Hailing Taliban is condemnable

Hailing Taliban is condemnable

Muslims of India must condemn the oppression of women

Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. Credit: AFP photo

The Taliban’s return to controlling Afghanistan has come as a nightmare to the people of that country, especially its working women and college and school-going girls. The Taliban is not just a threat to the peace and freedom of the people of Afghanistan, it is a threat to the West and to the neighbouring countries, including India, as terrorist groups like the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed will once again find a cozy and safe haven in Afghanistan to regroup for their nefarious activities.

The statements by a member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and by a Member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh hailing the Taliban’s return are most disappointing and have not only embarrassed and upset the majority of Muslims in India, but have done much harm to Islam. It is sad that these two persons have sought to glorify the understanding and application of the Sharia law as misinterpreted by the Taliban to justify their barbaric actions against women and girls.

The Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia is devious. None of their barbaric actions and their oppression of women have any parallel from the times of the Prophet, nor any sanction in Islam. The Prophet advocated education for all, even telling his followers that they should seek and acquire knowledge even if they had to go all the way to China to be able to do so. He never ever said that education was only for men and not for women. He sought to liberate women from inequality, allowed them a say in all decision-making at home and outside, gave them property rights, and an equal right as the man to stay in a marriage or seek separation.

The world’s oldest existing and continually functioning university — the Al-Qarawiyyin University at Fez, Morocco -- was established in a mosque by a woman, Fathima Al-Fihri. It is still awarding degrees in certain social science and theology subjects.

Islam only advocates modesty of dress to women, more specifically covering of the head and hands and legs, which is not new to many Indian women from almost all faiths. But there is no record of any parallel to what the Taliban did to women and girls when it was in power in the 1990s, nor to actions that it is said to be indulging in today. In this age of science and technology, every man and woman should have access to higher education and the freedom to choose their future and profession.

The statements of one or two fanatic persons in India glorifying the Taliban is not only condemnable but it needs to be checked as they would otherwise embolden more such people with a medieval mindset who have been discouraging women’s education in this country. I am strongly of the view that in the best interest of Indian Muslims and better understanding of true Sharia law, not only must Muslim scholars speak out, but all Muslims of India must condemn the oppression of women in Afghanistan by the Taliban in the name of its misinterpreted and misplaced Sharia law.

(The writer is a former vice chancellor of Kashmir University, Pondicherry University and BS Abdur Rahman University, Chennai)

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox