Sunday, December 5, 2010

Zaydism and Taqiyah

What is “Taqiyah”?
Taqiyah is defined as “fear, caution, dissimulation of one’s religion (under duress or in the threat of damage)” (Hans Wehr dictionary). The word is often used by 12 Imamer Shi-ites to refer to the practice of hiding the fact that they are 12er in order to be safe, or to lead a normal way of life, in a non 12er environment.
The reasons 12er Shi-ites find it necessary to do this include:
1. They are usually in the minority (with the exception of 12ers living in Iran and some parts of Iraq), and therefore tend to be the targets of bullying and discrimination. With the spread of Saudi Wahhabism, today’s Sunnis often label the 12ers as unbelievers, and anti-12er violent attacks seem to be on the rise.
2. The 12er version of Islam, with its far-fetched claims, and provocative version of history, has whipped up the Sunnis into an anti-Shi-ite frenzy.

Taqiyah for new Zaidis?
The question facing Zaidis living in non-Zaidi societies is, do we also need to hide the fact that we are Zaidi Shi-ites from Sunnis, and/or from 12er Shi-ites?

Personally, I think the answer to this question is no, for the following reasons:
1. The Zaidi version of Islam is not, and never has been, an extreme position, and we need to calmly explain this to Sunnis and 12ers rather than hide from them.
2. Zaidis have never officially allied themselves with either group and can not therefore be accused of really being allied to one side or the other.
3. Zaidis are not linked by the Western media to any suicide bombings or other terrorist acts, so they are unlikely to receive a hostile reception in non Muslim environments.

It is, of course, a matter for personal judgement, how/when/where/whether to make one’s Zaidism public.

It could be argued that a Sunni or 12er who has become a Zaidi stands to lose their spouse, and/or the goodwill of their parents, children, employers, work colleagues, and Muslim friends, and that taqiyah should be employed to avoid these types of relationship breakdowns.
I would disagree with that view because these are not life and death matters, and the precedents for hiding your religious beliefs (in Muslim literature) seem to be linked with the threat of immediate execution, not relationship breakdowns or loss of employment.
I decided to avoid confrontation by relocating before switching to Zaidism. Moving to a place where nobody knew me (and there are hardly any Muslims) made the change-over very easy and non confrontational.
It’s ridiculous that non Muslims accept you as a Zaidi more easily than Sunnis and 12 Imamers. It just goes to show how intolerant Muslims have become of each other in recent decades. May Allah guide us all to the Straight Path.


  1. "Personally, I think the answer to this question is no, for the following reasons:
    1. The Zaidi version of Islam is not, and never has been, an extreme position, and we need to calmly explain this to Sunnis and 12ers rather than hide from them.
    2. Zaidis have never officially allied themselves with either group and can not therefore be accused of really being allied to one side or the other.
    3. Zaidis are not linked by the Western media to any suicide bombings or other terrorist acts, so they are unlikely to receive a hostile reception in non Muslim environments."

    These are personal opinions not statements based upon `aqeedah or fiqh. Because you believe this doesn't negate the possibility of a Zaydi at some point in time fearing persecution or death (let's say in Saudi Arabia for instance) as Ibrahim (AS) hid a fact with Nimrod or Ammar bin Yassir (RA) recanted his faith with his tongue because of fear.

    Surah An-Nahl 16:106
    "Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty."

    In the books of the Ibadis, Isma'ilis and Ja'faris, they clearly quote this ayah to justify taqiyyah related to Ammar ibn Yassir (RA) being tortured in Makkah.

    Also regarding whether Zaydis would not find hostility in non-Muslim lands because Zaydis haven't committed suicide bombings really is giving to much credit to the intellect of Islamophobes and anti-Muslim bigots who are private citizens or government agents. When these bigots look at Muslims and harass us, they see MUSLIMS, not Shafi'is, Ja'faris, Zaydis, etc. In fact, I've heard some undereducated experts (Muslim and non-Muslims) refer to Zaydis as the extremists within Shi'ism.

  2. To Dawood
    The Taqiyyah that the 12rs have in their aqeeda is not restricted to threatening situations. In fact it has many other definitions which the non-12rs reject. Let me give you examples. Ibn Babawaih says even unity itself is form of taqiiyah.

