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Comprehending Cultural Incompatibility

Examining Islamic Al Walaa’ wa’l Barra’ and Taqiyya

The Islamic Identity is taken to mean the way of life of the Muslim - an all-encompassing set of beliefs, practices and ideologies as derived from the Qur'an and the example of Muhammad (s.a.w). The Islamic identity is that which separates us from the Kuffar. From Nida'ul Islam; April - May 1997]

As we venture further into the 21st century the Western World is increasingly confronting a ‘clash of civilizations’. Meanwhile, under legislative directive civil society is obliged to accept multiculturalism. Here each and every ethnic/religious culture is to be accorded equal respect. Criticism of any of these multiple of cultures is discouraged. There remains however, the clash of cultures yet the associated incompatibilities are hardly ever scrutinized.

Contemporary infiltration of secular humanism and relativism, expressed through community acceptance of ‘political correctness’ has, in addition, pushed the Judeo-Christian heritage to the perimeter of that which once was at the core of Western culture. Concepts of honesty, truthfulness, mutual respect and acceptance, once foundational virtues are progressively departing from the heart of our culture. Consequently, it becomes harder for us to comprehend another culture where these virtues are not so highly regarded. This kind of incomprehension begins to surface when the once Christian culture attempts to understand and accept cultural precepts of Islam.

Traditionally moreover, the Christian community has generally exhibited a welcoming attitude of inclusiveness. Islam, under the principles of Al Walaa’ wa’l Barra’ is commanded to exhibit striking exclusiveness.

According to Christian moral ethics lying has always been viewed as SIN. In our Westminster style courts of law for instance, there remains the presumption in the witness box to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Under the precepts of taqiyya in Islam the ‘sin of lying’ is not so clear cut.

We will venture now to try and understand the Islamic precepts of Al Walaa’ wa’l Barra’ and taqiyya. A further appreciation of these phrases may well be grasped by entering them into your favourite search engine.

Al Walaa’ wa’l Barra’ — The topic of Al Walaa’ wa’l Barra’ in Islam distinguishes the Muslim (believer in Allah) from the unbeliever (infidel or kuffar). Al Walaa’ wa’l Barra’ dictates clear principles of allegiance, alliance, friendship and support–love– toward brother Muslims and to disregard, or deny, to the point of hate, all non-believing infidels (the kuffar). Al Walaa’ wa’l Barra’ defines the opposing aspects of al Hubb and al Bughoud (hatred) expressed for the sake of Allah.

This is also recognised as Muwaaat which dictates that the Muslim (believer) must show love, support, help and always elevate each other. Al-Bughoud is the opposite and requires the Mulsim to express, under al Muadaet, animosity to the point of hatred* [in the heart] the Kuffar or unbeliever.

* This kind of hatred or disrespect does not [openly] call for physical hurt or mistreatment but rather hatred of kuffar unbelief.

Qur’anic Sura supporting Al Walaa’ wa’l Barra’ find origin in 4:144 " Oh you who believe, do not take the kafireen [kuffar] as awliya instead of believers, do not wish to take Allah as proof against you."

Other Sura quoted in support of ‘al walaa wal barra’ are

"Let not the believers take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (to remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah." [Sura 3: 28].

: "The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive Mercy." [Sura 49: 10]

Mohammed, speaking of the aims of the enemies of Allah says:– "They long for you to disbelieve even as they disbelieve, so that you may be the same (as them). so do not choose friends from among them until they go out in the way of Allah." [Sura 4:89]

"O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them." [Sura 5: 51-57] see also Sura 58:22 and 9:23

Notwithstanding, justice must always be accorded toward those who do you no hurt and who provide shelter and a land in which to live.

"Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just." [Sura 60: 8]

Identification of kuffar (infidel) behaviour and associations prohibited (under aspects of al walaa wal barra) to Muslims living in Western society include—

  • Wearing similar clothing- often even sports or recreational gear .

  • Using words or expressions common amongst the Kuffar or behaving as they do.

  • Using the kuffar calendar other than for business or commerce.

  • Participating in kuffar festivals – eg.Christmas or Easter.

  • Assisting, taking as assistants or accepting advice from the kuffar.

  • Adapting names and knick-names of the kuffar rather than Islam.

  • To admire, praise or envy, in any way the achievements, material or technological, of the kuffar.

Muslims are reminded

It is a secular people who say–let us learn from them or be like them. This will affect your Al Walaa’ wa’l Barra’. If you even begin to like or defend them you will become like them–the kufffar

Living amongst the kuffar (infidels) must always be for the sake of da-wah or involvement in jihad. Living amongst the kuffar is only for the purposes of Dunya–business.

TaqiyyaLying and deception–In common with most religions of the world Islam lays claim to prohibition of lying and deception. For instance, Sura 40:28 reads–‘ Truly Allah guides not one who transgresses and lies.’

Other clearly prohibited kinds of lying are– A lie against Allah; A lie against Mohammed or lying to; about or between, fellow Muslims.

Notwithstanding, Islam does embrace exceptions to such prohibition when under particular circumstances, lying is acceptable; even encouraged.

