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It's much easier to act as if critics of Islam have a problem with Muslims as people than it is to accept the uncomfortable truth that Islam is different


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What can we learn about
Islam from this woman?

"Discover the Truth's" Game

Taqiyya (Lying)

From Discover the Truth:

Oft-repeated claims by critics spout that Islam allows lying in ‘all circumstances’... These claims are false.
(January 24, 2015, May 9, 2015, January 24, 2015)

What the Apologists Want You to Believe

Since there are obvious contradictions in their two articles on taqiyya, DTT's argument is confusing.  They contend, for example, that only "crazy, deluded Islamophobes" would say that Muslims are allowed to lie at all... but then go on to provide a list of conditions under which Muslims can lie. 

It appears that DTT primarily takes issue with the idea that Muslims are allowed to lie about Islam to non-Muslims: "When we examine all these Quranic verses and Hadiths, in none of them is there any mention that one is allowed to lie to non-Muslims."   

What They Offer as Proof

Several Quran verses are provided as apparent "proof" that willful deceit has no place in Islam:
  • "Truth has appeared and falsehood has vanished: surely falsehood is a thing to be vanished" (Quran 17:81)

  • "Allah does not guide the snare of the deceitful." (12:52)

  • "Stand fast to truth and justice for Allah’s sake, though it may be against yourselves or your parents or your near relatives." (4:135)

  • "O you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah and be with the truthful" (9:119)

  • "And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know [it]" (2:42)

  • "That Allah may reward the true men for their truth, and punish the hypocrites if He will, or relent toward them." (33:24)

  • "O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth" (33:70)

What They Leave Out and Why They are Wrong

Discover the Truth severely undermines the integrity of their argument that lying is "against Islam" by admitting that it is permitted in some circumstances.  With that in mind, we would not expect to find a Quran verse that tells Muslims never to lie.  In fact, when we look at the textual context of the verses offered by DTT, we find that each is not what it appears:
  • Verse 17:81 is speaking of Islam and polytheism.  It doesn't say that "falsehood is a thing to be banished," but rather "the falsehood is bound to perish" - meaning that Islam will triumph.

  • Verse 12:52 is from the Biblical story of Joseph.  It actually says that "Allah does not guide the plan of the betrayers," so it is speaking of something more complicated than lying - and it is not even referring to Muslims.

  • Verse 2:42 does say not to "mix truth with falsehood," but it is clear from the context that it is speaking of religion and how Islam and its practices must remain unadulterated by other beliefs. 

  • Verse 33:24 speaks of rewarding men for their "truth", but the verse prior provides the context.  It does not define "truth" as "not lying," but as 'remaining true to the covenant with Allah'.  (Ironically, the passage defines "truth" in this case as fighting and dying for jihad).

  • Verse 9:119 actually says to "be with those who are true," but it is speaking directly of those who are true to Islam.  It is telling Muslims to associate with other Muslims rather than those outside the faith.  This is also the gist of verse 4:135.
This leaves 33:70 as the last, best candidate for a "thou shalt not lie" pronouncement from the Quran.  So, how can it say to "speak (always) the truth" if there are exceptions?  In fact, it does not say this.  The verse uses the word sadidan, which actually means to speak directly or appropriately.  It is the same word used in verse 4:9.  This makes sense if Islam teaches that it is appropriate to lie in some circumstances.

So, if lying is "permissible," as Discover the Truth admits, then it becomes a sort of grey area with regard to circumstances - and even DTT's own credibility.  After all, how confident are you in the veracity of the party that says, "I am allowed to lie to you, but I am not lying right now... I swear"

Although DTT says that lying is allowed in order to "make peace" and "gain the upper hand against the enemy," they insist that Muslims cannot lie to unbelievers to advance the cause of Islam. 

There are several contradictions within their articles.  For example, in one place, they raise the standard of "extreme necessity"; in another, they say it's OK to lie to your wife about her 'fading beauty'.  With this in mind, we should probably rely more on what the Hadith says. 

