Etan Kohlberg's Historical Approach to Taqīyya (Dissimulation): Criticism and Examination of Incorrect Interpretations

Document Type : Original Article


1 Professor of the Department of Quranic and Hadith Sciences, Faculty of Theology, University of Tehran. Tehran

2 Assistant Professor of Department of Culture and Education, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Culture and Communication, Imam Sadiq (AS) University

3 Associate Professor of Department of Quranic and Hadith Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Meybod University,



Among the favorite topics between Orientalists is the controversial issue of Taqīyya between Shi'a and Sunni. Etan Kohlberg, a renowned scholar who research about Shi'a, has addressed this topic in two articles. His discussion includes a range of narrative and historical issues, such as the position of Taqīyya among the fundamentals of belief in the Imamiyya School and the impact of this doctrine on Shi'a hadiths, such as the concealment of teachings and contradiction of narrations. Kohlberg analyzes that the sanctity of employing Taqīyya in some religious practices stems from the Shi'a Imams' sense of discrimination seeking. This descriptive-analytical article aims to focus on Etan Kohlberg's first article while incorporating some content from his second article to provide a comprehensive discussion on the topic of Taqīyya. Firstly, criticisms of Kohlberg's descriptive approach from opponents are reviewed and subsequently challenged. Overall, it is concluded that, contrary to Kohlberg's opinion, there is no contradiction in the Imamiyya approach to the principle of Taqīyya. Compliance or non-compliance with Taqīyya is dependent on the circumstances and is contingent upon the benefits and harms, which Kohlberg has overlooked.


Volume 1, Issue 1 - Serial Number 1
January 2024
Pages 39-72
  • Receive Date: 02 December 2023
  • Accept Date: 04 December 2023
  • First Publish Date: 22 December 2023
  • Publish Date: 22 December 2023