Sunni Muslims and Taqiyyah

Exposing One Muslim’s Blatant Distortions of the Facts

Sam Shamoun & Jochen Katz

I recently[1] cornered MENJ in a Paltalk room where he tried to convince the Christians that the following text forbids forced conversion:

There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower. S. 2:256 Hilali-Khan

When I took the microphone and stated that MENJ was using taqiyyah (*) by concealing pertinent information regarding the Muslim view of this verse, MENJ claimed that he was a Sunni and that taqiyyah is a Shia practice. I proceeded to expose this lie by stating that Ibn Kathir, one of the most highly respected classical scholars of Sunni Islam, stated that taqiyyah is a practice endorsed by Sunni Muslims. In response to this embarrassment, MENJ has posted an article (*), written with the help of Usman Sheikh a.k.a. Johnny Bravo, where he distorts the facts in order to save face for being exposed for lying and trying to deceive the Paltalk audience. Initially MENJ denied that taqiyyah is a Sunni practice, and even accused me of misquoting Ibn Kathir. In fact, note what he says in another article "addressing" us:

To find the Christian missionaries accusing Muslims of exemplifying lying is totally amusing, to say the least, as the doctrine of taqiyyah is EXCLUSIVELY a Shi'ite doctrine which is held onto by a mere 8% - 10% out of the total 1.3 billion Muslim population around the world, the majority of whom are overwhelmingly Sunni. A refutation of the doctrine of taqiyyah from the Sunni perspective is to be noted here … (Lying in Christianity; source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Here MENJ expressly says that taqiyyah is exclusively a Shia practice, which basically means that this doctrine is not part of the teachings of Sunni Islam. In the introductory paragraphs of "Whaling A Taqiyyah", he also claims twice that taqiyyah is exclusively a Shia belief or teaching:

… When this author (MENJ) took the microphone and attempted to address the claims which has no basis in Qur'anic tafsir (commentary), he was shouted down by the same Christian missionary who accused this author of committing taqiyyah, which is exclusively a Shia belief. Unfortunately for the missionary, the author in question is a Sunni Muslim and hence could not be committing taqiyyah as per the missionary's claims.1. The missionary thus resorted to the tafsir (commentary) of Sura' al-Imraan (3):28 by Ibn Kathir from the same volume (the abridged translation) to lend "support" to his further misinterpretation of the Qur'anic text.

Hence our purpose in writing this article is two-fold: what exactly did Ibn Kathir say with regard to the issue of taqiyyah? What is Sunni Islam's position on this exclusively Shia doctrine? And what is the deal with the so-called "abrogation" of Qur'an, 2:256, which the Christian missionary claims is no longer "valid" in Islam? (Bold emphasis mine).

1. For the Sunni perspective on the Shia doctrine of taqiyyah, see this article.

Before continuing with the discussion of the main topic of this paper, let us point out that the first paragraph quoted above contains a major logical fallacy:

… Unfortunately for the missionary, the author in question is a Sunni Muslim and hence could not be committing taqiyyah as per the missionary's claims…

For illustration: Specific acts of adultery are forbidden in Islam. Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that there are Muslims who commit adultery. If caught in adultery, the Muslim may say: "Look, adultery is forbidden in the Qur’an, the hadith and all the respectable tafsir. Therefore, being a Muslim, I could not possibly have committed adultery!" How credible would such an argument be? Does MENJ want to claim that Sunni Muslims are unable to sin and do what is forbidden?

To conclude, whether taqiyyah is – in the final analysis – allowed or forbidden, a Sunni Muslim can certainly use taqiyyah. Whether he does so with the endorsement of the scholars of his particular Muslim sect, or against their teaching, is a second question. But to claim that he "could not be committing taqiyyah" because he is a Sunni Muslim, is simply ridiculous.

Returning to our topic of discussion, here is what the article linked by MENJ has to say about taqiyyah:

"A believer who does not dissimulate is like a body without a head." (Tafseer al-Askari) It is also interesting that the Shi'ites article of Faith "Taqayyah" is just like what the Talmudites (jews who follow the Talmud) say about the Goyyims (non-jews,) as all Talmudites say that they should lie to us non-jews..You see this explains a lot about the Shi'ites and their Similarities with the Jews as the Shi'ite sect was started by Abdullah bin Saba'. (a Jew who started the shi'ite religion, just with the intent of trying to destroy the Muslims..this in explained in the article "Who founded the Shi'ite Religion").

"Nine tenths of religion is taqiyyah (dissimulation), hence one who does not dissimulate has no religion." (Al-Kafi vol.9 p.110) This shows us that Shi'ites have to lie to us as if they don't then they will not be called Muslims by other Shi' shows us how sick is the Shi'ite faith…

Now I will finish of with this magnicificant[sic] ayah from the Quran which shows us that Taqayyah (deception, lying etc) is forbidden in Islam.. and the Shi'ites practice this Taqqayah on us Muslims!!! so dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam, Allah states in the Noble Quran: "Surely those who hide from people the clear proofs and guidance, which we clarified in the Book (Qur'an), will be cursed by Allah and all those who curse." (2:159) (The Practice of lying in the Shi'ite faith; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

So the Quran supposedly prohibits taqiyyah, which provides further support that MENJ’s initial position was that Sunni Islam forbids this practice altogether. Now, however, in his article he changes his position by saying that taqiyyah is permitted in Sunni Islam in the case of self-preservation, in situations where the lives of Muslims are threatened. What makes this all the more amazing is that he cites the very reference from Ibn Kathir which I had both posted in the Paltalk room and which I read from on the microphone!

