Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Interesting piece in frontpagemag.com about the average citizens who caught Zacharias Moussaoui before he could kill hundreds of Americans.

Prevost found Moussaoui reluctant to talk about himself but turned the discussion to an aircraft accident involving a flight carrying pilgrims to the hajj in Mecca. Casually, he inquired about Moussaoui being Muslim. An FBI affidavit takes it from there: "Prevost described Moussaoui’s reaction as being one of surprise and caution. … When he recovered, Moussaoui informed him that he was not a Muslim."

This is an example of al-taqiyya, the officially-sanctioned act of deliberate lying in order to advance the cause of Islam. Taqiyya was originally a Shia Muslim doctrine, born amid the intra-Islamic persecution that marked early Shiism, but over the centuries the Sunnis seem to have recognized its usefulness, and adopted it as well. There's a good critical thread on the practice at faithfreedom.org that explains the issues it generates.

The doctrine is fairly unique among religions. Christianity tends to regard all lying--even for the best of reasons--as a sin,, while the Baha'i Faith, which of course grew out of the Islamic tradition, explicitly forbids it ("...abandonment of Taqiyyah amongst the Bahá'ís was one of the distinguishing feature of the new religion from the Bábí era...Taqiyyah became one of the distinguishing features of the Azali-Bahá'í split.")

And, I think, the doctrine is spiritually corrosive. As several observers have pointed out, the Islamic world has traditionally been in thrall to the most bizarre and paranoid conspiracy theories. "In the aggregate," says Richard Pipes in his indispensible The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy, "the paranoid mentality creates a suspiciousness that impedes modernization in the Middle East." And conspiracies are nothing more than taqiyya writ large: I would argue that a culture which condones the lie creates an environment where the truth is suspect.

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