Posts Tagged ‘Muhammad’

Islamic Concepts and the Language of the Qur’an

Bismillahi r-Rahmani r-Rahim

Bismillahi r-Rahmani r-Rahim

Islamic Concepts and the Language of the Qur’an

Part 1. The Basmallah

Muhammad Sameel ‘Abd al-Haqq


Praise be to Allah.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim, a familiar phrase among Muslims that perhaps may have lost its significance among many Muslims, and of which the non-Muslims may be unaware there is a significance to, beyond mindlessly repeated ritual and tradition. What exactly is the significance behind the phrase and its terminological usage in the language of the Qur’an, specifically the word-phrase bismillah? It is of course familiarly accepted that the term carries the English meaning “In the Name of Allah”. Yet the significance of it goes beyond this, as it is a spiritual concept and not some empty religious concept, useless beyond the doctrine, dogma, tradition, and ritual of Islam. I would like to start a series explaining every Islamic concept as it appears in the Qur’an, insha’Allah, explaining the language of the Qur’an and it’s importance for understanding Islam and Islamic concepts. This series, though primarily for non-Muslims, should serve as a reminder for us Muslims as well.

Translation is something that some non-Muslims, especially those with an Islamophobic bent, seem to take a very nonchalant or even antagonist approach and attitude to. Many have chaffed at the idea that Islam must be apprehended through its primary literary source, which is the Qur’an, a book revealed and written in Arabic. It should be undeniable however that things are indeed lost in translation. But to take this idea further, two things must be borne in mind: There are some things in one language that do not translate into another language and, as far as the Qur’an is concerned, the Arabic language found therein is particular to it, such that one must understand the semiotics of the Qur’an as well as the Arabic language itself. What is semiotics? Semiotics has been defined as a philosophical approach to language signs and symbols, seeking an understanding of their function in language, that includes syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics. Necessary for an approach to understanding are other disciplines as well, including but not limited to, lexicography, lexicology, linguistics, history of language usage, phonetics, grammar and others. And of course the scholarly concept that contextual considerations are paramount is accepted; context meaning historical as well as inter-textual context.

The lazy, perhaps Islamophobic mind, will protest in retort “If the Qur’an cannot possibly be understood except but in Arabic, then Islam cannot be considered a universal religion”. In other words Islam becomes unreasonably difficult to apprehend and not of Divine origin if the whole world must learn Arabic in order to comprehend the Qur’an and by extension, Islam. Making claims about the necessity of learning “classical Arabic” is seen somewhat as an intellectual cop-out, resorted to whenever a non-Muslim proffers an explanation of Islam, Islamic concepts, or the Qur’an that is deemed “uncomfortable”. Seems reasonable, beyond the suggestion of insidiousness on the part of Muslims, except that it must be understood that Islam is a discursive tradition and not a textual, legalistic, ritualistic religion. No one can learn Islam by picking up a book, any book, even if the book is the Qur’an itself, and the Qur’an reminds us that although it is a Complete Book(kitab), it is also a Reminder to be Recited. So for those who are prone to step outside of the tradition of Islam and discount and reject Muslim explanations out of hand, it becomes necessary to become an expert in Arabic, among other things Islam-related. So, as condescending and infuriating as it may sound, although it is not necessary to speak Arabic fluently in order to understand Islam and the Qur’an, or to be a Muslim, if one wants to reject the transmitted knowledge of tradition and learn Islam from other than Muslims, the alluded to expertise becomes a requirement.

The Basmallah

I will begin this series from the beginning, meaning I will discuss each Islamic concept as it first appears in the Qur’an in order to place it in the broader framework of a discussion of the language of the Qur’an. In previous articles I have discussed things such as how words such as ‘islam” carry different meanings if one discounts the nuances of the Arabic language. As alluded to in the previous paragraph I will incorporate a discussion of translation and its significance for understanding Islamic concepts, specifically things that are lost in translation, throughout this series. The first word in the Qur’an is bismillah, so we will begin with an extended discussion of topics related solely to this word, it’s translation, and its significance for a contextual discussion on language usage in the Qur’an. As previously stated one must not only have a knowledge of Arabic, but the Arabic of the Qur’an, sometimes called Classical Arabic.

The normal translation of the particle ba does not carry the same sense in Arabic as it does in English or many other languages. Translated as “in” which carries the meaning “on account of” or “because” in English, something is lost in translation as the Arabic signification of “by”, “through” or more exactly “with the assistance of ” is obscured. A more exact phrasal English equivalent of “bismillah” would be “with the assistance of Allah” or even the prayerful “I seek the assistance of Allah”, with the retention of the literal, plain sense connotation of “in the name of Allah”. Like many Quranic words, whose usage in the Qur’an often has dual or even multiple meanings, bismillah has a dual meaning. And example is the word dahaha, a word describing the Earth that carries the dual meaning of “flat”/ “spread out” and “egg-shaped”. The significance of this should not be lost, as all devout Muslims begin every important affair with this term, and every surah of the Qur’an, except one, begins with the formula “Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim”. Muslims understand that this significance extends to an understanding of the arrangement of the Qur’an as well.

Al-Fatihah was not the first surah revealed to Prophet Muhammd( saws), although one of the earliest Meccan revelations. A hujja, or proof, of the Divine origin of the Qur’an can be found in the final arrangement of the Qur’an, believed to have been finalized by the Prophet(as), not of his own accord, but as a result of Divine Guidance. Reading this very first surah can help the non-Muslim understand the importance of finding a basmallah at the beginning of not only most of the surahs, and in the middle of a passage of the Qur’an, making the number of its appearance 114 times, but also at the beginning of the Qur’an itself. This understanding is lost when we hear or read of historians who tell us that the Qur’an was finally compiled in a book by the third Khalifah Uthman ibn al Affan(ra), years after the death of the Prophet(as), suggesting somehow that its present arrangement wasn’t finalized by the Prophet(as) himself. So, as the Fatiha is considered the quintessence of the Qur’an, encapsulating the whole of the Qur’an in a nutshell, in an almost mystical way, the basmallah is the quintessence of the Fatihah, itself a prayer. So in addition to the entire Qur’an being used liturgically and ritualistically in prayers through recitation, the fatihah was revealed specifically as a prayer, whose essence is to be found in a simple phrase that encapsulates its essence.

The significance of the basmallah cannot be minimized as it often is through translation. To gain somewhat of an understanding of this significance one should understand the significance of the Fatihah. The Fatihah is known as the Opening and is called by many other names that describe its importance in Islam. It is referred to as the Seven Oft-Repeated Verses, since these seven, essential for prayer, are constantly repeated by every practicing Muslim in salah. The Holy Prophet(saws) said in an authentic hadith:

No prayer is complete without the recitation of Fatihat al-Kitab[Bukhari 10:95]

So it is called the Opening of the Book. Because of this it is also referred to as Surat al Salat, the Chapter of Prayer and the Surat al -Du’a, the Chapter of Supplication, as it really is more of a prayer than anything else, as explained above. It is also known as the Umm al-Kitab(not to be confused with the Book as it is in Heaven), the Mother or Basis of the Book, because it encapsulates the entire Qur’an and serves as its fitting introduction. So the head of the head of the Book, the basmallah, reminds Muslims that every action should not be taken without seeking support from the Mighty One. We have in the utterance of a formula a constant practical expression of Faith in Allah.

Usage in the Qur’an

We have already seen how the basmillah is found at the beginning of almost every surah in the Qur’an. But there is no other mention among the scholars of it’s usage in the Qur’an besides this introductory use. This has to do with the fact that it occurs in the Qur’an in only one other place besides the head of every chapter except one. In Surah 27:30 we read:

It is from Solomon, and it is in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful:[ Qur’an 27:30]

The significance of this is that something done in the name of Allah has all the more importance because of it. And the formula Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim at the beginning of the Qur’an is a proclamation, in the clearest terms, from its Author, of its Divine Origin. As for the one verse where the Basmallah is not found, we find the opinion of the most respected scholars is that this is in one sense because Surah at-Tauba(Repentance) or Surah al-Bara’at(The Immunity), as it is variously known, is not really a chapter separate from Chapter 8(Surah al-Anfal), the chapter referred to as entitled “Spoils of War”, but more accurately translated as “Voluntary Gifts”. Be that as it may, although Tauba introduces an entirely different subject matter necessitating and justifying a separate chapter, it is a continuation of chapter 8, and this serves as an explanation for the missing basmallah.


Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim is a familiar phrase among Muslims that perhaps may have lost its significance among many Muslims,beyond mindlessly repeated ritual and tradition, and of which the non-Muslims may be unaware there is a significance to. It is of course familiarly accepted that the term carries the English meaning “In the Name of Allah”. Yet the significance of it goes beyond this, as it is a spiritual concept and not some empty religious concept, useless beyond the doctrine, dogma, tradition, and ritual of Islam. The first word in the Qur’an is bismillah and a more exact phrasal English equivalent of “bismillah” would be “with the assistance of Allah” or even the prayerful “I seek the assistance of Allah”, with the retention of the literal, plain sense connotation of “in the name of Allah”.

Like many Quranic words, whose usage in the Qur’an often has dual or even multiple meanings, the basmallah is no exception. This dual meaning, itself a proof of Divine origin, should not be lost. As the Fatiha is considered the quintessence of the Qur’an, encapsulating the whole of the Qur’an in a nutshell,  the bismillah is the quintessence of the Fatihah, itself a prayer. The significance of the basmallah cannot be minimized as it often is through translation: the head of the head of the Book, reminds Muslims that every action should not be taken without seeking support from the Mighty One, exemplified by the utterance of a formula that is a constant practical expression of Faith in Allah.

Allahu A’lam

The Doctrine of an-Nasikh wa’l Mansukh: Abrogation in the Qur’an and the Idea of a Hijacked Religion

Quran, Mus'haf_Al_Tajweed.

