Islam, Lying, and Sacred Misdirection

A discussion in the comments on yesterday’s post about the San Bernardino massacre brought up an important topic: lying and sacred misdirection under Islam. According to Islamic law, lying is not only permissible under certain circumstances, it is mandatory if the goal it serves is obligatory upon Muslims and cannot be accomplished by other means.

Spreading Islam over the entire globe is an obligatory goal for Muslims. For that reason there is absolutely no doubt that Muslims are sometimes lying to us in furtherance of that goal.

I am indebted to Major Stephen Coughlin for the sources and analytical framework used in the following examination of lying and sacred misdirection under Islamic Law.

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In September of 2006 Pope Benedict XVI gave a lecture in Regensburg on the reconciliation of faith with reason. In his address, the pope, speaking in German, quoted an unfavorable remark about Islam made in the 14th century by Manuel II Palaiologos, a Byzantine emperor. Muslims heads of state described it as an “outrage”. Dawah organizations[1] such as the Muslim Brotherhood called for a “day of rage”, which actually occurred the same day across the entire Muslim Ummah[2] — a day when people died.

Exactly one month to the day after that happened, an open letter[3] to His Holiness the Pope was written in English by thirty-eight Muslim clerics and posted on the internet. So who was the primary audience for this? Who were its expected readers?

The English-speaking world, of course. We were the intended audience:

What is “Holy War”?

We would like to point out that “holy war” is a term that does not exist in Islamic languages. Jihad, it must be emphasized, means struggle, and specifically struggle in the way of God. This struggle may take many forms, including the use of force. Though a jihad may be sacred in the sense of being directed towards a sacred ideal, it is not necessarily a “war”.[4]

In effect they were saying that Islam has no understanding of holy war, and jihad just means struggle and nothing else. One of the signatories to this document was Sheikh Nu Ha Mim Keller.

It just so happens that we actually have a text of Islamic law that defines jihad. It is called ’Umdat al-salik wa ’uddat al-nasik, or The reliance of the traveller and tools of the worshipper. It is commonly referred to as Reliance of the Traveller when cited in English.

The Revised Edition (published 1991, revised 1994) is “The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law ’Umdat al-Salik by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 769/1368) in Arabic with Facing English Text, Commentary, and Appendices”. This is an authoritative source on Sunni Islamic law, because it is certified as such by Al-Azhar University in Cairo. There is no higher authority on Sunni Islamic doctrine than Al-Azhar; it is the closest equivalent to the Vatican that can be found in Islam.

Book O, “Justice”, § 9[5] begins the section on jihad. Jihad is similarly defined in Book X “The Book of Jihad” from Ibn Rushd’s book The Distinguished Jurist,[6] and in Book XIII “Siyar (Relations with non-Muslims)” of the Hidayah:[7]

Jihad means to war against non-Muslims and it is etymologically derived from the word mujahada signifying war to establish the religion. And it is the lesser jihad.

Reliance of the Traveller is a book you that you can get in virtually any Muslim bookstore. It is available on Amazon. The primary target audience for the book is English-speaking Muslims.

And its translator is Nu Ha Mim Keller.

So Nu Ha Mim Keller translated relevant sections of Reliance of the Traveller, a book for Muslims, to the effect that jihad means to wage war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, which signifies “warfare to establish the religion.” Yet at the same time, in a message meant for non-Muslims, he says that he would like to point out that Islam has no understanding of holy war at all!

Is Sheikh Keller being dishonest? No, not really; not from an Islamic point of view. There is a message that Muslims are required to know and there is a message that you, the non-believer, are allowed to know. And those two messages are not the same.

It is important at this point to note what Islamic law says about lying. Reliance of the Traveller, Book R “Holding One’s Tongue,” tells us that lying is forbidden:


Primary texts from the Koran and Sunna say it is unlawful to lie… because of the scholarly consensus of the community that it is prohibited. [section §§r8.0, r8.1]…

…our only concern here being to explain the exceptions to what is considered lying, and apprise of the details.

Ah, the exceptions! §r8.2 explains the exceptions, citing the words of the prophet to back up the law:

He who settles disagreements between people to bring about good or says something commendable is not a liar.


I did not hear him permit untruth in anything people say, except for three things: war, settling disagreements, and a man talking with his wife or she with him. (in smoothing over differences.) [emphasis added]

So lying is permitted when a Muslim is engaged in war. But Islam is, by its own definition and understanding, always at war with us, the non-believers. Therefore, in his interactions with the kuffar, a Muslim is given a wide latitude about what he may utter that is not factually true.

