…so, last post I was “Digging Deeper…” This time, I want to add a few observations. Reading about taqiyyah, the Shi’ite Muslim practice of ‘religious dissimulation’ or concealment, to preserve life or faith, certain points of similarity to Christianity struck me. I am not advocating taqiyyah, just mentioning a thing or two that I noticed.
The practice of taqiyyah originates in the Qur’an, the Islamic counterpart to the Bible. (By making this statement, I am in no way suggesting an equality with, or partnering Islamic teaching with the Scriptures. I only point to the fact of spiritual authority through written verse, in each faith.) So…Muslims are given permission or instruction to conceal from, or mislead adversaries concerning their religious beliefs, when to not do so could result in harm, injury, death, etc. A Native American might call this ‘speaking with forked tongue’, or the more contemporary label ‘two-faced’ could apply here. Whatever we call it, bottom line, the idea is to say whatever the other party wants to hear! And the original purpose was survival, or at least avoidance of suffering.
Well…and I almost hate to say this…Matthew 5:25 tells us the following : “Agree with thine adversary quickly…lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.”
Hmmm…this sounds like Jesus is telling us to ‘kiss up’ to the boss, doesn’t it? Yet, these verses ARE in the Bible. They ARE the word of God. I’ve read/heard interpretations of this, and I get it, that perhaps at issue here is more of a dynamic than an actual literal situation, but still…I have to admit that I am careful what I say to my boss! If someone has the power to hurt me, or impair any aspect of my well-being or survival, I watch how I word things. And it seems that the times that I haven’t, have thrown caution to the winds & told it like it was! I paid a price. There are times that maybe the price is just too steep…
Something to think about.
And here’s something else to consider: “…be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) The word ‘wise’ in the Greek implies a cautious character, and translates into the English ‘thoughtful, discreet’. (Interestingly enough, taqiyyah in Arabic means ‘cautious’.) This instruction comes right on the heels of the disciples’ being told that they were being sent forth as sheep among wolves – not exactly what I would consider a safe environment. And besides the Lord Himself, it looks like their first line of defense was caution in conduct, which would include speech.
The comparison to serpents here can’t help but bring to mind the serpent in the Garden (Genesis 3:1). This serpent is called ‘subtil’ in the King James Version, and that description embodies the idea of cunning, or crafty. Not exactly the same thrust as the New Testament Greek ‘wise’, yet my Bible cross-references these verses. It’s hard not to perceive a thread of similarity.
My last observation concerns a slightly different focus on a specific purpose of taqiyya, other than the preservation of a Muslim’s life/faith. In line with the preservation of the teachings themselves, some see the need for the protection of the knowledge given by God to the Imams as a reason for employing taqiyyah. Until the coming of the Twelfth Imam, when the full truth can be revealed, it must remain hidden from the uninitiated or from adversaries (Kohlberg, Etan, Secrecy and Concealment).
Where else do we see the truth being protected?
“…he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24)
Now, the other side of the coin…whereas Muslims are permitted to deceive by concealing their beliefs, according to the Qur’an, believers in Jesus Christ are never enjoined to deny Him. Though Peter did, and thrice at that, it wasn’t his proudest moment, and in fact Jesus took action to redeem Peter from the effects of that denial. (John 21:15-17)
…and whereas perhaps full truth for Muslims may be hidden until their Twelfth Imam appears, Jesus Christ IS our full truth, and He has already come in the flesh. Revelation from our God is the rock upon which His church is built. Rather than covering expression of His gospel, or those revelations, Christians tend to want to share them. Spread the wealth around! It’s all about the word of testimony, although that word may be more effective when spoken in season. Yet even so, the Biblical instruction is to be prepared to speak even out of season.