An Indian Islamic scholar calls on the Taliban to be pragmatic

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An Islamic scholar from the Deobandi School in India, the birthplace of Taliban ideology, calls on Afghanistan’s current rulers to avoid discrimination and protect the rights of all.

The strict form of Sunni Islam pursued by Taliban leaders comes from the northern Indian city of Deobandi. The Taliban see in this direction of Islam the foundations of state governance and their strict course.

As Darul Ulo Deoband, head of the Deoband Islamic School, told RFE / RL, he hopes the Taliban will be tolerant but pragmatic. At the same time, he supports the Taliban’s education policy, which seeks to segregate boys and girls.

Maulana Syed Arshad Madani, 82, says he thinks the Taliban’s rise to power in Afghanistan is a positive development as the Islamist movement has liberated the country from foreign occupation.

“We welcome them until they begin to distinguish between the majority and the minority and to protect the life, property and dignity of every human being,” Madani told RFE / RL.

„[თალიბანის ხელმძღვანელობით მოქმედმა მთავრობამ] “Double standards should not be used for people who are in the majority or in the minority, as Afghanistan is a multinational state where Tajiks and Uzbeks live alongside Pashtun negotiators,” Madani said.

After coming to power on August 15, the Taliban appointed high-ranking leaders, mostly Pashtun clerics, to senior government positions.

Taliban fighters at Bagram military base.

The Taliban-led cabinet has only a few members from Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara minorities. It is striking that it does not include women, non-Muslim minorities or members of small ethnic groups – Baluchis, Nuristans and Turkmen.

Other political groups in Afghanistan are also underrepresented in government. However, the Taliban promised to form an “inclusive” government.

Madani says his school currently has no ties to the Taliban as none of the group’s leaders received an education at his seminary.

But, he said, the Taliban have historical ties to the Deoband movement, whose leaders took an anti-British stance and formed a government in exile in India in the second decade of the twentieth century.

Their goal was to liberate Britain through armed struggle in collaboration with the Ottoman Empire, the Amira of Duran, and the Pashtun tribes.

After the British learned of the conspiracy in 1916, Madani’s father, Maulana Ma’id Hussain Ahmad Madani, was arrested and he was serving his sentence in Malta with his teacher, Maulana Mahmud Hassan, the supreme cleric of Deoband.

Senior Madan Mahatma later became an ally of Gandhi and opposed the creation of Pakistan. He said a nation-state could not be created on religious grounds.

Members of the Sunni sect of the Deobands are descendants of those around the displaced government of India.

In today’s Islam, Deobands occupy an important place in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But unlike the Pakistani Deobandis, where political parties created by Deobandi clerics are involved in a peaceful political process, the Afghan Taliban have seized power by armed means twice in the last quarter century.

Pakistani Sunnis who call themselves Deobandis have little contact with Deobandi primary school in India.

Nevertheless, the Deobandi program is taught in their schools. The focus of this program is on jurisprudence, the interpretation of the Qur’an, theology, philosophy, and the life and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.

The strict Sunni sect places particular emphasis on purifying Islamic practices from uncanonical impurities.

Almost every Taliban leader and private warrior studied at these religious schools in Pakistan.

Many of the leaders in the Taliban-led government are from the Hakaniya school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In Pakistan, some Deoband madrassas received funding from Saudi Arabia. Riyadh was one of the main funders of the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Students at the Islamic Theological School in Darul Ulom Hakania.

Students at the Islamic Theological School in Darul Ulom Hakania.

Madani said he sees no problem in the Taliban cleric government.

“There is nothing wrong with the government being made up only of clerics who want to transform their country into a peaceful environment in the modern world,” Madani told RFE / RL. “If Muslim scholars know the teachings of Islam about human beings and can treat everyone without discrimination regardless of their beliefs, then that is a good thing.”

Madani said he supports the Taliban’s attempt to divide women and men.

“They are asking people to follow the Islamic rules of hijab,” Madani said. The case concerns the headscarf, which is part of the Islamic concept that members of different sexes should not be confused with each other if they are not relatives.

“Allah created the female body differently from the male body,” says an Indian scholar. “They should be dressed in such a way that there is no fitna,” or Tstuneba.

More and more criticism has been leveled at the Taliban since seizing power, both from abroad and from the domestic opposition.

Afghan women are protesting against the restrictions imposed by the Taliban and fearing they will lose their jobs, education, mobility and public life.

When the Taliban came to power in the 1990s, it banned women from education and work. They were not even allowed to leave their homes without the accompaniment of a male relative.

Concerns among Afghan women deepened last week when the Taliban postponed the opening of schools and colleges for girls. The boys were again allowed to return to educational institutions.

Women protest in Kabul.  3 September.

Women protest in Kabul. 3 September.

Madani cites the example of India, where in many universities and thousands of colleges only women study.

“If this can happen in our country, why can’t the Afghan government want to do the same? .. If the Afghan government succeeds [დაყოფილი განათლების] “Implementation means that the door to education will be open for girls,” he said.

Madani called on the Taliban to have peaceful and beneficial contacts with the world.

But Madani does not have a strong desire to get Taliban leaders. He said Deoband School will only accept Afghan students if they receive student visas from the Government of India.

He is also in no hurry to give advice to the Taliban:

“I am 82 years old. I can not even walk to the mosque. How did I get to Afghanistan? “

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