About two years ago, I was having a healthy conversation with a Muslim through the Facebook email. He was convincing me with a lot of things mentioning very good things about Islam and was fluently defending Islam from the questions I was asking him.
We dived into different topics, from the validity of the bible he questioned, the validity of the Quran I questioned in return, the truth about Christ’s crucifixion over another person he believed took Jesus’ place to be crucified, the validity of Muhammad as a prophet of which I also questioned, and ended with a dialogue about Islam as a “religion of peace”.
The conversation was a lot and a bit long, but it was a very healthy and friendly conversation that both of us were very comfortable and enjoying every moment of it. However, the conversation abruptly stopped in the end when I told him, “I could’ve believed everything you have just told me if only Al-Taqiyya never existed as part of your tradition.” He never communicated back again.
What is Al Taqiyya by the way?
From the website to which Abdul Hamid Siddiqui posted an explanation regarding Al-Taqiyya, he clearly gave a definition that I believe all Muslims believe though in the same website, it shows that some Sunni Muslims disagree with Al-Taqiyya despite the fact that it is a Muslim tradition.
I quote the quote of Abdul Hamid Siddiqui in the website to which I have read. It says:
“al-Taqiyya” literally means: “Concealing or disguising one’s beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of eminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury.” A one-word translation would be“Dissimulation.” (emphasis my own)
The above definition must be elaborated upon before any undertaking of this topic is to ensue. Although correct, the definition suffers from an apparent generalization, and lacks some fundamental details that should be construed:
First, the CONCEALMENT of one’s beliefs does NOT necessitate an ABANDONMENT of these beliefs. The distinction between “concealment” and “abandonment” MUST be noted here.
Second, there are numerous exceptions to the above definition, and they MUST be judged according to the situation that one is placed in. As such, one should NOT make a narrow-minded generalization that encompasses all situations, thereby failing to fully absorb the spirit of the definition.
Third, the word “beliefs” and/or “convictions” does NOT necessarily mean “religious” beliefs and/or convictions.
With the above in mind, it becomes evident that a better, and more accurate definition of “al-Taqiyya” is “diplomacy.” The true spirit of “al-Taqiyya” is better embodied in the single word “diplomacy” because it encompasses a comprehensive spectrum of behaviors that serve to further the vested interests of all parties involved.
In the same website, it further clarifies that Al-Taqiyya is lying only by mouth but not from the heart for some reason whatever that may be for the sake of Islam or for saving one’s self physically or mentally. Let me come to a point of agreeing that Al-Taqiyya indeed is a way of concealing truth to protect one’s self from eminent danger and or even to protect the name of Islam and that such concealing is not an abandonment of the said principles and philosophies one stand for. Apart from “Al-Taqiyya”, there is also “Kitman” which is according to many Islamic scholars is a lawful “half-truth”. The question I wish to ask is when do we say that Al-Taqiyya and/or even Kitman are not applicable? Let me however focus on Al-Taqiyya. What is the boundary line of not practicing Al-Taqiyya at all since it can be abused for many reasons?
I tend to agree that Christians also have a point in time that they need to conceal the truth, and that is only when one is to save a life of someone else in danger, a confession, and for private matters. Apart from that, to deny faith by mouth is not even thinkable. This is why we have a lot of Christian martyrs because they can never deny their faith in any way until death and persecution. Our Catechism actually teaches us that “no one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.” (CCC 2489)
According to the same website upon which this scholarly Muslim further explains Al Taqiyya, it further explains that Al-Taqiyya is being applied to save a marriage of a husband and wife, going to the extent of twisting information so that the marriage won’t go berserk. It is also done in matters of solving some serious cases within the Islamic communities when all else fails.
Most of all, Al-Taqiyya is widely used to defend Islam, or an Islamic community, or a Muslim person from Non-Muslims they call Kaffir no matter what it may be since kaffirs are believed as non-believers of Allah. Kaffirs may be atheists, pagans, Jews, and Christians despite the fact that their Quran justifies that Jews and Christians believe in the same God as they do.
There was one situation when Christians and Muslims in one barangay almost became uncontrollable because there was one Muslim who threw a small stone on some drunken non-practicing Christians in the street. These Christians started to fight back when a Christian barangay official (let us call him Peter), at that time saw what was happening and tried to stop the commotion and was even the one who requested that police should come to control the situation. That night and the next day, the story became twisted. They accused Peter of making the brawl, even worst, they testified that Peter was even the one who instigated the fight. The funny thing is that it was their imam who was accusing and writing such complaints when he was never even there to witness the whole thing. Peter was then being searched by the police and he has to hide somewhere to avoid being put in jail for some false accusation. In the end though, there was no evidence at all to point that Peter did make the fighting worst. The bad thing is that the drunken Christians were even the ones who apologized because they were afraid of what these Muslims would do to them. Peter quit his official barangay position after that.
Another instance was during the Barangay elections. The leader of the Mosque wanted to run for Barangay Captain in an area dominated by Christians. To be able to win the elections, he got Muslims from another region in the country and transported them overnight so that they can become his flying voters. The local media kept silent, COMELEC kept quiet despite the tension during the election proper, and he did become the Barangay Captain denying that he brought folks from another region to let him win even if it was too obvious and yet he speaks of peace among the Christians in the area.
Both stories above really happened. With those stories, was the Al-Taqiyya applied? Both stories showed ultimate lying all throughout but they got away with it and they do threat by crowding even over a simple disagreement with a Non-Muslim.
What about the negotiations happening now between the Philippine government and the Bangsamoro? The Philippine government is being run by politicians seen by Muslims as kaffirs. Is the Philippine Government aware of Al-Taqqiya? Is the government aware that this might be applied in favour of Islam and a losing side for those they consider kaffirs?
If only such a Muslim tradition never existed, we may be able to live with them with utmost peace, side by side as how we have been with other religions. This is something that most of us Christians need to be aware of since we are vulnerable to such deceit because of our central belief on love.
Jesus has always taught us in Matthew 15:18 that “the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man.” As Christians, such a justification to falsify information through the mouth does not come from the heart doesn’t really makes sense. No matter how one Muslim brother or sister explains that Al-Taqiyya isn’t lying, in the end, how they have defined it in the first place is in the same way lying has always been defined.
Remember the emphasis I did on the word “dissimulation”. This is what our Catechism actually teaches us in paragraph 2468. It says that “ Truth as uprightness in human action and speech is called truthfulness, sincerity, candor. Truth or trythfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true deed and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity, dissimulation (emphasis is mine), and hypocrisy.”
As Christians, we must know how to be cautious with our Muslim brothers and sisters who explain to us. They know that a faithful Christian remains honest and loving in any way and they use this as our weakness to incorporate what only favors their side because we are somehow considered kaffirs to them. Let us always remain respectful and caring to them but be respectful and caring with full and utmost caution.
God bless His Church!
Main Reference: http://www.al-islam.org/encyclopedia/chapter6b/1.html
Other References use to only seek consistency: