“Our religion is in danger of being taken over by mad people.”
By an awesome new contributor to ‘Asharisassemble.com’ named ‘Milton’. See for yourselves….
Khawarij: these were religious people. They prayed five times a day, they prayed all night, they fasted during the day time, they had prayer marks on their heads, most of them had memorised the whole of the Quran. They were very charismatic and thousands joined their group.
What did the Khawarij do: they committed bloodshed when they took over any area. The Khawarij would kill anyone who disagreed with them.
Imam Tabari mentions a horrifying and sad incident: when the Khawarij came to a village in Iraq, they took an old man and his daughter who were Muslims, but not following the Khawariji version of Islam. The girl began crying and begged for her father’s life. She said she was a young girl who had never harmed anybody and who had never committed a sinful act. But the Khawarij brought the girl forward to kill her. At this point the girl cried and kept on asking, “What’s my sin? What’s my sin?” The Khawarij killed her, cut her up in front of her old father and then they killed her father.
Such senseless and barbaric acts have been taking place in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan for years. The ones committing such acts are the Taliban, the Khawarij of our times – a group of devout Muslim who seem to practice Islam so much that we feel we are the worst Muslims alive on the planet. Yet they are also responsible for cruel acts, causing much bloodshed, distorting the Shariah, and behaving in an outright foolish manner.
According to scholars and experts in Islamic jurisprudence, there should be in place proper State judges, jurists, with a system of witnesses. In usool (principles of jurisprudence) even if there is a slightest doubt, one cannot be punished. A capital punishment cannot be implemented in the face of even a little doubt. There has to be 100% certainty and punishments can only be implemented under a stable Islamic rule, in a stable land where there is peace. This is something which is completely avoided and ignored by the Khawarij.
The Khawarij have plenty of supporters in Pakistan – among the ignorant masses and even the media. This is a response to one such Khawariji journalist.
Taliban apologist and journalist, Ansar Abbasi, sets out to respond to the following question in an article: Whose Shariah whould we impose in Pakistan?
Ansar Abbasi rubbishes away this objection with the following points:
- All sects of Islam agree that alcohol is forbidden
- All sects of Islam agree that Interest is haraam and forbidden
- All sects are agreed that fahashi and aryaniyut (vulgarity/lewdness etc) are against Islamic teachings
- All sects of Islam agree that sex outside of wedlock is forbidden and there is a punishment for fornication/adultery
- All sects of Islam agree that there is a dress code for women in the Quran
- All sects are agreed that a woman should not go out in “Western dress” and without pardah, the only difference of opinion is whether women should cover their faces
- All sects are agreed that gambling is not permitted by Islam
- All sects agree that men and women are to be educated separately
- All sects are agreed upon punishments for various crimes as stipulated in the Shariah
Ansar Abbasi’s conclusion: there is just one Shariah accepted by all Islamic sects / groups. Multiple versions of the Shariah simply do not exist. So if the Taliban demand the imposition of Shariah, no Muslim should have an “objection” to it.
The above points amount to barely 1% of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). Ansar Abbasi is more daft than I had thought. Or perhaps, a deceitful character hoping to pray upon the ignorance of his readers.
Seven quick points:
First, he makes mention of the very basic bare facts. More can be added to the list: all sects agree that robbery/thief is impermissible and a punishable offence, all sects agree on inheritance laws, all sects agree that murder is haraam and a punishable crime, all sects agree upon fair trade etc. Yet we still disagree with the Taliban’s version of the Shariah despite these basic agreements! I realise Ansar Abbasi will be hopelessly confused by now. His confusion will be addressed shortly.
Moreover, even if we consider Ansar Abbasi’s list, the bulk of Muslims disagree with the Taliban over matters of details (what women should/should not wear, definition of modest dress, education, how hadd punishments are to be implemented etc).