Here is a verse that they quote:
Falsehood is unlawful except in three (matters): falsehood of a man to his wife to please here, falsehood in war, falsehood in restoring peace among men.’ – (Tirmidhi)
Here's a more reliable (and more candid) hadith that they leave out:
 "He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar." Sahih Bukhari (49:857)
This is very important.  If saying things which are false is "not lying" if one is "inventing good information" for the cause of "peace" then the very definition of a lie is not necessarily the same in Islam as it is for the rest of us.

"Inventing good information" for the cause of "peace" can apply to a variety of situations.  What we don't have is a verse saying that it can never apply to Islam - and, remember, Islam means "peace", according to some apologists (although that is another example of deception).  In fact, these sorts of white lies are quite common in the religion.

Some Islamic scholars openly sanction the use of weak hadith (fabricated or dubious sayings of Muhammad) to inspire virtuous deeds.  Muslim apologists are also in the habit of quoting such verses to non-Muslims to project a certain moral image of Islam - while omitting far more reliable verses that denote practices and beliefs which are undermining.  This is deception, regardless of whether it is officially called 'taqiyya.'

As an example, Muslim apologists often tell the story of a woman who threw garbage at Muhammad and was later forgiven... without mentioning that this is a fabrication which never appears in Islamic texts.  This is a lie that advances the cause of Islam by giving non-Muslims the impression that Muhammad was forgiving.  (In reality, the woman who verbally abused Muhammad was murdered). 

In their own article, DTT says that lying is also allowed "in war, to gain the upper hand against the enemy."  And, who is the enemy?  Although apologists claim that it is only those who are marching in battle against Muslims, the Quran does not always agree.

Verse 2:98 defines the enemy as "unbelievers," as does 4:101 and others.  This means anyone who is not Muslim.  In the Hadith, Muhammad proclaims that he has been called to " fight against people until they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer and pay zakat" (Sahih Muslim 1:33).  Again, the only qualification to being an 'enemy' is a lack of belief in the true religion.

So, regardless of how literally Muslims choose to take the command to fight, there is no getting around the fact that the 'enemy' are those who do not submit to Islam.  Would anyone seriously suggest that non-Muslims can be fought and killed over their lack of faith, but not lied to?  If Islam can be advanced by the sword, why not the deceitful tongue?  Isn't religion a more important cause than how one's spouse thinks about 'fading' looks?

Of course, no society works too well when lying is an acceptable practice, which is why Muslims are generally instructed to be truthful with each other (except in the aforementioned cases).  One trick Discover the Truth plays throughout their writing is to present these admonitions as if they are open-ended and equally applicable to the treatment of non-Muslims.  In truth, there is not a single verse in the Quran or Sahih Hadith that specifically tells Muslims to be truthful to non-Muslims.

This is critical because the Quran plainly instructs a different set of ethical standards for dealing with unbelievers.  Verses 48:28-29 says that Islam is intended to be "superior" over other religions and that Muslims are to be "severe" to those outside the faith, but "merciful" to one another.  Muhammad himself employed deception to gain a position of power over unsuspecting non-Muslims, many of whom paid for their trust in his word with their lives.

It should be mentioned that even though Islam does not prohibit a Muslim from lying to an unbeliever under certain conditions, one shouldn't draw conclusions.  Just because Muslims can lie (about certain things), doesn't mean they are lying (about anything).  Simply being Muslim does not make one a conniving weasel who can't trusted. 

There is also a difference between a deliberate lie and a sincere mistake.  Benefit of the doubt is usually the best rule of thumb - until there is good reason to believe otherwise.

[Note: In their first article, DTT sets the bar for "deception" rather low by referencing a Biblical passage in which the Apostle Paul mentions that he observes rabbinical law when he is with practicing Jews, so as not to offend them.  This is really no different than a Western dignitary donning an hijab to visit a mosque, to which DTT would probably have no objection.]

Further Reading

See our article on Taqiyya for a list of Quran verses, Hadith and episodes from Muhammad's life that are often used to justify deception.  Also Myth: Muhammad Rejected Dishonesty.

Discover the Truth Propaganda Index

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