Here is the specific section from Ibn Kathir which can be found in MENJ’s own article:

meaning, except those believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers. In this case, such believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly. For instance, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda’ said, "We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them." Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, "THE TUQYAH IS ALLOWED UNTIL THE DAY OF RESURRECTION." Allah said, (Emphasis ours)

Notice that Ibn Kathir expressly and emphatically states that Al-Hasan claims that Tuqyah (or taqiyyah) is something permitted (and not just for Shias) till the day of resurrection!

To read the online version of this tafsir, please go here, and to see at least one page on Answering Islam where we have been quoting the entire text of Ibn Kathir’s commentary on this verse, please consult this page.

And here is what another Sunni source says about taqiyyah:

"Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Awliyaa' (supporters, helpers) instead of the believers, and whoever does that, will never be helped by Allaah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them"

[Aal 'Imraan 3:28]

This verse explains all the verses quoted above which forbid taking the kaafirs as friends in general terms. What that refers to is in cases where one has a choice, but in cases of fear and TAQIYAH it is permissible to make friends with them, as much as is essential to protect oneself against their evil. That is subject to the condition that one's faith should not be affected by that friendship and the one who is behaves in that manner out of necessity is not one who behaves in that manner out of choice.

Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-'Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about the ruling on mixing with the kuffaar and treating them kindly hoping that they will become Muslim. He replied:

Undoubtedly the Muslim is obliged to HATE the enemies of Allaah and to disavow them, because this is the way of the Messengers and their followers...

Based on this, it is not permissible for a Muslim to feel any love in his heart towards the enemies of Allaah who are in fact his enemies too...

But if a Muslim treats them with KINDNESS and gentleness in the hope that they will become Muslim and will believe, there is nothing wrong with that, because it comes under the heading of opening their hearts to Islam. But if he despairs of them becoming Muslim, then he should treat them accordingly. This is something that is discussed in detail by the scholars, especially in the book Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah by Ibn al-Qayyim…

(Question #59879: What is meant by taking the kuffaar as friends? Ruling on mixing with the kuffaar; source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Now note how MENJ ends up producing a blatant contradiction a little later in his "response", and that even in two sentences that directly follow each other:

And so, according to Ibn Kathir, if someone is being compelled and forced, then they can do and say certain things — even pretend to renounce Islam — in order to save their lives, although it is preferable they face the torture and stick to Islam.

The Qur'an clearly speaks against lying and acts of deception in numerous passages and in Islam lying IS ABSOLUTELY wrong and condemned. (Emphasis ours)

MENJ, in his haste to "expose me", has made mutually exclusive statements, propositions which cancel each other out. Does the Quran condemn lying altogether as the above statements imply? Or does the Quran permit lying for self-preservation? If the latter, then the Quran does not ABSOLUTELY forbid lying or the use of deception in all circumstances.

In fact, Muhammad did not hesitate to use deception especially when it helped him to murder his opponents:

Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah
Allah's Apostle said, "Who is willing to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?" Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, "O Allah's Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?" The Prophet said, "Yes," Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab)." The Prophet said, "You may say it." Then Muhammad bin Maslama went to Kab and said, "That man (i.e. Muhammad) demands Sadaqa (i.e. Zakat) from us, and he has troubled us, and I have come to borrow something from you." On that, Kab said, "By Allah, you will get tired of him!" Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Now as we have followed him, we do not want to leave him unless and until we see how his end is going to be. Now we want you to lend us a camel load or two of food." (Some difference between narrators about a camel load or two.) Kab said, "Yes, (I will lend you), but you should mortgage something to me." Muhammad bin Maslama and his companion said, "What do you want?" Ka'b replied, "Mortgage your women to me." They said, "How can we mortgage our women to you and you are the most handsome of the 'Arabs?" Ka'b said, "Then mortgage your sons to me." They said, "How can we mortgage our sons to you? Later they would be abused by the people's saying that so-and-so has been mortgaged for a camel load of food. That would cause us great disgrace, but we will mortgage our arms to you." Muhammad bin Maslama and his companion promised Kab that Muhammad would return to him. He came to Kab at night along with Kab's foster brother, Abu Na'ila. Kab invited them to come into his fort, and then he went down to them. His wife asked him, "Where are you going at this time?" Kab replied, "None but Muhammad bin Maslama and my (foster) brother Abu Na'ila have come." His wife said, "I hear a voice as if dripping blood is from him." Ka'b said, "They are none but my brother Muhammad bin Maslama and my foster brother Abu Naila. A generous man should respond to a call at night even if invited to be killed." Muhammad bin Maslama went with two men. (Some narrators mention the men as 'Abu bin Jabr, Al Harith bin Aus and Abbad bin Bishr). So Muhammad bin Maslama went in together with two men, and said to them, "When Ka'b comes, I will touch his hair and smell it, and when you see that I have got hold of his head, strip him. I will let you smell his head." Kab bin Al-Ashraf came down to them wrapped in his clothes, and diffusing perfume. Muhammad bin Maslama said, "I have never smelt a better scent than this." Ka'b replied, "I have got the best Arab women who know how to use the high class of perfume." Muhammad bin Maslama requested Ka'b, "Will you allow me to smell your head?" Ka'b said, "Yes." Muhammad smelt it and made his companions smell it as well. Then he requested Ka'b again, "Will you let me (smell your head)?" Ka'b said, "Yes." When Muhammad got a strong hold of him, he said (to his companions), "Get at him!" So they killed him and went to the Prophet and informed him. (Abu Rafi) was killed after Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 369)

Notice that Muhammad was not in danger of his life when he did what is reported above. On the contrary, he ordered to use deception to kill, not to preserve life.

