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Taqiyya, or "dissimulation", is a controversial concept within the Islamic faith that allows Muslims to lie for the purposes of advancing Islam.
Most often, this lying is to conceal their faith if they are living in a culture where openly practicing would threaten their or their family's life. This practice is more common to Shia Islam than Sunni Islam largely due to the historical and recent persecution of the Shi'ites (at the hands of the Sunnis).
However, lying for other purposes, so long as Allah is the ultimate goal, is also just fine.
"Allah will not take you to task for that which is unintentional in your oaths. But He will take you to task for that which your hearts have garnered. Allah is Forgiving, Clement," (Qur'an 2:225).
Allah cares only about good intent, not good oaths. This may allow lying, as converting people to Islam is a good intent, regardless of a bad oath of lies.
"Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking (as it were) security. Allah biddeth you beware (only) of Himself. Unto Allah is the journeying," (Qur'an 3:28).
Allah permits pretending to be friends with nonbelievers in case of insecurity.
"And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers," (Qur'an 3:54).
"And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve," (Qur'an 9:3).
Allah originally promised to let pagans to stay at Mecca after Muhammad captured it. He went back on his oath. Goddidit, so it's probably fine.
"Whoso disbelieveth in Allah after his belief - save him who is forced thereto and whose heart is still content with the Faith - but whoso findeth ease in disbelief: On them is wrath from Allah. Theirs will be an awful doom," (Qur'an 16:106).
If a Muslim is under compulsion, they can deny their faith as long as they remain Muslim secretly.
"And a believing man of Pharaoh's family, who hid his faith, said: Would ye kill a man because he saith: My Lord is Allah, and hath brought you clear proofs from your Lord? If he is lying, then his lie is upon him; and if he is truthful, then some of that wherewith he threateneth you will strike you. Lo! Allah guideth not one who is a prodigal, a liar," (Qur'an 40:28).
A believer is introduced as an unbeliever, to help convey his message.
"Allah hath made lawful for you (Muslims) absolution from your oaths (of such a kind), and Allah is your Protector. He is the Knower, the Wise," (Qur'an 66:2).
Allah explicitly made some oathbreaking acceptable; however, he doesn't give any details.
Muhammad authorized lying to improve the chances of successful assassinations, for example in the case of Shaaban Ibn Khalid al-Hazly and Bin Kaab.
In the following Hadith, Muhammad said that it's permissible to lie to an enemy without specifying any conditions. Note that the concept of lying to conceal one's faith if the person's life is in danger as mentioned above also exists.
Muhammad said: "Lying is wrong, except in three things: the lie of a man to his wife to make her content with him; a lie to an enemy, for war is deception; or a lie to settle trouble between people," (Ahmad, 6.459. H).
However, Ahmad is not a respected or widely-known hadith. A more reputable quote from a more reputable hadith, the Sahih Muslim, goes:
"Ibn Shihab said 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)," (Sahih Muslim 32:6303).
This hadith suggests that lying is acceptable to bring peace in war and peace in marriage, which might be a bit less evil than the previous hadith.
The Sahih al-Bukhari also provides valuable viewpoints:
Narrated Um Kulthum bint Uqba: That she heard Allah's Apostle saying, "He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar," (Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 3, 49:857).
The ends justify the means, and lying is but a means to the good end of peace.
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Khosrau will be ruined, and there will be no Khosrau after him, and Caesar will surely be ruined and there will be no Caesar after him, and you will spend their treasures in Allah's Cause." He called, "War is deceit'. Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle called,: "War is deceit". Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: The Prophet said, "War is deceit," (Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 4, 52:267-269).
The context for this is the murder of thirty unarmed men by Muhammad's men after he "granted" them safe passage.
