What Does Islam Teach About...
Deception, Lying and Taqiyya
Does Islam permit Muslims to lie?
Muslim scholars teach that Muslims should generally be truthful to each
other, unless the purpose of lying is to "smooth over differences."
There are several forms of lying to non-believers that are permitted under
certain circumstances, the best known being taqiyya. These
circumstances are typically those that advance the cause of Islam - in some cases by gaining the trust of non-believers in order to draw out their
vulnerability and defeat them.
- Establishes that there are circumstances that can "compel" a Muslim to tell a
Quran (3:28) - This verse tells Muslims not to take those outside the faith as
friends, unless it is to "guard themselves" against danger, meaning that
there are times when a Muslim should appear friendly to non-Muslims,
they should not feel that way..
- "...Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters..."
The dissolution of oaths with the pagans who remained at Mecca following its
capture. They did nothing wrong, but were evicted anyway. (The next verse refers only to those who have a personal agreement with Muhammad as individuals -
see Ibn Kathir (vol 4, p 49)
- A man is introduced as a believer, but one who had to "hide his faith"
among those who are not believers.
- "Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but
for the intention in your hearts" The context of this remark is
marriage, which explains why Sharia allows spouses to lie to each other for the
- "And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and
Allah is the best of schemers." The Arabic word used here for scheme
(or plot) is makara, which literally means 'deceit'. If Allah is
supremely deceitful toward unbelievers, then there is little basis for denying that
Muslims are allowed to do the same. (See also
8:30 and 10:21)
Taken collectively these verses are interpreted to mean that there
are circumstances when a Muslim may be "compelled" to deceive others for a
Hadith and Sira
- "The Prophet said, 'War is deceit.'"
The context of this is thought to be the murder of Usayr ibn Zarim and his
thirty unarmed men by Muhammad's men after he "guaranteed" them safe passage
(see Additional Notes below).
- "He who makes peace between the people by
inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar."
Lying is permitted when the end justifies the means.
- Speaking from a position of power at the time, Ali
confirms that lying is permitted in order to deceive an "enemy."
- "...he did not hear that exemption was granted in
anything what the people speak as lie but in three cases: in battle, for
bringing reconciliation amongst persons and the narration of the words of the
husband to his wife, and the narration of the words of a wife to her husband (in
a twisted form in order to bring reconciliation between them)."
- Recounts the murder of a poet, Ka'b bin al-Ashraf, at
Muhammad's insistence. The men who volunteered for the assassination used
dishonesty to gain Ka'b's trust, pretending that they had turned against
Muhammad. This drew the victim out of his fortress, whereupon he was
From Islamic Law:
Reliance of the Traveler (p. 746 - 8.2) -
"Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable
through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through
lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such
an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if
attaining the goal is permissible (N:i.e. when the purpose of lying is to
circumvent someone who is preventing one from doing something permissible), and
obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory... it is religiously precautionary in all cases
to employ words that give a misleading impression...
"One should compare the bad consequences entailed by lying to those entailed by
telling the truth, and if the consequences of telling the truth are more
damaging, one is entitled to lie."
Muslims are allowed to lie to unbelievers in order to
defeat them. There are two forms:
- Saying something that isn't true as it relates to the Muslim identity.
- Lying by omission. An example
would be when Muslim apologists quote only a fragment of verse
(that if anyone kills "it shall be as if he had killed all mankind"
while neglecting to mention that the rest of the verse (and the next) mandate
murder in undefined cases of "corruption" and "mischief."
- Intentionally creating a false impression.
- 'Blending in' by setting aside some practices of Islam or Sharia in order to advance others.
Though not called Taqiyya
by name, Muhammad clearly
used deception when he signed a 10-year treaty with the Meccans that allowed him
access to their city while he secretly prepared his own forces for a takeover.
The unsuspecting residents were conquered in easy fashion after he broke the
treaty two years later. Some of the people in the city who had trusted him
at his word were executed.