Image via Wikipedia

The Doctrine of an-Nasikh wa’l Mansukh:
Abrogation in the Qur’an  and the Idea of a Hijacked Religion
Part 1.
Muhammad Sameel ‘Abd al-Haqq


One of the most confusing Islamic concepts to those without the necessary Islamic education, a subject that is the locus of much misinterpretation even among Muslims, possibly more so than jihad, is the concept of abrogation. Abrogation is an exceptionally complex Islamic science involving Quranic exegesis (tafsir), Islamic jurisprudence(fiqh) as well as that of Islamic Legal Theory (usul al-fiqh). It is of course no surprise that this concept is misrepresented as we will see that taqiyya, friendship with Muslims, perpetual jihad, and abrogation are all interrelated. Three types of abrogation concern us here:

1. Abrogation of previous revelations and the religions that arose from them.

2. Abrogation within the Qur’an itself.

3. Abrogation of the Sunnah.

The issues that surround and cause much of the confusion have to do with the disagreement among the Islamic scholars, early, classical, and contemporary. Some scholars and laypersons say that there is absolutely no abrogation, others say that the abrogation spoken of in the Qur’an refers to abrogation of previous scriptures. Still others acknowledge the possibility of abrogation within the Qur’an but that the subject must be approached cautiously, while others say only a few verses of the Qur’an are abrogated. Others come up with lists of abrogating and abrogated verses numbering in the hundreds.The so-called “ayat as-sawf”  or the “Verse of the Sword” (Qur’an 9:5) is said, by Islamophobes and Muslim extremists, to abrogate some 124 or 140+ other verses of the Qur’an advocating for peace, amicable relations, forgiveness, patience, and forebearance.

When I was a non-Muslim nearly 20 years ago I was always baffled at the arrogant audacity of certain Islamophobes that made negative declarations directed at Islam, suggesting that “they were not making up” the things they were saying out of whole cloth. All we had to do was read the Qur’an and other texts of the Sunnah and we would come to see that the detractors of Islam were giving us the full, truth-filled picture. Needless to say that every time I did check, it became apparent that even without placing the relevant verses in context or without an exegetical method, it was easy to see how the Islamophobes deceive. Islamophobes are counting on the laziness of Westerners when it comes to Islam. This is a media-driven laziness that substitutes real, comprehensive and nuanced knowledge for sensationalism, “sound-bite knowledge”, and manufactured narrative that does not allow facts to speak for themselves. It is a laziness borne of fear, where a perceived ubiquitous enemy is best homogenized in order to better deal with the supposed threat. In fact, many Islamophobes will tell you that the facts do speak for themselves; after providing a police-blotter style presentation of these “facts”.

It should be seen how this skews the facts and distorts all information, placing knowledge at the service of a prefabricated narrative. Islamophobes even go so far as to declare that the Qur’an has no historical context. We will deal with this accusation later in the article series, but needless to say, divorcing the Qur’an from it’s context, both historical/situational and contextual as the Islamophobes do, and divorcing oneself from Islamic tradition, specifically the exegetical tradition, is what allows both the Extremists and the Modernists of Islam, as well as the Islamophobes, to engage in unlimited ijtihad and indulge fanciful, heretical, and outlying interpretations of the Qur’an. We will also investigate what the real purpose of affirming the theological and ideological claims of Muslim extremists and linking said claims to Islam.

So what exactly is the narrative that is being pushed in the larger Islamophobic meta-narrative? Well, similar to the Islamophobic explanation of taqiyya, it is another intellectual cop-out designed to instill fear and perpetual, paranoid suspicion in the minds of non-Muslims. Non-Muslims are being lead to believe that Muslims are simply using taqiyya (which they define as lying about Islam to protect and advance Islam) to deceive non-Muslims by not telling the non-Muslims about the doctrine of abrogation in the Qur’an. We are accused of not telling the non-Muslims that the Quranic commands of peace, amicable relations with non-Muslims, forgiveness for non-Muslims, patience and forebearance in the face of persecution from non-Muslims are abrogated and replaced with commands to wage unmitigated, aggressive war until such a time as the non-Muslims convert to Islam or submit to Muslim rule. In other words we are being told that true friendship with non-Muslims is abrogated in favor of pretense when the Muslims are weak,numerically,militarily, and otherwise; taqiyya is defined as lying about Islam to protect the Faith as already mentioned; jihad is only an offensive war against non-Muslims that is primarily fought on account of the disbelief(kufr) of the non-Muslims.

In other words jihad is for the purpose of forced conversion or establishing political dominance over the non-Muslim world. Indeed it is believed by Islamophobes that Islam is nothing more than a politico-military ideology in the guise of religion so it is not surprising that they equate “establishing Islam” with “political dominance over non-Muslims through utilization of military means”. In addition, we are told that there is a doctrine in Islam that says all peaceful verses from the Qur’an are abrogated by violent ones, so don’t believe the Muslims who quote these verses, for the legal(fiqhi) application of these verses have been abolished and nullified by the Qur’an itself. Furthermore, the other part of this narrative is to suggest to non-Muslims that Islam cannot be a valid religion if Allah either changes his mind about a ruling, or somehow could not get it right the first time, so He introduced abrogating verses within His own revelation, changing the Revelation(astagfirullah). The point to all this deceptive, disingenuous rhetoric is to illustrate the human, rather than Divine, origin of Islam and the Qur’an, since Islamophobes neither believe in Allah or, if they are Christians and Jews, that He is the same god that they also worship.

In this series of articles we will attempt to define abrogation as it is described in the Qur’an and as it was understood in the Sunnah literature(ahadith) and by Islamic scholars. We will discuss the origins of the doctrine of abrogation and the views of the various madhahib. Although there are four surviving Sunni fiqh(legal) schools, three Shi’i  schools of legal thought, and the outlier Ibadi legal school, it must remembered that there have been over a hundred legal schools in Islamic history. In fact almost every Companion and tabi’in practically founded their own legal school. This becomes important to remember when we discuss the relationship between the extinct Zahiri legal school, Hanbalism and various issues of fiqh, usul-al-fiqh, tafsir, and various other shar’ issues.

We will be exploring the early, classical, and contemporary ideas surrounding the doctrine an-nasikh wa’l mansukh(abrogation) as well as the related doctrine of takhsis.We will exclusively explore the view of the madhahib, summarizing their views in the latter part of the series, as well as the views of individual scholars who wrote on the topic by showing just what it was that was believed to be the abrogating and abrogated.This will lead to a discussion of the technical usage and understanding of abrogation and the moral as well as the legal considerations and implications of the views on abrogation. We will delve into a detailed discussion of just what is considered even eligible for abrogation. Embedded in this series is a critique of such authors as David Bukay and Raymond Ibrahim, who put a scholarly veneer to Islamphobic fear-mongering and deception. We will examine the concept of a hijacked religion and how offensive jihad and friendship with non-Muslims is intricately tied to this doctrine of abrogation and its understanding. In our exploration we will also introduce a case-type study related to extremism and terrorism to discuss whether the command not to harm innocents in war has been abrogated. In our final discussion we will go into further detail about abrogation of previous revelations and the religions that arose from them, and the much lesser discussed topic of abrogation of the Sunnah, before drawing our conclusions.


The Islamophobic Claims About the Origins of this Doctrine Center Around Three Key Issues:

1.The belief that Muslims believe that the Qur’an has contradictions(which are ostensibly resolved by recourse to the doctrine of abrogation and other shari’ principles).

2. The idea that the ‘ulama were initially baffled as to which verses to codify into the “Shari’ah worldview”, as Ibrahim claims.

3.  The claim that peaceful and tolerant verses lie almost side by side with violent and intolerant ones and the violent verses supercede the peaceful verses.(This is a very important claim with respect to abrogation as we will see later)

4. The operating assumption that the message of the Qur’an was different in the Pre-Hijra and Post-Hijra periods, which non-Muslims referred to as the Meccan and Medinian Periods(a typology that later Muslim scholars adopted).

The additional arguments of the Islamophobes, namely:

1. That the Qur’an has no historical context.

2. That Muslims are simply using taqiyya (which is defined as lying about Islam) to deceive non-Muslims by not telling the non-Muslims about the doctrine of abrogation in the Qur’an. In addition, there is a doctrine in Islam that says all peaceful verses from the Qur’an are abrogated by violent ones, so don’t believe the Muslims who quote these verses, for the legal(fiqhi) application of these verses have been abolished and nullified by the Qur’an itself .

3. That Muslims fail to tell the non-Muslims that the Quranic commands of peace, amicable relations with non-Muslims, forgiveness for non-Muslims, patience and forebearance in the face of persecution from non-Muslims are abrogated and replaced with commands to wage unmitigated, aggressive war until such a time as the non-Muslims convert to Islam or submit to Muslim rule.

4. That true friendship with non-Muslims is abrogated in favor of pretense when the Muslims are weak,numerically,militarily otherwise; taqiyya is defined as lying about Islam to protect the Faith.

5. That Jihad is an offensive war against non-Muslims that is primarily fought on account of the disbelief(kufr) of the non-Muslims.

6. That Jihad is for the purpose of forced conversion and/or establishing political dominance over the non-Muslim world.

7. That Islam cannot be a valid religion if Allah either changes his mind about a ruling, or somehow could not get it right the first time, so introduced abrogating verses within His own revelation(astagfirullah).

8. And that the origin of Islam and the Qur’an is human, rather than Divine.

These arguments will all be deconstructed in the course of this study and in the “Discussions” section of the article. Another dimension to the Islamophobic claims regarding abrogation is the assumption that  “the standard view on Quranic abrogation concerning war and peace verses is that when Muslims are weak and in a minority position, they should preach and behave according to the ethos of the Meccan verses (peace and tolerance); when strong, however, they should go on the offensive on the basis of what is commanded in the Medinan verses (war and conquest)”. This is nothing is more than a lie, but, Insha’Allah, what I will have to say on the matter will be much more than denial, polemics and apologetics. Again, we have authors such as Ibrahim elucidating the Extremist positions and mischaracterizing the mainstream Muslims,  insisting that what they say is a part of Islam must be accepted by Muslims. Islamophobic non-Muslims are playing the role of “Pope of Islam” that Islam denies to even our most eminent, influential, and learned scholars; when the Extremists themselves acknowledge that they must twist and discard actual Islamic principles in order to arrive at their conclusions. It is a twisting of the “twin” shari’ah principles of “what is prohibited becomes permitted in times of necessity” and “changing times necessitate a change in the rulings subject to change” that makes up much of Extremist theology(‘aqeeda) and methodology(manhaj).

