Friday 1 April 2011

Taqiyya: Do Muslims lie to spread Islam?

The Anti-Muslim demagogues love to talk about this weird, so called, rule that permits Muslims to lie to spread Islam. I had never even heard of it until I was accused of it by an acolyte of Pamela Geller. The basic idea, according to them, is that if any Muslim ever denies being a blood thirsty lunatic engaged in perpetual war against the West, they must be lying. Muslims are simply presumed guilty, and if we profess innocence that is only further evidence of our guilt.

It should be fairly clear to any rational being that lying to spread a religion is nonsensical. If I lie to you about what Islam is and you convert I haven't spread Islam because what you have accepted was a lie.

Robert Spencer and others often cite a book from the 14th century as evidence, Umdat al-Salik by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri. So I looked up Taqiyya in the index. All it says is, "Taqiyya: See Head covering." So, that's a dead end. Although, there is a section on permissible lying. The examples given in the book are concealing an innocent person from an oppressor, lying to a thief about one's possessions, and if one is asked about a sin committed in private that, "does not concern the rights of another" it is permitted to deny committing the sin. Take that for what it's worth.

The thing about moral principles is that they are universal. You can't selectively apply them to one group and not another. If you do you're a hypocrite. So, by condemning "sanctioned deception" in Islam, they de facto accept that deception is universally immoral, and should be condemned in all cases. With that in mind, we should talk about James O'Keefe.

James O'Keefe is quickly making a reputation for himself as the Ashton Kutcher of conservative activists. In 2007 he secretly recorded several Planned Parenthood workers helping him and a woman posing as an underage pregnant girl to circumvent statutory rape laws. In 2009 he released highly edited hidden camera footage of ACORN employees in several offices providing advice to him and his girl friend on how to evade taxes on income earned through child prostitution. His most recent sting targeted Ronald Schiller, NPR's chief fundraiser at the time, this time posing as radical Muslim financiers.

Here's the plot. O'Keefe and friends set up a fake Muslim charity called the Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC), complete with website, who's stated goal is to spread Sharia law across the world and is founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. They offer NPR $5 Million dollars to help combat Republican efforts to cut their funding, then they sit back and wait for Schiller to say something embarrassing.

In each case O'Keefe's goal is to generate public support to defund superfluous programs that could be privately funded. That's basic fiscal conservatism, and I'd support those goals. But there is no denying that what he has done is deceptive. The scenarios are all fake. The video and audio recordings are all acquired surreptitiously. And the finished releases are often heavily edited to make it appear that people said or intended things they didn't actually intend.

Before it was revealed as a fraud, Pamela Geller was eager to draw a line connecting the MEAC to Imam Feisal Rauf based on nothing but the proximity of the MEAC's fake address. But now that the cat is out of the bag, she's jumped on the bandwagon, praising O'Keefe and condemning NPR for, "jihadist-sympathizing" and "prostrating themselves at ÔMEAC's' feet."

So, I guess my question is for the right-wing anti-Muslim crowd. Do you sanction this deception to achieve your larger objectives, or are you consistent in your condemnation of lying to achieve political goals? Is it permissible for right-wingers to engage in "Perverted Taqiyya" to spread the conservative message?


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