By Uzma Saeed

A few years ago, during my university studies, I encountered preachers from a different faith sharing their beliefs. One of them handed me a pamphlet with Quran translations and attempted to dissuade me from considering Islam as a religion. She used these translations to support her arguments. Upon closer examination, I found errors in the translation and corrected her with the accurate version. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, they were disseminating incorrect information about Islam.

Similarly, the Internet offers a wealth of information on various topics, but a significant challenge lies in discerning truth from falsehood. When individuals seek information about Islam, the internet often serves as their primary source. However, the issue is the proliferation of websites that disseminate content directly contradicting Islamic teachings. Some may do so out of ignorance, while others deliberately aim to spread falsehoods and obscure the truth with the intent of leading people away from Islam.

 One of the accusations leveled against Muslims is that of “Taqiyya”. Growing up in a Muslim home, I had never heard this term in my house, nor did I hear it in a mosque. But it is one I see often used by people to malign Islam and its followers.

What is Taqiyya?

Taqiyya refers to using vague, unclear, or ambiguous speech. It involves a form of concealment that may not necessarily be outright lying or falsehood but is used to intentionally mislead, primarily to protect the speaker’s true identity. This concealment may include an element of deceit, often employed to avoid revealing the truth due to the fear of persecution.

There is an assumption of a hidden agenda on the part of Muslims. These accusations are usually put forth by those who not only fail to understand Islam but are actively digging in Islamic texts to justify their preconceived notions.

How important is truthfulness in Islam?

Islam categorizes sins into two categories; major and minor. Minor sins are eliminated by the good deeds a person does.  Major sins require repentance and a commitment to abstain from that act in the future. Lying is a major sin and has been deemed as a trait of hypocrites. 

The Quran says, “O you believe! Be God conscious and speak upright words” (70:33)

Muslims are expected to be truthful, upright and clear in their speech and actions. Ones who are dependable, trustworthy and just in their dealings, not just with Muslims but with all those who they interact with.  

Reading on the conduct of Prophet Muhmmad (peace be upon him), one realizes that he always spoke the truth and never compromised his integrity. Even when his enemies called him names, physically harmed him and put him through hardships, still they trusted him enough to keep their valuables with him because of his immaculate character and truthfulness.

Do Muslims lie?

Any Muslim who knowingly lies, risks their status as a true believer and slides closer to hypocrisy. If a Muslim lies, then he or she is responsible to the extent of his or her lies. It does not take away from the authenticity and completeness of Islam as it does not condone it. 

It’s important to understand that there are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world and to make a sweeping accusation on all can hardly be justified. Equating the conduct of a few Muslims to all Muslims or to Islam, does not add weight to the argument of Taqiyya as propagated by some Islamophobes. 

Do Muslim Preachers lie to lure people to Islam?

Lying even to bring people towards Islam is not permissible. Addition or deletion of anything from the religion of Islam has dire warnings and is strictly forbidden. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructed Muslims to convey Islam as is without any amendments. 

Islam doesn’t rely on falsehoods to thrive and expand. This confidence stems from the fact that Islam is a divine religion with meticulous documentation and preservation. The Quran, its sacred text, has remained unchanged over time, with Muslims reciting and memorizing it in its original form as revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Furthermore, the hadith, encompassing the words, actions, and tacit approvals of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), have been systematically recorded in a historically honest manner.

No other religion comes even close to the solid textual evidence put forth by Islam. When people are already converting to Islam because of its beauty and solid proof, it would be unwise to tarnish the image of this beautiful religion by mixing it with false claims. Isn’t that what happened to other religions? Divine books were altered overtime on the whims of a few people which then misled the masses. Islam being the last and final religion has been saved from any such alteration so that it serves as the beacon of light for humanity.  

Norm or exception?

One of the explanations given for taqiyya is a weak argument in itself. It is said that Muslims conceal their faith from non-Muslims to be safe. The argument is one of “exceptions” rather than the norm. Do Muslims hide their faith under normal circumstances? The answer is negative as most Muslims feel proud to belong to the community of Islam. 

If the situation is such that Muslims are persecuted due to their faith and their lives are under threat, then we are actually talking about extraordinary circumstances. In that case, it is more about human nature than about any particular religion as under exceptional circumstances, unlawful becomes lawful. For example, stealing is abhorrent and illegal, but if a person is starving and steals just a loaf of bread, then this act will be looked at in a different light. 

How to fact check Islam

As mentioned above, some of the material presented in the name of Islam is a misrepresentation, inaccurate or ill intended. When an information is found on the internet, it is important to check the authenticity of that information against the Quran and Hadith (sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad).  There are also a ton of articles written by Muslims to better understand different aspects of Islam based on evidence from the two sources.

We are fortunate to live in a country where Muslims can build mosques and openly practice their faith. Any questions on Islam can easily be answered by visiting a mosque nearby or calling a hotline such as the one offered by WhyIslam (877-WHY-ISLAM).

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