Muslims do not believe that any real contradictions exist within the Quranic text, rather it is believed, according to the view of many scholars, that apparent contradictions can be resolved and explained by the doctrines of abrogation and takhsis. However, as we will see, no genuine case of abrogation of the Qur’an exists; or at the very least, if we are to be completely fair, honest, and balanced, very few cases are verified. In any event abrogation does not pertain to or apply to taqiyya, lying to non-Muslims, false opportunistic friendship with non-Muslims, or jihad. The main point of this article series, then, is to drive the point home that there is abrogation in the Qur’an, but no conclusive abrogation by the Qur’an.

In other words there is no Quranic text that conclusively abrogates another text of the Qur’an. The other point is that what will be said in this series does not negate the fact that some Muslims do believe in abrogation of the Qur’an, and that some Muslims Extremists extend this understanding to taqiyya and jihad and the like. The aim of presenting authentic Islamic information is not denial of uncomfortable realities, or “apologetic whitewashing”, as some would say, but clarification. That being said, however, abrogation in principle cannot be denied as will be explained when an explanation of the definitions and applications of abrogation is given. The idea that the ‘ulama were initially baffled as to which verses to codify into the “Shari’ah worldview”,  because of the existence of apparent contradictions is entirely the opinion of the Islamophobes, with no basis in the Islamic tradition. The early jurists where concerned with the fiqhi(ahkam) texts of the Qur’an, that is to say they were primarily concerned with the Quranic texts that could be used to derive legal rulings. They were concerned with ahkam and legal application of the revelation; what could be considered as binding law and what was enforceable by an Islamic State.

Most of the bogus assertions of the Islamophobes amount to reading into the sources unwarranted conclusions, bringing to the text their own operating assumptions and drawing the conclusions they wish, according to their own desires. This is a lesson to Muslims as well, as the the consequences of separating oneself from the living Islamic discursive tradition and making conclusions about Islam is always disastrous. It is exactly this type of unqualified and non-qualified tafsir and ijtihad that I find non-Muslims doing often, which becomes particularly dangerous when engaged in by those who hate Islam and Muslims. Unqualified because the requisite Islamic education is lacking, and non-qualified because people presenting themselves as experts on everything Islam will either never acknowledge that they lack the proper Islamic education and training or will deny its necessity.(It is often sarcastically asked if one should be able to speak, read, and write Arabic fluently in order to understand Islam)

The claim that peaceful and tolerant verses lie almost side by side with violent and intolerant ones is undeniable. Yet the conclusions drawn from this fact, i.e. that the violent verses supercede the peaceful verses, is completely unwarranted; a fanciful assumption indeed.This is a very important claim with respect to abrogation, because in these very same “sword verses”, we can see a sort of “abrogation” which amounts to qualification or restriction. In every single instance, a “violent” verse is mitigated in a way as to render the abrogation of other peaceful verses impossible. As we will see later in the series, the doctrine of jihad held by medieval Muslim jurists was in effect the foreign policy of the time. It was completely circumscribed by the prevailing situation in which Muslims assumed a state of hostility between the Ummah and the non-Muslim nations. With the advent of the modern nation-state this perpetual state of war is replaced by concepts of national sovereignty, assumed peace between nation-states, and treaties guaranteeing this prevailing state of peace(Islam recognizes treaties with no expiration date(hudna)). In other words the doctrine of jihad was determined by circumstance and is defined by historical context. Abrogation of verses of the Qur’an in order to justify an offensive, aggressive military jihad designed to forceably convert non-Muslims to Islam is completely unsupported by the Qur’an and Sunnah. That being said, the majority of Muslim jurists held that jihad was for the security of the Ummah rather than forceable conversion to Islam, and there were much difference of opinion about offensive military jihad and and its relation to abrogation. There is no such thing as “holy war” in Islam, however, medieval Muslim jurists adapted the Christian notion of “just war” to Islam. Please read Dr. Sherman Jackson for a refutation of the Islamophobic claim of perpetual jihad.

The operating assumption that the message of the Qur’an was different in the Pre-Hijra and Post-Hijra periods, which are referred to as the Meccan and Medinian Periods(a typology that later Muslim scholars adopted, but it is much more accurate to use the term pre-hijri and post-hijri as the Prophet(as) was receiving Revelation in Mecca after it’s conquest almost to the day of his death), is baseless. The Qur’an was revealed piecemeal, over a 23 year period and any apparent differences in its message were reflections of Allah responding to the various situations that confronted and challenged the early Muslim community. All of this was done without undermining the underlying them of tawhid. I will discuss the concept of progressive revelation later and how this concept refutes any claim of abrogation.

While it is true that many extremists use a twisted understanding of a doctrine of abrogation, ostensibly that verses revealed later in the life of the Prophet(as) take precedence over earlier ones, such that one ruling set forth in the Qur’an abolishes another ruling, also set forth in the Qur’an whenever there is a discrepancy, this is neither the classical consensus understanding of the doctrine of an-Nasikh wa’l Mansukh, nor the contemporary understanding; again yet another instance of unfairly insisting that Muslims believe something that we do not. There is a majority view, but no real ‘ijma, a point I will discuss later. In order to document which verses abrogated which, a religious science devoted to the chronology of the Qur’an‘s verses and determining which verses abrogated which was developed (known as an-Nasikh wa’l Mansukh, the abrogater and the abrogated). And this is a science that is almost wholly dependent on the science of azbab al nusul(reasons for revelation). Both are prerequisites for tafsir, among other sciences that should mastered. Can we honestly say that Muslim Extremists and Islamophobes are experts in the Islamic sciences of azbab al nuzul, ulum al-qur’an, nasikh wal mansukh, fiqh, usul al-fiqh, and usul at-tafsir, not to mention ulum al-hadith? Of those who acknowledge this deficiency, can we honestly say that they have access to real Muslim scholars who are experts in these Islamic sciences? I think it is very clear that for both groups their concept of ijtihad is the same as the likes of Irshad Manji.


Most cases that were understood to be cases of abrogation of the Qur’an turn out to be takhsis or tazid upon further, careful study. Takhsis and tazid will be elaborated further in the next part of the series where I discuss definitions of abrogation, but I briefly explain them here. Takhsis refers to specification, qualification, or restriction of a general text and tazid refers to addition to a previous ruling.

Imam Suyuti(rahimullah) mentions that there were many verses that served to give exceptions or limitations to other verses, and “those who considered them as cases of abrogation were incorrect.” He also mentions in his monumental book, “Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an”, a countless number of scholars authored works solely on the topic of abrogation, and that many Imams said,

No one is allowed to give explanation [tafsir] of the Book of Allah until they understand abrogation.” Our Master Ali (may Allah ennoble his face) asked a judge if he knew which verses abrogated others, to which the judge replied that he did not. Imam Ali said, “You are ruined, and you have ruined others.

Let us keep these quotations in mind throughout the rest of this series, Insha’Allah.

The Legacy of Islamic Intellectual History

The Legacy of Islamic Intellectual History
Part 1.

Muhammad Sameel ‘Abd al-Haqq


Praise be to Allah.

Early Muslims regarded Islam as the completion of Allah’s Message to humanity, as well as somewhat a continuation of the two other faiths regarded as Abrahamic faiths, Judaism and Christianity; and contemporary Muslims have carried this religious conviction to modern times. However, Muslims regard these previous historically manifested religions as corrupted, based on deliberately corrupted texts, hence the need for the revival of Islam. The Qur’an as a Holy Book was regarded as the criterion for judging what is true and false among the previous religions encompassing the Middle-Eastern spiritual and intellectual universe of tradition some would call Judaeo-Christian-Islamic Civilization. Early attempts to show similarities among the three religions were initiated by Muhammad(saws), attempts which should not really be accepted as such if we accept that it was Allah, subhanu wa ta’ala, himself who revealed to the Prophet(as) these similarities. Yet what we can say is that part of the message of the Prophet(as), his proselytizing, his daw’ah and methodology, was to show the Jews and Christians of his time these similarities, also showing future generations as well, through the vehicle of the preservation of Revelation and Sunnah.

After Muhammad(saws), the early Muslim scholars, by reference to the Qur’an and Prophetic Traditions circulating at the time, and an appeal to the knowledge of the Prophets Muslims, Jews, And Christians have in common, were not attempting to reconcile these differences per se so much as they were attempting to show how and why Islam is the correct belief and how the Jews and Christians deviated from that original belief system. For it is believed by the majority of Muslims that Allah always sent his Prophets with Islam, an idea that many Modernist Muslims will have to contend with as they postulate the validity of other religious traditions besides Islam. With the belief that the Prophets always came with Islam comes the belief in the deviation of the People of the Book.

There was a large flow of Jewish and Christian converts into Islam, implications of which have not yet been thoroughly studied[1]. These converts related quite a few traditions that linked the three religions. Traditions of the Jews, the Isra’iliyyat [2], not found in the Hebrew canon, but in many Talmudic traditions and Jewish “legends”, were related and found their way into Muslim Prophetic Traditions.

Christian traditions, many relating to eschatology[3], not found in the Protestant and Catholic Canon(usually), yet found in Christian Apocrypha, the Nag Hammadi Library, Dead Sea Scrolls, and various Gnostic Christian writings were related. Ideas judged to be heretical by many Christians are also found among Muslim Prophetic Traditions. For some this suggests “religious borrowing”, sometimes used to mean “religious plagiarism” or theft/copying. For others, mostly Muslims, this is merely Islam affirming what is true in other traditions, rejecting what is false in them.

