Is Lying a Sin, or Just a Good Strategy?
One of the heated matters being discussed among Christians and Muslims today is over the function and use of deceit in Islam and the consequences for the those Christians who are targets of popular Islamic tactics which use deceit. In this essay, prevailing Islamic arguments in favor of the Muslim view will be exposed and examined. Truth will be separated from fiction and the misleading images favored by Muslims replaced by the relevant body of God’s Law and Mind.
Once the Islamic sources are considered, I will review the common Christian exhortations against deceit and close by fixing my prayers upon the superior perspective by virtue of which is more Godly, this being the only rational measure of truth. My reader will come to see that lying to infidels is a virtue in Islam and at the same time strongly prohibited in the Bible. First, lets outline the common Islamic foundations for the doctrine of ‘taqiyyah' and its position and place in Islamic apologetics. Getting informed is important, as it effects Christians engaging in debate with our Muslim neighbors1.
While there are different doctrines amongst the several sects of Islam, the general principal is now shared across them all. Formerly, this custom allowed Muslims to use deceit in order to conceal their sectarian identity and originally, this practice was used when their particular sects or community were under persecution or suspicion while in a minority status in other sectarian societies. The doctrine has since evolved into a tactic to confuse opponents, protect and sanitize the character of Muhammad and conceal the truth about Islam and its political agenda in the West. While some of the doctrine is derived from the Quran itself, still more is derived from the Sunnah of the prophet and explored in the hadith literature. I will cover the pertinent aspects of each in this essay.
‘Let not the believers take the disbelievers as ‘Awliyaa' (supporters, helpers) instead of the believers, and whoever does that, will never be helped by Allaah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them" [Q. 3:28].
The reason why I begin with a verse warning Muslims to refrain from taking non-Muslims as friends is to illustrate the mandate that Muslims are under which demands from them to associate with non-Muslims only for a very specific purpose, which is to lead the ‘infidel’ into the ‘House of Islam’, chattel slavery2, or death. Lying is not only permitted to achieve this goal, but encouraged3. The Muslim is in fact required to lie in order to change the host society into an Islamic nation and merge the old culture into one in which there is no religion but Allah’s [Q. 3:19]4. Doing this effectively demands the patience, cold heart and skill of an experienced agent of espionage5. Nor are Muslims permitted to feel any love towards the enemies of Allah. Actually, Muslims are obliged to hate the enemies of Allah6. Frequently, the Islamic response is that Muslims are only allowed to lie if their life is in mortal danger, and lying is the only way in which to stay alive. Many of us would agree with the principle7, but is that the whole truth? While Muslims insist that lying is generally prohibited, there are so many exceptions and ‘loopholes’ that any perceived prohibition is meaningless. Furthermore, the prophet of Islam tells his followers that oaths may be broken arbitrarily, and it is only the heart of the Muslim which is ‘taken to task by Allah’ so that unintentional promises [i.e. promises of peace made while on expedition or jihad] are expiated by acts of charity which include the freeing a believing slave, fasting or other acts, so long as they are affordable8 [Q. 5:89]. Muslims are also free from any obligation to any sect of Christianity that does not accept the prophethood of Muhammad and the Islamic god [Q. 9:3; 66:2] and all Muslims are to follow Muhammad’s example and not ask questions while actively leading skeptics astray [Q. 5:101; 40:32; cf. Bukhari Vol 1 Book 2 Num 54; Bukhari Vol 2 Book 24 Num 555]9.
Now we’ll take a closer look at some of the Islamic traditions drawn directly from the words and deeds of the prophet and discover that deception is certainly allowed for the purpose of converting or conquering the enemies of Allah [Q. 4:101]. The ‘Sunnah’ are the collection of deeds and sayings of Muhammad, which by virtue of their origins are considered divinely inspired10. Because they are occasioned by supernatural influence, it is incumbent on every believing Muslim to emulate Muhammad’s words and deeds in every aspect of his daily life, which are found in the Sunnah [Q. 33:21]11 . This is how Muslims validate extremist views as cardinal virtues and foster the probative value of deception, infiltration and war-fighting for any reason at all12. I debated with a Muslim once and his motto was: ‘if Muhammad said it, I’ll spread it, and if Muhammad did it, I’m with it!’
