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January 21, 2005

The Words We Need

Via Michelle Malkin, we find the following paragraph from Jihad Watch:

The Armanious family had inspired several Muslims to convert to Christianity — or thought they had. These converts were actually practicing taqiyya, or religious deception, pretending to be friends of these Christians in order to strengthen themselves against them, as in Qur'an 3:28: "Let believers not make friends with infidels in preference to the faithful -- he that does this has nothing to hope for from Allah -- except in self-defense."

The striking thing is that Muslims have a word to describe such deceit. As with so much in Islam, however, taqiyya is so mired in spin and sectarianism that well-meaning Westerners can be placated, even as extremists use the language of war. Reading the definition page for "taqiyya" on AnsweringIslam, a site for "Christian-Muslim Dialogue," one gets the sense that the practice of religious deception is restricted to Shi'a Muslims and is used only defensively and in extreme circumstances — "only when one fears for one's life, the lives of one's family members, or for the preservation of the faith." Look elsewhere, and it appears that the "preservation of the faith" clause stretches quite easily.

Cliff May has a Scripps Howard piece discussing "how effectively our enemies have learned to meld actions, words and images into weapons." In this, he includes such things as lies about Jews' culpability for everything and anything and the demoralizing images of hostages being beheaded. It would seem that there's another aspect, though, that turns the various subtexts of religious words into disorienting cover.

Posted by Justin Katz at January 21, 2005 11:41 PM
Middle East