Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, April 19th, 2021

The Political Role of Religious Scholars in Context of Afghanistan


The Political Role of Religious Scholars in  Context of Afghanistan

The religious scholars and religions institutions such as mosques, seminaries, Ulmea councils, and other religious entities play important political role in Islamic countries, including Afghanistan. According to Afghan political sociologists, the role of religious scholars and religious institutions on politics are analyzed on the basis of religion’s role in Islamic society. The role of religion in Islamic society, especially in Islamic society of Afghanistan is serious and many-sided. For example, nearly all leaders of pioneer political parties are religious scholars in the countries like Afghanistan. Historically, the religious scholars were always present in political arena of Afghanistan with its legitimizing role. The leaders of the current insurgent groups who crazily target intellectuals, human right activists, men, women, children and even other moderate religious scholars are also religious scholars. They kill civilians and destroy economic infrastructure under name of Islam while Islam prohibits harming an ant let alone carnage of children and women. Therefore, the acceptable role of religion must be clearly explained through scientific approaches and accordingly take necessary measure from misuses.
As pointed out, the role of religious scholars and religious institutions on politics are analyzed on the basis of religion’s role in Islamic society. Therefore, we need to explain the role of religion on politics in context of Afghanistan. The first role of religious is legitimization to the political system. As the religious teachings and values are the most credible resource for faithful believers, the religious leaders are also respectable to them. Therefore, if the rulers of Islamic society are religiously legitimized, the people will undoubtedly obey those leaders. Accordingly, if the rulers of Islamic society are able to justify their deeds on basis of Islamic principles, the people will undoubtedly follow such leaders. On the contrary, if they fail to get religious legitimacy even through good wordings and hypocrisy, they would face with unpredictable troubles no matter how much loyal to the nation and country they are. That’s why most of Islamic leaders who often do not believe in Islam, they attempt to get religious legitimacy through concepts of Amirr-Al_momenin, caliphate, Just Sultan, and etc.
The second role of religion is producer of identity. The religious teachings and religious beliefs determine the ‎boundaries of alien and non-alien in national and international level. The commonalities of the Islamic society with each other and their distinctions from others are defined on basis of religious teachings. The view of religion about politics and worldly affairs and religion’s approach to other human civilizations, and finally the orientation of religion in the face of followers of other religions are important and fundamental issues that are effective in defining the identity of the Islamic society of the modern age. Given the typology of the relation between religion and politics, it can produce different identities in Muslim society.  For example, a secular society has different political identity comparing to a non-secular society.
The third role of religion is social solidarity. The religious teachings provide certain values and norms which are effective on social solidarity provided that we do not stress on small divisive interpretations of the religion. However, this ideal thinking is not realized in most cases. The religious diversity is used as a source of division in Islamic societies. Despite having such unpleasant historic experience about this in Islamic World, there seems no global convention to produce a solitary definition or interpretation from Islam and its recognized branches. 
The forth political role of religion is social and political direction. According to Max Weber, the human behavior is influenced by their inner motives. The religious rule and regulations can play determining role on directing human behavior. In fact, the religious rule and values act as a guiding role to its followers everywhere and every time with deep impacts on their personalities. Therefore, the Islamic teaching and values play effective role on political life of Islamic society.
Given the aforementioned role of religion on politics, the religious scholars play the same important role on Islamic society. The religious institutes such as mosques, seminaries, and religious councils are considered as source of socialization playing important role on political life of society.  If these sources are not safe from interferences of political factors, especially enemies of the country, they can easily be deviated from their natural course. As a result, thousands of the youths are brainwashed provoking against their own country and people. When the youths are indoctrinated as if self-suicide attacks on the political system and national military forces are desirable and Islamic action, the perpetrators will be internally motivated to undertake the actions. 
In general, if we compare between the role of intellectuals and religious scholars, the role of religious scholars are more significant in traditional countries like Afghanistan. Supposedly, if millions of intellectuals use their ultimate energy to persuade a few ignorant religious people, they will undoubtedly fail while with a simple eyewink of religious scholars many would eagerly blast themselves. Therefore, many of the miracles which are not possible by military forces are simply possible by religious scholars while we forgot this important in last two decades, especially in the peace table with Taliban. However, the former head of high peace council played great role in holding numerous religious Ulema gathering in Kabul. Unfortunately, the normal religious scholars also failed to play their role in neutralizing the poisonous propagations carried out under name of Islam. As a result, many of people are confused who are real Muslims? What is Islamic democracy? Is it possible to be faithful and at the same time be modern and civilized? What is the Islamic system? The answers to these questions will not only ascertain the identity of today’s Muslims but also prevent from many crises. As pointed out, no one is able to produce this identity except religious scholars; if the religious scholars do not play their roles properly, then the people will not go to the intellectuals who returned from west but will go to Wahabists, Dewbandists Talibanists training centers that are run by the intellectual networks.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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