Tawriya: Islamic Doctrine of ‘Creative Lying’

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The following article was originally published by the Stonegate Institute

Perhaps you have heard of taqiyya, the Muslim doctrine that allows lying in certain circumstances, primarily when Muslim minorities live under infidel authority.  Now meet tawriya, a doctrine that allows lying in virtually all circumstances—including to fellow Muslims and by swearing to Allah—provided the liar is creative enough to articulate his deceit in a way that is true to him. (Though tawriya is technically not “new”—as shall be seen, it has been part of Islamic law and tradition for centuries—it is certainly new to most non-Muslims, hence the need for this exposition and the word “new” in the title.)

The authoritative Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary defines tawriya as, “hiding, concealment; dissemblance, dissimulation, hypocrisy; equivocation, ambiguity, double-entendre, allusion.”  Conjugates of the trilateral root of the word, w-r-y, appear in the Quran in the context of hiding or concealing something (e.g., 5:31, 7:26).

As a doctrine, “double-entendre” best describes tawriya’s function.  According to past and present Muslim scholars (several documented below), tawriya is when a speaker says something that means one thing to the listener, though the speaker means something else, and his words technically support this alternate meaning.

For example, if someone declares “I don’t have a penny in my pocket,” most listeners will assume the speaker has no money on him—though he might have dollar bills, just literally no pennies. Likewise, say a friend asks you, “Do you know where Mike is?” You do, but prefer not to divulge.  So you say “No, I don’t know”—but you keep in mind another Mike, whose whereabouts you really do not know.

All these are legitimate according to Sharia law and do not constitute “lying,” which is otherwise forbidden in Islam, except in three cases: lying in war, lying to one’s spouse, and lying in order to reconcile people.  For these, Sharia permits Muslims to lie freely, without the strictures of tawriya, that is, without the need for creativity.

As for all other instances, in the words of Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajid (based on scholarly consensus): “Tawriya is permissible under two conditions: 1) that the words used fit the hidden meaning; 2) that it does not lead to an injustice” (“injustice” as defined by Sharia, of course, not Western standards).  Otherwise, it is permissible even for a Muslim to swear when lying through tawriya.  Munajid, for example, cites a man who swears to Allah that he can only sleep under a roof (saqf); when the man is caught sleeping atop a roof, he exonerates himself by saying “by roof, I meant the open sky.” This is legitimate.  “After all,” Munajid adds, “Quran 21:32 refers to the sky as a roof [saqf].”

Here is a recent example of tawriya in action: Because it is a “great sin” for Muslims to acknowledge Christmas, this sheikh counsels Muslims to tell Christians, “I wish you the best,” whereby the latter might “understand it to mean you’re wishing them best in terms of their [Christmas] celebration.” But—here the wily sheikh giggles as he explains—“by saying I wish you the best, you mean in your heart I wish you become a Muslim.”

As with most Muslim practices, tawriya is traced to Islam’s prophet.  After insisting Muslims “need” tawriya because it “saves them from lying,” and thus sinning, Sheikh Uthman al-Khamis  adds that Muhammad often used it.  Indeed, Muhammad is recorded saying “Allah has commanded me to equivocate among the people inasmuch as he has commanded me to establish [religious] obligations”; and “I have been sent with obfuscation”; and “whoever lives his life in dissimulation dies a martyr” (Sami Mukaram, Al Taqiyya Fi Al Islam, London: Mu’assisat al-Turath al-Druzi, 2004, p. 30).

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  • truebearing

    Another description of tawriyah would be: doctrinally endorsed evil. Why are we not surprised?

    This kind of dishonesty is unbelievably pernicious. It encourages a level of rationalization that suspends individual conscience, regardless the evil behavior. It is reminiscent of the deep, pervasive dishonesty seen on the Left where all lies are justified as a means to political power.

    Both Islam and the far Left encourage adherents to operate according to the great anti-ethic: the end justifies the means. Curiously, "the end justifies the means" has an eerie similarity to the one Satanic Commandment: "Do As Thou Wilt." I guess it comes as no surprise then that the fruits of Islam and Marxism are statist evil and misery for those under the rule of either. Equally curious is the great antipathy harbored against Jews and Christians by both political religions. The Devil is nothing if not political.

  • Ken

    And this surprises anyone?? This had been going on for years.

  • HolmesSimons

    Tawriyah is a lesson learned well and a technique used constantly by Barack Obama. A well known example is his declaration to "Transform America", by which he meant "use subversive tactics to hasten destruction of the world's largest capitalist society. Since he and others had sold him as a "constitutional scholar and professor of constitutional law", many believed the "Hope & Change" mantra to mean a return to constitutional principles. He is a smoothie, but he has proven by his actions that he is indeed a pathological liar.

  • Crossbow87

    The more I learn about Islam the more I despise it and appreciate my Christianity.

    • fiona

      You read my mind

  • johnnywoods

    Democraps, liberals and mooslims,etc. all practice this which is why you always know when al-Obama is lying whenever his lips are moving.

  • Larry

    A couple of classic examples of this are "islam is a religion of peace" and "we don't target innocents". Both totally true if you understand what they mean by peace and innocent.

  • Anamah

    The more I learn about Islam and all the hypocrite lobby more I love dogs.