Section r8.2 on “Permissible Lying” cites the iconic Islamic legal jurist Imam Abu Hamid Ghazali:

This is an explicit statement that lying is sometimes permissible for a given interest…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 (N: i.e., when the purpose of lying is to circumvent someone who is preventing one from doing something permissible) and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory. [emphasis added]

Other excerpts from the same book are also applicable:

Giving directions to someone who wants to do wrong…

It is not permissible to give directions and the like to someone intending to perpetrate a sin, because it is helping another to commit disobedience. [§ r7.0, r7.1]

This is disobedience as understood under Islamic law. Al-Misri gives this as an example:

Giving directions to wrongdoers includes:

1) showing the way to policemen and tyrants when they are going to commit injustice and corruption. [ §r7.1 (1)]

Besides lying, there is §r10.3, giving a misleading impression:

Scholars say that there is no harm in giving a misleading impression if required by an interest countenanced by Sacred Law.

Thus Islamic law permits statements that are not completely truthful to be uttered if doing so would accomplish a purpose approved by sacred law. And if that purpose is an obligation required of Muslims, then misleading others is obligatory, provided that full candor will not accomplish the same purpose.

In a modern Western country, full candor about the nature and purpose of Islam would definitely not serve the interests of Islam. If Westerners ever fully understood what Islamic law requires, the practice of Islam would be circumscribed, suppressed, or forbidden.

Therefore we know that Muslims are lying to us.

They are not always lying. But we have no way to detect which statements are lies and which are true. A general rule might be this: If a Muslim says something that is soothing and makes Islam seem harmless and beneficial in a Western context, he is probably lying.

In yesterday’s post, Hesperado made a comment about the impossibility of knowing whether any given “moderate” Muslim is in fact sincere.

This the central problem for non-Muslims in dealing with Islam, and one to which there is no easy and palatable answer. Any attempt to devise a meaningful solution leads into the sort of ugliness that the average Westerner prefers to avoid thinking about.

The unavoidable fact is that there is no reliable way to determine whether any given Muslim really believes everything in Islamic scripture and law, and is therefore dangerous. He may be a nice guy; he may drink beer and eat bacon and hang out with the kuffar. Yet, since the core tenets of his faith require him to lie, dissemble, and mislead in order to advance the cause of Islam, there is no way to determine his sincerity.

To make matters worse, we have numerous examples of Muslims in the West (often second- or third-generation) who seem fully “integrated”, but who suddenly become more religious and are rapidly “radicalized”. Then come the bodies lying in pools of blood in the street, with all the neighbors saying, “I can’t believe it! He was such a nice, quiet, polite man.”

The problem arises because we have imported millions of Muslims into our midst en masse. Now they are here. They’re not going to suddenly decide to make hijra to Somalia or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. So what are we to do?

Ordinary citizens can do nothing, of course; and by the time our governments take action, the situation will of necessity be very ugly indeed.

The only “safe” Muslim is a former Muslim, but even that can be tough to determine for certain as long as the fellow is still alive. A public repudiation of Islam, the profession of another faith, and multiple death fatwas against the murtad for apostasy are fairly reliable indicators. But Muslims who no longer believe in Islam are understandably reluctant to go that route.

It is difficult to envisage a peaceful and humane solution to this problem. There is an inherent horror to it that makes most of us shy away from discussing it, or even thinking about it.


1.   Dawah means proselytizing for Islam, According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, Dawah is also described as the duty to “actively encourage fellow Muslims in the pursuance of greater piety in all aspects of their lives,” a definition which has become central to contemporary Islamic thought. Organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood apply an aggressive version of Dawah that includes jihad.
2.   Ummah is an Arabic word meaning “community” or “nation”. In the context of Islam, the word ummah is used to mean the diaspora or “Community of the Believers” (ummat al-mu’minin), and thus the whole Muslim world, including Muslims in non-Muslim countries.
4.   OPEN LETTER TO HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI, Concerning his Lecture in Germany on September 12, 2006, 12 October 2006. (also in Italian, French, German, Arabic, Swahili, Spanish, Bosnian, Albanian, and Russian).
5.   Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, ‘Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law), rev. ed. trans. Nuh Ha Mim Keller (Beltsville: Amana Publications, 1994).
6.   al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Rushd, Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihayat al-Muqtasid (The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer), vol. 1, trans. and ed. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, (Reading: Garnet Publishing Ltd, 2002), 454-487.
7.   Burhan al-Din al-Farghani al-Marghinani, Al-Hidaya: The Guidance, vol. 2, trans. and ed. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, (Bristol, England: Amal Press, 2008), 285-348.

