2007-04-17 11:57:15 UTC
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
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
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 (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
From Islamic Law:
Reliance of the Traveler (p. 746) - "Lying is permissible when there
is a legitimate desired end. And the legitimate desired end may be a
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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