  • W. C. Taqiyya

    To expect your enemy not to lie is stupid and naive. Understanding the rules and rationale behind those lies is nice stuff to know, but it's not a good reason to justify western ignorance. That's because they, and we, have always lied and both cultures excuse it. Anyone remember bartering in the marketplace? It's not evil, its just the same in pawn shops and most western business negotiations. Do western politicians ever lie? No, they never lie, they just call it nation building, schools for girls, irrigation projects or whatever. The lies that should most concern the column writer and comment writers are the lies we tell ourselves. If Islam is inherently evil, why does America import millions of believers? If the enemy tells lies, why do the American leaders continue to take what they say at face value? Why apologize for burning Korans when it is the practice of Muslims to burn discarded Koran's? Whether or not the enemies of the West tell lies is not the important question; the important question is when and if the West will ever get honest with itself?

  • E. Jaksetic

    The use and justification of deception and dissimulation on religious grounds is not a recent or modern phenomenon. There is an interesting and informative book that takes a scholarly look at the use and justification of deception and dissimulation by various people and groups in European history (from the late 1400s to the early 1600s) who were faced with religious ostracism and persecution, and strong pressures to conform religiously. The book is Perez Zagorin, Ways of Lying: Dissimulation, Persecution & Conformity in Early Modern Europe (Harvard University Press, 1990).

  • TG Browning

    >> how tawriya is liable to suppress one’s conscience to the point of passing a lie detector test <<

    Hate to point this out but lie detectors don't work, period. That's why there is no court in the United States allows one to be introduced as evidence. Period.


  • jacob

    Strange no Muslim has so far, denied what the writer states in his article…

    I guess they can't defend what's indefensible and so, they will probably take shelter in the mantra they
    recite when unable to counter the facts thrown at their faces, that " ISLAM IS A RELIGION OF PEACE" ..

    What is strange is why is this pague allow to keep on immigrating into the USA, while valuable people
    are denied entry….

  • ahmadnb

    Good grief, you seem to know more about Islam than even I know…and I'm a lifelong practicing Muslim.

    Then again, maybe not.

    Ever since my childhood, the only times I have learned that it is OK to lie to anyone (and the Christians among whom I grew up amongst agreed) is to save one or more innocent lives from murder and/or persecution, regardless of religious, ethnic or racial background.

    The above essay contains nothing more than a bunch of nonsense spouted by a bunch of hypocritical Muslims who are more concerned with their lives in this world than in what awaits us all in the Afterlife. As far as I'm concerned, the Qur'an is clear on this: Anyone who sacrifices the Afterlife for the comforts of this world could end up burning in hell for eternity.

    Look at the bigger picture…not in what a few fools spout and claim to represent "true" Islam.

    • kevinh

      The author appears to cite sources that present a view of Islam which is held by many (Arafat, et al). Perhaps it is you who is being hypocritical and denying the faith as it was revealed by Muhammad.

      With all respect,

      • ahmadnb

        Arafat was no pious Muslim…the PLO was a secular-left movement and included many Christians, some who were even more anti-Israel than Arafat himself.”Perhaps it is you who is being hypocritical and denying the faith as it was revealed by Muhammad.”I know the faith as it was revealed to Muhammad. You don't, and so are being completely ignorant and arrogant here by even daring to insinuate that I'm being hypocritical here. I don't need the likes of you to tell me how to be a good Muslim.

        • Kevinh

          You are not a hypocrite. You follow the teachings of Muhammad. I get that. http://prophetofdoom.net/Islamic_Quotes.Islam

          Can we find a "pious" Muslim here? http://islamizationwatch.blogspot.com/2010/09/ira

          Your prejudice is apparent. Please consider the possibility that I don't need your half-correct information to understand Islam.


          • ahmadnb

            Nice try. Take a few Qur'anic quotes from some website out there and base all your knowledge of Islam on them? Think that makes you an expert on Islam? In that case I can prove to you, using the method you've used here, that I'm a neurosurgeon, a nuclear engineer, an orthodontist, a lawyer, and a rocket scientist. BTW, I'm really none of the above.I cannot find a pious Muslim in the link that you sent to me.Now…if there's a better alternative to Islam, one that is THE TRUTH, please let me know. And please tell me what is it in Islam that you see is false.

  • StephenD

    You made no mention of one of the biggest Tawriya lies. They say Islam forbids the killing of innocent people. They don't believe ANY Israeli citizen is innocent and they don't believe Jews are "people" so killing them is not against their beliefs. A belief system straight form the pits of hell.

  • Stanton

    Question: Why haven't we known about this tawriya before??
    Yea, I know about taqiyya, but this is really much worse! This allows swearing to God and lying to fellow Muslims. If that is the case, how deep and constant are the lies to us infidels?!
    Gosh – it seems we are just scratching the surface of Islam's depravity.


    Some truly superb info , Glad I discovered this. “We must learn our limits. We are all something, but none of us are everything.” by Blaise Pascal.

  • Dhruv Chopra

    Another interesting example is, “We condemn the killing of innocents” This is used by the muslim countries a lot. But the interesting part is, “innocents” refer to only the believers, and not the Kuffars, as Kuffars have committed the crime of unbelief in Allah according to Islamic law. We need to be more vigilant. Thanks for the info.