Taqiyya (Sacred Deception): A historical example

Excellent scholarly paper on taqiyya (sacred deception) or dissimulation using the example of the Moriscos, Sunni converts to Christianity in 15th and 16th century Spain. This concept of concealing one’s true feelings or intentions is doctrinally available for use by both Sunnis and Shiites.


Dissimulation in Sunni Islam and Morisco Taqiyya
by Devin Stewart

This study provides an outline of the religious doctrine of taqiyya or dissimulation in Sunni Islam, drawing on Qur,anic commentaries, hadith compilations, legal manuals, and ethical treatises. Moriscos and the North African jurists who advised them had access to discussions of taqiyya and the closely connected legal dispensation of coercion (ikrah) through these sources, many of which were well known in al-Andalus before the Reconquista, and some of which continued to be popular afterwards. Attention to this material helps one to interpret the 1504 fatwa of Ibn Abi Jum,a al-Wahrani to the Moriscos and in particular his discussion of blasphemy under coercion.

Zagorin’s fascinating study of dissimulation in sixteenth-century Europe exhibits a curious lacuna. During this period widespread religious, ideological conflicts and increasingly intense efforts…[continue reading]

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