It is little wonder that Muhammad is reported to have said:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle called: "War is deceit". (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 268)

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
The Prophet said, "War is deceit." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 269)

The dictionary entry on LYING presents a more detailed discussion on the topic, and gives evidence that lying and deception is explicitly permitted to further the advance of Islam.

Thus, the Quran on the one hand condemns lying and deception, but then goes on to justify lying specifically as it benefits the cause of Muslims in subjugating the unbelievers.

Moreover, the Quran expressly says that Allah himself lies and deceives:

But they (the Jews) were crafty, and God was crafty, for God is the best of crafty ones! When God said, 'O Jesus! I will make Thee die and take Thee up again to me and will clear thee of those who misbelieve, and will make those who follow thee above those who misbelieve, at the day of judgment, then to me is your return. I will decide between you concerning that wherein ye disagree. S. 3:54-55 Palmer

And when those who misbelieve were crafty with thee to detain thee a prisoner, or kill thee, or drive thee forth; they were crafty, but God was crafty too, for God is best of crafty ones! S. 8:30 Palmer

So they schemed a scheme: and We schemed a scheme, while they perceived not. S. 27:50

The word for crafty and scheme is makr. Dr. Mahmoud M. Ayoub in his book, The Quran and Its Interpreters, Volume II, The House of Imran, brings up the question of,

"how the word makr (scheming or plotting), which implies deceitfulness or dishonesty, could be attributed to God." (Ibid. [1992 State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany], p. 165; bold emphasis ours)

After listing several Muslim sources, he quotes ar-Razi as saying that "scheming (makr) is actually an act of deception aiming at causing evil. It is not possible to attribute deception to God. Thus the word is one of the muttashabihat [multivalent words of the Quran]." (Ibid., p. 166; bold and italic emphasis ours)

According to Ayoub, there were Muslim scholars who even touted this as one of the beautiful names of Allah! They accepted Allah being the best conniver, deceiver, schemer etc., as one of his characteristics:

Qurtubi observes that some scholars have considered the words "best of schemers" to be one of God’s beautiful names. Thus one would pray, "O Best of Schemers, scheme for me!" Qurtubi also reports that the Prophet used to pray, "O God, scheme for me, and do not scheme against me!" (Qurtubi, IV, pp. 98-99; cf. Zamakhshari, I, p. 366). (Ibid., p. 166)

MENJ may try to squirm his way out of this by saying that specific words such as makr do not have their normal meaning when used of Allah. The problem MENJ will have if he decides to go with such an explanation is that the Quran provides examples showing that makr when used for Allah carries its normal meaning, implying that Allah is indeed a deceiver and a liar. For example, though this specific word is not used in this case, the point is still clear that Allah deceived mankind into thinking that Jesus was crucified when in fact he wasn’t (cf. Q. 4:157).

MENJ may further claim that Allah only tricks unbelievers, which isn’t evil since they deserve what they get. For instance, Allah was right in tricking the Jews who wanted to kill Jesus since this is what they deserved for trying to crucify him. There are several problems with this claim. First, irrespective of the circumstances, it is beneath an infinitely holy God to adopt the same deceptive tactics of evildoers. Second, it wasn’t simply those who sought to crucify Jesus who had been tricked, but all his followers and friends as well. They all thought he was crucified. In addition, generations of Christian believers afterwards are punished into this unbelief for no fault of their own. It doesn’t only affect the evildoers.

This leads me to my next point. Allah doesn’t simply deceive unbelievers, but believers as well. The Quran provides an example of Allah deceiving the Muslims:

When Allah showed them to you in your dream as few; and if He had shown them to you as many you would certainly have become weak-hearted and you would have disputed about the matter, but Allah saved (you); surely He is the Knower of what is in the breasts. And when He showed them to you, when you met, as few in your eyes and He made you to appear little in their eyes, in order that Allah might bring about a matter which was to be done, and to Allah are all affairs returned. S. 8:43-44 Shakir

Allah showed the opposing fighting forces as few to Muhammad since if he had shown him their actual numbers the Muslims would have been afraid to fight. Hence, Allah had to use deception in order to encourage Muslims to fight in his cause. The late Abdullah Yusuf Ali notes:

The Muslim army, though they knew their worldly disadvantage, did not realise the full odds against them. The Meccans came exulting in any case, and they despised the contemptible little force opposed to them. Even though they thought the Muslim force was twice as great as it was (iii. 13), still this number was contemptible, when taken with its poor equipment. Both these psychological mistakes subserved the main Plan, which was to bring the matter to a decisive issue, whether the Pagans of Mecca were to continue their arrogant oppression, of the religion of God was to be established in freedom and honour. (Ali, The Holy Qur’an, Translation and Commentary, p. 426, fn. 1214; underlined emphasis ours)

Finally, MENJ fails to realize how his assertion that taqiyyah is permitted for those Muslims who fear from the unbelievers incriminates Muslims living in Western and non-Islamic countries. Basically, this calls into question the sincerity and trustworthiness of all the Muslims living in countries where the unbelievers clearly outnumber them. After all, how can any non-Muslim feel safe in the presence of Muslims living in their midst when the Quran allows them to lie and use deception against the unbelievers, and to even curse the infidels in their hearts? What stops Muslims from using the excuse that since they don’t feel safe living in the USA or Europe among non-Muslim majorities and/or governments they can therefore lie to unbelievers without feeling any shame, especially when it helps them to accomplish their interests and promote their agendas?