Many of these traditions describe Creation, Adam and Eve, Satan, Noah and Flood, Abraham, Hagar, and Isma’il; all concepts and personages found in Judaeo-Christian tradition. Though the traditions in Islam were sometimes related differently from their Jewish and Christian counterparts, they did serve to show how the three faiths were related, how they belonged to the same universe of tradition. The early Muslim scholars also inherited the legacy of rejection of core articles of faith among the Jews and Christians. While Muslims retained the the idea of One God, the Muslim idea of tawhid is quite different from the Christian conception of monotheism, and is even different from the Jewish conception. Muslims retained a similar view of Creation, belief in Angels, but were distinguished by the belief in all of the previous Prophets sent by Allah, many not even mentioned by name. I will not list the ideas rejected by Islam and held by the Jews and Christians here, but the legacy of the environment of interfaith relations, whether that environment was political and polemical, friendly, marked by daw’ah efforts, exchanges of ideas, or marked by war, this legacy impacted the Islamic intellectual tradition in ways palatable today.

The Islamic Intellectual Tradition

This series of articles will attempt to describe and analyze the impact of the Islamic Intellectual Tradition on contemporary Muslim thought. We will do this by giving a brief history of Islamic historiography and its implications for preserving orthodoxy. We will ask ourselves how Muslims transformed a primarily oral tradition to a written one. We will discuss how this tradition was marshaled to deal with the impact of Western colonialism. The 19th and 20th centuries saw unprecedented change in the Muslim world with respect to how it was the first time the Muslim world was largely inundated with foreign ideologies. We will examine how the Islamic intellectual Tradition was utilized to deal with these challenges.

The Islamic Intellectual Tradition, next to the period of Revelation itself, also was the chief element responsible for how non-Muslims were viewed and should be viewed by Muslims. We describe how the Ahl al-Kitab[4] and other non-Muslim groups were regarded and treated by the tradition. In addition, we will be discussing how certain seminal events, trends, and periods in Islamic history informed and shaped the emerging worldviews arising out the Islamic Intellectual tradition; we say worldviews because although the tradition has relative uniformity enabling it to be identified through its distinguishing characteristics, unifying underlying principles and coherence, it is not a monolithic tradition. These seminal events, trends, and periods include, but are not limited to, the Aftermath of the death of the Prophet(as) and the Ridda Wars[5] ; The Muslim Conquests; The Umayyad dynasty; The Abbasid Revolution and Dynasty; The Medieval Period; Islamic Philosophy; The Crusades; The Mongol Invasions and Conversion[6]; and the perceived Ottoman Decline. And finally we describe and analyze the impact of these events on the Islamic tradition as well as the implications of the responses of those working within the broad tradition for contemporary Muslims.

The term Islamic Intellectual History encompasses many disciplines, so it is proper to conceptualize the Islamic Intellectual Tradition as the sum of the intellectual discursive traditions found among the Muslim community; and we will discuss the relevant disciplines in some detail. Islamic Historiography, Fiqh and other major Islamic Sciences, the Islamic philosophical tradition, Islamic Heresiology, and the institutionalized Sufi tradition are all distinctive traditional strands in the broad intellectual tradition which have all contributed to the combined legacy of the Islamic Intellectual Tradition as a whole. Throughout this series we will see how Islamic education and the ‘ulama also played a key role in the development and impact of the Islamic Intellectual Tradition as well. We will be asking and attempting to answer a number of key questions in this series: What exactly is the Islamic Intellectual Tradition and what is its paradigmatic frame of reference?; How was it utilized to deal with the challenges Muslims faced and how was it marshaled and relied upon to respond to specific crises?; Who were some of its major luminaries, what were their ideas and what was their influence?;  What are some of the implications of its legacy for interfaith dialogue and relations?; What was the impact of the Islamic Intellectual Tradition on contemporary Muslim thought?; And how did the Islamic Intellectual tradition affect the broader world? Other important questions will also arise during the course of this series.


The legacy of the Islamic Intellectual Tradition is to be found in how contemporary Muslims view themselves, other Muslims, and people of other faiths, particularly the People of the Book- Jews and Christians. It also leaves behind a legacy of two key issues: just what constitutes authority in Islam and what is meant by tradition in Islam? Clearly its legacy informs and shapes the Muslim worldview in the contemporary period. While it is clear that Muslim scholars disagreed with many core articles of faith found in other religious traditions, there was also a  need to reconcile this rejection with the belief that Islam was a continuation of the religion of Abraham. Early Muslim scholars did this by utilizing a method that can only be regarded as what passed for comparative religion at the time. The scholars tried to show that Islam was the perfection of Allah’s Message to humanity and any divergence among other faith groups were viewed as indications of historical, deliberate corruption or misunderstanding. The intellectual environment surrounding the elucidation, propagation, and preservation of the ideas found in the texts of Qur’an and Sunnah determined the intellectual trajectory of the subsequent and consequent Islamic Intellectual Tradition. It cannot be denied that this and the resultant daw’ah of the early Muslims also played a key role in shaping the tradition. However we cannot conclude that the Islamic Intellectual tradition was largely reactionary, as internal dynamics and the belief that the tradition was to be put in the service of the perceived mission to spread Islam to the world at large also determined the character of the tradition. And one must never forget the over-arching theme and impetus of this tradition: worship of Allah alone and seeking nearness to Him. Allahu A’lam.



1. Many are unaware that it is these types of reports that are largely responsible for beliefs surrounding the Banu Qurayza “massacre”, for instance.

2. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has already cautioned us against this source of knowledge (Israilliyyat):

Narrated Abu Huraira (RadhiyAllahu Anhu): The people of the scripture used to recite the Torah in Hebrew and they used to explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. On that Allah’s apostle said: ‘Do not believe the people of the scripture or disbelieve them, but say: “We believe in Allah and what is revealed to us”‘ . [Bukhari]

Similarly Ibn Mas’ud (RadhiyAllahu Anhu), the well-known Companion, is reported to have said: ‘Do not ask the Ahl al-Kitab about anything (in Tafsir), for they cannot guide you and are themselves in error….’

The rules relating to Israelite reports:

According to Usul Al Tafseer, Isra’iliyyat are narratives which have reached us through Jews and Christians. It may be noted that early commentators used to write down all sorts of narrations which reached them from an identified or unidentified source. Many of these narrations were straight Judaica. Therefore, it is equally necessary to know what they really are.

The reality is that some noble Companions and their Successors,ra, first belonged to the religion of the people of the Book, later on when they became Muslims and learned the Qur’an, they came across several events relating to past communities in the Qur’an and which they had also read in the books of their previous religion. Therefore, while referring to the events mentioned in the Qur’an they would describe other details before Muslims which they had seen in the books of their old religion.

These very details have entered into the books of Tafseer,[also Sira, and Hadith], under the name of ‘Isra’iliyyat’. Hafiz ibn Kathir,ra, who is one of the authentic research scholars, has categorized them into three different kinds:

1) Narrations, the truth of which is proved from other evidences of ‘the Qur’an and Sunnah, for instance, the drowning of Pharoah and the ascent of Sayyidna Musa (Alaihis Salam) onto Mount Tur (Sinai).

2) Narrations the falsity of which is proved from other evidences of the Qur’an and Sunnah, for instance, it appears in Judaic narrations that Sayyidna Sulayman (Alaihis Salam) had become (God forbid) an apostate in his later years. Its refutation is proved from the Qur’an. It is said there:

‘It was not Sulayman who became an infidel, but the devils did become infidels’ [2:102].

To cite yet another example, it finds mention in Judaic narration’s that (God forbid) Sayyidna Dawud (Alaihis Salam) (David) committed adultery with the wife of his general (Uriah), or, having him killed through all sorts of contrivances, ended up marrying his wife. This too is a blatant lie, and taking such narrations to be false is imperative.

3) Narrations regarding which the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the Shariah are “silent”, such as the injunctions of Torah etc., are subjects about which silence is to be observed as taught by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) neither confirm, nor falsify. There is, however, a difference of opinion among scholars whether or not reporting such narrations is permissible. Hafiz ibn Kathir,ra, has given the decisive word by saying that reporting these is permissible all right but doing so is useless because they cannot be taken as authentic.[Muqaddamah Tafseer ibn Kathir]

[See: Ma’ariful Quran]

These set of rules are applied by Hadith scholars when dealing with Isra’iliyyat material. These rules are based on the Hadith of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) which I have mentioned above.

About the transmitter Wahb Ibn Munabbih (Rahmatullahi Alaih):

Wahb Ibn Munabbih transmitted both Isra’iliyyat and Islamic traditions. It does not make him or any other transmitter untrustworthy or a fabricator.

Hafiz Ibn Hajar (Rahamtullahi Alaih) says, ” Wahb Ibn Munabbih Ibn Kamil al-Yamani, the father of `Abdullah Al Abnawi. He is trustworthy.” [Taqrib al-Tahdhib]

Imam al-Suyuti (Rahamtullahi Alaih) includes him in his book of Hadith memorisers. [Tabaqat al-Huffadh)]

Many of the Hadith scholars have recorded his Hadith, including al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi (Rahamtullahi Alaih).

So the conclusion here is that Wahb Ibn Munabbih and others like Ka’ab Ahbar, Hammam Ibn Munabbih (Rahmatullahi Alaihim) are considered to be trustworthy even though they transmitted Isra’iliyyat traditions along with the Islamic ones because they did not attribute these Isra’iliyyat traditions to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).

So, the narration above will be rejected totally as this contradicts the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

And Only Allah Ta’ala Knows Best.

Moulana Qamruz Zaman
London, UK

3. Eschatology (pronounced /ˌɛskəˈtɒlədʒi/ ( listen); from the Greek ἔσχατος/ἐσχάτη/ἔσχατον, eschatos/eschatē/eschaton meaning “last” and -logy meaning “the study of”, first used in English around 1550) is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “concerned with ‘the four last things: death, judgment, heaven, and hell’”.Regarding mysticism, the phrase refers metaphorically to the end of ordinary reality and reunion with the Divine. In many religions it is taught as an existing future event prophesied in sacred texts or folklore. More broadly, eschatology may encompass related concepts such as the Messiah or Messianic Age, the end time, and the end of days.

4. (Arabic: “People of the Book”), in Islāmic thought, those religionists such as Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians who are possessors of divine books (i.e., the Torah, the Gospel, and the Avesta), as distinguished from those whose religions are not based on divine revelations. The latter are an imprecisely identified group referred to as Sabaeans but also considered “People of the Book.”

