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What He Said

November 11th, 2008 · 2 Comments

I’d been meaning to write something along the lines of this post by Yglesias for a while: Conservative pseudointellectuals who want to convince you they have some special scholarly insight into The Muslim Mind by invoking taqiyya as, more or less, a synonym for lying. Now, granted, I only took one undergrad course on Islam, but I figure that still puts me a few notches ahead of the asshat who’s gearing up to teach comparative anthropology after skimming a Bernard Lewis book. And the way we learned it, taqiyya was (1) a specifically Shi’a doctrine (2) primarily concerned with concealing one’s Muslim faith in circumstances where one was likely to be punished for it. Which sounds reasonable enough to me. But as Matt points out, this is really beside the point: The idea that authoritarian poltical leaders or terrorists (gasp!) lie doesn’t require the use of Arabic jargon. The term is invoked to make pedestrian arguments seem more sophisticated than they are, and to cast Muslims as somehow especially prone to deception. The next time you hear some phony tossing around taqiyya, laugh in his face nice and hard for me.

Update: As long as I’m me-tooing Yglesias, this totally unrelated post is dead on.

Tags: Journalism & the Media · Religion



2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 greenish // Nov 11, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    There’s a similar doctrine in Judaism. Everything Jews aren’t supposed to do has a level, corresponding to the situations under which you can break them – for example, you can break the Sabbath when your life would be threatened otherwise (and only for that or something more serious, I think). Lying about your faith is permitted in some situations. Only a few things are never permitted (like murder).

  • 2 nitpicker // Nov 12, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    See Peter, Saint.