The paper undertakes to investigate the Shī`ī practice of prudential concealment (taqīya) as a source of both quietism and political activism. The practice functioned as a strategy of survival for the Shī `ī minority living under hostile Sunni regimes. Although Sunni ulema criticized the practice as dissimulation and, hence, morally wrong, ironically they too adopted the strategy when encountering autocratic and oppressive Sunni regimes that suffocated the right of the people to voice their demand for just treatment. The article demonstrates that the strategy created a specific sphere of existence for the Shī `ites, known as the “abode of prudential concealment,” which incrementally allowed Muslim opposition to engage in underground activity for regime change and for a political transformation of the public order that accorded with Islamic ideals. In light of Muslim political theology providing doctrinal resources for Muslim societies to work toward the common good in the public sphere, this latter space functions as a means of critical evaluation of the existing autocratic governments in the Muslim world, prompting political action, however underground. The major conclusion of the paper is that although the practice was developed by the Shī `ī minority living under intolerable political conditions, at different times under unbearable political conditions and the absence of democratic processes, it has provided Muslims a strategy to regroup and engage in political transformation.
Skip Nav Destination
Abdulaziz Sachedina; Prudential Concealment in Shi`ite Islam: A Strategy of Survival or a Principle. Common Knowledge 1 April 2010; 16 (2): 233–246. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-2009-089
Download citation file: