For the last two days, we have been seeing horrific images and videos from Afghanistan as the Taliban overtook the country. Sitting in the comfort of our homes, we cannot really fathom the extreme conditions that are forcing people to leave their own country. And no one latches themselves to a plane knowing they will fall to their deaths unless the sky is safer than the land.
Since the withdrawal of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan in July, the Taliban have swiftly taken control of large parts of the country. The president has fled and the government has fallen. Emboldened by their success, lack of resistance by the Afghan forces, and minimal international pressure, the Taliban have intensified their violence.
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The Taliban, or “students” in the Pashto language, emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. It is believed that the predominantly Pashtun movement first appeared in religious seminaries – mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia – which preached a hardline form of Sunni Islam.
The promise made by the Taliban – in Pashtun areas straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan – is to restore peace and security and enforce their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law, once in power.
The unpleasant truth is that those who are fleeing are not doing so because they are afraid of the Taliban. In fact, what they are fleeing is the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam itself. They are justifiably terrified of its 7th-century version of Islam in store for them. ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram’s version is not true Islam.
Sharia law is Islam’s legal system, acting as both the fundamental religious moral code of Islam and holistic rules that apply to all areas of life, including religious obligations, daily routines, and personal beliefs.
It principally relies upon teachings from the Quran and the Sunna – the saying, teachings, and practices of the Prophet Mohammed (swt), but also draws from Ijma’a, the consensus of Muslim scholars, and Qiyas, reasoning through analogy. All actions are categorized as obligatory, recommended, disliked, permitted or not-permitted.
How Sharia law is interpreted and applied to organize communities and resolve disputes varies between Muslim states.
The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan has renewed fears that its extreme interpretation of Sharia law will further restrict the rights of women and girls. Islam the religion that gives the utmost rights to women has been lost in translation by these extremists.
Women were predominantly barred from working or studying under the Taliban’s previous Afghan rule between 1996 and 2001 and were confined to their homes unless accompanied by a male guardian.
The Taliban was also responsible for creating a whole system of sex slavery where all women above the age of 18 had to be compulsorily handed over to them. These women are presented as bait to soldiers who want to join the cause.
The accession of Afghanistan by the Taliban does not merely take the country back by 20 years, in which NATO and America attempted to empower a democratic government. It will take the country back by centuries.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.