Monday, April 30, 2007


Understanding Taqiyya ― Islamic Principle of Lying for the Sake of Allah by Warner MacKenzie
30 April, 2007

Lying and cheating in the Arab world is not really a moral matter but a method of safeguarding honor and status, avoiding shame, and at all times exploiting possibilities, for those with the wits for it, deftly and expeditiously to convert shame into honor on their own account and vice versa for their opponents. If honor so demands, lies and cheating may become absolute imperatives.” [David Pryce-Jones, “The Closed Circle” An interpretation of the Arabs, p4]

“No dishonor attaches to such primary transactions as selling short weight, deceiving anyone about quality, quantity or kind of goods, cheating at gambling, and bearing false witness. The doer of these things is merely quicker off the mark than the next fellow; owing him nothing, he is not to be blamed for taking what he can.” [David Pryce-Jones, “The Closed Circle”, p38]

The word "Taqiyya" literally means: "Concealing, precaution, guarding.” It is employed in disguising one's beliefs, intentions, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions or strategies. In practical terms it is manifested as dissimulation, lying, deceiving, vexing and confounding with the intention of deflecting attention, foiling or pre-emptive blocking. It is currently employed in fending off and neutralising any criticism of Islam or Muslims.

Falsehoods told to prevent the denigration of Islam, to protect oneself, or to promote the cause of Islam are sanctioned in the Qur'an and Sunna, including lying under oath in testimony before a court, deceiving by making distorted statements to the media such as the claim that Islam is a “religion of peace”. A Muslim is even permitted to deny or denounce his faith if, in so doing, he protects or furthers the interests of Islam, so long as he remains faithful to Islam in his heart. (See endnotes)

Like many Islamic practices, taqiyya was formed within the context of the culture of Arab tribalism, expansionary warfare, Bedouin raiding and inter-tribal conflict. Taqiyya has been used by Muslims since the 7th century to confuse, confound and divide 'the enemy’.
A favoured tactic was ‘deceptive triangulation’; used to persuade the enemy that preparations for a raid were not aimed at them but at another tribe altogether. The fate in store for the deceived enemy target was an unexpected plunderous raid, enslavement of the women and death to the post-pubescent males.

The core foundation of hyper-masculine Arab culture is bound up in perceptions of "honour and shame". At all times, he (it's usually a male) must avoid having his face "blackened" by words or actions which are a slight upon, a challenge or affront to, his status in the family or broader social / tribal group. To be open, frank and forthright or to make self-damning admissions in his dealings (particularly with the infidel enemy) is to leave himself open and vulnerable to humiliating shame and to the subsequent disrespect from his peers. Tongues will wag in the bazaar’s coffee shops and rumours will rapidly spread that so-and-so has lost his "manliness" and status. In short, he is no longer worthy of deferential respect; to an Arab, this is worse than death itself.

The higher one is placed in the social order (or rather, on how important the individual perceives himself to be), the more imperative it becomes to strenuously avoid “loss of face”. The male's perceived loss of honour and status, must be redressed and his face "whitened", i.e. his honour regained and restored, at any cost; even to the extent of (as in the honour killing of daughters) murdering the person “responsible” for causing the initial humiliation. When taqiyya is used to avoid making an admission or concession it is simply an essential means of ensuring that ones honour and standing remain intact and untarnished. Blood feuds and vendettas, caused by an ancient humiliation of a long dead ancestor, can persist, fuelled and propelled by shame and honour, for generations. Muhammad, who is promoted as every Muslim’s exemplar, set the precedent for vengeful retaliation when he ordered the murder of those who mocked or satirised him and, as he was an Arab, caused him potential loss of face.


Pertinent Links:

1) Understanding Taqiyya ― Islamic Principle of Lying for the Sake of Allah

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