The Taliban’s Argument

The Taliban’s Argument

The self-appointed 'Warriors of God' known to the world as the Taliban have taken countless innocent lives in the last ten years. They insist that they are doing all this for God and in submission to His directives. Even after their cowardly attack on Malālah Yusufzaī, they have restated the same stance. In its support, they present the Qur'ān and the Ḥadīth and certain incidents from the lifetime of the Prophet Muḥammad (ﷺ). Since our people are not generally acquainted with religion and religious disciplines, they may be influenced by such argumentation. For this reason, we would like to present some facts in the following paragraphs.

1. No doubt jihād is a directive of Islam. The Qur'ān requires of its followers that, if they have enough strength, they should wage war against oppression and injustice. The primary purpose of this directive is to curb persecution, i.e., oppression and coercion to make people give up their religion. Those having insight know that Muslims are given this directive of jihād in their collective capacity; individuals are not addressees of Qur'ānic verses of jihād. Thus, only the collectivity (state) has the right to launch such an armed offensive. No individual or group of Muslims has the right to decide for any such action on the collectivity's behalf. It is for this reason that the Prophet (ﷺ) is reported to have said: "A Muslim ruler is a shield; war can only be waged under him."[1] Everyone can readily see whether the Taliban are following this principle or violating it blatantly.

2. The jihād directed by Islam is the war for the cause of God; therefore, it cannot be waged while disregarding moral obligation. Ethics and morality supersede everything in all circumstances; in war also, the Almighty has not allowed anyone to deviate from moral principles. Hence, it is absolutely certain that jihād can only be waged against combatants. The law of Islam is that if a person attacks through his tongue, he shall be countered through the tongue, and if he financially supports the warriors, he will be stopped from that, but unless he picks up arms, his life cannot be taken. So much so, if right in the battle field the enemy surrenders, he shall be taken a prisoner, but cannot be executed. Hence, the Qur'ānic verse (2:190) mentioning the directive of jihād reads: "And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight against you, and do not transgress bounds [in this fighting]. Indeed, God does not like the transgressors." The Prophet (ﷺ) forbade the killing of women and children during war.[2]The reason for this is also that, even if they come out with their army, they are not generally combatants. At best, they can boost the morale of the combatants and urge them to fight.

This is the sharī'ah of God. But what are the Taliban doing? Men of learning like Mawlānā Ḥasan Jān, Mawlānā Sarfarāz Na'īmī and Dr. Muḥammad Fārūq Khan never undertook to wage war against them. Malālah Yusufzaī is an innocent girl, who never took up arms against them. In spite of this, the Taliban insist that all these people deserve(d) death. Merely because they had dared to differ with them? There is no doubt that a political authority of Muslims has the right to punish criminals; it also is correct that in the penal sharī'ah, no distinction is made between a man and a woman. The Qur'ān clearly states that whether a woman or a man is guilty of theft, both will be punished, and both have the same punishment. The same is true for an adulterer and an adulteress. But when did the Taliban have political authority on the persons just mentioned? And when did these persons commit crimes punishable by death as per the sharī'ah? The Qur'ān (5:32) explicitly states that the death penalty cannot be meted out for any crime except murder or spreading anarchy in the land. Who among the aforementioned is guilty of murder or spreading anarchy by threatening the life, wealth or honour of someone? In reality, the Taliban themselves are guilty of these crimes, and their daily confessions corroborate the charge-sheet that will be presented against them on the Day of Judgment.

3. Polytheism, disbelief and apostasy are indeed grave crimes (against God); however, no human being can punish another for them. That is the right of God alone. In the Hereafter, He will punish such criminals, and in this world also, it is He Who does so if He wills. Hereafter is not under discussion here; however, when in this world the Almighty decides to reward and punish people on the basis of their deeds, He sends His messenger towards them. The messenger conclusively communicates the truth to his people such that they are left with no excuse before God to deny or evade from it. After that, the verdict of God is passed and those who, even after such conclusive communication of the truth, insist on disbelief and polytheism are punished. This is an established practice of God, described in the Qur'ān (10:47) in the following words: "And for each community, there is a messenger. Then, when their messenger comes, their fate is decided with full justice, and they are not wronged."