Quran 2:256 and Abrogation

MENJ, because he can’t help himself, further distorts what I actually said on Paltalk. He claims that I said that Ibn Kathir stated that Q. 2:256 has been abrogated. This is only partially correct. What I actually said was that there are two views among Muslim scholars regarding the applicability of Q. 2:256. One view is that this text has been abrogated by the passages calling Muslims to wage war on all the unbelievers. The second view is that this citation only applies to Jews and Christians, that they cannot be compelled to convert to Islam provided they pay the Jizya. Other groups such as the idolators, however, can be forced to convert.

As if MENJ’s distortions of my position weren’t bad enough, he then quotes the Darussalam abridged version of Ibn Kathir, which conveniently omits the part where Ibn Kathir says that this verse has been abrogated. Here is the version that I had quoted:

Allah says:  <There is no compulsion in religion>, meaning:  do not force anyone to embrace Islam because it is clear, and its proofs and evidences are manifest.  Whoever Allah guides and opens his heart to Islam has indeed embraced it with clear evidence.  Whoever Allah misguides, blinds his heart and has set a seal on his hearing and a covering on his eyes cannot embrace Islam by force.

The reason for the revelation of this verse was that the women of Ansar used to make a vow to convert their sons to Judaism if the latter lived.  And when the tribe of Bani an-Nadhir was expelled from Madinah, some children of Ansar were among them, so their parents could not abandon them; hence Allah revealed: <There is no compulsion in religion… >,  narrated by Ibn Jarir, on the authority of Ibn Abbas, Abu Dawud and an-Nasa’i, on the authority of Bandar, Abu Hatim, and Ibn Hiban from the Hadith of Shu’bah, Mujahid and others. However Muhammad Ibn Ishaq narrated that Ibn Abbas said:  it was revealed with regard to a man from the tribe of Bani Salim Ibn Awf called al-Husayni whose two sons converted to Christianity but he was himself a Muslim.  He told the Prophet:  "Shall I force them to embrace Islam, they insist on Christianity", hence Allah revealed this verse. BUT, THIS VERSE IS ABROGATED BY THE VERSE OF "FIGHTING":  <You shall be called to fight against a people given to great warfare, then you shall fight them, or they shall surrender"  (Al-Fath: 16). Allah also says: <O Prophet! Strive hard against the disbelieves and the hypocrites, and be harsh against them> (At-Tauba:73), and He says: <O you who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are close to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who are the Al-Muttaqin (the pious)>, (At-Tauba:123).

Therefore, all people of the world should be called to Islam. If anyone of them refuses to do so, or refuses to pay the Jizya they should be fought till they are killed. This is the meaning of compulsion. In the Sahih, the Prophet said: "Allah wonders at those people who will enter Paradise in chains", meaning prisoners brought in chains to the Islamic state, then they embrace Islam sincerely and become righteous, and are entered among the people of Paradise. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 253 to 286, Surah Al-Imran, ayat 1 to 92, abridged by Sheikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafa‘i [Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 1999: First Edition], Part 3, pp. 37-38; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Now let us see what some other scholars said about Q. 2:256:


Some friends say that whoever does not enter Islam, that is his choice and he should not be forced to become Muslim, quoting as evidence the verses in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you (O Muhammad) then compel mankind, until they become believers"
[Yoonus 10:99]
"There is no compulsion in religion"
[al-Baqarah 2:256]
What is your opinion concerning that?.


Praise be to Allaah.

The scholars explained that these two verses, and other similar verses, have to do with those from whom the jizyah may be taken, such as Jews, Christians and Magians (Zoroastrians). They are not to be forced, rather they are to be given the choice between becoming Muslim or paying the jizyah.

Other scholars said that this applied in the beginning, BUT WAS SUBSEQUENTLY ABROGATED by Allaah’s command to fight and wage jihad. So whoever refuses to enter Islam should be fought WHEN THE MUSLIMS ARE ABLE TO FIGHT, until they either enter Islam or pay the jizyah if they are among the people who may pay jizyah. The kuffaar should be compelled to enter Islam if they are not people from whom the jizyah may be taken, because that will lead to their happiness and salvation in this world and in the Hereafter. Obliging a person to adhere to the truth in which is guidance and happiness is better for him than falsehood. Just as a person may be forced to do the duty that he owes to other people even if that is by means of imprisonment or beating, so forcing the kaafirs to believe in Allaah alone and enter into the religion of Islam is more important and more essential, because this will lead to their happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. This applies unless they are People of the Book, i.e., Jews and Christians, or Magians, because Islam says that these three groups may be given the choice: they may enter Islam or they may pay the jizyah and feel themselves subdued.

