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Within the Shia theological framework, the concept of Taqiyya (تقية - 'fear, guard against', also taghiyeh) refers to a dispensation allowing believers to conceal their faith when under threat, persecution or compulsion.

The word "al-Taqiyya" literally means: "Concealing or disguising one's beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of imminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury." A one-word translation would be"dissimulation."

Shi'i View

An eminent Shia authority, Ayatollah Sistani describes the concept of Taqiyya as follows:"1)Taqiyah is done for safety reasons. For example, a person fears that he might be killed or harmed, if he does not observe Taqiyah. In this case, it is obligatory to observe Taqiyah.

2) Reconciliatory Taqiyah. This type of Taqiyah is done when a person intends to reconcile with the other side or when he intends to soften their hearts. This kind of Taqiyah is permissible but not obligatory.

3) Sometimes, Taqiyah may cause a more important obligation to be lost or missed, if so it is forbidden. For example, when I know that silence would cause oppression and infidelity to spread and will make people go astray, in such a situation it is not permissible to be silent and to dissimulate.

4) Sometimes, Taqiyah may lead to the death of an innocent person. If so, it is not permissible. It is therefore haram (forbidden) to kill a human being to save your own life."

The Taqiyah doctrine is based on the following verse from Qur'an 3:28: "Let not the believers take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers. If any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah; except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them". Sunni commentator Ibn Kathir explained that "believers that fear for their safety from the unbelievers... are allowed to show friendship to the unbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly".

According to the Shia scholar Muhammad Husain Jafari Sahiwal, Shi'ism would not have spread if it wasn't for taqqiyah. (Referring to instances where Shiites have been ruthlessly persecuted by the Sunni political elite, during the Umayyad and Abbasid empires..prefix:Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/

'== My note as: Farhat Hussain =='I am not asking question but want to say that Taqiyya is not just "Concealing the beliefs" but its "concealing the beliefs when a gunman ask you "who are You and what is your belief" and not expressing the beliefs when you feel danger" and this is the tradition of all the prophets like Musa (a.s.) and other and even Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.a.) who concealed his Da'awah for three years Or who took shelter in a cave (غارالثور).

Use in politics

Muslims and Islamists are sometimes accused of practicing Taqiyya in contemporary political debates. For instance, this accusation has been levelled by Fouad Ajami at the theologian Tariq Ramadan, by James Woolsey at Islamist terrorists, and by Michael Rubin and others at the government of Iran. Others have responded that the accusers misunderstand the meaning of the term and that politicians of all religions lie, including (presumably) Muslim politicians.

See also


  1. Kohlberg (1977) p. 395
  2. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. Ed. John Bowker. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed 9 June, 2006.
  3. "Taqiyah" Oxford Dictionary of Islam. John L. Esposito, Ed. Oxford University Press. 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed 9 June, 2006.
  4. al-Taqiyya/Dissimulation (Part I)
  5. Ayatollah Sistani's official website
  6. Tarikhush Shi’ah, p.230

Further reading

  • Bar-Asher, Me'ir Mikha'el (1999). Scripture and Exegesis in Early Imami Shiism. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-11495-5
  • Cook, Michael (2003). Early Muslim Dogma: A Source-Critical Study. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-54572-2
  • Daftary, Farhad (1992). The Isma'ilis: Their History and Doctrines. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-42974-9
  • Hafizullah Emadi (1998). The end of taqiyya: reaffirming the religious identity of Ismailis in Shughnan, Badakhshan - political implications for Afghanistan. Middle Eastern Studies. 34(3), 103-120.
  • Hafizullah Emadi (2000). Praxis of taqiyya: perseverance of Pashaye Ismaili enclave, Nangarhar, Afghanistan. Central Asian Survey. 19(2), 253-264.
  • Firro, Kais (1999). The Druzes in the Jewish State: A Brief History. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-11251-0
  • Gleaves, Robert (2000). Inevitable Doubt. Two Theories of Shi'i Jurisprudence. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-11595-1
  • Misri, Ahmad ibn Naqib al- (1997). The Reliance of the Traveller, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Amana Publications.

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