One Muslim scholar Alif A. Tabbarah writes (in Spirit of Islam p. 247) lying is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable and better for the general welfare and for the settlement of conciliation amongst people, than telling the truth. To this effect the Prophet says–‘He is not a false person who (through) lies settles conciliation amongst people supports good or says what is good.

Permissible lying includes:

  • Lying to save ones life.

  • Lying to effect peace or reconciliation.

  • Lying to persuade or appease a woman.

  • Lying to find a safe course on a journey or expedition.

  • Lying in situations of war.

Another respected Muslim teacher Al Ghazali comments– "Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praise-worthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth or lying, it is unlawful to accomplish this through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal (itself) is permissible." [The Reliance of the Traveller, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, amana publications, 1997, section r8.2, page 745 see also John Laffin, The Arab Mind, p. 79)] Ghazali adds -----"We must lie when truth leads to unpleasant results."

One Hadith, considered a quotation by Mohammed carries the implication–" The sons of Adam are accountable for all lies except those uttered to help or bring reconciliation between Muslims."

Arab sociologist Sonia Hamady writes– "Lying is a widespread habit among Arabs, and they have a low idea of the truth.."

The one Qur’anic Sura most commonly quoted justifying lying [taqiyya; takeyya; taqiyah or taqiah] is 3:28 see above

One might well conclude that Islam permits a Muslims to lie whenever they perceive their own well being or that of Islam, is under threat.

Further justification for deception finds grounds from Sura 3:54 or 8:30 where Allah Himself is deemed–‘ the best of deceivers’. One translation reads– ‘ they schemed but Allah (too) schemed. He is profound in his machinations.’ also Sura 4.101 suggesting his people are clearly entitled to follow his example in order to keep the opposition off their backs.

This concept of what we [in Western Judeo-Christian culture] deem deception or lying, is rationalised in Islam for any individual under threat as speaking with the tongue deceptively while adhering true to Allah -comfortable in heart.

Concerning deception (lying) in war one might ask how any infidel is to be regarded since such an one is in the realm or domain of war–Da-al-Harb – as distinct from Muslim believers in Da-al-Islam.

Extending this question further– "How does the Muslim (believer) regard any citizen of the USA and its associated nations, including Australia, when they identify them as the Great SATAN and Jews and Israelites, as the Lesser Satan?"

Islamic scholars purport to affirm that depending on the individual, audience or community, it is permissible to disguise, restrain or limit, verbal communication when necessary in the best interest (security) of the Muslim person or Islamic dawah- thereby avoiding harm.

Western cultural perception might well be –"Is this not a license to deceive?"

How then does a Muslim person regard himself when in a position of subservience within an overwhelming western culture? How does he guard or keep himself secure? According to taqiyya he might well express an outward peaceable agenda while inwardly in the heart retaining, in allegiance to Allah, an aggressive emotion.

Therefore to ‘dodge’ any threat, one might ask– would such a (Muslim) person pretend to befriend the infidel (kuffar) or the (kuffar) community though, according to ‘al walaa wal barra’ this would seem to be in violation of Islamic instruction? Yet such attitude would very likely be covered by yielding to the allowable distinction between an outward expression of say, sympathetic adherence to infidel belief/practice, while maintaining inwardly –in the heart- strong allegiance to Allah. Again this could well be seen as a precaution against harm or as a means of promoting a favourable view of Islam.

One political aspect of taqiyya is the concept of ‘out witting’ as in debate or discussion (press interviews for instance) through diversion; by avoiding truthful answers to lead away from the subject in question or other forms of obfuscation. Some might be quick to comment this is merely common political waffle. Playing the victim of intolerance or discrimination, is another recourse. Other more radical interpretation of taqiyya, in the political sphere, implies that certain leaders may well sign agreements or documents when they know (in their hearts) they have no real intension of complying. Such contractual failure would (of course) be in the best interest for the expansion of Islam.

Taqiyya has been deemed by some leading Muslims as a slander or libel against Islam.

Striking differences in the practice of taqiyya exist between the Sunni and Shia Muslims.

Sunni’s adhere to the belief that only Allah determines when one should die. This might well be seen as a kind of fatalism and an absence of free will. The Shia believe life to be a gift from Allah and to be preserved at all costs. Thus, Shi’ites more regularly hold to the practice of taqiyya as they express a greater level of free will.

Historically self preservation became more important to the Shia minority when persecuted by the Sunni.

The Shia further justify their adaptation of of taqiyya by reference to Sura 16:106: "Anyone who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters unbelief, except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in the faith."

To the Sunni’s taqiyya is defined as dissimulation- namely to conceal one’s motives, to feign or pretend.

For the Shia taqiyya can be regarded as the presentation of ‘face’– being outwardly agreeable with one’s opponents while inwardly (in the heart) opposing them- ie. Being able to conceal or disguise one’s beliefs when faced with physical or mental, conflict or danger.

To conclude "taqiyya" is a situational ‘ethic' commanded of Muslims as a form of duplicity, literally lying in Allah's cause.