24 thoughts on “Islam, Lying, and Sacred Misdirection

  1. Ah yes…the former Pope Benedict XVI…and this incident probably paved the way for his “retirement” – a phenomenon the church hadn’t seen since 1400 or so…

    • Spot on! He was like the sun compared to the sputtering candle who inhabits the Vatican now!

    • Wasn’t the previous Pope’s abdication also in the face of the Islamic threat from the East? Interesting piece of historical relevance if so…

      (BTW is it also just coincidence that the Inquisition and the Crusades – the two things thrown in the faces of Christians to “prove” how their religion is also be warlike – were both initially directed against the Islam?)

    • It is much more likely Pope Benedict resigned over internal Vatican politics than any external considerations. The most common suspicion of why Benedict retired has to do with the struggle between the orthodox and heterodox prelates within the Holy See, a struggle highlighted at the recent Synod on the Family; more specifically, between conservatives and the pro-homosexual lobby. Just months before he retired, Benedict was given a 300-page dossier detailing widespread homosexuality within the Vatican and the Roman clergy, and not a word about this report has been heard of since. There have been charges that he was blackmailed in some manner, even accused of impropriety of some sort, but outside of the Vatican (and a very small circle therein, at that) we will likely never know the real reason; the Holy See knows how to guard its secrets well.

      There are now rumors that Pope Francis will retire next year after visiting Argentina, citing health reasons. This has been alluded to recently because of a physical stumble that stirred speculations of a brain tumor, which just might be preparatory propaganda, as this rumor of retirement as been around for awhile.

      The radical traditionalists are hoping one of the orthodox African prelates, e.g. Cdl. Robert Sarah of Guinea, is elevated to the papacy, but whether they can overcome the heterodox Western cardinals is dubious. A conservative African pope would be a game-changer that I think would help revitalize the Church; it would be a huge boost to its popularity in the Third World and a rebuke to the mundanity of the Western clergy. Most of the African prelates also have little delusions about the real threat that Islam poses and this would be an important change at the Vatican.

      I’m not Roman Catholic but believe the Roman Church (its traditional teachings, at least) is one of the last, great morally conservative forces in the world, despite some of my differences with it. This moral authority is why the Left has targeted it from the get-go — it is the patriarchy.

    • Pope Benedict was one of the Catholic Church’s 2 leading islamic scholars. As a Dominican he had made a life time study of it. He really should have been regarded as one of the leading non-muslim experts on islam in the entire world.

      Instead, the know nothing, see nothing, hear nothing, remember nothing nuffnuffs jumped all over him because what he said didn’t fit The Narrative.

  2. “Reliance of the Traveller” is available as a free download.
    At over 1200 pages it is a long item to scroll through. It can, of course, be divided: chapters can be cut-and-pasted out and filed separately. Even so, an old-fashioned book is a little easier to manage. It also works in a power cut.

  3. We are lying to ourselves which in the bigger picture will do a lot more damage. Security and armies on the home front is kinda dopey given we have so much directly from the enemy Muslim that can be verified as true or false in the Quran. We go out to the front line snd taxi them in. “Boo hoo Haha haha boohoo….They are coming to take us away”?

  4. This hits the nail on the head. In Islam, ‘the means justifies the end’ and that has been their modus operandi since the 7th century.

    Islam is a supra-national organisation which finds it easy to perpetuate itself because of the political toleration of its imam class by the corrupt rulers of Islamic nations. It has absolutely no natural enemies – except the spat between the Sunni and Shia.

    When we have invaded Muslim territory, we haven’t defeated Islam. On the contrary, we have enabled Islam to invade the West through refugee programs, where there is even MORE toleration of the religion from Hell than in their home countries because in the West, religion is protected!

    It is, as though having invaded Germany in an attempt to defeat Hitler, we imported millions of Nazis!

    Only after a lot more of ours people have been shot to ribbons, or blown up, or died under poisonous chemicals, and only after the PC quislings in power now have been removed, will the West get serious. First – close the mosques. Second deport (or better – kill if they have been promoting jihad) the imams and send the Muslims packing back to their hell-holes. What alternative is there?