Another example of lying is when Muhammad used deception to trick
his personal enemies into letting down their guard and exposing themselves to
slaughter by pretending to seek peace. This happened in the case of Ka'b
bin al-Ashraf (as previously noted) and again later against Usayr ibn Zarim, a
surviving leader of the Banu Nadir tribe, which had been evicted from their home
in Medina by the Muslims.
At the time, Usayr ibn Zarim was attempting to gather an
armed force against the Muslims from among a tribe allied with the Quraish
(against which Muhammad had already declared war). Muhammad's "emissaries"
went to ibn Zarim and persuaded him to leave his safe haven on the
pretext of meeting with the prophet of Islam in Medina to discuss peace.
Once vulnerable, the leader and his thirty companions were massacred by the
Muslims with ease, probably because they were unarmed, having
been given a guarantee of safe passage (Ibn Ishaq 981).
Such was the reputation of Muslims for lying and then
killing that even those who "accepted Islam" did not feel entirely safe.
Consider the fate of the Jadhima. When Muslim
"missionaries" approached their tribe, one of the members insisted that they
would be slaughtered even though they had already "converted" to Islam to avoid
just such a demise. However, the others believed they could
trust the Muslim leader's promise that they would not be harmed if they simply
offered no resistance. (After convincing the skeptic to lay down his arms,
the unarmed men of the tribe were quickly tied up and beheaded - Ibn Ishaq 834 &
Today's Muslims often try to justify Muhammad's murder of
poets and others who criticized him at Medina by falsely claiming that they broke a treaty
with their actions. Yet, these same apologists place little value on
treaties broken by Muslims. From Muhammad to Saddam Hussein, promises made
to non-Muslim are distinctly non-binding in the Muslim mindset.
Leaders in the Arab world sometimes say one thing to
English-speaking audiences and then say something entirely different to their own
people in Arabic. Yassir Arafat was famous for telling Western newspapers
about his desire for peace with Israel, then turning right around and whipping
Palestinians into a hateful and violent frenzy against Jews.
The 9/11 hijackers practiced deception by going into bars
and drinking alcohol, thus throwing off potential suspicion that they were
fundamentalists plotting jihad. This effort worked so well that John Walsh, the host of a popular American television
show, claimed well after the fact that their bar trips were evidence of 'hypocrisy.'
The transmission from Flight 93 records the hijackers
telling their doomed passengers that there is "a bomb on board" but that
everyone will "be safe" as long as "their demands are met." Obviously none
of these things were true, but these men, who were so intensely devoted to Islam
that they were willing to "slay and be slain for the cause of Allah"
Quran puts it) saw nothing wrong with employing Taqiyya
facilitate their mission of mass murder.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) insists that it
"has not now or ever been involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, or supported
any covert, illegal, or terrorist activity or organization."
it was created by the Muslim Brotherhood and has bankrolled Hamas. At
least nine founders or board members of ISNA have been accused by prosecutors of
The notorious Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
is so well known for shamelessly lying about its ties to terror and extremism
that books have been written on the subject.
Prior to engineering several deadly terror plots, such as
the Fort Hood massacre and the attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner,
American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was regularly sought out by NPR, PBS and even
government leaders to expound on the peaceful nature of Islam.
The Quran says in several places that Allah is the
best at deceiving people. An interesting side note is verse
7:99, which says that the only people who feel secure from Allah are
those destined for Hell. Taken literally, this
could mean that Muslims who arrogantly assume that they will enter
heaven are in for a rude surprise (such are the hazards of worshipping
an all-powerful deceiver).
The near absence of Quranic verses and reliable Hadith that
encourage truthfulness is somewhat surprising, given that many Muslims are
convinced that their religion teaches honesty. In fact, many Muslims are
honest because of this. But when lying is
addressed in the Quran, it is nearly always in reference to the "lies against
- referring to the Jews and Christians who rejected Muhammad's claim to
being a prophet.