5. The Ridda wars (Arabic: حروب الردة), also known as the Wars of Apostasy, were a set of military campaigns against the rebellion of several Arabian tribes against the Caliph Abu Bakr(ra) during 632 and 633 AD, after Prophet Muhammad(saws) died. The revolts, in Islamic historiography later interpreted as religious, were in reality mainly political. However, these revolts also had a religious aspect: Medina had become the center of a social and political system, of which religion was an integral part; consequently it was inevitable that any reaction against this system would have a religious aspect

The Encyclopedia of Islam. New Edition. Vol. 1, p. 110.

6. For a time the Il-Khans tolerated and patronized all religious persuasions—Sunni, Shīʿite, Buddhist, Nestorian Christian, Jewish, and pagan. But in 1295 a Buddhist named Maḥmūd Ghāzān became khan and declared himself Muslim, compelling other Mongol notables to follow suit. His patronage of Islamicate learning fostered such brilliant writers as Rashīd al-Dīn, the physician and scholar who authored one of the most famous Persian universal histories of all time. The Mongols, like other Islamicate dynasties swept into power by a tribal confederation, were able to unify their domains for only a few generations.

The Exemplar

Hadith Oliyankara Juma Masjid

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The Exemplar

Muhammad Sameel ‘Abd al-Haqq

Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa salatu wa sallam ‘ala Rasulillah


The exemplar is a person who is the embodiment of moral virtue. Many Muslims have fallen prey to an infiltration into Islamic culture of this idea of having heroes and idols, specifically non-Muslim heroes and idols. It should go without saying that Muslims should not be idolizing any human being. This is a clear violation of tawhid. The Prophet(as) chastised some of his Sahaba, by saying that they used to worship their priests and rabbis, which they denied.

They take their rabbis, priests and monks or ascetics to be their Lords* besides Allah. And they take as their Lord, the Messiah son of Mary. Yet they were commanded to worship but One God. There is no god but He. Praise and Glory to Him, He is far too Glorious for what they ascribe to Him. [Quran 9:31]

Say, “Shall I take for my master other than Allah Who is the Initiator of the heavens and the earth? And He provides all without return. Feeds but is not fed.” Say, “ I have been commanded to be the foremost among those who surrender to Him and ascribe not divinity besides Him.” [Quran 6:14]

Do they ascribe to Him as partners things that can create nothing, but are themselves created? [Quran 7:191]

(Allah ta’ala says) I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me.[Hadith – Qudsi 5]

Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Jarir At-Tabari recorded a Hadith via several chains of narration, from `Adi bin Hatim r.a., who was a Christian during the time of Jahiliyya … The Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah;

اتَّخَذُواْ أَحْبَـرَهُمْ وَرُهْبَـنَهُمْ أَرْبَاباً مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ

(They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah). `Adi commented, “I said, `They did not worship them.”’ The Prophet said,

«بَلَى إِنَّهُمْ حَرَّمُوا عَلَيْهِمُ الْحَلَالَ وَأَحَلُّوا لَهُمُ الْحَرَامَ فَاتَّبَعُوهُمْ فَذَلِكَ عِبَادَتُهُمْ إِيَّاهُم»

Yes they did. They (rabbis and monks) prohibited the allowed for them (Christians and Jews) and allowed the prohibited, and they obeyed them. This is how they worshipped them.

It is clear from the above hadith that people practically worshiped their religious leaders in a form of minor shirk. Yet today we see this occurring as well. But it has extended to Muslims idolizing non-Muslims. Does this mean that Muslims should not admire other human beings, especially if they are not Muslims? Certainly not, but this is quite different from the minor shirk that we are talking about. Only three types of persons are eligible for emulation: Prophets, Messengers, alayhi salam, and saints/virtuous Muslims. And even so, no human being is entitled to unlimited emulation and obedience(taqlid), absolutely no human is entitled to worship, even “hero-worship”, and idolatry is absolutely forbidden(haram), as we know. We will first discuss wilaya and then Prophets and Messengers.

Not many outside of Islam are aware of this idea of Muslim saints. And many Muslims are opposed to this idea; possibly out of ignorance, possibly because they understand by saint something akin to the idea of saintliness found in Hinduism and Catholicism, or quite possibly because of a dislike of Sufism. As Shaykh Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt states:

“At the moment some are denying the idea of Sufism, after witnessing some innovations by those who call themselves Sufis…..”

There is a key difference between the Muslim saint as exemplar and what a Westerner normally thinks of when thinking about just who is a saint and what constitutes sainthood. People seem to normally associate saints with “mysticism”, extreme ascetic practices such a s self-denial, self-abnegation, celibacy, “leaving” behind the world of the profane and mundane, among other practices. Others associate saints with councils voting on who has reached the level of sainthood. In other words someone other than Allah decides who is a saint, and a person becomes recognized as a saint after his/her death. All of this is in contravention to Islam. What gives humans who are not themselves saints the right to declare someone a saint. Ultimately it is only Allah who confers this status upon His servants, and saints are known in life. Perhaps the more appropriate words would be “friend of God”, a title we find conferred on Ibrahim(as) by Allah Himself.

‘Allah is the friend of those who believe: He brings them out of every kind of darkness into light. And those who disbelieve, their friends are the transgressors who bring them out of light into every kind of darkness. These are the inmates of the Fire; therein shall they abide’ [Qur’an 2 :  258]

‘Surely, the nearest of men to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet and those who believe; and Allah is the friend of believers’ [ Qur’an 3:69]

But God knows best who are your enemies: and none can befriend as God does, and none can give succour as God does”. [Qur’an 4:45]

“For Allah did take Ibrahim for (an intimate) friend “ [Qur’an 4:125]

In Islam these saints/ “friends of God” exemplify the ideal of simultaneously living in the world and being beyond this world, similar to the Christian idea “be in the world, but not of the world”. Celibacy, monasticism, and various other ascetic practices such as extreme fasting and self-flagellation are against Islam.

The acceptable ascetic practices are seen to be instrumental to enlightenment, not an end in and of themselves, and an unnecessary continuance of them is seen as an aberration resulting in and from misunderstanding. Sufis therefore reject extremism and maintain that the path to sainthood is achieved through the initial desire to pray as if one perceives that Allah is in front of them.

One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, “What is faith?” Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection.” Then he further asked, “What is Islam?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan.” Then he further asked, “What is Ihsan (perfection)?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you.” Then he further asked, “When will the Hour be established?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “The answerer has no better knowledge than the questioner. But I will inform you about its portents.
1. When a slave (lady) gives birth to her master.
2. When the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of higher buildings. And the Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah.
The Prophet then recited: “Verily, with Allah (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour–.” (31. 34) Then that man (Gabriel) left and the Prophet asked his companions to call him back, but they could not see him. Then the Prophet said, “That was Gabriel who came to teach the people their religion.” Abu ‘Abdullah said: He (the Prophet) considered all that as a part of faith .[Bukhari 1:42 Narrated By Abu Huraira]

Two key ideas about “sainthood” or wilaya should be noted here:

1. In conjunction with the idea of only Allah conferring upon His servants the status of sainthood is the idea that only saints recognize other saints. This seems to be a preventative measure against worship in the form of minor shirk and taqlid. Yet one can ask if no one besides other saints can recognize another saint, how do we recognize one as such, and by extension identify this person as an exemplar? Surely Muslims can recognize a virtuous person, despite the caution in Islam of declaring to know what is in another person’s heart? This key concept is very important and we will return to it later.

2. Of great significance to the idea of “sainthood” is the idea of miracles. Whether we believe that Allah confers on individuals besides His Prophets and Messengers the ability to perform miracles, the Sufis have a belief that kiramat(miracles) are not to be publicly advertised, but concealed. Yet this is precisely what we see among non-Muslim “holy men”, people flocking to these “saints” in order to receive blessings from them on account of their widely publicized miracles.

Along with the rejection of continued, ritualized asceticism, we find constant mention of the virtue of moderation in Islam. And we now return to the original idea of this article, that exemplars are the embodiment of moral virtue, to discuss Prophets and Messengers, alayhi salam, as exemplars. The contemplative life( fikr) and constant remembrance of Allah(dhikr) will lead to a type of moral character that engenders moral virtue. We are told that in the Prophets, alayhi salam, are the best examples of moral behavior for mankind, and that Prophet Muhammad(saws) is the pinnacle of this moral virtue which is to to be emulated. From this we can understand that although saints are exemplars, our focus should be on emulating the moral character of the Prophet(as) and embodying his moral virtues in our lives. Indeed in Islam we know to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet(as). Following his Sunnah is considered a virtuous act. So, because it is only saints who recognize other saints, since Sufis have a saying that the person who calls himself a Sufi is not a real Sufi, and since even though Muslims can recognize a virtuous person, despite the caution in Islam of declaring to know what is in another person’s heart, our role model, as Muslims, is the Prophet Muhammad, sal Allahu alayhi wa sabihi wa sallam.


We will define virtuous character as that character that is exemplified by the disposition to act in moderation and to exhibit excellence. Excellence is defined as putting the moral principles of the Qur’an to practice and taking the Sunnah of the Prophet as a model worthy of emulation. Moral virtue is the result of habit, and the Shari’ah has mandated certain actions that if done habitually will bring the worshiper closer to Allah, such as salat and dhikr, and will culminate in the realization of a morally virtuous character. Coupled with this is the idea of sincerity and intention, for no one who does these acts without sincerity and the intention of seeking the pleasure of Allah will accomplish any kind of moral virtue in themselves. Charity for the poor, being slow to anger, treating others kindly, and indeed all acts of worship from the Shari’ah, are acts that fall into the dual category of deeds that create moral virtue when done with the right intention and with sincerity, and deeds that reflect moral virtue, when done voluntarily with the right intention. Allahu A’lam

Taqiyya and Lying in Islam

February 27, 2011 9 comments
Qur’ān. V49:11–13: "come to know each oth...

