Carson deserves credit for raising the issue, but he actually minimized the danger.
Of all the points presidential hopeful Ben Carson made in defense of his position that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” the most poignant was his referencing of taqiyya, one of Islam’s doctrines of deception.
According to Carson, whoever becomes president should be “sworn in on a stack of Bibles, not a Koran”:
“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” Carson said, referencing the Islamic law derived from the Koran and traditions of Islam. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”
Carson said that the only exception he’d make would be if the Muslim running for office “publicly rejected all the tenants of Sharia and lived a life consistent with that.”
“Then I wouldn’t have any problem,” he said.
However, on several occasions Carson mentioned “Taqiyya,” a practice in the Shia Islam denomination in which a Muslim can mislead nonbelievers about the nature of their faith to avoid religious persecution.
“Taqiyya is a component of Shia that allows, and even encourages you to lie to achieve your goals,” Carson said.
Considering that the current U.S. president has expunged all reference to Islam in security documents and would have Americans believe that Islamic doctrine is more or less like Christianity, it is refreshing to see a presidential candidate referencing a little-known but critically important Muslim doctrine.
However, the widely cited notion that taqiyya is only a Shia doctrine needs to be corrected. This is false, and it lets the vast majority of the world’s Muslims, the Sunnis, off the hook.
According to Sami Mukaram, one of the world’s foremost authorities on taqiyya:
Taqiyya is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agrees to it and practices it … We can go so far as to say that the practice of taqiyya is mainstream in Islam, and that those few sects not practicing it diverge from the mainstream … Taqiyya is very prevalent in Islamic politics, especially in the modern era.[i]
Taqiyya is often associated with the Shias because, as a minority group interspersed among their Sunni rivals, they have historically had more reason to dissemble. Today, however, Sunnis living in the West find themselves in the place of the Shia. Now they are the minority surrounded by their historic enemies — Western “infidels” — and so they too have plenty of occasion to employ taqiyya.
Making Muslims swear on Bibles would not be any defense against taqiyya. As long as their allegiance to Islam is secure in their hearts, taqiyya allows Muslims to behave like non-Muslims. Praying before Christian icons, wearing crosses, making the sign of the cross — anything short of actually killing a Muslim could be allowed. (In several instances, Muslims in the U.S. military exposed their true loyalties when they reached the point of having to fight fellow Muslims in foreign nations.[ii])
For those with a discerning eye, taqiyya is all around us. Muslim refugees have pretended to convert to Christianity (in the past and the present); an Islamic gunman gained entrance inside a church by feigning interest in Christian prayers. Examples abound on a daily basis.
Consider the following anecdote from Turkey. In order to get close enough to a Christian pastor to assassinate him, a group of Muslims — including three women — feigned interest in Christianity, attended his church for over a year, and even participated in baptism ceremonies. Said the pastor, Emre Karaali:
These people had infiltrated our church and collected information about me, my family and the church and were preparing an attack against us. … Two of them attended our church for over a year and they were like family.
If some Muslims are willing to go to such lengths to eliminate the already downtrodden Christian minorities in their midst, does anyone doubt that a taqiyya-practicing Muslim presidential candidate might have no reservations about swearing on a stack of Bibles?
Precedents for such treachery litter the whole of Islamic history, and begin with the Muslim prophet himself.
During the Battle of the Trench (627 AD), which pitted Muhammad and his followers against several non-Muslim tribes collectively known as “the Confederates,” a Confederate called Naim bin Masud went to the Muslim camp and converted to Islam. When Muhammad discovered the Confederates were unaware of Masud’s deflection to Islam, he counseled him to return and to try to get his tribesmen to abandon the siege. “For war is deceit,” Muhammad assured him.
Masud returned to the Confederates without their knowledge that he had switched sides, and began giving his former kin and allies bad advice. He also intentionally instigated quarrels between the various tribes until, thoroughly distrusting each other, they disbanded and lifted the siege, allowing an embryonic Islam to grow. (Here, a Muslim site extols this incident for being illustrative of how Muslims can subvert non-Muslims.)
If a Muslim were running for president of the U.S. in the hopes of ultimately subverting America to Islam, he could, in Carson’s words, easily be “sworn in on a stack of Bibles, not a Koran” and “publicly reject all the tenants of Sharia.” Indeed, he could claim to be a Christian and attend church every week.
It speaks well about Carson that he is aware of, and not hesitant to mention, taqiyya. But that doctrine’s full ramifications regarding how much deception it allows, and its practice by all Muslim denominations, not just the Shia, still needs greater awareness.
The chances of that happening are dim. Already “mainstream media” like the Washington Post have, incorrectly, taken Carson to task for “misunderstanding” taqiyya – that is, for daring to be critical of anything Islamic. These outlets could benefit from learning more about Islam and deception per the below links:
My expert testimony being used in a court case to refute “taqiyya about taqiyya.”
The even more elastic doctrine of tawriya, which allows Muslims to deceive fellow Muslims by lying “creatively.”
My 2008 essay “Islam’s Doctrines of Deception,” commissioned and published by Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst.
Recent examples of formerly good Muslim neighbors turning violent once they grow in strength and numbers.