    Taqiyya (dissimulation)

    Taqiyya is an obligatory duty (farida wajiba) upon us under the governance of the oppressors, thus whoever abandons it has opposed the religion of the Imamiyyah and has separated from it.

    As-Sadiq (as) said, “Even if I said ‘the one who abandons taqiyya is as the one who abandons salat,’ I would be speaking the truth.”

    Taqiyya is in all things, until it reaches bloodshed. If it reaches bloodshed then there is no taqiyya. Allah, sublime be His name, has given validity to the appearance of friendship (muwalah) to the deniers (kafirin) in the state of taqiyya. He, `azza wa jalla, has said, “The believers do not take the unbelievers as awliya instead of the believers, then whoever does that has nothing from Allah, except if you have a fear of them.”

    It is related from as-Sadiq (as) that he was asked about the saying of Allah, `azza wa jalla, “Verily the most noble of you with Allah is the most fearing”. He said “The one from you who most practices taqiyya.”

    He (as) said, “Mix with the people on the outside, and oppose them on the inside, so long as the affair is a longing.”

    He (as) said, “Allah have mercy on a command we urge the people towards and it has not made us to be hated by them.”

    He (as) said, “Visit their sick, attend their funerals, and pray in their masaajid.”

    He (as) said, “One who prays in the first row with them is as though he had prayed in the first row with the Messenger of Allah (sawas).”

    He said, “Ostentation (riya’) with the hypocrite in his house is worship, and with the believer, is shirk.”

    Taqiyya is obligatory; it is not allowed to abandon it until the Qa’im (as) comes forth. Whoso abandons it has entered in the interdiction of Allah, `azza wa jalla, and the interdiction of His Messenger and the Imams, the blessings of Allah be upon them all. (Kitab al-Hidaya
    Shaykh Saduq)

    Also, Al Khoei says you are allowed to lie in debates.

    Grand Ayatullah Al Khoei'i Says in reply to a question in one of his books(Sirat al Najat / صراط النجاة):

    Question"1245": Is it Possible to Lie or produce Arguments which contain Lies when Debating with a person who Is a Follower of Bida'a (Innovation) and a spreader or Dala'la (Ignorance) If this Lie would Destroy my Opponent's Arguments?

    Imam Khoei'i Answers: If it will stop his Falsehood then it is Permissible to do So.

    Next, Hesham ibn Hakam practiced another flavor of Taqiyyah which is rejected by non-12rs.

    The sensational life and ramming debates of Hesham are known to us and we also know that his decisive speech was just like a sharp sword, but sometimes, he had to use dissimulation in his speeches to save himself from attack by the unjust people and also to get rid of tyrants. So his speeches had double meanings and as a result the enemies used to keep quiet but his short sighted friends could not understand the reality of his speeches.

  3. Since 12rs consider all others as non-momins, nasibi and kafir in the aqira, they are very comfortable to use deceptive methods against other Muslims. Whereas the Zaydis believe other muslims can be momins.

    As for your quotation on Prophet Ibrahim (as) and Ammar ibn Yassir (ra), the examples of Taqiyyah can be found in Zaydi literature too. However, this taqiyah is found to prevent fithna and to save Islam, instead of insulting and tautening another group of Muslims.
    One area of taqiyyah is where Imam Jafar (as) wanted to fight under the banner of Imam Zayd ibn Ali (as), but he told him to stay back and keep the Muslims guided.
    Next Imam Abdullah ibn Hassan (as) challenged the Husayni Syeds on imamate. The Ummavis zoned into this and tried to take advantage of this. So Imam Zayd ibn Ali (as) stepped back and put an end to it.
    Refer to 2:40 mark.

  4. I've just noticed a readers comment under the August 22 post, which has some relevance to the discussion of taqiyah; it was in response to an article promoting zaydi/12er unity:

    Abu Yusuf Al-Qudsi said...

