Donald Trump made headlines following terrorist attacks in Europe and at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando for his repeated claims that a ban on allowing Muslims to enter the country without proper “vetting” is needed. It’s a reasonable argument that banning someone from entering this country based solely on their faith is outrageous and even un-American.
The United States is a cultural melting pot, and religion is a component of culture. As religion is often associated with (but not limited by) ethnic origin or birthplace, we would be relying on those coming to this country as refugees or immigrants to declare their religion as Islam, knowing that they would be shown the door if they did so. Religion is often associated with themes like honesty and truth, and Islam is no different in its teachings. Yet, while everyone argues about the legitimacy or ethical elements of a ban on Muslims, no one is paying attention to the one thing that makes all of it arbitrary—Taqiyya (تقیة).
Taqiyya is a principle of Islam which essentially gives Muslims permission to lie under some circumstances, and even compels them to in others. Defined, it means “Saying something that isn’t true as it relates to the Muslim identity.” Most instances of permissible lying involves interactions with non-believers, and while the U.S. may not be a “Christian Nation”, it’s far from being an Islamic one. When applied in the context of immigration, taqiyya permits all Muslims to lie about their religious identity. This principle makes a faith-based immigration ban impractical.
Another teaching of the Islamic faith that should inspire caution is muruna, which allows Muslims to set aside principles of Islam to “blend in”, in order to use deception to further the causes of Islam. Muhammad famously used this principle in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. Even without the principle of taqiyya, Muslims are permitted to put aside other moral or ethical rules in order to further their cause. So while moderate Muslims may still openly identify as Muslims, when interpreted by radical Islamic terrorists, these two principles mean serious trouble for a nation of “infidels”, as we are seen. I would not suggest that we accuse Muslims of these things, only to understand that we may not be playing by the same rules in this war of radical ideology.
A ban on Muslims sets a dangerous precedent and under Islamic principles would not be effective. Rather, we should root out terrorism and end an era of tolerance towards hatred of all kinds.We should set the example for the change we want to see in our world.