Taqayya in Islam: Ammar Ibn Yasir hides faith to save life

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Sceptics accuse Shias of innovating taqayya which in their view has no place in Islam. They maintain hiding one’s faith out of caution / fear has no basis in Quran or Sunnah.

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We have several instances of companions practicing taqayya with the one involving Ammar Ibn Yasir being widely documented.

Regarding the Quranic verse: 

مَن كَفَرَ بِاللّهِ مِن بَعْدِ إيمَانِهِ إِلاَّ مَنْ أُكْرِهَ وَقَلْبُهُ مُطْمَئِنٌّ بِالإِيمَانِ

He who disbelieves in Allah after his having believed, not he who is compelled while his heart is at rest on account of faith… (Surah Nahl (16): 106

Many scholars across the board have documented in their exegesis that the verse was revealed for Ammar Ibn Yasir, among the senior most companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), and some other recent Muslims.

The Meccan infidels arrested and tortured these converts forcing some of them to abandon Islam and revert to their old faith. Others who refused to abandon Islam were forced to mouth statements that went against Islam. The group that resisted the infidels and stayed true to Islam were Ammar, his father Yasir, his mother Somayya, Bilal, Sohaib, Habbab, among others.

Somayya was tortured to death, as was Yasir. Ammar on seeing his parents suffer in this manner, uttered statements as demanded by the torturers.

At this juncture, Allah revealed the Quranic verse of Surah Nahl (16): 106:

He who disbelieves in Allah after his having believed, not he who is compelled while his heart is at rest on account of faith…

Clearly, taqayya i.e. hiding one’s faith out of caution / fear, was practiced by companions and received divine endorsement as evidenced by the Quranic verses revealed at the juncture. Hence to blame Shias for innovating taqayya betrays poor knowledge of Islamic history and Quranic science.

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