A Very Brief Primer on Islamic Taqiyya (Takiya)—General Features, Not Exclusive to Shiite Islam

(To understand the concept “musically,” think of the refrain from the song “Tradition,” in the musical  “Fiddler on the Roof, ” substitute “Taqiyya” for the word “Tradition,” and sing to yourself—or others, to help them understand, too!.)

The great Sunni historian and Koranic commentator Al-Tabari (d. 923), author of one of the earliest and most important Koranic commentaries, explains Koranic verse 3:28, which sanctions “taqiyya,” Islamic religious dissimulation, as follows (translation by Raymond Ibrahim):

If you [Muslims] are under their [non-Muslims’] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them with your tongue while harboring inner animosity for them … [know that] God has forbidden believers from being friendly or on intimate terms with the infidels rather than other believers-except when infidels are above them [in authority]. Should that be the case, let them act friendly towards them while preserving their religion.

Tabari also wrote the following exegesis on Koran 16:106 (the verse states, “Whoso disbelieves in God, after he has believed — excepting him who has been compelled, and his heart is still at rest in his belief — but whosoever’s breast is expanded in unbelief, upon them shall rest anger from God, and there awaits them a mighty chastisement”)

If anyone is compelled and professes unbelief with his tongue, while his heart contradicts him, to escape his enemies, no blame falls on him because Allah takes his servants as their hearts believe

The authoritative Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam states quite plainly (for all but the most blinkered to understand):

Muhammad himself avoided the Passion motive in religion: in dogmatics by docetism  (i.e., an early heretical belief in Christianity that Christ only seemed to have a human body and to suffer and die on the cross; Koran 4:157), in his own life by the Hijra (emigration to Medina) and further by allowing in case of need the denial of the faith (Koran 16:106), friendship with unbelievers (Koran 3:28), and the eating of forbidden foods Koran 6:119; Koran 5:3). This point of view is general in Islam

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism ” (Prometheus, November, 2008)

You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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