While lying against Allah and his lone prophet is punishable by hell-fire13, lying to non-Muslims plays an important roll in the Sunnah of Muhammad found in many of the traditions. In later philosophical treatises on the relation of deceit and jihad, there are many examples of just how Muslims are to deal with ‘infidels’ and even how critics are to be dispensed with14. By looking at them, we will discover a great deal about the character of Muhammad, and his tendencies towards deceit and violence for political expediency. I will be discussing only one of the many violent events in the life of Muhammad in this study. Here are the pertinent details surrounding the murder of Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf, a Jew from the city of Medina:
Allah's Apostle said, "Who is willing to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?" Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, "O Allah's Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?" The Prophet said, "Yes," Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab). "The Prophet said, "You may say it." ... [Bukhari Vol 5 Book 59 Num 369]
Ka’b was a critic of the Meccan prophet. He and others publicly narrated satirical poems ridiculing Muhammad and the Muslims. Muhammad’s response is preserved in Islamic traditions and serves as a model for Islamic behavior towards ‘infidels‘ who notice and comment on troubling aspects of Muhammad’s idea of the divine or his executive decisions and personal actions15. Ka’b had made the mistake of injuring the prophet and Allah16, and for no worse a deed than writing a satirical poem, was murdered by the followers of the prophet. In order to get close to Ka’b, Muhammad permitted his followers to lie. Ka’b was murdered by men who had earlier been his very own friends17.
Islamic ‘scholars’ have long elaborated on the meaning of these traditions in modern and classic commentaries on the Quran. In short, when Muslims are politically or militarily unable to demand concessions and abridge freedom of speech through legislation or organized force, they are permitted to use deceit and assassination to achieve the goals of Islam. Once the government is under the control of the Muslims, this usually becomes unnecessary. But, while Islam is in a weakened condition, lying is an essential tool for the propagation of the Islamic ideology and the slow integration of the host nation into a carbon-copy of 7th century Arabia18. The ‘weakened conditioned’ I wrote of earlier is no term coined by this writer. Philosopher Ibn Taymiyyah [b. 1263 d. 1328] wrote a book titled ‘The Sword on the Neck of the Accuser of Muhammad’19 in which he outlined the expectation of living peacefully in a non-Muslim state. Muslims are to ‘forgive and be patient’ and ‘believers should lie to the People of the Book’20 until the believers are ready to strive hard against the unbelievers with all of their wealth, persons, property and souls [Q. 4:95; 8:72; 9:73].
On the other hand, Christians know that God is infinitely powerful, just, and deserves mankind’s feeble though sincere efforts at praise and adoration [Book of Psalms 7:17; Hb ‘yadah’ [ידה] ‘praise‘; Lt [confitebor] ‘confession’]. For Christians, doing the will of God the Father places us under the rule of his Son in order to count ourselves among the elect [Gospel of Matthew 24:31; Epistle to the Colossians 3:12; Gk, [εκλεκτος] ‘eklectos’ ‘laid out, chosen’; Lt, [electi Dei sancti] ‘chosen of God’]. Submitting to the law and the mind of Christ requires that we ‘confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’ and favorably respond to the call to ‘love one another just as God loved us’ [Epistle of I John 4:11; 4:14]. God desires the personal tie once shared in Eden, and in Christian theology that bridge is built with no more than two pieces of wood forever blessed with Christ’s blood. In Christ Jesus, God is the Great Workman who is ‘anxious for the lives of his children’ [Philo, ‘On the Creation’ v.10].
Understanding whether lying is one of the attributes of God, then, becomes an urgent matter of ‘apodictic’ importance and a subject of theological necessity as opposed to a mere matter of conversation. There is a far difference between what just happens to be the case [that people lie], and what in fact must be the case [a liar cannot be trusted]. This begs the question, can a loving God be a liar? We need to know the absolute certainty of God’s expressed nature.
While proud men are lairs, forging lies against one another, God lifts up my head and cannot lie [Hb,‘sheqer’ [שׁקר]; Book of Psalms 119:69; Psalms 3:3; Epistle to Titus 1:2]. In His house, ‘lying is an abomination that defiles’ [Book of Revelation 21:27]. Scripture warns us that lying is a shameful characteristic of the impure, so unless Muslims are willing to call God impure, He cannot be capable of deceit. But, is Allah so powerful in the mind of the Muslim that his deceit simply becomes another indicator of his might and strength? After all, Allah does what he pleases [Q. 2:90; 7:128].
The study of Scripture brings us to realize that lying is no less an abomination to God than idol worship [Book of Deuteronomy 7:26] and an honest and realistic examination of lying brings us back to a God who is incapable of lying: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So, what is the implication for the West in general, and American Christians in particular? First and foremost, Christians need to realize that Muslims among us are using deceitful tactics to achieve our conversion or destruction21, but in either case our complete submission to Allah. The use of political pressure is becoming more common, as is application to the courts for the planned status of ‘preferred religion’. We have all witnessed propaganda meant to polish the image of Islam. All are mere tactics in an ‘the end is justified by any means’ view towards the non-Muslim world.
