Ali Muhyiddin al-Qardaghi reacted quickly. The well-known scholar, who teaches at Doha University and is Secretary-General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, congratulated the Taliban upon their overthrow of the elected government in Kabul in mid-August. He also congratulated all Afghans – for expelling “occupiers of all kinds” from the country. An official praise from an official representative of Muslims directed at an extremist movement that rules by violence, and justifies its claim to authoritarian political rule with texts from Islam.
Al-Qardaghi called on the Taliban to form a government of national unity that includes all segments of Afghanistan “so that this tragedy (that is, the tragedy of war) does not return,” according to what Al-Jazeera quoted him as saying. He also saluted the Taliban for their alleged openness toward their neighbors and the international community.
But subsequent days have shown how clearly his assessment contradicts the facts: the newly announced Taliban government was limited to only two leaders of the movement. There are no representatives of other groups.
Phrases such as those made by Al-Qardaghi are typical of quite a few statements made by Muslim clerics. There is sometimes cautious praise for the Afghan brotherhood of faith, and the reason is often the principled anti-colonial stance. This praise may be accompanied by some advice or warnings. It is also noted that the effort to be careful, because of the mixing of political interests with the subject, and therefore criticism among Muslims is interpreted as akin to guardianship, or even understood as treason.
On the other hand, direct and frank criticism seems rare, although the victory of the Taliban may lead to the revival of the old stereotype of “reactionary” Islam around the world, at least in the eyes of non-Muslims. Just as Al-Qardaghi did not directly criticize the doctrinal postulates of the Taliban, at least publicly, no critical statements have yet been made by the official representatives of Muslims for the ideology of the old and new rulers of Afghanistan.
“There is no clear rejection”
The reaction of Muslim clerics to the Taliban’s assumption of power was “marginal,” as assessed by Milad Karimi, deputy head of the Center for Islamic Sciences at the University of Münster, Germany. He adds: There are individual statements – often cautious – criticizing the actions of the Taliban. “But even these are very marginal. In general, there is no clear ideological rejection of the Taliban’s point of view.
Several religious leaders have made comments of a political rather than religious nature about the transition of power in Afghanistan. The Grand Mufti of the Sultanate of Oman, Ahmed bin Hamad Al-Khalili, congratulated the Afghans with what he described as a “clear victory over the invaders.” He congratulated “the entire Islamic nation” on “fulfilling the true promise of God.”
In Germany, some Muslims organized in Islamic associations also discuss the events in Afghanistan. Here, at least, clear criticisms of the Taliban have been issued. The head of the Central Council of Muslims, Ayman Mazyek, described the Taliban’s takeover of power as a catastrophic defeat not only for the West. Rather, it is “a catastrophe for Muslims all over the world, because the vast majority of Muslims – and Afghans as well – do not want an old life coupled with a tribal faith,” Mazyek told BR public broadcaster in Bavaria.
Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid
Clear words from Germany
But for jurist Murat Kayman, the public reaction of Islamic societies in Germany is very weak. Quick statements could have been expected from the major Muslim federations about Afghanistan, Kayman wrote in the Friday Words blog of the German Red – Muslims for a Pluralistic Europe, the association he co-founded.
Until 2017, Kayman was a lawman on the board of directors of the Turkish Islamic Union (DITIB), but later separated from the union close to the Turkish government.
Cayman explains the silence of many German Islamic associations, as there is a “great willingness to show solidarity with the Taliban movement and idealize its supposed religious motives.” From what Cayman wrote verbatim: “The Taliban has achieved what many Muslims, including quite a few officials in associations, consider to be a model of social development. Ie absolute application to take over power and eliminate any competitor.
In the Arab world, too, similar criticism was made, and here it was also rare. Writer Heba Yousry, in an article on the website of Al Arabiya TV (a Saudi channel based in Dubai), criticized the presence of voices in Egypt calling for welcoming the success of the Taliban movement and supporting the Islamic cause. Yousry described these voices as “cunning and dangerous.” “Because if a young man with little education hears about the successes of the Taliban, it may be interpreted as not due to their military skills, but to their closeness to God.”
They see themselves as “Islam,” says Heba Yusri, hanging on the Taliban’s self-portrait. “They are the representatives of God. Whoever opposes the Taliban is opposing God.” Because of this dangerous self-portrait of the Taliban, the author finds it important to distance oneself from them. She concludes by saying: “The Taliban does not represent Islam.”
Religious scientific reservations
The Taliban’s reference in their ideology is Dar Al Uloom University in Deoband in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. This university is considered one of the largest religious centers in the Islamic world. Despite this, its teachings are fragile and can hardly be defended from a scientific point of view, as researcher in Islamic sciences Milad Karimi says in his interview withDWThe first objection is that they have a special understanding of God’s will, and consider it to be God’s will.” (The Taliban are followers of the Maturidi Manhaj). This leaves no room for interpretation.
“There is no room for interpretation among the Taliban,” says Ahmed Milad Karimi, a professor of Islamic philosophy
Karimi says, “This is a serious matter. For if a person is convinced that his opinion matches the truth, he will consider every other voice to be contrary to the truth. But if a person equates his own conception with the idea of God, that is pure blasphemy.”
In light of this, it remains to be seen how the Taliban will treat the religious minority of the Shiite Hazara, and whether they will accept, at least to a certain degree, social pluralism, in the virtual (electronic) world as well.
The researcher in the sciences of Islam Karimi believes that the applied interpretation of Sharia by the Taliban is a problem. “The Taliban ignores the fact that we humans cannot have the ability to pass judgments as God does, but we must strive to follow God’s command as much as possible by acting ethically.” Sharia is not a codified text whose rules must be applied literally as much as possible. “Such a perception is completely scientifically incorrect.”
According to Karimi, their understanding of the role of women as beings tasked only with procreation is unacceptable. “This is no longer a private interpretation and understanding, but rather a contempt for God’s creation.”
The biggest problem, according to Karimi, in the silence of Muslim representatives towards the Taliban, as well as Murat Kayman’s opinion, is that this creates suspicions that some of them tacitly agree with the Taliban’s ideology. “They are silent because they see what they have in their minds come true.” But there is another reason for the reluctance, says Milad Karimi—dealing yet another verbal blow to well-known Muslim representatives around the world: Many of these scholars are “brainless and powerless, they live in laziness and excessive comfort, and therefore cannot fulfill their spiritual responsibilities. They have completely lost their sense of religiosity. They are only interested in religion as a facade, a facade that has long been drained from the inside.”
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