Taqiyyah or Dissimulation or Deception

March 18, 2006 at 12:18 pm (Uncategorized)

Today, We shall discuss taqiyyah. taqiyyah is primarily (although not exclusively) a Shiite practice. It means “dissimulation.” (According to Merriam-Webster Online, “dissimulation” comes from “dissemble,” which means, “to hide under a false appearance” or “to put on a false appearance: conceal facts, intentions, or feelings under some pretense.”) This means that Shiites can pretend to not be Shiites. But the uses of taqiyyah are more than for this and has serious implications for relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, particularly with Islamists, as shall be seen soon.

From the website of Grand Ayatollah as-Sayyid Ali al-Husseini as-Sistani (aayatu-llaah al-‘uZmaa as-sayyid ‘alee al-Hussaynee as-seestaanee) is this page which discusses taqiyyah.

Question : What are the kinds of Taqiyah (dissimulation) and when is it obligatory?

Answer : There are different types of Taqiyah:
1) Taqiyah is done for safety reasons. For example, a person fears that he might be killed or harmed, if he does not observe Taqiyah. In this case, it is obligatory to observe Taqiyah.
2) Reconciliatory Taqiyah. This type of Taqiyah is done when a person intends to reconcile with the other side or when he intends to soften their hearts. This kind of Taqiyah is permissible but not obligatory.
3) Sometimes, Taqiyah may cause a more important obligation to be lost or missed, if so it is forbidden. For example, when I know that silence would cause oppression and infidelity to spread and will make people go astray, in such a situation it is not permissible to be silent and to dissimulate.
4) Sometimes, Taqiyah may lead to the death of an innocent person. If so, it is not permissible. It is therefore haram (forbidden) to kill another person to save your own life.

In other words, taqiyyah is permitted to:
1. Save oneself (mandatory)
2. Softening hearts (permissible, not mandatory)
3. To escape an obligation such as speaking out against oppression or infidelity (forbidden)
4. To preserve one’s life if it means someone else may die (forbidden)

The first type is quite understandable. Imagine a Shiite family living in a Sunni area which is known to kill, attack, or persecute against Shiites. They can pretend to be Sunnis to escape harm, death, or even inconvenience. Shiites do have to make a conscious decision to pretend to be Sunnis because telling a Shiite and a Sunni apart is quite easy. One way is to observe one at prayer.

a. Shiites use a clay tablet on which they place their forehead when they prostrate. This is often called a turbah; many are made from dirt from Karbala, but any dirt or clay can be used. Sunnis use no such thing.

b. Shiites do not say “ameen” after reciting soorat al-faatiHah (which is done in the first two units of prayer (according to Shiites) or all units (according to Sunnis), which Sunnis do. Shiites believe that saying “ameen” invalidates the prayer while some Sunnis believe that not saying “ameen” invalidates the prayer. Of course, if a Shiite is in congregational prayer and does not say “ameen,” no one would notice.

c. Some Shiites raise their hands to their ears every time they do takbeer (“takbeer” means “to say ‘allaahu akbar'”). Sunnis do this only at the first takbeer just before the prayer per se starts. (This initial takbeer is called takbeer al-iHraam (Arabic) or takbeer-e iHraam (Persian, Urdu).)

d. While standing during prayers, Shiites will have their arms hanging down by their sides. Sunnis (except for those who follow the Maaliki madhhab) fold their arms over their abdomen, right hand over the left hand. Shiites believe that folding the arms invalidates the prayer, while Sunnis believe that leaving the arms hang down invalidates the prayer.

e. At the end of the prayer, Sunnis will turn to the right and to the left, saying in each direction “as-salaamu ‘alayka wa raHmatu-llaah” (“may peace and God’s mercy be upon you”). Shiites do not do this. Instead, they look forward and recite something longer (“as-salaamu ‘alaika yaa ayyuha an-nabiyyu wa raHmatu-llaahi wa barakaatuhu. as-salaamu ‘alaynaa wa ‘ala ‘ibaadi-llaahi-S-SaaliHeen. as-salaamu ‘alaykum wa raHmatu-llaahi wa barakaatuhu.” “O Prophet, peace and God’s mercy be upon you. Peace and God’s mercy be upon us and upon the faithful worshipers of God. Peace and God’s mercy be upon you.”)