This punishment is generally given in the manner it was meted out to the people of Noah, Hūd, Ṣāliḥ, Lot, those of Shu'ayb (ﷺ) and to some other nations. However, if a messenger has a substantial number of companions and, after migrating from his people, he is also able to gain political authority at some place, then this punishment is implemented through his and his companions' swords. This second situation arose in the case of Muḥammad (ﷺ). Thus, the active adversaries among the deniers were first killed; after that, a general order of slaying the ordinary deniers was given. For the latter, the declaration of the punishment was made in 9 AH on the day of hajj-i-akbar: "Then when the sacred months [after the hajj-i akbar] have passed, kill these Idolaters wherever you find them, and [for this objective] capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush. But if they repent and are diligent in the prayer and give zakāh, then let them alone." (Qur'ān 9:5)

This is the punishment of God meted out to the Idolaters of Arabia. When such a punishment descends on the perpetrators, no exception is given to women and children, and they are destroyed the way the nations of Noah, Hūd, Ṣāliḥ, Lot and that of Shu'ayb (ﷺ) were destroyed. It is thus mentioned in the narratives that when troops were sent to implement this punishment, the Prophet (ﷺ) was asked about the women and children of the Idolaters; at this, he replied that they were also from among them.[3] It was these people about whom he had directed that if they would embrace faith at that time but later become apostates, they would deserve the same punishment of death.[4]

In spite of the conclusive communication of the truth, the punishment of these people was deferred till 9 AH. That is because they were not active adversaries, and there was a chance that they might repent and, hence, be saved from the punishment. On the other hand, those who, besides their rejection of the truth, became open and active adversaries were not given this respite. They were killed whenever it became possible. Abū Rāfi', Ka'b ibn Ashraf, 'Abdullāh ibn Khaṭal and his slave-girls and from among the prisoners of the battles of Badr and Uḥud 'Uqbah ibn Abī Mu'īt, Naḍr ibn al-Ḥārith and Abū 'Izzah et al. were killed for this very reason. Blood money for the murder of some deniers was also not paid for the same reason.

This is the verdict of God that is necessarily implemented after the conclusive communication of the truth by His messengers. It is about this verdict that the Qur'ān (17:77) has said:"You shall never see any change in this practice of God." Its nature is the same as of the sacrifice of Ishmael (ﷺ) and the incident of Khiḍr. It is not related to us, ordinary human beings. Just as we cannot, for the sake of help, drill a hole in the boat of a poor person against his will or kill a disobedient boy or, like Abraham (ﷺ), embark upon slaughtering any of our sons on the basis of a dream, similarly, we cannot undertake the task of punishing people for polytheism, disbelief or apostasy, except if a revelation comes from God and He directly gives such an order. We all know that the door to this has permanently been closed.

The incidents which the Taliban are presenting to support their measures are of the nature just described. This is nothing but audacity to generalise for themselves what specifically rests in the hands of God. There can be no greater a crime than this on God's earth; every believer should seek God's refuge from this.

(Tr. by Dr. Junaid Hassan and Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

[1] Abū 'Abdullāh Muḥammad ibn Ismā'īl al-Bukhārī, Al-Jāmi' al-Ṣaḥīḥ, 2nd ed. (Riyād: Dār al-Salām, 1999), 489 (no. 2957).

[2] Al-Bukhārī, Al-Jāmi' al-Ṣaḥīḥ, 498, (no. 3015); Abū al-Husayn ibn Hajjāj Muslim al-Nīsabūrī, Al-Jāmi' al-Ṣaḥīḥ, 2nd ed. (Riyād: Dār al-Salām, 2000), 303 (no. 1744).

[3]Al-Bukhārī, Al-Jāmi' al-Ṣaḥīḥ, 497, (no. 3012); Muslim, Al-Jāmi' al-Ṣaḥīḥ, 303 (no. 1745).

[4] Al-Bukhārī, Al-Jāmi' al-Ṣaḥīḥ, 498 (no. 3017).