An Inquiry into Religious Dissimulation
Dissimulation is a practice emphasized by the Ahlul Bayt on several occasions. Dissimulation is protecting oneself or one’s family or innocent people from harm by doing or avoiding something or by doing or saying something which is not recommended or permissible under normal conditions. Using Islamic sources and documents, Shi‘a scholars divide dissimulation into three types: prohibited, mandatory, and permissible. In the Holy Qur’an, we can find some instances – such as the believer of the Pharaoh’s people – based on which dissimulation can be regarded as permissible. There is also some evidence in Sunni traditions suggesting that dissimulation is religiously legal and rational. Among the permissible conditions whereby dissimulation can be practiced referred to in traditions by the Ahlul Bayt are a) saving the life of the believers, b) elevation of man’s status and his perfection, and c) preserving Islamic unity.