    Perhaps the rude awakening away from the West’s welfare system will bring them to their senses and they may demand democracy and the end to the child abuse, slavery, female denigration and brute, macho stupidity which has engulfed them, and their narrow gene pools, for so many centuries.

    • “It is, as though having invaded Germany in an attempt to defeat Hitler, we imported millions of Nazis!”

      Operation Paperclip?


  5. Am I missing something here? The Amman statement doesn’t like the word ‘war’ but concedes that jihad can include force. ‘Reliance of the Traveller’ explicitly says that jihad is war. Clearly, the Amman statement softens the definition of jihad. But I don’t understand them to be giving two completely different definitions of jihad, one for the English reading public, the other for Muslims.

    I’m not denying that Muslims may lie about their religion. I’m simply pointing out that the examples given above don’t, it seems to me, provide a clear example of this.

  6. “Only after a lot of our people are shot to ribbons…” etc. Good luck with that one. 50,000,000 in dealing with the last Nazi invasion hasn’t worked. I can’t see the free cash, housing, sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll keeping the latest lot under wraps for too much longer. Very soon imagine they will simply be kicking our doors in – everywhere. Donald Trump seems to have a good business sense.

  7. I heard an ex-Orthodox Muslim convert to Christ explain that, despite many Westerners’ opinions, he could convert a “moderate” young Muslim to “radicalism” in about 10 minutes. It wasn’t hard, he explained. If I remember correctly it boiled down to explaining Muhammad and Sharia in context and then asking “so, who’s right? Your parents or the learned Ulema?” This was ll it too to change their direction.

    I asked Patrick Sookhdeo of the Barnabas Fund how we could be sure we were talking with a genuine reformer or convert. He said the only way to be sure was if they got up in front of their people and, in their own language, argued against Orthodoxy. There is no lesser path to assurance. Quite a costly path, but some are brave enough to do it.

    • As mentioned above…”the impossibility of knowing whether any given “moderate” Muslim is in fact sincere” … presents an interesting test given yesterday’s announcement:

      Muslim Reform Movement Kicks Off in Washington, D.C.

      video: Dr. Zuhdi Jasser at the press conference for the Muslim Reform Movement



      We are Muslims who live in the 21st century. We stand for a respectful, merciful and inclusive interpretation of Islam. We are in a battle for the soul of Islam, and an Islamic renewal must defeat the ideology of Islamism, or politicized Islam, which seeks to create Islamic states, as well as an Islamic caliphate. We seek to reclaim the progressive spirit with which Islam was born in the 7th century to fast forward it into the 21st century. We support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by UN member states in 1948.

      We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam. Facing the threat of terrorism, intolerance, and social injustice in the name of Islam, we have reflected on how we can transform our communities based on three principles: peace, human rights and secular governance. We are announcing today the formation of an international initiative: Muslim Reform Movement.

      We have courageous reformers from around the world who will outline our Declaration for Muslim Reform, a living document that we will continue to enhance as our journey continues. We invite our fellow Muslims and neighbors to join us.

      A. Peace: National Security, Counterterrorism and Foreign Policy

      1. We stand for universal peace, love, and compassion. We reject violent jihad. We believe we must target the ideology of violent Islamist extremism in order to liberate individuals both in Muslim-majority societies and the West from the scourge of oppression and terrorism.

      2. We stand for the protection of all people of all faiths and non-faiths who seek freedom from dictatorships, theocracies and Islamist extremists.

      3. We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression.

      B. Human Rights: Women’s Rights and Minority Rights

      1. We stand for human rights and justice. We support equal rights and dignity for all people, including minorities. We support the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

      2. We reject tribalism, castes, monarchies, and patriarchies and consider all people equal with no birth rights other than human rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Muslims don’t have an exclusive right to “heaven.”

      3. We support equal rights for women, including equal rights to inheritance, witness, work, mobility, personal law, education, and employment. Men and women have equal rights in mosques, boards, leadership and all spheres of society. We reject sexism and misogyny.

