Are Muslim Professions of Peace Trustworthy?

Indonesian Muslim protesters shout slogans during a rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. Organizers of an Indonesian movement to promote a moderate brand of Islam have canceled a mass rally after its youth supporters burned the flag of an outlawed hard-line Muslim group, sparking allegations of blasphemy. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

In a longwinded article titled “Hidden Enemies: An American History of Taqiyya” for Cabinet Magazine, the author, “Joshua Craze”—an apparent pseudonym for a self-identified Muslim man—predictably downplays the dangers of taqiyya, an Islamic doctrine which permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims.  Consider the following excerpts:

[T]aqiyya had become a central pillar of the far-right’s rendition of Islam. Because I am a masochist, I spent a few days trying to source all the quotations in one report, “Taqiyya about Taqiyya” by Raymond Ibrahim, a virulent Islamophobe associated with David Horowitz…  It would be too easy to say that distorted facts and quotations proliferate in such pieces because of a disregard for the truth. Raymond Ibrahim and his fellow Taqiyyists have inordinate regard for a central truth: that Islam is evil. This truth flattens everything else—the seventh century and the twenty-first form part of a single tapestry of intelligibility. Everything makes sense. It’s impossible to refute Ibrahim. He has certainty, where I can offer only ambiguity and nuance. That’s not much of an answer. As ever, paranoia is far more coherent than real life.

Concerning “Craze’s” charges, the reader is free to evaluate my article, “Taqiyya about Taqiyya”—originally the expert report portion of my affidavit in a legal case concerning taqiyya—and see if it “distorts facts” and has a “disregard for the truth.”  (Curiously, although Craze linked to and documented every other article he referenced, including those he was critical of, he failed to link to mine, which is here.)

Of more interest is his point, that, when it comes to Islam, people would rather have certainty—which apparently culminates into “paranoia”—rather than what he offers, “ambiguity and nuance.”  He continues in this vein:

As I read more articles and doom-scrolled deeper into the universe of the right-wingers, I gave them a name: the Taqiyyists. The central tenants [sic] of their faith introduced a basic epistemological conundrum. If Muslims were liars, and many Muslims—like myself—were in hiding, how was one to tell who the real Muslims were?

How, indeed.  Here we finally come to it, the significance of his meandering piece:  If there is evidence that Muslims are encouraged to deceive non-Muslims—and there is plenty—how does one know when a Muslim is or isn’t being deceptive?

Fundamentally, this is a philosophical question of the “burden of proof” variety: Which of two parties is required to prove something in order to earn the trust of the other? Under normal circumstances, person X will rely on universal criteria when determining whether or not to believe person Y.

However, when Y is openly following a creed—Islam—that teaches its adherents to be hostile, even hate non-Muslims, and do virtually everything possible—including lying—to dominate them, then the entire calculus must change, including by placing the burden of proof on the Muslim, certainly when it comes to sensitive, potentially lethal, situations.

Consider a recent UK report; it found that Muslim prisoners regularly employ taqiyya—the report’s own word of choice—to deceive the prison and justice system. For example, one of the two Muslims who beheaded 85‑year‑old Catholic priest Jacques Hamel in his church in France in 2016 had twice earlier been apprehended for trying to go to Syria and fight for the Islamic State. All he had to do, however, was tell the judge what he wanted to hear: “I am a Muslim who believes in mercy, in doing good, I’m not an extremist … I want to get back my life, see my friends, get married.” Based on these words, the judge released him, and soon thereafter this “Muslim who believes in mercy” slaughtered the elderly priest.

Similarly, after being imprisoned for his involvement in a bombing plot, Usman Khan—who “was considered a success story of an extremist turning their life around,” to quote the report—was released early.  Not long thereafter he too went on a stabbing spree that killed two and injured three on London Bridge. And “many of the 40 female inmates in Fleury‑Mérogis prison in Paris have joked about how they tricked the judge or magistrate—by eating pork, for example, which is forbidden in Islam—to receive more lenient sentences.”

It should be noted that Craze’s argument that only “paranoids” allow taqiyya to permeate their views on Muslim sincerity is becoming standardized (a reflection of the difficulties of rebutting taqiyya on a doctrinal or objective level). Thus, in his recent defense of taqiyya (dismantled here), Usama Hasan, of the UK think tank Quilliam, made the following admission:

It is true that hardened islamist terrorists, such as the Al-Qaeda & ISIS supporter Usman Khan who murdered two people at Fishmongers’ Hall [after pretending to have been “rehabilitated”], do misuse the principle of taqiyyah in order to further their cause. However, the charge that all Muslims are generally religiously obligated to lie, and do so routinely, is both dangerous and untrue.

Again, while this “charge” may be unwarranted in individual cases, it is also inevitable. After all, how is the non-Muslim to know which Muslim is and isn’t “misusing the principle of taqiyya”?  Moreover, why should the burden of proof be on the infidel—who stands to and often does suffer and even gets killed from always accepting the Muslim’s word and disregarding the role of deceit in Islam—and not on the Muslim, who is an open adherent of a religion that allows hostility for and deception of non-Muslims in the first place?  This is particularly so since more than a few “hardened islamist terrorists” are convinced that their creed allows them to dissimulate to their heart’s content—so long as doing so can be seen as helping further the cause of Islam.

It comes to this: Islam does permit lies and deception in order to empower itself (one need only look to the tactics employed by its founder, Muhammad).  Accordingly, and considering that Islam considers itself in a constant state of war with non-Islam (typified by the classical formulation of Dar al-Islam vs. Dar al-Harb) any Muslim who feels this or that piece of deception over the infidel is somehow benefiting Islam—which could also be rationalized as benefiting him—has a blank check to lie.

As such, you’re not the “bad guy” if you find yourself less than trusting of Muslim professions of peace, especially in matters of consequence; you’re just appropriately cautious.

Raymond Ibrahim, author of Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.