Some of the scholars are of the view that others may also be given the choice between Islam and jizyah, but the most correct view is that no others should be given this choice, rather these three groups are the only ones who may be given the choice, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) fought the kuffaar in the Arabian Peninsula and he only accepted their becoming Muslim. And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"But if they repent [by rejecting Shirk (polytheism) and accept Islamic Monotheism] and perform As-Salaah (Iqaamat-as-Salaah), and give Zakaah, then leave their way free. Verily, Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful"

[al-Tawbah 9:5]

He did not say, "if they pay the jizyah". The Jews, Christians and Magians are to be asked to enter Islam; if they refuse then they should be asked to pay the jizyah. If they refuse to pay the jizyah then the Muslims must fight them IF THEY ARE ABLE TO DO SO. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allaah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad), (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued"

[al-Tawbah 9:29]

And it was proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) accepted the jizyah from the Magians, but it was not proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or his companions (may Allaah be pleased with them) accepted the jizyah from anyone except the three groups mentioned above.

The basic principle concerning that is the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):

"And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism, i.e. worshipping others besides Allaah), and the religion (worship) will all be for Allaah Alone [in the whole of the world]"

[al-Anfaal 8:39]

"Then when the Sacred Months (the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikoon (see V.2:105) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush. But if they repent [by rejecting Shirk (polytheism) and accept Islamic Monotheism] and perform As-Salaah (Iqaamat-as-Salaah), and give Zakaah, then leave their way free. Verily, Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful"

[al-Tawbah 9:5]

This verse is known as Ayat al-Sayf (the verse of the sword).

These and similar verses ABROGATE the verses which say that there is no compulsion to become Muslim.

And Allaah is the Source of strength.

Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat li’l-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 6/219 (

(Question #34770: There is no compulsion to accept Islam; source; bold, underline and capital emphasis ours)

Muslim scholar Mahmoud M. Ayoub writes:

… Mujahid said, "This was before the Apostle of God was commanded to fight against the People of the Book. God’s saying, ‘There is no compulsion in religion’ WAS ABROGATED and he was commanded to fight against the People of the Book in Surat Bara‘ah" (Q. 9:29). (Wahidi, pp. 77-78) … According to other traditions, the verse was revealed in reference to the People of the Book, who should not be compelled to enter Islam so long as they pay jizyah (poll tax). The verse is, therefore, not abrogated. Tabari relates on the authority of Qatadah, "Arab society WAS COMPELLED TO ENTER ISLAM because they were an unlettered community [ummah ummiyah], having no book which they knew. Thus nothing other than Islam was accepted from them. The people of the Book are not to be compelled to enter Islam if they submit to paying the jizyah or kharaj [land tax]." The same view is related on the authority of al-Dahhak, Mujahid, and Ibn ‘Abbas (Tabari, V. pp. 413-414). Tabari AGREES WITH THIS VIEW and asserts that the verse applies to the people of the two Books (Jews and Christians) and the Zoroastrians (Majus)… Qurtubi relates yet another view which asserts, "It was in reference to captives who, if they are of the People of the Book, are not to be compelled if they are adults; but if they are Zoroastrians or idolators, be they old or young, THEY SHALL BE FORCED TO ACCEPT ISLAM. This is because their master could not benefit from them if they were idolators." Qurtubi adds, "Do you not see that animals slaughtered by them would be unlawful to eat and their women could be married [to Muslims]? They practise the eating of carrion and other such unclean things. Thus their master would find them unclean and therefore it would be difficult to benefit from them as his slaves. HENCE, IT BECOMES LAWFUL FOR HIM TO COMPEL THEM" (Qurtubi, II, p. 280; see also Shawkani, I, p. 275). (Ayoub, The Qur’an and it Interpreters [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, 1984], Volume I, pp. 253-254; capital emphasis ours)

Christian authors M. Rafiqul-Haqq & P. Newton, in their booklet Tolerance in Islam, provide the comments of several Muslim scholars regarding Q. 2:256. We cite a few of those comments here, with all capital emphasis being ours:

Of the verse "There is no compulsion in religion", the scholar Nahas said:

"the scholars differed concerning Q. 2:256. Some said: 'IT HAS BEEN ABROGATED [cancelled] FOR THE PROPHET COMPELLED THE ARABS TO EMBRACE ISLAM AND FOUGHT THEM AND DID NOT ACCEPT ANY ALTERNATIVE BUT THEIR SURRENDER TO ISLAM. The abrogating verse is Q. 9:73 'O Prophet, struggle with the unbelievers and hypocrites, and be thou harsh with them.' Mohammad asked Allah the permission to fight them and it was granted. Other scholars said Q. 2:256 has not been abrogated, but it had a special application. It was revealed concerning the people of the Book [the Jews and the Christians]; they can not be compelled to embrace Islam if they pay the Jizia (that is head tax on free non-Muslims under Muslim rule). It is only the idol worshippers who are compelled to embrace Islam and upon them Q. 9:73 applies. This is the opinion of Ibn 'Abbas which is the best opinion due to the authenticity of its chain of authority."[1: al-Nahas, An-Nasikh wal-Mansukh, p. 80. See also Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi, An-Nasikh wal-Mansukh, Dar al-Kotob al-'Elmeyah, Beirut, 1986, p. 42.]

In exempting the Jews and the Christians from Q. 2:256, the Muslim scholars agree that the idol worshippers can be compelled by force to embrace Islam.