In conclusion, Christians need to understand that Islam is far more than a religion, but a political movement with the same totalitarian agenda as Soviet Communism and Nazi Fascism. In order to attain the objective, lying becomes a tool for disinformation among the now divisible factions of the United States22 and the Free World.
1 Far too often the Muslim is more concerned with his ordained mission of winning the debate than in respecting the dignity of the opposition partner in the match-up. That type of tactic is important to Muslims, and is not considered unfair. In fact, winning dishonestly is a categorical moral imperative.
2 A good example to include here is from al-Tabari’s History [Vol XVII 3435] where the Banu Najiyah Christians were attacked without provocation. All the adult men were killed and the dependents sold into slavery for a sum of 200,000 dirhams. The slaves were later set free when the money wasn’t delivered.
3 Imam Abu Hammid Ghazali says: "Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible." [See 'Lying']
4 According to Omar Ahmed, Chairman of the Board of CAIR, ‘Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Qur'an should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth’ (Report in the San Ramon Valley Herald of a speech to California Muslims in July 1998; quoted by Daniel Pipes in CAIR: Moderate Friends of Terror, New York Post, April 22, 2002).
5 Note that one of the circumstances in which Muslims are directed to lie is during a journey or expedition. Muhammad did this often to keep the enemy guessing as to his whereabouts. Over the centuries, guerilla armies of all kinds have discovered this is a good way to infiltrate and wreak havoc.
6Compare that to the Christian doctrine of ‘safeguarding peace’ by recognizing hatred as a grave sin which sets us in opposition to charity. The Lord tells us that even anger will make us liable to judgment [Gospel of Mt. 5:22]. How much more so hatred?
7Not only did Jesus tell the truth in the face of certain death, but the Church has always been ‘the more illustrious and honorable because the suffering of the martyrs has been great. No matter how the struggle intensifies, the glory of those who struggled grows with it’ [Cyprian of Carthage].
9Muslims are only to be truthful to other Muslims, and not ask too many questions.
10A good starting point for understanding the Sunnah is at http://www.answering-islam.org/Index/S/sunna.html.
11For example, the prophet of the Muslims tells his people that there are two types of people to be emulated,  rich men who spend in the ways of Allah, and  a person who acts in accordance with the Quran and teaches it’s precepts to others [Bukhari Vol 1, Book 3, Num 73].
12Muslims, unlike Christians and Jews, are enslaved to the ancient bondage of war, and tend to ignore the evils and injustice that accompany war-fighting. That is unless someone else is the aggressor, then they can’t talk enough about it.
13There can be no disparaging remarks about Allah, which is viewed as rejecting his signs [Q. 6:93]. The other prohibition against lying is that there can be no criticism of the prophet of Allah, as this will surely cause the speaker to be sent to the hell-fire [Bukhari Vol 2 Book 23 Num 378, Vol 1 Book 3 Num 106-108]. It isn’t surprising then to hear Muslims claim that killing a critic of the prophet of Islam is seen as an intercessory act for the purpose of saving the soul of the wrongdoer who has opposed the message of Muhammad.
14Assassination is often used. See, ‘Muhammad’s Dead Poets Society’ for more, as jihad and warfare are not within the scope of this paper.
15One common observation has always been the very inaccurate Islamic re-telling of ancient fables and misunderstood Bible stories. Muhammad’s critics often pointed this out. Most of them were killed or fled to safer lands. Some just surrendered and converted to Islam.
16How does one ‘hurt’ God? The murder of Ka’b was about Muhammad’s ego, and nothing more.
17These men knew Ka’b well enough that Ka’b thought nothing of them bringing weapons to a late night meeting, nor did he object to them touching his hair several times before they killed him. We need to remember that!
18Naturally, the Muslims would prefer assimilation into Islam, but when persuasion fails, force follows [al-Tabari XVII 3275].
19Citing: Mark Gabriel, Phd. Islam and Terrorism, p.91.
20People of the Book are Christians and Jews. While we are to be given respect for the time being, we are later to be subdued when the circumstances are profitable for the Muslims. Nevertheless, like the martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas, Christians can face the pain of childbirth and even the teeth of wild beasts with the full knowledge that our Savior and God suffered for us on the Cross and suffers with us under the sword.
21These might be harsh words to some, but the historical life of the prophet and his religion are very vivid.
22Not long ago, these divisions were trumped by a pledge to be, ‘one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’. What happened?