The following is by Professor Walid Phares, originally published in "The Free Republic" in 1997:
In the early years of the Tawheed (Islamic conquest of the Arabian peninsula) and in the Fatah (Arab-Islamic invasion and conquest of the upper Middle East and the outside world), a Muslim concept was devised to achieve success against the enemy, Al-Taqiyya.
Al-Taqiyya, from the verb Ittaqu, means linguistically dodge the threat. Politically it means simulate whatever status you need in order to win the war against the enemy.
According to Al-Taqiyya, Muslims were granted the Sharia (legitimacy) to infiltrate the Dar el-Harb (war zone), infiltrate the enemy's cities and forums and plant the seeds of discord and sedition. These agents were acting on behalf of the Muslim authority at war, and therefore were not considered as lying or denouncing the tenets of Islam. They were "legitimate" mujahedeen, whose mission was to undermine the enemy's resistance and level of mobilization. One of their major objectives was to cause a split among the enemy's camp. In many instances, they convinced their targeted audiences that Jihad is not aimed at them, that indigenous people are not targeted, only Byzantium power. They convinced many Jews that they will be protected from Christians, called pagans, and they convinced many Christians that Jews were the mortal enemies, because they killed Issa (Jesus). They convinced the Aramaics, Copts, and Hebrews that the enemy is Greece, and signed peace agreements with the Bysantines Greeks at the expense of Maronite Aramaics, etc.
This Jihadic agency of subversion was one of the most fascinating and efficient arms of the conquest. In less than four decades the Middle East fell to the Arab-Islamic rule, followed by north Africa and Central Asia.
Al-Taqiyya was a formidable weapon, used by the first dynasties and strategists. Today, scholars may identify it as deception. But the Jihadic deception was and still is more powerful than the James Bondian methods of Western classical intelligence tactics, for the simple reason that it has a civilizational, global dimension versus the narrow state interest of the regular Western subversive methods.
Al-Taqiyya is still in use today but not necessarily state-organized. One can easily detect Taqiyya in the two discourses used by Islamist strategists. On the one hand, one comprehensive Islamist theory is attempting to mobilize Middle East, and sometimes Western Christian leaders and intellectuals, against "evil Jews." We see considerable success on that level. And on the other hand, another Islamist comprehensive theory is attempting — with success also — to mobilize the Jews against "evil and pagan Christians." One can easily detect the sophisticated work of Taqiyya, for the strategic objective of Islamists is to destroy the foundations of the Judeo-Christian civilization, as a prelude to the defeat of an isolated Israel.
Taqiyya is not a unique phenomenon in history, many strategists from all backgrounds implemented subversion. But the uniqueness of today's Taqiyya is its success within advanced and sophisticated societies. Taqiyya is winning massively because of the immense lack of knowledge among Western elites, both Jewish and Christian.
For interesting examples of Taqiyya methods, visit Christian discussion groups and forums and note the discourse of Islamist visitors, aimed at undermining the Christian perception of Jews, and visit Jewish discussion groups and forums and note the subtle anti-Christian discourse of Islamists visitors. It is really informative and fascinating.
Professor Walid Phares teaches in the Department of Religion, Florida International University.
Read more about taqiyya here.