Not all scholars however agree that these verses were abrogated. They recognise that to abrogate His own commands is unworthy of the character of God. For example Dr. Sobhy as-Saleh, a contemporary academic, does not see in Q. 2:256 and Q. 9:73 a case of abrogation BUT A CASE OF DELAYING OR POSTPONING THE COMMAND TO FIGHT THE INFIDELS. To support his view he quoted Imam Suyuti the author of Itqan Fi 'Ulum al- Qur'an who wrote:

The command to fight the infidels was delayed until the Muslims become strong, but when they were weak they were commanded to endure and be patient.[6: Sobhy as-Saleh, Mabaheth Fi 'Ulum al-Qur'an, Dar al-'Ilm Lel-Malayeen, Beirut, 1983, p. 269.]

Dr. Sobhy, in a footnote, commends the opinion of a scholar named Zarkashi who said:

Allah the most high and wise revealed to Mohammad in his weak condition what suited the situation, because of his mercy to him and his followers. For if He gave them the command to fight while they were weak it would have been embarrassing and most difficult, but when the most high made Islam victorious He commanded him with what suited the situation, that is asking the people of the Book to become Muslims or to pay the levied tax, and the infidels to become Muslims or face death. These two options, to fight or to have peace return according to the strength or the weakness of the Muslims."[7: Ibid, p. 270]

We can see that whether Q. 2:256 was abrogated or Q. 9:73 was delayed the result is the same: the infidels should embrace Islam or face death at the hands of its followers.

Having proven that Ibn Kathir as well as several other Muslim scholars clearly state that Q. 2:256 is abrogated, let us now take a close look at the methodology used by MENJ for arguing the opposite of what we have established as being true.

Deception at work

It is highly amusing to observe how MENJ frames his quotation of a certain English translation of Ibn Kathir’s commentary:

Qur’an 2:256: Where is the Abrogation?

Now we come to the gist of the whole issue, namely the so-called "abrogation" of Qur’an 2:256. The Christian missionary cited Ibn Kathir’s commentary to this verse in order to "prove" that this verse was "abrogated" according to Ibn Kathir. However, Ibn Kathir does not say in the abridged commentary that this verse has been abrogated, which is contrary to the missionary claim on Paltalk.

We cite the relevant passage as follows.


The following points are to be noted in order to understand the above passage by Ibn Kathir:

1. According to Ibn Kathir, the verse is a general statement.
2. Ibn Kathir states that no one is to be forced to become a Muslim. It is a person’s choice to accept or reject Islam.
3. Ibn Kathir does not state anywhere in this commentary that this passage has been "abrogated."

Therefore there is no basis in the missionary claim that this verse was "abrogated" according to Ibn Kathir.

Paying careful attention to details is important. MENJ does object to Sam Shamoun’s claim that according to Ibn Kathir this passage has been abrogated. He desperately wants to prove him wrong. The conclusion that MENJ would have liked to achieve is this: "Ibn Kathir does not state anywhere in his commentary that this passage has been ‘abrogated.’" That would have been the natural way to formulate the conclusion. Why did MENJ choose the strange formulation "this commentary" instead of "his commentary" in point 3? MENJ knows his desired conclusion is not true. What can he do? How can he still give the vast majority of his readers the impression that this is the conclusion but formulate it in a way that – at least formally – it is not a blatant lie?

Note how MENJ switches in the first paragraph from "Ibn Kathir’s commentary" to "the abridged commentary". Yes, indeed, Sam Shamoun did not only make a claim about Ibn Kathir’s commentary, but he cited Ibn Kathir’s commentary verbatim. And when he cited it, it said exactly what Sam Shamoun had claimed. The statement about the abrogation of Q. 2:256 was in his quotation from Ibn Kathir’s commentary. Didn’t MENJ himself hear it cited? So how did MENJ manage to make it disappear for his article?

The trick: MENJ chooses a different edition of the Tafsir Ibn Kathir in which the Muslim editors have deleted this part; abridged means that some parts were removed.

Did MENJ really think he could get away with this? Amazing! Amusing! Having debated with him for years, this is not really surprising to us, only amusing.

Is there any way to interpret this observation other than that MENJ deliberately sought to deceive his readership about Ibn Kathir’s opinion?

In our view, everything points to the conclusion that this was a deliberate attempt to deceive. However, even if he would want to plead ignorance, this is, in the very least, a case of gross negligence and sloppiness on the part of MENJ to claim that Ibn Kathir didn't say that this verse is abrogated by simply relying on a certain abridged translation of his work instead of consulting the complete text of Ibn Kathir’s commentary.

There is a second issue about which MENJ is misleading his readers in this article, and that is the extent of lies and deceptions that are permissible in Islam.

MENJ is going back and forth and contradicts himself over and over again on the question of taqiyyah. First, he claims several times in his introduction that it is an exclusively Shia belief/doctrine. Then, in the first part of his article, titled "The Deal With Taqiyyah: What Did Ibn Kathir Really Say?", he admits that it exists in Sunni Islam and is permitted in one particular situation, explaining:

If someone is threatening to kill you and is only willing to let you go if you say or do the things he demands, then in such a dire circumstances, a person is permitted to say what needs to be said to save his/her life. That is all there is to it. …

Likewise, Ibn Kathir explains that in such a situation, where you are being threatened with violence and you are not strong enough to defend yourself, a person may say certain things so that the aggressor would not harm him/her. Ibn Kathir does not state anywhere that you can just lie "for fun" or whenever you want to. …

And so, according to Ibn Kathir, if someone is being compelled and forced, then they can do and say certain things — even pretend to renounce Islam — in order to save their lives, although it is preferable they face the torture and stick to Islam.