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: Allah's Apostle said, "Who is willing to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?" Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, "O Allah's Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?" The Prophet said, "Yes," Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab). "The Prophet said, "You may say it." Then Muhammad bin Maslama went to Kab and said, "That man (i.e. Muhammad demands Sadaqa (i.e. Zakat) from us, and he has troubled us, and I have come to borrow something from you." On that, Kab said, "By Allah, you will get tired of him!" Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Now as we have followed him, we do not want to leave him unless and until we see how his end is going to be. Now we want you to lend us a camel load or two of food." (Some difference between narrators about a camel load or two.) Kab said, "Yes, (I will lend you), but you should mortgage something to me." Muhammad bin Mas-lama and his companion said, "What do you want?" Ka'b replied, "Mortgage your women to me." They said, "How can we mortgage our women to you and you are the most handsome of the 'Arabs?" Ka'b said, "Then mortgage your sons to me." They said, "How can we mortgage our sons to you? Later they would be abused by the people's saying that so-and-so has been mortgaged for a camel load of food. That would cause us great disgrace, but we will mortgage our arms to you." Muhammad bin Maslama and his companion promised Kab that Muhammad would return to him. He came to Kab at night along with Kab's foster brother, Abu Na'ila. Kab invited them to come into his fort, and then he went down to them. His wife asked him, "Where are you going at this time?" Kab replied, "None but Muhammad bin Maslama and my (foster) brother Abu Na'ila have come." His wife said, "I hear a voice as if dropping blood is from him, Ka'b said. "They are none but my brother Muhammad bin Maslama and my foster brother Abu Naila. A generous man should respond to a call at night even if invited to be killed." Muhammad bin Maslama went with two men. (Some narrators mention the men as 'Abu bin Jabr. Al Harith bin Aus and Abbad bin Bishr). So Muhammad bin Maslama went in together with two men, and sail to them, "When Ka'b comes, I will touch his hair and smell it, and when you see that I have got hold of his head, strip him. I will let you smell his head." Kab bin Al-Ashraf came down to them wrapped in his clothes, and diffusing perfume. Muhammad bin Maslama said. " have never smelt a better scent than this. Ka'b replied. "I have got the best 'Arab women who know how to use the high class of perfume." Muhammad bin Maslama requested Ka'b "Will you allow me to smell your head?" Ka'b said, "Yes." Muhammad smelt it and made his companions smell it as well. Then he requested Ka'b again, "Will you let me (smell your head)?" Ka'b said, "Yes." When Muhammad got a strong hold of him, he said (to his companions), "Get at him!" So they killed him and went to the Prophet and informed him. (Abu Rafi) was killed after Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf," (Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 5, 59:369).
This concept has been seized upon by bigots to suggest that all Muslims are constantly focused on deceiving their neighbors to appear more likable, and then once they've lured you into a false sense of security - *bam* - the old fork in the eye.
The truth of the matter is that the standard for employing taqiyya is particularly high. For example, during the Spanish Inquisition when Muslims (along with Jews) were tortured by the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada, it would have been permissible for a Muslim to claim to convert to Christianity to avoid torture and death for himself and his family, while continuing to practice his faith in secret. Torquemada rarely fell for such deception, however, and despite the pleas of the accused, the torture would continue. Face it, you can't Torquemada anything.
Note that some Muslim apologists, including some Imams, do use factually incorrect statements (not Taqiyya) to advance or defend their faith in a manner similar to Lying for Jesus.
The concept is controversial within Islam mainly because the Qur'an teaches that death in the service of one's faith (as in the case of refusing to renounce one's faith even when faced with death) is a highly honorable act, and practically guarantees one's entry into Paradise. Muslim theology generally makes strong distinctions between acts that are forbidden, discouraged, acceptable, praiseworthy, and obligatory, so while dying in the service of Islam may be seen as praiseworthy, invoking taqiyya to avoid death could be seen as falling under the "acceptable" category.
Outside of the Muslim community, taqiyya is frequently cited by Islamophobes as evidence that Muslims who aren't extremists are merely lying about their theology. This is an example of Morton's fork - if they display extremist beliefs, then they're obviously extremists, where if they reject extremist beliefs, they're just lying to get you to trust them. As such, any statement - or even actions - by Muslims that is not in line with the idea that all Muslims are murderous fanatics can be safely discarded.