Thursday 21 July 2016



In the book “Journey Into The Mind of an Islamic Terrorist (2006)”, Mark A. Gabriel, former Professor of Islamic History at Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt wrote, ‘In the Muslim world, Muhammad is known for declaring, “War is deception”’. In order words, “Islam teaches that deception is one of the essential tools of jihad”, he declared.

What then is deception? Why do Christianity frowns at deception but Islam promote it?

What is Deception?

Deception is the act of making someone believe something that is not true. It is an act or statement either verbal or nonverbal intended to deceive. Deception is a trick or scheme used by the perpetrator to get what he/she wants from the victim.

Apart from threat of bloodbath, the weapon used to win the 2015 general election and ousted the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan led government was not votes but deception. The weapon of the invisible war between the collapse USSR and the USA was deception. The foot soldiers of that cold war were the KGB and the CIA.

Reasons for Deception

Deception helps the perpetrator to:

  • Avoid hurting others.
  • Avoid conflict.
  • Regain a sense of freedom and control.
  • Buy time and space.
  • Protect self and faith.


Deception is as old as man. The story of Eve and the Serpent illustrates the power of deception in the hand of a deceiver. The story of Jacob also demonstrates the dangers and consequences of deception. Jacob bought the birthright from his brother Esau and afterward acquired the blessing intended for Esau by practicing a well-known deceit on Isaac.

Consequently, he was severally deceived and found himself in emergencies always. He escaped from the angry pursuit of Laban, from a meeting with Esau, and from the vengeance of the Canaanites provoked by the murder of Shechen. No wonder the Holy Bible severally warned Christians to desist from deception.

Types of Deception

Deception includes several types of communications or omissions that serve to distort or omit the complete truth. Examples of deception range from false statements to misleading claims in which relevant information is omitted, leading the receiver to infer false conclusions.


Deception itself is intentionally managing verbal and/or nonverbal messages so that the message receiver will believe in a way that the message sender knows is false. Intent is critical with regard to deception. Intent differentiates between deception and an honest mistake.


The interpersonal deception theory explores the interrelation between communicative context and sender and receiver cognitions and behaviors in deceptive exchanges.

Forms of Deception

This refers to the way deception is exhibited or performed. Some forms of deception include:

a.       Lies –This is making up information or giving information that is the opposite or very different from the truth.

  1. Equivocations – This includes making an indirect, ambiguous, or contradictory statement.
  2. Concealments – This involves omitting information that is important or relevant to the given context, or engaging in behavior that helps hide relevant information.
  3. Exaggerations – This consists of overstatement or stretching the truth to a degree.
  4. Understatements –This comprises minimization or downplaying aspects of the truth.

Today many Nigerians believe that they are good at deception, though this confidence is often misplaced. Deception and falsehood now characterize all aspects of our national life.

Motives for Deception

There are four primary motivations for deceptions that prevalent in Nigeria today. These include:

  • Partner-Focused Motives This involves using deception to avoid hurting the partner, to help the partner to enhance or maintain his/her self-esteem, to avoid worrying the partner, and to protect the partner's relationship with a third party. Partner-motivated deception can sometimes be viewed as socially polite and relationally beneficial.
  • Self-Focused Motives This is the use deception to enhance or protect their self-image, wanting to shield themselves from anger, embarrassment, or criticism. In relationship, self-focused deception is generally perceived as a more serious transgression than partner-focused deception because the deceiver is acting for selfish reasons rather than for the good of the relationship.
  • Relationship-Focused Motives This includes using deception to limit relationship harm by avoiding conflict or relational trauma. Relationally motivated deception can be beneficial to a relationship as well as harmful by further complicating matters.
  • Power-Focused Motives – This is outside a relationship. It consists of using deceit to gain socio-political, traditional or religious advantage and supremacy. Power motivated deception can sometimes be seen as rationally beneficial when power is seized on the platter of deception.  But can be very dangerous in the long run.

On the other hand, Buller and Burgoon (1996) have proposed three groupings to distinguish motivations for deception based on their Interpersonal Deception Theory. They include:

  • Instrumental – to avoid punishment or to protect resources.
  • Relational – to maintain relationships or bonds.
  • Identity – to preserve face or the self-image.

Camouflage as a Type of Deception

The camouflage of a physical object often works by breaking up the visual boundary of that object. This usually involves colouring the camouflaged object with the same colours as the background against which the object will be hidden. In the realm of deceptive half-truths, camouflage is realized by 'hiding' some of the truths.

Military camouflage as a form of visual deception is a part of military deception.

Concealment as a Type of Deception

A concealment or cover-up is an appearance to create the impression of being somebody or something else; for a well-known person this is also called incognito. Transient involves more than mere dress and can include hiding one's real manner of speech.

