Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Taliban’s School of Thought

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Taliban’s School of Thought

The Taliban’s radical mindsets and cruel practices in Afghanistan reflected their ideology. The Taliban group ruled Afghanistan from September 1996 until December 2001, with Kandahar as the capital, under the term of Islamic Emirate. While in power, it enforced its strict interpretation of Sharia law. While many leading Muslims and Islamic scholars have been highly critical of the Taliban’s interpretations of Islamic law, the Darul Uloom Deoband has consistently supported the Taliban in Afghanistan, including their 2001 destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. The majority of the Taliban’s leaders were influenced by Deobandi fundamentalism, Pashtunwali (Pashtun tribal code) also played a significant role in the Taliban’s legislation.
The Deobandi movement first developed as a reaction to the British colonialism which was seen by a group of Indian scholars — consisting of Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, Muhammad Yaqub Nanautawi, etc. Towards the time of Indian independence, the Deobandis advocated a notion of composite nationalism by which Hindus and Muslims were seen as one nation who were asked to be united in the struggle against the British. In 1919, a large group of Deobandi scholars formed the political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and opposed the Pakistan Movement. A minority group joined Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League, forming the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam in 1945, which had a strong influence on Taliban’s legal system.  
Moreover, the Taliban were influenced by another radical school of thought called “Salafi”. Historians and academics date the emergence of Salafism to late 19th-century Egypt. Salafis believe that the label “Salafiyya” existed from the first few generations of Islam and that it is not a modern movement. To justify this view, Salafis rely on a handful of quotes from medieval times where the term Salafi is used.
Influenced by Saudi Arabia, the Taliban Emirate believed that the Holy Koran and Sunnah would cover all social, cultural, economic and political aspects and there was no need for approving a man-made constitution. Hence, the Kandahar High Council and Kabul Council would resolve the issues under the title of “Islamic Sharia Law” and under the fatwa of Taliban’s founder Mullah Mohammad Omar – who passed away in Pakistan in 2013. Regarding the Taliban’s jurisprudence, Darul-Fatwa-e-Markazi (central department of religious decree) was established in Kandahar province which was run by Taliban’s clergy who studied in Deoband and Haqqani seminaries in Pakistan.
A large number of the Taliban are believed to lack the basic knowledge not only about religion but about people and society.  The ministry of “Amr-i-ba-Maaruf and Nahi-az-Monker” (order to virtue and stop from evil) was one of highly strict institution in the “Taliban’s Islamic Emirate”. One of Taliban, member of this department, reveals a fact about his man’s act in a private meeting. According to him, one day as the Taliban blocked a road close to a mosque to force the passersby to attend the mosque for prayer. One of the Taliban’s members stopped a Sikh and asked him to attend the prayer. He replied that he was Sikh. Then, the Talib replies that either you are Sikh or whatever, but you are Muslim and have to go to mosque! Thus, they lacked the very basic knowledge about people and society.
By and large, it is hard to claim that the Taliban practiced upon a certain school of thought. To ponder over their code of conduct, the Taliban’s attitude and mindsets rooted in many radical schools of thought, including Salafi, Deobandism, Muslims Brotherhood Party, Wahhabis, etc.
The Taliban’s attitude towards women also originated from Salafism and superficial and radical interpretations of Islamic tenets. They denied women’s fundamental rights, including the right to education, and curtailed their freedom to a great extent. They claimed that bestowing freedom to women will pave the ground for moral corruption and prostitution. During their regime, women were not allowed to get out of home or go to bazaar without male chaperone. Therefore, they blocked female public bathrooms, beauty parlors and ordered tailors not to measure women’s bodies in case of making clothes from them. Putting nail polish, taking photo, listening to music, playing guitar, clapping, etc. were deemed against the Taliban’s rule.
To sum up, the Taliban chanted the slogan of referring to the past – to 14 centuries back – and follow the practices of Islamic Caliphs but their understanding of those practices were very basic and radical. Taliban did not have a certain school of thought and were influenced by many fundamental schools. They sought to impose their warped minds on people at gunpoint. Their radical interpretation of Islamic tenets and cruel acts were never ever acceptable for Afghan nation or the world. But who dared breathe a word against their regime? Opposing their regime was considered deviation from “the right path” and followed by harsh punishment or death.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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