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For the Hong Kong singer, see Kitman (singer).

Kitman (Arabic kitmān كتمان "secrecy, concealment") is the act of paying lip service to authority while holding personal opposition. It is a sort of political camouflage, for the purpose of survival, in circumstances where open opposition would result in persecution.[citation needed]

Czesław Miłosz in the The Captive Mind uses Ketman (a variation on Kitman) as a metaphor for understanding how intellectuals behaved under the totalitarian regimes in Postwar Communist Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Hungary.[1]

Some early Muslim jurists such as Muadh bin Jabal were opposed to the concept altogether as they felt it implied “lying” (kidhb) and “hypocrisy” (nifaq). In modern times, it is understood that both Kitman and Taqiyya are both forms of altering or concealing information.

In the Ibadi denomination of Islam, the concept is considered an important one as the denomination's minority status and secretive nature drove many adherents to conceal their creed in order to survive.[2]


The term originates in Persia, and was studied in Gobineau's book Religions and Philosophies of Central Asia. Czesław Miłosz in his book The Captive Mind makes parallels between Kitman and the act of public hypocrisy (that is, publicly professing orthodoxy, while privately believing heterodoxy with the hope of one day being in a position of authority to spread one's hidden ideas) in the name of individual conscience under the Communist régimes of post-war Europe.


  1. ^ Czesław Miłosz, The Captive Mind, 1953, translated into English by Jane Zielonko.
  2. ^ Uzi Rabi, The Emergence of States in a Tribal Society: Oman Under Saʻid Bin Taymur, 1932-1970, pg. 22. Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 2006. ISBN 9781845190804

See also[edit]