f1. In the adhaan (call to prayer), Sunnis say “ash-hadu anna laa ilaaha illaa-llaah” (“I testify that there is no deity except God”) and “ash-hadu anna muHammada(n)-rasooli-llaah” (“I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God”) (each said twice), which Shiites also do but they may follow this with a third attestation, “ash-hadu anna ‘aliyyun waliyu-llaah” (“I testify that Ali is the friend of God”) or something along these lines.

f2. Also in the adhaan, Sunnis will say “Hayya ‘ala-S-Salaah” (“come to prayer”) and “Hayya ‘ala-l-falaaH” (“come to success”) (each recited twice). Shiites will add a third statement: “Hayya ‘ala khayr al-‘amal” (“come to good deeds”).

g. In each even-number unit of prayer, Shiites will pray what they call qunoot. They will place their palms up before their faces while reciting a privately-selected short Arabic prayer (usually taken from the Qur’an). This is after reciting whatever he/she recites while standing but before bowing down into rukoo’. Sunnis do not do this.

Sunnis and Shiites do watch others in prayer and will correct what they see as incorrect. One cannot blame them; for some, every intricate rule is crucial: violating a rule or deviating from one of them would invalidate the prayer. Correcting someone is about saving his/her soul. If one’s prayers are invalid, they are unaccepted and it is as if he/she did not pray, and so he/she will go to Hell. Or so it is said.

The second category of taqiyyah is quite bothersome. What as-Sistani is saying is that if by deception one can be reconciled to another, taqiyyah is acceptable. He also says that if by deception one can soften hearts (by saying, as an entirely hypothetical example, that Islam does not permit offensive jihad, or that Islam is a religion of peace, or that Islam eschews violence), taqiyyah is acceptable.

If this point is true, how can one distinguish between falsehood and truth in what the world is being told about Islam? If deception is acceptable in Islam, what does this say about the integrity of Muslims? What does it say about the role of truthfulness in Islam? Surely no Muslim will argue that softening the hearts of non-Muslims towards Islam could be wrong. Such might even be considered to be a laudable endeavor!

This certainly explains the tendency of Muslims and Muslim states to lie to the West. They claim they’re peace-loving. Not so. They claim they are motivated by justice for Palestinians. Not so. They claim they are rational and rooted in reality. Not so. (Rather than rational and rooted in reality, they are rather ridiculous.) They claim to stand up for human rights. Not so. They claim they do not persecute or prosecute religious minorities. Not so. The list goes on and on and on and on.

Another weapon in Islam’s arsenal: deception. Caveat lector/auditor.



  1. Iblis said,

    Given what’s happening to the Christian in Afghanistan, do you think that perhaps Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, the American Ambassador to Iraq and former Ambassador to Afghanistan who helped to draft the afghani constitution engaged in Taqiyyah when he assured us that the Afghani constitution would respect minority religious rights?

  2. Oyster said,

    The practice of taqiyyah, which is commonly practiced even by many Muslim’s own admission, is rapidly becoming known to many yet, all too often what they say is still interpreted as truth even when their contrary actions are displayed for all to see.

    Iblis’ example is an excellent one. Another is the Yale student Sayeed Rahmatullah Hashemi. Since he displays little or no remorse for his apologetics during his tenure as Taliban spokesman, how can one believe he is sincere when he claims to believe now in women’s rights?

  3. ScoozMee said,

    A very good explanation of taqiyya.
    Thank you. I shall no doubt be quoting you and linking to your blog.
    I hope that you enjoy the anti-islamic humour at http://www.scoozmee.com


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