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Why Taliban’s extreme Sharia law is worrying

TNIE tells the story of how the militia embraced radical Islamist ideology and also list where similar Sharia systems exist in the Muslim world.

Published: 22nd August 2021 05:14 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd August 2021 09:43 PM   |  A+A-

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

When they last held the reins of power, Taliban forced on Afghanistan some of the most repressive policies in the world, justifying their misogyny and violence with an extreme interpretation of the Sharia law. This time, they have sought to project a more acceptable, moderate face, but Afghans aren’tbuying it. We tell the story of how the militia embraced radical Islamist ideology and also list where similar Sharia systems exist in the Muslim world.

What is Sharia?
In Arabic it means “the clear, well-trodden path to water”. It is Islam’s legal system derived from the Quran, the Sunnah and the Hadith. If direct answers cannot be found in the Sharia, then the experts of the faith take a call

Wider than Western law
The scope of Sharia is much wider than the western legal systems. Besides the relationship of a person with the state, it also influences ones relationship with god and her/his conscience. Sharia is thus a comprehensive code that covers public and private activities

Timeline of Taliban ideology 

1866 An Islamic seminary in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, is founded as a response to British colonialism to preserve Muslim identity. The seminary preaches a socially conservative Islam that is separated from local and Hindu customs

1919
Followers of the Deoband teachings join the Indian independence movement. They oppose the formation of Pakistan

1980s
Pakistani Deobandis, whose interpretation of Islamic laws is extreme, become key participants in armed militancies in Afghanistan and Kashmir 
Saudi Arabia seeks to build a Sunni wall around Shia-majority Iran and gives substantial funds to Pakistan’s Deobandi madrassas, which already had the backing of the Pakistani government. Thousands of madrassas in Pakistan get military funding
The zealotry of the Taliban is encouraged with substantial state funds, patronage and arms in order to mould them into a highly motivated fighting force

1977
In Pakistan, a fundamentalist reading of Deoband teaching is practised. It gets official support when President Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq assumed control of the country’s government

1996-2001
Taliban rule Afghanistan with an iron fist, administering punishments such as public stonings, whippings amputations and hangings. They also ban music and most musical instruments. Extreme policing of dress code for women, blanket ban on their education, employment and participation in sports

Current situation in Afghanistan
A school principal in the northeastern city of Kunduz, where the Taliban traditionally have less influence, told the AFP news agency the group was permitting education of girls of all ages, but under strict segregation. “The Taliban said if women are teaching girls, then there is no problem,” he said over WhatsApp

Climate of fear
The Taliban have not yet formed a government, leaving room for different interpretations in how they are asserting their authority in newly seized territories. But in the city of Lashkar Gah, some women had resumed wearing the all-enveloping burqa out of fear — a practice already common in the deeply conservative south, a civilian at the city said 

Following the money

Taliban’s finances 

  • $1.6b: Estimates of the militia’s annual income is estimated to be as high as $1.6 b
  • Sources: Illegal activities like opium production, drug trafficking, extortion of local businesses and kidnapping. Taxing commercial activites like farming and mining, levies from border crossings and international donations
  • $460m: Estimate of Taliban revenue from opium in 2020

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