an abomination to God, as is bearing false witness and sowing discord amongst the brethren.

Yet, the bible contains a number of instances of where lying not only happened, but the liars were blessed by God.

In John 7:8-10, Jesus appears to lie by telling his disciples that he is not going to a feast. Once they leave, he does go to the feast in disguise. There are numerous Christian apologists who will explain this, but I'm not going to expound on context or justification because many of the people who accuse Islam of promoting lying do not give Muslims the opportunity to expound, explain or justify.

Numbers 23:19 states 'God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?'. Some versions translate 'repent' as 'change His mind', so why would Jesus (God incarnate) have said one thing to his disciples and done another?

Peter, the disciple upon whom the church is built, lied about knowing Christ in order to save his own life. In Islam this would be called taqiyya. In Mark 14:66-72, Peter denies knowing Christ three times to avoid being arrested and crucified. In verse 71 he even swears: 'Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know this man of whom you speak" '. The story is recounted in the other gospels as well: Luke 22:54-62, Matthew 26:69-75 and John 18:15-18.

Although the bible is emphatic on the fate that awaits liars, Peter was the rock on which the church was built. In fact, not just the rock but he would also be given the keys to heaven. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus says to Peter: 'And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed[d] in heaven'. Things may have turned out differently if Peter hadn't lied, yet God still saw fit to build His church on a man whose survival is directly related to lying about his relationship with Jesus.

Even Abraham, (the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam), lied to save his life and his wife in Genesis 12:11-13 in which he asked his wife Sarah to tell Pharaoh that she was his sister, not his wife. God plagued Pharaoh for taking a married woman, not Abraham for lying about it. In verse 18, Pharaoh says to Abraham, 'why did you not tell me that she was your wife?'

Abraham did exactly the same thing later on in Genesis 20 in which he told King Abimelech that Sarah was his sister. Abimelech learns that she is actually married to Abraham, at which point, Abraham reveals that he is telling half the truth because Sarah is his half-sister (the daughter of his father, but with a different mother). Again, he told the lie to save his own life (verse 11 - Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife.

Abraham's son, Isaac did exactly the same thing to King Abimelech that Abraham had done. Like father, like son. In Genesis 26:6-7 - So Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, “She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.”. 

Liars both, yet God blessed Abraham and Isaac.

How does Abraham and Isaac lying to save their own lives on multiple occasions, differ to taqiyya?

Isaac is later deceived by his wife Rebekah and his second son, Jacob.

In Genesis 27, Isaac is on his deathbed and asks his first son Esau to hunt some game for him and prepare savoury food from it. After this, Isaac was going to bless Esau with his inheritance as the first-born. Isaac had poor eye-sight, so Rebekah encouraged Jacob to deceive his father in order to receive the blessing that was about to be imparted on Esau. Jacob was concerned that if Abraham realised this, he would be cursed for the hoax. Rebekah then tells him to dress up as Esau. Jacob even lied about how God had helped him hunt the game so quickly (verse 20: But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” And he (Jacob) said, “Because the Lord your God brought it to me.”)

Isaac smelled a rat and asked Jacob a number of times if he was really Esau. He even felt him, but Jacob had used the skin of a goat to mimic Esau's hirsuteness. Isaac then blessed him and Esau lost his inheritance. Jacob went on to become a key figure in the bible. Esau not so much.

Isaac deceived Abraham into his inheritance.

In Joshua 2:3-6, Rahab the prostitute hides two spies from the King of Jericho. When he asks her about the location of the spies she lies: 'So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.” Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” 6 (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.)'

Some have likened Rahab's actions to those of people in World War 2 who lied to the Nazis in order to hide Jews from their genocidal actions. Again, how is this different to taqiyya? It is lying to save lives. Would Christians lie if Nazis came to the house looking for an innocent person to kill?

The apostle Paul claims that he became 'all things to all men'. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 - 'For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.'

Some Christians accuse Muslims of using taqiyya in order to win converts to Islam. Yet how are Paul's actions any different? Paul may not directly lie, but he takes on the persona of the people that he is with in order to win converts to Christ.

Not everyone gets away with lying in the bible. Ananias and Sapphira for example, lied about proceeds that they should have given to the Apostles to distribute. According to the verses in Acts 5:1-11, God struck down the couple for lying.

Both the Koran and the bible, at their core, condemn lying with the results that liars and hypocrites will face punishment.

Sura 24:7 - the curse of Allah be upon him if he should be among the liars.

Revelation 21:8 - '... all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death'.

For Islam, lying is haraam (forbidden) and is explained in detail at

To claim that Islam is a religion of lies, that it condones lying is in itself deceitful and a lie. For Christians, it is even hypocritical given the number of times that lying is at the core of critical events in the bible even though the bible also clearly states that lying is not allowed.

The church was founded on Peter, even though he lied about knowing Christ in order to save his life. Three religions are founded on Abraham who lied twice about his relationship with his wife in order to save his life.

Even today, many Christians believe in a lie that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of millions. The lie: Zionism. Zionism was founded on the lie of 'land without a people for people without a land'. Apart from the fact that millions have lived in Palestine for thousands of years so it was not a 'land without people'. Apart from the fact that the Europeans who stole the land had countries of their own that they already lived in (namely various European nations), so they were not a 'people without a land'. Zionist Christians idolise, almost worship, Israel. Zionism is a sub-cult of Christianity and it is a lie. Why would God send Jesus to save the Jews, crucify him, resurrect him ... if He is then going to re-establish a Christ-less Israel? Jesus was the fulfilment of prophecy, not 20th century Israel. But why let truth get in the way of imperialism.

As has been stated in our other studies, Christians, of all people, should not be criticising Islam. Some Christians will be offended by the contents of this article, yet will have no qualms about offending Muslims by accusing Islam and the Koran of condoning lying. This is hypocritical.

Instead of criticising Islam, Christians should take the plank out their own eye. Do as Jesus commanded: love your neighbour!


Other articles

This is one of a number of articles in the 'Remove the plank' series, regarding the hypocrisy of criticising Islam. Other articles include:

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