Finally, when he arrives at the third part in the same article, titled "What About the ‘Christian Taqiyyah’?", he again denies what he had just admitted a couple of paragraphs earlier, now rejecting the notion of taqiyyah altogether:

While Islam does not have any notion of a taqiyyah except in the minds of those who whale about it, … (underline emphasis ours)

We fully understand that it is very difficult to defend a false and self-contradictory system and remain consistent in the argument. MENJ is a clear example of someone who got caught in his own web of lies.

But that is not all. We already mentioned above that MENJ wrote a response to our dictionary entry on LYING, titled "Lying in Christianity" (*). Having written a response to our article means that MENJ is aware of its content. This article quotes several instances in which Islam permits the use of lies and deception which have nothing to do with saving one’s life. Nevertheless, in this present article, MENJ tries to give the impression that saving one’s life is the only case in which deception is permitted in Islam.

Could it be that the difference between the Sunni and Shia branch of Islam is that Shia Muslims openly admit to the importance of taqiyyah in their belief while the Sunni Muslims are practicing taqiyyah about taqiyyah, i.e. they will do everything to deceive others into believing that Sunnis neither teach nor practice it? MENJ’s article could certainly give this impression.

Or could it be that the real problem that Sunni Muslims have with Shia Muslims is not their doctrine of taqiyyah as such but that they use it against Sunni Muslims when it was supposed to be used only against unbelievers?


MENJ did not tell the truth on several issues. First, he claimed over and over again that taqiyyah is a belief that is restricted exclusively to Shi’a Muslims, i.e. that Sunni Islam does not allow it. This is wrong, as even MENJ’s own quotation from Ibn Kathir shows; and we have provided plenty of further quotations from different Islamic sources proving this point beyond any doubt.

Second, he restricts the use of deception in Islam to life-threatening situations. This is again false.

Third, he claims in regard to Q. 2:256 that "there is no basis in the missionary claim that this verse was ‘abrogated’ according to Ibn Kathir." MENJ is blatantly wrong on that as well.

The challenge of truth

Could MENJ perhaps have been ignorant of these issues? This is highly unlikely, and we do not believe so. All evidence points to the conclusion that he actively and deliberately attempted to mislead first his listeners on Paltalk and then the readers of his article.

Whatever the case, whether it was honest ignorance or deliberate deception, now the truth is out in the open. Now he cannot pretend anymore that he does not know. And truth is always a challenge. What is he going to do with it?

Is MENJ going to remove his article, and replace it with an apology for having made these false claims? Or will he keep it online as if nothing had happened and continue to practice deception with his article?

Note that according to his own criteria, deception is only permissible when in a life-threatening situation. We have not threatened his life. We will not touch him physically.

Therefore the challenge remains: Whatever the reasons for his past claims, the question is what he will do now that "Truth stands out clear from Error" (S. 2:256, Yusuf Ali’s translation).

Will MENJ apologize and correct the claims on his website? Will he affirm what he now knows to be the truth? Or will he and his article stand as a living example that deception is used in Islam in many circumstances beyond the danger of life? Will MENJ admit that what he did is wrong, or will he simply keep the article as it is, and by doing so confirm that the use of deception is permissible when a Muslim considers this course of action advantageous for the spread of Islam?

Boomerang effects

It is particularly ironic that MENJ stressed the great importance that the Quran allegedly puts on honesty and truth. Let’s quote some of his statements again, adding some emphasis:

… the author in question is a Sunni Muslim and hence could not be committing taqiyyah as per the missionary’s claims.

The Qur’an clearly speaks against lying and acts of deception in numerous passages and in Islam lying is absolutely wrong and condemned.

MENJ is hanged by his own rope. One could even say, this article was MENJ’s intellectual suicide mission. He could hardly find more effective way to destroy his own credibility.

In fact, MENJ quoted several verses from the Quran in order to prove how strongly lying is condemned in Islam. Two of these verses seem to be particularly appropriate for the evaluation of his article. The first one is this:

"O you who believe! If a deviator brings you a report, scrutinize it carefully in case you attack people in ignorance and so come to greatly regret what you have done." (Qur’an, 49:6)

MENJ considers Sam Shamoun to be a deviator or worse, claiming that he is somebody who distorts Islam. If only MENJ had heeded the sound advice found in the second part of Sura 49:6, it could have saved him a lot of grief. As it is, MENJ is judged by his own book.[3]

Having exposed with clear proofs that MENJ was wrong in every single one of his claims, and that he used deliberate deception in his attack on Sam Shamoun, the reader may wonder whether the words in his conclusions are in truth not self-referential, another boomerang:


We have cited from Ibn Kathir and showed how his commentary was misused by a low-level missionary who whales about taqiyyah and abrogation and yet ended up citing texts which does not support his claims. Hence we are obliged to ask, from where did he get his poppycock stories from? One wonders why was this person wailing about taqiyyah and a so-called "abrogation" when neither one existed in the passages we have cited above.

