TheReligionofPeace.com
Guide to Understanding Islam

 

 

What does the
Religion of Peace
Teach About…

Lying (Taqiyya and Kitman)

 
 

Question
:
Are Muslims permitted to lie?
 

Summary Answer
:
Muslim scholars teach that Muslims should be truthful to each other. 

There are two forms of lying to non-believers that are permitted under certain circumstances, taqiyya and kitman.  One of those circumstances is to gain the trust of non-believers in order to draw out their vulnerability and defeat them.
 


The Qur’an:
Sura (16:106) – Establishes that there are circumstances that can “compel” a Muslim to tell a lie.

Sura (3:28) – This verse tells Muslims not to take those outside the faith as friends, unless it is to “guard themselves.” 

Sura (40:28) – A man is introduced as a believer, but one who must “hide his faith” among those who are not believers.

Sura (2:225)“Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts”

Sura (66:2)“Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths”

Taken collectively these verses are interpreted to mean that there are circumstances when a Muslim may be “compelled” to deceive others for a greater purpose.
 


From the Hadith:

 

Bukhari (52:269)“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).

 

Bukhari (49:857)“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.

 

Bukhari (84:64-65) – Speaking from a position of power at the time, Ali confirms that lying is permissible in order to deceive an “enemy.”

 

Bukhari (52:271) – 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 brutally slaughtered despite putting up a ferocious struggle for his life.

 

From Islamic Law:

 

Reliance of the Traveler (p. 746) “[it is] obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory… Whether the purpose is war, settling a disagreement, or gaining the sympathy of a victim legally entitled to retaliate… it is not unlawful to lie when any of these aims can only be attained through lying.  But is is religiously precautionary in all cases to employ words that give a misleading impression…”

 

 


Additional Notes:
 

Muslims are allowed to lie to unbelievers in order to defeat them.  The two forms are:

 

Taqiyya – Saying something that isn’t true.

 

Kitman – Lying by omission.  An example would be when Muslim apologists quote only a fragment of verse 5:32 (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.” 

 

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, and some of the people in the city who had trusted him at his word were executed.  (See Sura (9:3) – (“…Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters…”)

 

Another example is when Muhammad tricked the leader of an opposing tribe with whom he was not at war to leave his town on the pretext of meeting with him at Medina.  Usayr ibn Zarim traveled with thirty men who were unarmed because of Muhammad’s guarantee of safety.  They were easily massacred by the prophet’s Muslim assassins.

 

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, in fact, that even weeks after 9/11, John Walsh, the host of a popular American television show, said that their bar trips were evidence of ‘hypocrisy.’

 

The transmission from Flight 93 records the hijackers telling their doomed passengers that there is “a 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” (as the Qur’an puts it) saw nothing wrong with employing Taqiyya in order to facilitate their mission of mass murder.

 

The near absence of Qur’anic verse and reliable Hadith that encourage truthfulness is somewhat surprising, given that many Muslims are convinced that their religion teaches honesty.  In fact, it is because of this ingrained belief that most Muslims are quite honest.

 

Finally, the circumstances by which Muhammad allowed a believer to lie are limited to those that either advance the cause of Islam or enable a Muslim to avoid harm to his well-being (and presumably that of other Muslims as well).  Although this should be kept very much in mind when dealing with matters of global security, such as Iran’s nuclear intentions, it is not grounds for assuming that the Muslim one might personally encounter on the street or in the workplace is any less honest than anyone else.
 

 

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