    "As someone who spent 3 wasted years as an Ithna 'ashari Shi'ah, I am disgusted how you can gloss over the atrocities of the Iranian regime that claims to be Muslim. You know nothing of the suffering of Baluchi Muslims in Iran. You know nothing of how the Iranian military has butchered Baluchis in their villages via helicopter gunships. You know nothing of how the city of Tehran only has Itha 'Ashariyyah mosques and no Sunni Mosques at all (despite the Baluchis not being Shi'ah), yet you can find churches, synagogues and even Zoroastrian temples! You know nothing of how Muslim scholars have been killed. I left Ithna 'ashariyyah after my teacher from Qom admitted to me that the Qur'an among us is not the authentic Qur'an. The Zaidiyyah are intrinsically closer to the Sunni than the Ithna 'ashariyyah. So do not promote nonsense about how wonderful they are. If you lived among them, they would not be safe if they knew you weren't interested in their perverted religion. If you bothered to study about them, you would know that they don't practise Taqiyyah solely when they are in danger, but all the time, so you can never know if what they are saying to you is true! Try and think before you write..."
    December 1, 2010 11:51 PM

  5. Thanks for your answers.

    Frankly, those are horrible words by Sayyid Al-Khoei. This level is dissimulation is but one reason why I never could embrace madhhab Ja'fari along with the issue of hidden 12th imam.

  6. Salam,

    I think there is another angle regarding 12vrs and the reason behind the centrality of taqiyya in their belief system. Basically it is a way to deny anything that any Imam may have said that contradicts what 12vrs believe. Perhaps an example will be instructive.

    Even in 12vr books there is a saying by Imam Ali (a) that the Prophet (p) outlawed Mut'a (temporary marriage) the same day he outlawed eating of donkey meat. This obviously presents a problem, so how do 12vrs deal with it? By saying that he was practicing taqiyya of course, so case closed (I can try to dig up the reference). Imaging if I said a friend of mine who passed away said XYZ, but he wrote blogs/had youtube videos to the contrary, all I have to say is that he was doing taqiyya and there you have it, no arguments.

    So upon further reflection, I have come to the conclusion that for 12vrs, taqiyya is absolutely essential, not because of persecution, but because it is the only way to justify their beliefs which either are not recorded anywhere else, or where Imams may have stated completely opposite view points. Taqiyya is the magic bullet.

  7. Bism Allah
    Brother Dawud,

    I havent heard of the story you mentioned of the prophet Ibrahim. It is not in the Quran. And I am guessing is that it is a story from 12ers resources.

    As for the story of Amar bin Yasser. He was not an Imam therefor it was allowed for him to practice tuqyah within the conditions mentioned in Zaidyah. But the Zaidi Imams mention that the fate of his father was better, because of the prophet's (PBUHAHP) favoring yasser's (amar bin yasser's father) actions.

    Allah Knows best.

    I shall discuss conditions of tuqiyah in another comment when I get the Chance. I am very sorry I have been busy these days.

  8. To Struggle
    The 12rs have a ahadith which he tells a momin to wash his feet. What do they have left to say ? You guessed it! Taqiyyah.

    Shia muhadith al-Haj Mirza Hussain an-Noore Tabarsi in his “Mustadrak al wasail” (1/305-306) narrated (you can load it HERE):
    إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ الثَّقَفِيُّ فِي كِتَابِ الْغَارَاتِ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ الْحَسَنِ عَنْ عَبَايَةَ قَالَ كَتَبَ عَلِيٌّ ( ع ) إِلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ أَهْلِ مِصْرَ أَمَّا بَعْدُ إِلَى أَنْ قَالَ ( ع ) ثُمَّ الْوُضُوءُ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْ تَمَامِ الصَّلَاةِ اغْسِلْ كَفَّيْكَ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ وَ تَمَضْمَضْ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ وَ اسْتَنْشِقْ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ وَ اغْسِلْ وَجْهَكَ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ ثُمَّ يَدَكَ الْيُمْنَى ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ إِلَى الْمِرْفَقِ ثُمَّ يَدَكَ الشِّمَالَ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ إِلَى الْمِرْفَقِ ثُمَّ امْسَحْ رَأْسَكَ ثُمَّ اغْسِلْ رِجْلَكَ الْيُمْنَى ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ ثُمَّ اغْسِلْ رِجْلَكَ الْيُسْرَى ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ فَإِنِّي رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ (ص) هَكَذَا كَانَ يَتَوَضَّأُ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ ( ص ) الْوُضُوءُ نِصْفُ الْإِيمَانِ

    Ali ibn Abu Talib in his message to Mohammad (ibn Abu Bakr) and people of Egypt described them minor ablution in this way:

    ثُمَّ الْوُضُوءُ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْ تَمَامِ الصَّلَاةِ

