Prophets Life and
Mission as a Messenger
Mission as a Messenger
Did Prophet Muhammad ﷺ practice taqiyyah during the first three years of his mission while preaching secretly?
Taqiyya means denial of religious belief in the face of persecution. There is a difference between observance of taqiyya and the Prophet’s attitude while preaching in the early years of Makkah period. The Muslims are allowed to observe taqiyya at a moment where is an existential threat of persecution if they were to reveal their faith and identity, a threat to their life, families and/or property. However, openly expressing one’s belief in Allah ﷻ and being patient at the persecution experienced as a result of it, is highly honored in the sight of Allah ﷻ, as He said: “And most certainly shall We try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of [labor’s] fruits. But give glad tidings to those who are patient in adversity - who, when calamity befalls them, say, "Verily, to God do we belong and, verily, to Him we shall return." It is they upon whom their Sustainer's blessings and grace are bestowed, and it is they, they who are on the right path!”
Please note that taqiyyah is in no way a license for Muslims to cheat and deceive others especially non-Muslims. If someone does make such a claim about Muslims, then onus is on them to produce proof of such acts from authentic teachings of Quran and Hadith. Unfortunately, in Islamic medieval times some deviant groups such as Ismaili (shias) Hashashins (assassins) have acted deceptively by adopting taqiyya for the establishment of their influence in Muslim world. They spread terror and justified their acts due to a misinterpretation of this concept. Such groups do not represent the majority Muslims and their understanding of Islamic teachings.
As far as claims that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ observed this practice while preaching is also not correct. Such as in the case of Prophet’s early stage of preaching in Makkah i.e. the first three years, there was hardly any threat that the pagans/disbelievers of Makkah had about Islam because the Prophet ﷺ had not yet reached out to them and the mainstream society. The pagans had heard of Prophet’s teachings but they had not considered it as a threat influential enough to damage the status quo which maintained their power and influence over politics and trade. This was because in the very beginning the Prophet ﷺ only focused on preaching those who were very close to him and the reaction was very positive such as his dear friend Abu Bakr (r.a), his freed slave Zaid in Haritha (r.a), his first and only wife Khadija (r.a) and his little cousin Ali (r.a). Additionally, there were others he preached whose response was also very positive such as Uthman bin Affan (r.a), Az-Zubair bin Awwam (r.a), Abdur Rahman bin Awf (r.a), Saad bin Abi Waqqas (r.a), Talhah bin Ubaidullah (r.a) etc. The positive reaction and acceptance of these among a total of early forty converts gave him the strength and courage to preach those whom it was going to be challenging, from whom he and his followers were going to face extreme persecution and hardships.
Keeping this in mind taqiyya is a concept in which faith and identity is kept hidden due to fear of persecution. The persecution Prophet ﷺ and his early followers experienced at the hands of their opponents in the 13 years of Makkan period itself is the biggest evidence that it happened due to open expression of their faith. For instance, the boycott of Muslims in Makkah, which was one of their biggest tests in which they were tested with danger, hunger, loss of wealth and lives. As for his followers, there are instances we find in which some were forced to observe taqiyya to avoid persecution especially those who were left behind in Makkah after emigration of majority Muslims to Madinah. There is ayah in the Quran in support of this act: “As for anyone who denies God after having once attained to faith - and this, to be sure, does not apply to one who does it under duress, the while his heart remains true to his faith, but [only, to] him who willingly opens up his heart to a denial of the truth: upon all such [falls] God's condemnation, and tremendous suffering awaits them.” Therefore, the Prophet’s secret preaching to his close family and friends circle was not done because he was observing taqiyya, in fact it was done quietly as a prophet first begins his mission from his own family and near relatives before garnering enough support and extending scope of his mission to the mainstream society. Hence the Prophet never applied taqiyya and the ones who are allowed to do are only those whose lives, and the lives of their families, are under threat of severe persecution. In no way does it give a permit to any Muslim to practice this act for the sake of deceiving non-Muslims for the sake of harming them in any way whatsoever, a false claim made against Islam due to Islamophobia.
 Al Quran 2:155–157
 Al Quran 16:106