Taqiyya (Arabic: تقية; Dissimulation) is the concealing or disguising one's beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, or strategies at a time of eminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical or mental harm.
The concept of Taqiyya is proven through the Qur'an and Hadith and both Shi'a and Sunni scholars alike believe in its validity. Living as a minority among a frequently hostile Sunni majority, the condition of many Shi'as until the rise of the Safavid dynasty, made the doctrine of Taqiyya important. It acted as a shield for the Shi'ite and thus, over time propagandists began to associate the concept as something practiced by the Shi'a only. The Sunnis on account of being in power did not require to do Taqiyya and many a times only for accusing the Shi'ite Muslims did they undermine the concept at large.
The doctrine of Taqiyya was largely utilized from the time of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq onwards. As the Umayyads were vehemently suspicious of the Imam, the Imam was forced to spend his political life in Taqiyya. Furthermore, Taqiyya also served to protect the followers of Imam al-Sadiq at a time when Al-Mansur was conducting a brutally oppressive campaign against the followers of the Ahl ul-Bayt and their supporters.
In the Qur'an
The doctrine of Taqiyya has been referred to in the Qur'an on a number of occasions. Shi'a and Sunni alike affirm the fact that the following verse refers to the case of Ammar ibn Yasir:
مَن كَفَرَ بِاللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ إِيمَانِهِ إِلاَّ مَنْ أُكْرِهَ وَقَلْبُهُ مُطْمَئِنٌّ بِالإِيمَانِ وَلَكِن مَّن شَرَحَ بِالْكُفْرِ صَدْرًا فَعَلَيْهِمْ غَضَبٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
[16:106] Anyone who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.
Allamah Tabatabai writes about the aforementioned verse:
After the migration (hijrah) of the Prophet, the infidels of Mecca imprisoned some of the Muslims of that city and tortured them, forcing them to leave Islam and to return to their former religion of idolatry. Included in this group who were tortured were Ammar and his father and mother. Ammar's parents refused to turn away from Islam and died under torture. But Ammar, in order to escape torture and death, outwardly left Islam and accepted idol worship, thereby escaping from danger. Having become free, he left Mecca secretly for Medina. In Medina he went before the Holy Prophet--upon whom be blessings and peace--and in a state of penitence and distress concerning what he had done, he asked the Prophet if by acting as he did, he had fallen outside the sacred precinct of religion. Then Prophet said that his duty was what he had accomplished. The above verse was then revealed.
The following verse mentions that in order to guard oneself, a person as a precaution (tuqaatan) is allowed to show friendship with the adversaries:
لاَّ يَتَّخِذِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْكَافِرِينَ أَوْلِيَاء مِن دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَلَيْسَ مِنَ اللَّهِ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلاَّ أَن تَتَّقُواْ مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ اللَّهُ نَفْسَهُ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ الْمَصِيرُ
[3:28] Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.
In regards to the portion of the aforementioned verse, except by way of precaution, Sunni scholar Ibn Kathir writes the following:
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 Taqiyya is allowed until the Day of Resurrection."
Principle of Dissimulation
See main article: Principle of Dissimulation
The principle of dissimulation (Arabic: قاعدة التقية) states that any act performed by a person while in a state of taqiyyah is correct. This principle is a direct consequence of the permissibility of doing religious dissimulation itself.