Taqiya ( /, literally "prudence, fear, caution") is an Islamic term referring to precautionary dissimulation or denial of religious belief and practice in the face of persecution.
This practice is emphasized in Shia Islam whereby adherents are permitted to conceal their religion when under threat of persecution or compulsion. However, it is also permitted in Sunni Islam under certain circumstances.
Taqiyya was initially practiced under duress by some of Muhammad's Companions. Later, it became particularly important for Shias due to their experience as a persecuted religious minority. According to Shia doctrine, taqiyya is permissible in situations where there is overwhelming danger of loss of life or property and where no danger to religion would occur thereby. Taqiyya has also been politically legitimised, particularly among Twelver Shias, in order to maintain unity among Muslims and fraternity among the Shia clerics.
Yarden Mariuma writes: "Taqiyya is an Islamic juridical term whose shifting meaning relates to when a Muslim is allowed, under Sharia law, to lie. A concept whose meaning has varied significantly among Islamic sects, scholars, countries, and political regimes, it nevertheless is one of the key terms used by recent anti-Muslim polemicists."