    Then ablution it’s from perfectness of pray.
    اغْسِلْ كَفَّيْكَ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ

    Wash your hands 3 times.
    وَ تَمَضْمَضْ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ

    Then make mazmazah 3 times
    وَ اسْتَنْشِقْ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ

    And make istinshaq 3 times.
    وَ اغْسِلْ وَجْهَكَ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ

    And wash your face 3 times.
    ثُمَّ يَدَكَ الْيُمْنَى ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ إِلَى الْمِرْفَقِ ثُمَّ يَدَكَ الشِّمَالَ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ إِلَى الْمِرْفَقِ

    Then your right hand 3 times in the direction of elbow, and your left hand 3 times in the direction of elbow.
    ثُمَّ امْسَحْ رَأْسَكَ

    Then wipe your head
    ثُمَّ اغْسِلْ رِجْلَكَ الْيُمْنَى ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ ثُمَّ اغْسِلْ رِجْلَكَ الْيُسْرَى ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ

    Then wash your right leg 3 times, and then wash your left leg 3 times.
    فَإِنِّي رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ (ص) هَكَذَا كَانَ يَتَوَضَّأُ

    And I seen prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) making ablution in this way.

    Praise to Allah!

    Kulayni narrated in “Kafi” (3/35) that imam Abu Abdullah said:

    إِنْ نَسِيتَ مَسْحَ رَأْسِكَ حَتَّى تَغْسِلَ رِجْلَيْكَ فَامْسَحْ رَأْسَكَ ثُمَّ اغْسِلْ رِجْلَيْكَ .

    “If you forgot to wipe your head, and washed your feets, then wipe you head and wash you feets(again)”.

    Bahbude said narration is authentic. Majlisi said it’s muwathaq.

  9. Here is another example from their books. Although the dude is wahabi, he makes a quotations from al Kafi.

    Also, the 12rs say Imam Jafar As Sadiq (as) did Taqiyyah when Imam Zayd ibn Ali (as) revolted.

    If he had overcome (his enemies), he would have known the place where to put it. Some traditions were attributed to him showing that he(Zayd) requested the Imamate for himself. But the reason in them is very clear, because alSadiq, peace be on him, was afraid the authority of the Omayyads would relate Zaid’s revolt to him, so they would punish him, his family, and his followers (ShT’a) for that crime. So he drove away that danger with that attribution, and if Zayd had been as those traditions mentioned, then his two grandfathers al- Mustafa and al- Murtadä, peace be on them and their families, would not have wept over him before he was created, and the memories of what would happen to him would not have brought about that great sadness and depression for them. Similarly, his ancestors had suffered from the sad memories when they remembered his killing and what happened to him after that.
    Source IMAM AL-SADIQ
    By: Shaykh Mohammed al-Husayn al-Muzaffar, Pg 51

  10. Zabarah,

    The story of Ibrahim (AS) that I referenced is not in the Qur'an just as many stories related to prophets are not mention there. This story is not just mentioned in 12ever sources but in books of Taareekh according to Sunnis and made mention of in a narration by Al-Bukhari. At-Tabari gives a very thorough narrative of the life of Ibrahim (AS) though much of it falls within the category of Al-Isra'iliyyat.

    What book(s)of Taareekh and Qasasul Anbiyaa are authoritative to you?

    Regarding a non-Imam being able to practice taqiyyah but a Zaydi Imam can't, where is your reference for this? Did any of the Imams actually say this or is this the ijtihad of a scholar? If the Imams aren't ma'sum according to the Isma'ili and Ja'fari definition and did sin as mentioned by Imam Zayd (RA) himself, then what you're saying is that there is a double standard for followers and their Imams. This sounds irrational.

  11. Bism Allah
    Brother Dawud,

    There is a very nice forum for zaidies where most students and scholars discuss issues and present some research. there is a section on books that can be downloaded. have a look at it.

    Regarding referencing the tuqyah issue there are many figh and usul books you can look at. You can go to the referred site and download books such as altaj almuthahb and Alahkam(by Alimam AlHady). these are opinions of the Imams of Zaidism. it is not Ijtihad but a general consensus of ahlul bayt attributes to an Imam.

    Brother, every person has a different role in the muslim ummah.

    As for the books of tarekh. again check the site. look under the books called tarajem wa seyar.

    I think I saw you say that you spoke arabic so it would be easy for you. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.