In a more abstract sense, concealment may refer to the act of disguising the nature of a particular proposal in order to hide an unpopular motivation or effect associated with that proposal. This is a form of political gyration or propaganda.

Feuding nations and groups all over history are known to depicting an act of war as a peace mission.

Simulation as a Type of Deception

Simulation consists of exhibiting false information. There are many simulation techniques. Here, we shall discuss fabrication and distraction only.


Fabrication as a Type of Deception

Fabrication involves making something that in reality is not what it appears to be. For example, in World War II, it was common for the Allies to use hollow tanks made out of cardboard to fool German reconnaissance planes into thinking a large armor unit was on the move in one area while the real tanks were well hidden and on the move in a location far from the fabricated dummy tanks.


Distraction as a Type of Deception

Distraction is getting someone's attention from the truth by offering lure or something else more tempting to divert attention away from the object being concealed. For example, a security company publicly announces that it will ship a large gold shipment down one route, while in reality takes a different route.

Deception as Weapon of War

Lying was a widespread practice among the Muslims until Muhammad realized that it was turning into a grave danger threatening the growth of his message in Arabia. This caused him to rebuke his followers one day declaring, “Why do I see you flocking into lying, as butterflies flock into fire? All lying will be written against the sons of Adam except if he lies in war, or when two men are quarreling and he meditates between them, or fabricates (lies) to his wife to please her”

In other words, Muhammad objected to lying in some matters, but he approved Muslims lying under three situations. These are:

a.       During war.

b.      To reconcile between two feuding parties.

c.       To a spouse in order to please her.

The Sheikh of Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah, applying the teaching of Muhammad said, “If a believer (Muslim) is in a land where he is the weaker, or at a time when he is the weaker, let him then go by the virtue of patience, forgiving and pardoning those of the Jews and the Christians who hurt Allah and his Messenger, and he shall lie to them, if that was a way of preserving his life and his religion”.

Ibn Taymiyyah based this philosophy on the life of Muhammad. A look of one of the incidents in which Muhammad authorized Muslims to lie and deny their faith in order to protect themselves will suffice.

A slave named Ammar Bin Yasser had become a Muslim, and he was being tortured by the tribe of Quraysh. They demanded that he forfeit his faith in order for them to stop the torture, so he denied his faith. After they let him go, he hurried to Muhammad and told him what had happened.

Muhammad asked him, “Was anything of that from the heart?”

Yasser responded, “No”.

Muhammad replied, “If they come again, do it again”. Ibn Kathir observed in the book The Beginning and The End, “if they catch you and torture you again, go ahead and lie to them again”.  In other words, if a Muslim is in a weak position, he may deny his faith in order to stop persecution from the enemy. Al Mansour said clearly, “If you are incapable of cutting the hand of your enemy, then kiss it”.

It means that if a Muslim has to pretend to be submissive in order to deceive his enemy, then he should do so if in his heart he is not.

In the book Cover Operations Ayman al-Zawahiri gives details about using deceit during peace if it will “protect the believers (Muslims) from harm from the infidels”.

The Shiite sect of Islam has a special term for lying when a person is in a position of powerlessness. They call it shielding (at-toqya in Arabic), meaning (cloaking, obscuring, or concealing). Shielding means that a Muslim thinks or believes one thing but reveals another. The system allows Muslims to hold hatred toward non-Muslims but display love and forgiveness toward them until they assume power, then strikes. Shielding also pave the way for Muslims to prepare for and at the appropriate time strike by execute jihad against non-Muslims. 

Such incidents like the beheading of the rebellious poet by Musslemah with the authorization of Muhammad, the beheading of the rebel leader Abi Sufyan by Abdullah under the pretense of joining the rebellion against Muhammad; the story of the man who spread false information among his own people after pretending not to have converted to Islam makes interesting study for today’s radical Muslims.

In fact, Muslim radicals of today look at deceit as an art of war that was used by Muhammad himself. They study the different incidents of deception in Muhammad’s life to develop a modern picture of the principle of deception, particularly during preparation phase of jihad. They use deception in communication to recruit new members. They use deception in buying weapons. They use deception in negotiation and cease-fire. They use deception to usurp political powers.

Because Muhammad established this principle, Muslims radicals see deceit as something sacred that they not only have the right to do but are obligated to do. They look at deception as a way to save the life of Muslims and achieve victory over the enemy.  

You can see why the Muslims are becoming very powerful in Nigeria today. You can also see why the herdsmen are now more violent, uncontrollable and unquestionable. They have moved from the position of powerlessness to position of power. One of their own is on top. Others are being placed around him for strategic reasons. It is the commandment; it is the ancient practice! If in doubt read this write-up all over again!

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