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Taqiyya and Lying in Islam

Muhammad Sameel ‘Abd al-Haqq

Taqiyya and Lying in Islam

Taqiyya, a concept all Islamophobes, including the author of the article, “How Taqiyya Alters Islam’s Rules of War: Defeating Jihadist Terrorism”, Raymond Ibrahim hardly  understands. The reality is that Islamophobes throw around the word “taqiyya” with little care for its actual meaning.  It is simply sloppy rhetoric, with no real substantive value. So i will suppose if cries of “Islamophobia” by Muslims are intellectual cop outs, designed to silence all criticism of Islam, then cries of “taqiyya” are the ultimate intellectual cop outs of Islamophobes designed to silence rebuttals of Islamophobes.  To be sure, just as there are legitimate instances of Islamophobia, there are also legitimate instances of lazy Muslims crying “Islamophobia!”. And just as there legitimate instances of Muslim extremists employing their twisted understanding of taqiyya and kitman, there are many instances of Islamophobes crying “taqiyya” in order to silence Mainstream Muslims, and shove down our throats that the extremists’ ideology and narrative is the “real Islam”, firmly rooted in the Islamic tradition, texts, and teachings of Islam.

First off telling the truth is commanded in Islam, and honesty is highly praised. It’s as if after learning some legitimate Arabic terms used in Islam such as jihad, shari’ah,taqiyya and kitman, Islamophobes take their twisted or incomplete understanding of the terms and create a new buzz word. How about telling us the meanings of harb, qital, qatal, irhab, hirabah, fiqh, and/or idtirar instead?

Islamophobes simply take the words of the extremists as truth. But wait..Aren’t all Muslims liars, engaged in taqiyya and  active deception? Isn’t lying part of our religion? How do you know the extremists aren’t lying about Islam? When is a Muslim telling the truth? In short, who is practicing taqiyya, the mainstream Muslim-majority or the Muslim extremists and terrorists? After all, our narratives are diametrically opposed to each other, so it can’t be both groups.

From a translation of the Qur’an:

“And cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is).” (Qur’an, 2:42)

“If ye are on a journey, and cannot find a scribe, a pledge with possession (may serve the purpose). And if one of you deposits a thing on trust with another, Let the trustee (Faithfully) discharge His trust, and let him fear his Lord. Conceal not evidence; for whoever conceals it,- His heart is tainted with sin. And God Knoweth all that ye do.” (Qur’an, 2:283)

“O ye who believe! Stand out firmly For justice, as witnesses To Allah, even as against Yourselves, or your parents, Or your kin, and whether It be (against) rich or poor: For Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (Of your hearts), lest ye Swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline To do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted With all that ye do.” (Qur’an, 4:135)

“But if anyone earns A fault or a sin And throws it on to one That is innocent, He carries (on himself) (Both) a falsehood And a flagrant sin.” (Qur’an, 4:112)

“…Help ye one another In righteousness and piety, But help ye not one another In sin and rancor: Fear Allah: for Allah Is strict in punishment.” (Qur’an, 5:2)

“O ye who believe! Stand out firmly For Allah, as witnesses To fair dealing, and let not The hatred of others To you make you swerve To wrong and depart from Justice. Be just: that is Next to Piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted With all that ye do.” (Qur’an, 5:8)

“O you who believe, you shall reverence Allah, and be among the truthful.” (Qur’an 9:119)

“Allah commands justice, the doing Of good, and liberality to kith And kin, and He forbids All shameful deeds, and injustice And rebellion: He instructs you, That ye may receive admonition.” (Qur’an, 16:90)

“It is only those who believe not in the Ayah (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, who fabricate falsehood, and it is they who are liars.” (Qur’an 16:105)

“The submitting men, the submitting women, the believing men, the believing women, the obedient men, the obedient women, the truthful men, the truthful women, the steadfast men, the steadfast women, the reverent men, the reverent women, the charitable men, the charitable women, the fasting men, the fasting women, the chaste men, the chaste women, and the men who commemorate GOD frequently, and the commemorating women; GOD has prepared for them forgiveness and a great recompense.” (Qur’an 33:35)

“Truly Allah guides not one who transgresses and lies.” (Qur’an 40:28)

“Woe to each sinful dealer in Falsehoods:” (Qur’an, 45:7)

“Oh prophet! Accept the pledges of the believing women, when they come to take their oaths of allegiance to you. Provided, they pledge that they would not join any partners with Allah, would not steal, commit adultery or kill their children, and would not indulge in slander, and would not concoct lies on their own. Also, that they would not disobey you in what is right. Seek forgiveness for them from Allah! Certainly Allah is the most Forgiving and the most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 60:12)

In order to make a claim of abrogation, based on the doctrine of al-nasikh wal mansukh you would have to find the abrogating verse(s) that says, to the effect, “lying is permissible”, which is impossible.

From the Hadith:

“Be honest because honesty leads to goodness, and goodness leads to Paradise. Beware of falsehood because it leads to immorality, and immorality leads to Hell.”

Abdullah bin Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Truth leads to piety and piety leads to Jannah. A man persists in speaking the truth till he is enrolled with Allah as a truthful. Falsehood leads to vice and vice leads to the Fire (Hell), and a person persists on telling lies until he is enrolled as a liar”,

or an alternative rendering,

“It is obligatory for you to tell the truth, for truth leads to virtue and virtue leads to Paradise, and the man who continues to speak the truth and endeavors to tell the truth is eventually recorded as truthful with Allah, and beware of telling of a lie for telling of a lie leads to obscenity and obscenity leads to Hell-Fire, and the person who keeps telling lies and endeavors to tell a lie is recorded as a liar with Allah.”

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted with something, he betrays that trust.” [ al-Bukhari, 33; Muslim, 59]

Hasan bin `Ali (May Allah be pleased with them) said: I remember (these words) from Messenger of Allah (PBUH): “Give up what is doubtful to you for that which is not doubtful; for truth is peace of mind and falsehood is doubt”. [At-Tirmidhi].

Hakim bin Hizam (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “Both parties in a business transaction have a right to annul it so long as they have not separated; and if they tell the truth and make everything clear to each other (i.e., the seller and the buyer speak the truth, the seller with regard to what is purchased, and the buyer with regard to the money) they will be blessed in their transaction, but if they conceal anything and lie, the blessing on their transaction will be eliminated.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

The concept  of taqiyya, properly understood, comes from this verse, along with a few others:

“Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief, except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.” (Surah 16: 106)

Taqiyya involves the Islamic concept of religious dissimulation, not in fear of persecution, but when actually faced with extreme persecution, imminent death, torture and compulsion. Taqiyya is also defined as the practice of precautionary dissimulation practiced by followers of Shi’a Islam, whereby believers may conceal their Shi’a Muslim faith when under threat, persecution or compulsion.

The term taqiyya (تقیه)  is derived from the Arabic triliteral root waw-qaf-ya, denoting “piety, devotion, uprightness, and godliness, and it means the brightest star”, It did not originate among Shi’a, though, but was expanded upon by them. It revolves around the aforementioned Quranic verse. Contrary to what Raymond Ibrahim claims, not only are taqiyya and kitman not a fundamental part of Islam, it is clear that it isn’t necessarily  taqiyya that is used as a form of deceit in times of war. The words for lie in Arabic are:

LIE    إِفْك    IFK

TO LIE    كَذَبَ    KAZABA

In no way does taqiyya involve active deceit. Stating that deceit is doctrinally grounded in Islam is disingenuous. And it is never depicted as superior to such as courage, fortitude, or self-sacrifice in war. In fact, anyone who knows anything about Islam knows that these things, especially shahadat(martyrdom/self-sacrifice) are praised, whereas deceit is only regarded as sometimes a necessity, not something eminently praiseworthy.

The first mistake in assuming that taqiyya is some essential part of Islam is the assumption that Shari’ah is the body of legal rulings that defines how a Muslim should behave in all circumstances( this is fiqh). Jurists have decreed that Muslims are permitted to lie in order to preserve themselves based on Qur’anic verses forbidding Muslims from being instrumental in their own deaths indeed, yet if anyone bothered to read the tafsir surrounding the revelation of the verse in question(Surah 16: 106), one would be familiar with the stories of Bilal, Soumayya and her husband Yasir.

If we read “Azbab ul-Nuzul” (The Reasons for Revelation), we find the context of this verse:

Said Ibn ‘Abbas said: “This verse was revealed about Ammar ibn Yasir. The idolaters had taken him away along with his father Yasir, his mother Sumayyah, [etc.]…and tortured them. As for Sumayyah, she was tied up between two camels and stabbed with a spear in her female organ…[and] killed. Her husband Yasir was also killed…As for ‘Ammar, he was coerced to let them hear what they wanted to hear [i.e. renunciation of Islam]. God’s Messenger was told that Ammar has renounced faith, but he said: ‘Never, Ammar is filled with faith from his head to his toes; faith is admixed with his flesh and blood!’ Ammar then went to see God’s Messenger, crying.  God’s Messenger used his hands to wipe Ammar’s tears, and said: ‘If they return to you, let them hear again what you told them’. Then Almighty God revealed this verse (16:106).”

Also, Mujahid said: “This verse was revealed about some Meccans who accepted faith [i.e. Islam]… The Quraysh caught up with them…and coerced them to renounce their faith. It is about them that this verse was revealed.”

Although taqiyya is a doctrine further developed in Shi’ism, exactly for the reason of persecution at the hands of the majority Sunnis of the time, as we can see, it is also true that there is some justification for such a belief in Sunni canonical sources. Thus, renouncing Islam under duress, torture, and fear of imminent death, is the only application of taqiyya that exists in Sunni Islam, which 85% of Muslims follow.  Virtually all Shi’a believe in a similar restriction of taqiyya. It is not permissible to lie about Islam.

As far as one of the few books devoted to the subject(which should give you a clue about its actual importance and application in Islam), “At-Taqiyya fi’l-Islam” (Dissimulation in Islam), the author Sami Mukarem, is a Druze. The Druze are famous for dissembling their religious beliefs, and as a mystical offshoot of Ismai’ilism, they are not even regarded as within the fold of Islam by most Muslims. All of the author’s assertions about the fundamental importance and applicability of taqiyya among every “sect” in Islam are to be rejected. Most Muslims have never even heard of this doctrine until an Islamophobe brandishes it in a declaration of  victory.

