Taquiyya and War: comments of an imam under scrutiny

By : Dr. Stephen Gill

Taquiyya, meaning fear in Arabic, is an Islamic juridical term that relates to when a Muslim is permitted to lie. In most religions, such as Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Christianity and Sikhism, lies are forbidden. But Imam Abdollah Vakily, a Canadian of Iranian origin, holds a different view about lies in Islam. In my letter published in Standard Freeholder on August 30, I asked him to explain taquiyya, an Islamic juridical terms that relates to when a Muslim is allowed to lie. I asked him because I was hearing and reading often about taquiyya with my mixed feelings, because for me lies are against the nature of divinity. Imam was the most proper and nearest source to ask. He holds a respectable position in his community as a learned imam because of his education and also because he heads an Islamic international school in Canada and writes regularly on his religious beliefs in Standard Freeholder. It must be his long unbearable silence that prompted Ms. P.J. Leonard to explain taquiyya in her letter of September 24, 2016 in Standard Freeholder, connecting it with the Qur’an. To support her views, Ms. P.J. Leonard quoted Wikipedia. As a result of this letter, the Imam in his write-up on B4 of October 8, repudiated Wikipedia for misunderstanding taquiyya, and repudiated also another author of a letter in Standard Freeholder for distorting “a highly technical and nuanced issue …” Surprisingly, in spite of his repudiation, the Imam agrees with both the above authors when he admits that lies are permissible if Muslims are under persecution and treated unjustly. For the Imam taquiyya “occupies, at most, a secondary place in Islamic law.” He also disassociates taquiyya directly from his holy book. Ms.P.J. Leonard in her letter of September 24, 2016 in Standard Freeholder connects taquiyya with the Qur’an when she says: “Taqiyya is a long-standing form of Islamic deception, authorized by the Qur’an and by Sharia. It allows Muslims to lie about many things, including jihad, the portraying of Islam as a religion of peace and, above all, in order to advance the ideological and expansionary goals of Islam.” Mr. Voyteck Pomykalski in his letter of October 14, 2016 goes further, quoting from Islamic and secular sources when he says: “1. Britannica defines Taqiyya as the practice of concealing one’s belief and foregoing ordinary religious duties when under threat or injury to oneself or one’s fellow Muslims…. “2.Abu Ad-Darda, one of the Muhammad’s close companions, is reported to have said: “We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them. “3. Shih Bukhari-- one of the most reliable collections of records of Muhammad’s teachings and sayings advises lying is permitted to deceive the enemy (84:64-65), presumably if it is impossible to defeat him militarily.” Imam Vakily adds in his write-up that taquiyya is “a permission, not recommendation, to protect one’s life in the situation of persecution and injustice,” and “is limited only to the times of war, or when Muslims are persecuted…” When I analyse all these arguments I conclude that persecution and injustice are subjective as well. In other words, they refer also to personal feelings and opinions. For instance, jihad that is interpreted differently and also as spiritual warfare is a continuous process. In the light of the Imam’s definition, lies are always permissible to jihadist because jihad is a continuous process. Taquiyya can be used also to convert infidels. After conversion there is another law to terrorize apostates that prescribes the penalty of beheading. The imam talks of war, but war keeps changing its form. Centuries ago wars were fought with sticks and stones. In modern wars mothers and children are used as shields to bomb innocent population. I believe that the last war will be in the form of nuclear explosions that will last for a couple of hours, wiping out centuries-old civilization. After that the sun will appear for the republic of reptiles because no human will be around. War also wears the mask of the legal procedures, using loopholes in liberal democracies. Such exploitative battles are permissible under the roof of the explanation given by the imam. Today, several Muslim nations are at war with one another. His explanation gives them licence to practice taquiyya, particularly when the citizens of these nations are at war with the nations of infidels, including western democracies, India, Philippines and so on. If I try to interpret the letters by Ms. Leonard, Voyteck Poykalski, Ralph MacDonald and others, appeared in Standard Freeholder, the source of their fear is the possible lies by fake asylum seekers and those who find loopholes in liberal democracy of their host country to push their laws which are based on fear. The values of liberal democracy of the host country include individual liberty, freedom of belief, a separation of powers, the rule of law and equal protection of human rights. There have been attempts by newcomers to push in Canada the laws and cultural values which were used to persecute them in the land of their birth. It is enigma to me when they try to implement the same laws in the country of their refuge to poison also its calm. Someone may have a better answer to my enigma. I have invited the imam to suggest alternative ideology that is not “technical and nuanced” and is includable in the curriculum of his Islamic school in Canada if he has not included taquiyya as yet. Contrary to his convictions that taquiyya is “a highly technical and nuanced issue…” I believe that anything from Divinity is simple and easy to understand. Dr. Stephen Gill ©copyright Stephen Gill

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