      C. Secular Governance: Freedom of Speech and Religion

      1. We are for secular governance, democracy and liberty. We are against political movements in the name of religion. We separate mosque and state. We are loyal to the nations in which we live. We reject the idea of the Islamic state. There is no need for an Islamic caliphate. We oppose institutionalized sharia. Sharia is manmade.
      2. We believe in life, joy, free speech and the beauty all around us. Every individual has the right to publically express criticism of Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights. We reject blasphemy laws, which are a mask to restrict freedom of speech and religion. We affirm every individual’s right to critical thinking, and seek a revival of ijtihad [independent interpretation of the legal sources, the Qur’an and the Sunnah].
      3. We believe in the freedom of religion, and the right of all people to express and practice their faith, or non-faith, without threat of intimidation, persecution, or discrimination or violence. Apostasy is not a crime. Our ummah–our community–is all of humanity, and not just Muslims.

      We stand for peace, human rights and secular governance. Please stand with us!

      • Jasser’s role is to fool the Counter-Jihad by going further than the standard-issue garden-variety Good Cops who only fool the mainstream. So far, for the most part — if we include passive disinclination in the Counter-Jihad to roundly expose and condemn the likes of Jasser (and Maajid Nawaz) — it seems Jasser has succeeded.

  8. The past 14 and a half centuries of islam existence have clearly shown how jihad is defined and applied. It’s an axiom for muslims: ethnic cleansing then occupy the land: as it has happened from Morocco to Bosnia to Indonesia.

    Can I compare thee to :

    Can we compare western politicians to jihadis:

    Jihadis lie and lie as a tactic until they prevail and overrun the whole world.
    Compare that to western politicians who lie and lie and lie to get elected even when by doing so they are destroying our countries, which are supposed to be also their countries and to protect them, but they don’t.

    Jihad nowadays is not conducted openly by a muslim country simply because no one can wage a war with Britain, France or USA and survive.

    They don’t need to do that: We are waging a jihad against ourselves on their behalf. We in the west, with our infinite stupidity, are importing invaders now as voting blocks. My goodness, what bloody hatred does exist between western Parties’ members to allow the destruction of their nations just to be elected and not the other one.

    Don’t you think if Turkey could overrun and invade Europe would do it today before tomorrow?

    If you attack muslims they will awake in 7 seconds and retaliate.
    It took sleepy Europe 7 centuries until they woke up, came alive and pushed the dirty invaders away. They should have followed them everywhere and cleaned the world from their pestilence. But that would have been very distressing to Britain, who helped, yes helped Ottomans in 1863. Oh Britain you are the same today and then. Thy love for Lucifer is peerless.

    When Yugoslavia was smashed the first thing Turkey did was to claim the beachheads granted to her by Britain, Germany and USA as its possessions reclaimed.

    Today Turkey has 2 million soldiers and NATO Naives think that is a strong ally. But Turkey has a different purpose: It is watching closely the confusion in Europe and waiting for an opportunity to strike at the right time.

    Is it a sin to predict and see through walls which seem opaque to others?

    • Cameron has already surrendered to Turkey on Cyprus and EU membership. Such a crever debil.

    • I have to ask myself if all the (Frankfurt School?) baby-boomers who are currently in charge in Europe actually believe that they are importing future liberal voters. The Muzzies don’t care a whiff for political parties, elections or any of that stuff that means so much to western intelligentsia. All they care about is that infidel giaur dogs must die, Allah akhbar. Seems completely incredible that Mrs. Merkel, Mr. Hollande, Mr. Cameron and their buddies don’t understand that.

  9. You could easily be right on that one. Cameron working all sides all the time. Crever debil.

  10. Could anyone who has a copy of the Islamic catechism ‘Umdat al-Salik please verify what it says (in the introduction?) about the source of its rulings.

    I thought that Islamic doctrine has only three sources: the Quran, the hadiths, and the sira (Mohammad’s biography). So in theory every ruling in ‘Umdat al-Salik can be traced back to a reference in these three sources. But according to this article, section 8.2 of this catechism justifies permissible lying not by referring to Islamic scripture but to “the iconic Islamic legal jurist Imam Abu Hamid Ghazali”. This is very second-hand. What scripture did Ghazali cite in making *his* ruling?

    Another example is provided by the abortion ruling in chapter o (that’s lowercase “oh”, not zero), o1.2(4), which says that six persons are entitled to kill a fetus with impunity: the mother, the father, and the four grandparents; it also says that the killing may be either pre- or post-natal. But what scripture is cited in justification of this seemingly arbitrary ruling? And what passage of scripture keeps the fetus’s aunts and uncles off the legitimate-killers list?

  11. Given the regulations that define how an employer must treat applicants for a job, can anyone suggest a strategy that can identify potentially disruptive Muslim applicants?

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