The claim, made by Ibrahim in his article, that Sunnis living in the West today find themselves in the place of the Shi’a in terms of religious persecution, is sheer hyperbolic nonsense. Sunni Muslims in the West don’t not face severe persecution, especially death, just for being Muslims. Though many Islamophobes would like to persecute us thankfully(Alhamdulillah), we have not yet reached the stage of the severe persecution the Shi’a faced from some Sunnis.

Qur’anic verse 3:28 is often seen by Islamophobes as another primary verse that sanctions deception towards non-Muslims. But it is their translations that allows them this deceptive idea. Translations such as this:

“Let believers [Muslims] not take infidels [non-Muslims] for friends and allies instead of believers. Whoever does this shall have no relationship left with God—unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions.”

Here is better translation, with the Arabic transliteration:

[Qur’an 3:28]Let not the believers take the kafireen for awliya rather than believers. And whoever does this has no connection with Allah — except that you guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully. And Allah cautions you against His retribution. And to Allah is the eventual coming.

La yattakhithi almu’minoona alkafireena awliyaa min dooni almu’mineena waman yafAAal thalika falaysa mina Allahi fee shay-in illa an tattaqoo minhum tuqatan wayuhaththirukumu Allahu nafsahu wa-ila Allahi almaseeru

Although  many translators translate “awliya” as friends, anyone more familiar with Arabic knows that this word is not properly translated as friend only, but as “protector, “saint”, and friend”. The verse conveys  two of these connotations at once, and the inclusion of the words, “rather than the believers”, makes it clear that this verse is not about deceiving “infidels”.  More importantly kafir does not signify all non Muslims/nonbelievers, but only those who cover up (the (truth). A closer analysis of verse 3:28 gives another, totally different, picture.  While many  extremist Muslims believe it is forbidden to become friends with non-Muslims, mainstream Muslims believe the term awliya does not properly translate to “friends.”  Rather, the Arabic term awliya refers to a specific type of friendship, an unequal friendship.  And in the context of the verse in question, it refers to two things:

1.To a relationship where a Muslim is receiving protection from the non-Muslim; in particular, the Muslim is at the mercy of the non-Muslim.  A better translation of the word awliya would be “protecting friends”, or simply “patrons.”

2. To the context of war, not normal relations.

The prohibition of taking disbelievers as awliya is repeated in verse 60:1, where Allah says:

O you who believe, do not take My enemies–who are your enemies as well–as your awliya–offering them your love, even though they have rejected the Truth that has come to you, and have on the contrary driven out the Prophet and yourselves from your homes, simply because you believe in your Lord God! (Quran, 60:1).

This verse makes the context and the meaning of awliya, especially in its Quranic usage, much clearer. A  few lines down it is even clarified that Allah is only talking about those disbelievers who oppress the Muslims by fighting them for their faith and driving the Muslims out of their homes:

As for those disbelievers who do not fight against you on account of your faith, and who do not expel you from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and equity, for verily God loves the equitable!  God only forbids you from taking as awliya (protecting friends) those who fight you for your faith, and who drive you out of your homes and support others in driving you out.  Those who seek their protection are indeed wrongdoers. (Quran, 60:8-9)

Even if we accept that the only possible definition of awliya is “friends”, the Quranic verse would only prohibit taking those disbelievers as friends who oppress the Muslims; not all non-Muslims.

And  Danios from Loonwatch writes:

“Furthermore, 3:28 was revealed in a certain context: the Prophet Muhammad had begun preaching his new religion in Mecca, his birthplace.  The pagans of Mecca oppressed and tortured his followers.  As has been discussed earlier, the Prophet Muhammad gave permission to some of the weaker and more vulnerable converts to pretend to renounce their faith in order to avoid being tortured and killed.  (This developed into the Shi’ite doctrine of taqiyya.)  Eventually, the persecution reached such a level that the Prophet ordered his followers to flee to the city of Yathrib (Medina), an event that came to be known as the Hijra (Emigration).  However, some of the early Muslims were too weak to travel and/or were prevented from leaving by the pagans of Mecca.  It was these that were permitted to use “taqiyya” to save their lives.

The pagans of Mecca threatened to destroy the city-state of Medina, and with it the religion of Islam.  They established a network of spies in Medina, by reaching out to some of the non-Muslims of Medina as well as some of the Muslims weak in faith.  The looming threat of a pagan conquest of Medina caused many of the weaker willed Muslims to lose their faith in the Prophet; many of them sought the protection of the Meccan pagans.   It was these Muslims that the Quran was calling out in verse 3:28 and 60:1, urging the Muslims not to “take the disbelievers (i.e. the pagans plotting to overthrow Medina) for awliya (protecting friends) rather than believers (the Prophet and the defenders of Medina).”The words “except by way of precaution when you fear them” was referring to those Muslims left behind in Mecca, reassuring them that they were not to be faulted for trying to save their lives (from torture and death) by using “taqiyya.”  However, a key point here is that the Muslims of Mecca were commanded to flee to Medina, and whoever did not do so was considered sinful, except those physically incapable of doing so.  The Quran says:

When the angels collect the souls of those who die in sin against themselves (because they did not emigrate from Mecca), the angels will ask: “What was wrong with you?”  The people will answer: “We were too weak on earth.”  The angels will say: “Was God’s earth not spacious enough for you to migrate to some other place?”  For such the goal is Hell, what an evil refuge!  Except those who are truly weak and prevented by the oppressors, those men, women, and children who have no means in their power to emigrate.  For these, there is hope that God will forgive them: for God blots out sins and forgives again and again.  He who forsakes his home in the Cause of God finds the earth wide and spacious, with many places of refuge.  Should he die as a refugee from his home, his reward from God is sure.  God is Most Forgiving and Most Merciful. (Quran, 4:97-100)

Clearly, it is not appropriate to analogize the circumstance in verse 3:28 to the situation of Muslim-Americans today.  Unlike the Muslims of pagan Mecca who were tortured and killed if they professed their faith in Islam, Muslim-Americans have freedom of religion.  The state will not kill Muslim-Americans for being Muslim.  Yes, if Muslim-Americans are ever rounded up and sent to concentration camps, as some of the Islamophobes so desire, then in that situation a Muslim-American could use taqiyya to deny that he is a Muslim.  But what relevance is taqiyya when their lives are not at stake?  Even the verse that Spencer himself quotes, verse 3:28, says “except by way of precaution when you fear them.”  Do Muslim-Americans fear for their lives?  Spencer doesn’t even believe that Islamophobia is real, let alone the idea that Muslim-Americans fear for their lives due to their profession of faith, so how does this verse apply at all?

It would only apply to a situation such as the Inquisition in Spain.  And even in this case, the first option would not be taqiyya.  Rather, the Muslims would be commanded to emigrate to another place, such as to the Muslim majority world, wherein they could freely practice their religion.  Any Muslim who willingly stayed behind in Spain and pretended to become Christian might be considered sinful (and therefore deserving of Hell!).  God would only forgive those Muslims who were physically incapable of leaving Spain, due to handicap or prevention by the Spanish authorities.  Therefore, we see that taqiyya is a last case option, and only when there is no other choice.  Even if a Muslim-American felt like there was a  possibility he could be tortured or threatened with death for his faith, in the United States, he would still have the option of migrating to another country.  Taqiyya would simply not be an option, and anyone who resorted to that would be considered sinful and Hell-bound.”

Anti-Muslim critics seem to love citing the minority opinions of Islamic scholars or elevating them to statuses non-existent in the Muslim world.Citing Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari (d. 923)is merely citing medieval opinion while ignoring context and modern Islamic scholarly opinion. Declaring him “author of a standard and authoritative Qur’an commentary” is more rhetoric designed to fool the reader. at-Tabari does not create Islamic doctrine. Same goes for ibn Kathir, Abu ‘Abdullah al-Qurtubi (1214-73)and Muhyi ‘d-Din ibn al-Arabi (1165-1240).No ‘alim, fuqaha, or mufti or any Muslim has that prerogative. Any Muslim who declares “Taqiyya, even if committed without duress, does not lead to a state of infidelity—even if it leads to sin deserving of hellfire”, is obviously wrong, as taqiyya is only permitted under duress! Declamations that Muslims “can behave like ‘infidels” and worse—for example, by bowing down and worshiping idols and crosses, offering false testimony, and even exposing the weaknesses of their fellow Muslims to the infidel enemy—anything short of actually killing a Muslim”, ignores, again, that taqiyya can only be employed under duress.

While acknowledging that deception of the enemy during war is only common sense, Ibrahim goes on to elaborate another lie that involves twisting and misrepresenting the idea “that war against the infidel is a perpetual affair” In fact, the statement “ all four schools of Sunni jurisprudence agree that “jihad is when Muslims wage war on infidels, after having called on them to embrace Islam or at least pay tribute [jizya] and live in submission, and the infidels refuse” is a gross misrepresentation, as all schools of Sunni jurisprudence consist of individuals, the majority of whom don’t hold this view in the exact same way as critics see it. An appeal to this merely ignores the contemporary situation where a cut and dry adherence to a madhabb is not the prevailing circumstance. Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb is a medieval concept, and some contemporary scholars argue that anywhere one is able to practice Islam freely, free from persecution is Dar al-Islam . At the very least Ibrahim ignores that this dichotomous division was:

1. Not something found in the Qur’an, but elucidated by jurists, and

2. This is not the only way the medieval Islamic scholars have “divided the world”. Moreover there is no obligation to convert everybody to Islam  by force.

Robert Spencer, a popular Islamophobic writer and blogger, wants to convince the public that Islamic law allows for and even encourages lying “if it fosters the growth of Islam” and that  moderate Muslims are “stealth jihadists”, who are simply using deception to further our faith. He cites Ibrahim many times in order to buttress his arguments. Yet, any moral code worthy enough because it avoids fallacies and logical contradictions would allow for lying in certain circumstances. It’s common sense that no moral code should command honesty without exception. It brings to mind the famous Nazi’s at your door story. Or my own “Bin Laden at your door asking for Robert Spencer” comparison. Would you tell the truth and turn in Spencer, who is visiting you at your home? There is no need to touch on the fact that this type of allowance for lying in extreme situations is present in Christianity, Judaism, and even in atheistic or humanistic moral philosophy. But this is not the issue. Are Muslims allowed to lie about Islam “if it fosters the growth of Islam”?