It is obvious that this rabid missionary has no idea on what he was talking about and was just whaling for some sort of argument in order to smear Muslims with and tarnish their claims. In logical fallacy circles, this is called poisoning the well and an ad hominem attack. Perhaps the Christian missionary should return to his Logic 101 classes to learn the finer points of debating instead of resorting to wailing about taqiyyah or cutting his opponent off from the microphone when his opponent is speaking.

Here is the second Quran verse from MENJ’s article which seems to be the right answer to the above:

"Anyone who commits an error or an evil action, and then ascribes it to someone innocent, bears the weight of slander and clear wrongdoing." (Qur’an, 4:112)

Christian taqiyyah?

MENJ included into his article a section claiming that even Christianity endorses taqiyyah, and quotes the beloved Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:16 to prove his case. We have already addressed this claim this article.

So there is no need to reinvent the wheel in order to refute such distortions.

A comment on a comment

There have been a number of responses to MENJ’s article that are posted on the same page below the article. One of these, number 11, makes a particularly interesting claim:

You regard the non-abrogation of this ayah as "a very small minority of muslims who have a different view regarding that verse." I AGREE WITH THIS.

A small number of scholars, such as Bin Baz and some earlier scholars, deemed this ayah to be abrogated. But according to the scholarly concensus, the ayah is not abrogated. Its ruling stands.

The missionary Shamoun, who is a compulsive liar, claimed that Ibn Kathir regarded this passage to be abrogated. But, as shown, this was a lie. (Response by Junaid posted on 14 March 2007; source; underline emphasis mine)

Since Junaid is clearly wrong about Ibn Kathir (due to having accepted MENJ’s claims in blind faith and being a willing victim to his deceptive propaganda), how can we believe that he is right, or even knows anything, about an alleged consensus of scholars in this matter? A consensus is easily reached if one excludes the opposing views. Is he speaking of the majority of classical Muslim scholars or of the majority of contemporary Muslim missionaries? The crucial question is: Which Muslim authors would he count as scholars? Moreover, what is their respective weight? Do the opinions of modern day Islamic polemicists like Jamal Badawi, Shabir Ally, Zakir Naik, or even MENJ and Junaid’s own opinion have equal weight in the matter as the classical scholars of Islam like Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi, Tabari, Suyuti, etc.? Would Junaid perhaps explain how exactly he determined what is "the scholarly consensus" regarding this issue, particularly as such important scholars as Ibn Kathir are not of this opinion?

It is amazing how often Muslims are publicly making confident claims without having any knowledge about the issue. MENJ also started his article by reporting his claims on Paltalk:

We recently came face-to-face with the lies of a low-level Christian missionary on the voice channel Paltalk with regard to the so-called "abrogration" of Qur’an, 2:256 ("There is no compulsion in religion"). When this author (MENJ) took the microphone and attempted to address the claims which has no basis in Qur’anic tafsir (commentary), he was shouted down by the same Christian missionary who accused this author of committing taqiyyah, which is exclusively a Shia belief.

The question of abrogation of S. 2:256 "has no basis in Qur’anic tafsir"? Utter nonsense! Even more amazing than the ignorance of some self-appointed defenders of Islam, is that in the 18 months that this article has already been online[2], there was apparently not one knowledgeable Muslim who corrected MENJ on his false claim that Ibn Kathir does not consider this verse to be abrogated. Or, if MENJ was informed about this matter, he did not consider it important to correct his article, confirming again that its purpose was deception.

Even if MENJ’s claim may not have been a deliberate lie at the start (in dubio pro reo), it was a statement of total ignorance which was then followed up with an article of deliberate deception.


[1] Sam Shamoun submitted this paper to Answering Islam on 21 April 2006, within a couple of days after MENJ had published his article, perhaps even on the same day[2]. The considerable delay in publication is entirely the fault and responsibility of the editor turn co-author, Jochen Katz. Sam Shamoun’s part (written in April 2006) is displayed in normal black color and Jochen Katz’s contribution (started in April 2006 but mostly written in October 2007) is displayed in grey, so that MENJ may know exactly whom to blame for what.

[2] At the time of a system change, or at least a design change, at Bismikaallahuma their publication dates got messed up. Currently the date of publication for MENJ’s article "Whaling A Taqiyyah" is shown as 9 December 2006. However, the first comment on this article is dated 21 April 2006 (*). Therefore, it was originally published shortly before this first comment.

[3] Searching for the words "truth" and "falsehood" in the Qur'an (*), I found some more interesting verses. Although we do not believe that these verses are of divine origin, these formulations seem to be very appropriate in this context:

That He might cause the truth to triumph and bring falsehood to nothing, ... 8:8 Al-Hilali & Khan

Confound not truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the truth. 2:42 Pickthall

And say: "Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish."  17:81 Yusuf Ali

... But those who disbelieve, dispute with false argument, in order to refute the truth thereby. ... 18:56 Al-Hilali & Khan

Nay, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish!  ... 21:18 Yusuf Ali

We have sent them the Truth: but they indeed practise falsehood! 23:90 Yusuf Ali

... and [they] disputed by means of falsehood to refute therewith the truth. So I seized them (with punishment), and how (terrible) was My punishment! 40:5 Al-Hilali & Khan

Nay, they rejected the truth when it came to them, so they are (now) in a state of confusion.  50:5 Shakir

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