Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick
Military deception refers to attempts to mislead enemy forces during warfare. This is usually achieved by creating or amplifying an artificial fog of war via psychological operations, information warfare, visual deception, and other methods. A scholar has said it’s permissible, as our Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “War is Deception.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
As part of a broader strategy, deception is present in military case studies. Some people learn and understand lying, deceiving, and spying techniques to create awareness and save people from those techniques, scams, lies, deception, and spying. Is it permissible to learn about lies, deceiving, and spying techniques for permissible reasons?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him.
Acquiring such knowledge with the objective of the preservation of life is necessary and, therefore, permissible. Lying, for example, is impermissible, but learning to detect when someone tells a lie (and consequently the intricacies of lying) to protect life and country is a duty and responsibility. This would form part of the obligatory collective knowledge, and Allah knows best.
Harmful Branches of Knowledge
Islam’s default position on causing harm (whether physical, psychological, or other) is that one should refrain from causing harm or reciprocating harm. When a legitimate and justifiable need for harm arises (as when defending one’s life, family, religion, country, etc.,) then the only harm permitted is that which is necessary to restore justice (as detailed in Sacred Law), and Allah knows best.
Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Do not cause harm or return harm. Whoever harms others, Allah will harm him. Whoever is harsh with others, Allah will be harsh with him.” [Bayhaqi, Al-Sunan al-Kubra]
Allah says: “If the enemy is inclined towards peace, make peace with them. And put your trust in Allah. Indeed, He [alone] is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” [Quran, 8:61]
I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan.
Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.
He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.
Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.