According to ahadith, in Islam, the Prophet Muhammad(saws) allowed for three (and only three) exceptions to the rule of honesty :

Lying is NOT permitted except in three cases: (1) a man’s speaking to his wife to make her happy; (2) lying at times of war; (3) and lying in order to reconcile between people.

Lying in order to reconcile people(s), is based on Islam’s emphasis on peace and a saying of the Prophet(as):

“He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar.”

Leaving aside any arguments about the reliability, provenance, authenticity, accuracy, and validity of the sanad or matn of such ahadith, what we are most concerned with here, primarily, is the idea of war, and how extremists believe Muslims are at war with non-Muslims by virtue of them being non Muslims; and Islamophobes believe the extremists. And how lying to “unbelievers” or “infidels” becomes perpetually permissible by this standard. Prophet Muhammad’s(saws) statement that “war is deceit/deception” has led to a basis for promulgation of this taqiyya-linked idea of the permissibility of lying to all non-believers as standard practice. Yet as the following story shows deception is only permitted in war; war defined as “open hostilities, that both sides acknowledge  that they are at war with each other”, as per Islamic law, and/or armed conflict. Lying in war is not tayiyya, except in cases where one lies about being Muslim in order to avoid death, which is permissible, but not encouraged. As stated above, martyrdom is preferable to taqiyya in Islam:

During the Battle of the Trench, the Confederates, led by the Meccans, were threatening to use their overwhelming numbers to destroy Islamic city-state, Medina.  They lay siege to the city. Nuaym ibn Masud was instructed by the Prophet Muhammad(saws)to break the deadly siege. Nuaym said he could do this, but that “this requires me to lie.” The Prophet(as) replied “war is deception.” And so Nuaym went to the various factions making up the Confederates and convinced them of the supposed disloyalty of their own allies.  This sowed discord and disunity in the enemy ranks, which the Muslims capitalized on to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat

Along with a thorough refutation of Spencer’s ideas about taqiyya, which also addresses all the falsehoods/points of the article by Ibrahim, there is also this statement:

The ultraconservative Islamic website,, explains the difference between deceit/deception and treachery:

[Question:] Does Islam permit deception in war? Is this considered to be betrayal and treachery?

[Answer:] Praise be to Allaah.

Allaah has forbidden treachery and has condemned those who do it. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“They are those with whom you made a covenant, but they break their covenant every time and they do not fear Allaah” (al-Anfaal  8:56)

And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“Every betrayer will have a banner on the Day of Resurrection, by which he will be known.” [Bukhaari, 6966; Muslim, 1736]

Al-Bukhaari narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: ‘The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘There are four characteristics, whoever has them all is a pure hypocrite: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise he breaks it; when he is entrusted with something he betrays that trust; and when he argues, he speaks in an obscene manner. Whoever has one of these traits has a trait of hypocrisy until he gives it up.” [Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3878; Muslim, 58]

And it was narrated that Maalik said: “I heard that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas said: ‘There is no people who betrays their covenant but Allaah gives their enemies power over them.” [Muwatta’, Baab ma jaa’a fi’l-wafa’ bi’l-‘ahd]

Yet despite this condemnation of betrayal, Islam allows deception in war in order to attain victory. Al-Nawawi said: “The scholars are agreed that it is permissible to deceive the kuffaar [infidels] in war in any way possible, except if that would mean breaking the terms of a treaty or trust, in which case it is not permitted.”

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “War is deceit.” [Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3029; Muslim, 58].  One of the most dangerous elements of deceit is taking the enemy by surprise and catching them unawares before they can get ready to fight. When the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) wanted to head for Makkah in order to conquer it, he ordered the Muslims to get ready without telling anyone of his intention until after they had set out for Makkah, and after taking all precautions to prevent news of that reaching the mushrikeen. And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to send out many raiding parties, and he would tell them to travel by night and conceal themselves by day so that they could catch the enemy unawares.

Although it is permissible to use deception in war, we say that Islam has attained a high standard of ethics with regard to the use of these tricks in war. Among the most prominent examples of that are the following:

‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab wrote to the commander of an army that he had sent out: “I have heard that some men among you look for kaafirs, then when they run to hide in difficult mountainous terrain they say, ‘Do not be afraid,’ then when they catch up with them they kill them. By the one in whose hand is my soul, if I hear that anyone has done that I will chop off his head.”

It was narrated that Abu Muslimah said: “ ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: ‘By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if any one of you were to point to the sky [i.e., a gesture to imply that he will not harm him] to make a mushrik come down to him and then kill him, I would kill him for that.’”

Islam has forbidden treachery, and treachery is not one of the kinds of tricks and deception that are permitted in war. This Islamic sharee’ah makes a distinction between the kinds of deceit that are permitted and that which involves treachery and breaks treaties. See al-‘Allaaqaat al-Khaarijiyyah fi Dawlat al-Khilaafah, 197. Islam Q&A Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid”

Furthermore Islam does not command that Muslims only be honest with Muslims, and lie to unbelievers. Nowhere will you find in any Quranic verse or Prophetic tradition that says lie to the“unbeliever”, lie to the “non-Muslim”, and/or lie to the “infidel”. Lying is permitted in war, and under specific circumstances, and that the war may be with non-Muslims is entirely incidental.

As for Muslims deceiving non Muslims when they are minorities in Western countries:

“ Allah will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths ye have sworn. But keep to your oaths. Thus doth Allah make clear to you His signs, that ye may be grateful.” (Qur’an 5:89)

“Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness (vain) in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts; and He is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing.” (Qur’an 2:225)

Danios, whom Spencer refuses to debate, writes “According to Islamic law, the status of citizenship is considered a trust.  It cannot be violated.  Therefore, it would be impermissible for a Muslim-American to violate his American citizenship.  As such, it would be completely forbidden in Islam for a Muslim-American to plot against the United States of America.  Such a person would be resurrected on the Day of Judgment with the Banner of Treachery, according to Islamic theology.

According to Islamic law, when a person enters a non-Muslim country using a visa, by doing so he enters into a covenant of peace with them.  It thereby becomes forbidden for such a person to plot against them, and their wealth, lives, and property are considered sacrosanct.  As the classical Islamic jurist Imam Shafi’i opined: “If he is safe from them, they should be safe from him.”  In other words, a Muslim may not plot against the non-Muslims who allowed him to enter their country.  During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad, a man named Mughira bin Shuba converted to Islam while living in the lands of the non-Muslims.  Upon his conversion, Mughira killed the men while they were caught unaware, and ran off with their wealth.  When Mughira fled to the lands of Islam with this wealth, the Prophet Muhammad rejected his action, calling it “treachery.”  The Prophet said: “The wealth…is obtained through treachery, and we have no need of it.”

The ultraconservative Islamic website says:

When a Muslim enters a kaafir country, it is as if he entering into a peaceful agreement with them – which is the visa which is given to him to enable him to enter their country – so if he takes their wealth unlawfully, then he is breaking that agreement, in addition to being a thief.

The wealth that he steals from them is haraam. It was narrated that al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah kept company with some people during the Jaahiliyyah. He killed them and took their wealth, then he came and entered Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “As for your Islam, I accept it, and as for the wealth, I have nothing to do with it.” According to a report narrated by Abu Dawood, “As for your Islam, we accept it, and as for the wealth it is obtained through treachery, and we have no need of it.” [Bukhaari, 2583; Abu Dawood, 2765; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 2403]

Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar said: The phrase “and as for the wealth, I have nothing to do with it” means, I will not touch it because it was obtained through treachery. What we learn from this is that it is not permissible to take the wealth of the kuffaar [non-Muslims] by treachery when they have trusted you and granted you safety, because when people accompany one another (when travelling), they do so on the basis of mutual trust, and that trust should not be betrayed, whether the other person is a Muslim or a kaafir

Fath al-Baari, 5/341

Al-Shaafa’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: When a Muslim enters dar al-harb (the non-Muslim lands) on peaceful terms, and finds himself in position to take something of their wealth, it is not permissible for him to take it, whether it is a little or a lot, because if he is safe from them, they should be safe from him…

Al-Sarkhasi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: It is not right for a Muslim who is on peaceful terms with them to betray them, because betrayal is haraam. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Every betrayer will have a banner by his backside on the Day of Resurrection, by which his betrayal will be known.”

If he betrays them and steals their wealth, and brings it to the Muslim lands, it is not right for a Muslim to buy from him if he knows about that, because he has obtained it in an evil manner, and buying from him is encouraging him in that, which it is not right for the Muslim to do. The basic principle in this matter is the hadeeth of al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah (may Allaah be pleased with him), when he killed his companions and brought their wealth to Madeenah and became Muslim, and asked the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to take the khums of his wealth, and he said, “As for your Islam, we accept it, and as for the wealth it is obtained through treachery, and we have no need of it.” Al-Mabsoot, 10/96

Which can be found here:

According to  fiqh al-aqalliyyat it is very clear that Islam does not permit Muslims living in the West to engage in treachery against their fellow citizens, or against the state. In fact, lying about the religion is considered more heinous than a regular lie, and constitutes an act of kufr;  lying about the religion is expressly forbidden.  It is classified as a “lie against Allah and His Messenger”, and leads to Jahannum. There are many ahadith warning about lying about Allah and Muhammad(saws), indicating that what is referred to here is lying about the religion. A  Muslim who deliberately lies about Islam, would be considered an apostate(murtad) at the very worst, or a munafiq(hypocrite) or fasiq(sinner) at the very least; which is why many frequently  say Allahu A’lam (Allah knows best),or “whatever I say that is true is from Allah, all mistakes are my own or the whispers of shaytan” to avoid this. In addition the claim that Islam permits lying about the religion to further it is a fabrication. There is not a single instance in the life of the Prophet (as) in which he lied about Islam or allowed anyone else to do so.

Allahu A’lam