Second, the ahle sunnah wal jamaah constitutes around 80% of the global Muslim population. This is the main bulk of Islam. In Pakistan, the ahle sunnah wal jamaah – commonly known as “brelwis” in the Indian sub-continent – constitute well over 50% of the Pakistani population (60% to 75%). Taliban/TTP (TTP = Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) are largely Deobandis (the remainder being Wahabis). Roughly 10% of the Pakistani population follows Deobandism and even here many do not like the Taliban/TTP’s unusually harsh brand of “Shariah.” Wahabis are considerably fewer in number.
Third, the Taliban/TTP brand of the Shariah has no historical and traditional basis. That is to say, it is a version of the Shariah which has never existed in the past in Muslim lands. It is a type of “Shariah” which is new and has first been witnessed in action only in Afghanistan in the 1990s and later in parts of Pakistan.
Traditional normative Sunni Muslims – ahle sunnah wal jamaah – who follow the four madhabs (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi, Hanbali), do not accept the Taliban/TTP’s brand of the Shariah. Minority groups, such as Shiah Muslims and moderate Deobandis, are also opposed to this extremist Deobandi brand of Shariah devised by the Taliban.
Hence from the outset, a large bulk of Pakistanis stand opposed to the Shariah of the Taliban.
Issues (listed below) where the vast bulk of Muslims have a problem with Taliban style Shariah are cheekily overlooked by Ansar Abbasi as we will see in a while.
Fourth, the “Shariah” is not a complete “package” which fell from the sky and which can be “implemented” upon pressing a button. A number of situations and issues are not traditionally addressed by the Shariah.
One quick example: speed laws. There has been nothing historically within the “Shariah” about speed laws. But now that we have cars, trucks, rickshaws etc., jurists/scholars can devise speed laws aimed towards minimising accidents and this law can then became a part of the Shariah. Historically, jurists have always incorporated man made laws into the Shariah, provided the laws do not contradict basic/fundamental Islamic teachings.
Therefore, new laws can be made by man and become a part of the Shariah. (See the detailed talk by a leading Islamic specialist of Shariah and scholar, Prof. Sherman Jackson – time slice 29.00 to 36.28 – note: he is a traditional and highly trained Sunni Muslim scholar (Maliki madhab).
Fifth, the Taliban are basically a group of largely illiterate people. The vast bulk are an illiterate bunch, having worked as labourers, butchers, crane operators, truck drivers and many with a history of unemployment. A very few are semi-literate, having failed to complete elementary level of education.
We simply know of no highly educated individuals within the Taliban, with a high IQ and intellectual standard. If such people exist within the ranks of the Taliban, then they have been kept well hidden for an unknown reason.
Neither do we know of any scholarly publication / article produced by the Taliban on any aspect of the Shariah. There is absolutely no scholarly output and contribution by the Taliban in the field of Islamic jurisprudence that is worth mentioning.
It is absolutely not the business of these grossly uneducated, largely illiterate and highly ignorant people to work out and impose the “Shariah” upon the masses. They have absolutely no right to trouble their brains with the workings of the Shariah.
What the Shariah is, how it works, how it is to be implemented is the work of vigorously trained and highly qualified jurists/scholars. Working with the Shariah, the hadith and other Islamic sciences requires a lot of brain power and a lot of education. It is absolutely not the domain of ignorant and illiterate and semi-literate people.
Leading scholars of the ahle sunnah wal jamaah, such as Abdullah Bin Bayyah, are the sort of scholars who can confidently work out the Shariah and comment upon it authoritatively.
It is ironic that a group calling itself the “Taliban” (students, singular: talib) have almost no education among their ranks worth mentioning. Their countless trips to schools have been for the purpose of burning down the schools and killing teachers, not to gain an education.
It is downright comical that a gang of ignorant, largely illiterate and occasionally semi-literate folks are insistent upon being addressed as the “taliban.” They have taken a fantasy as fact and this, if anything, is indicative of their twisted mindset.
Even more shocking is the fact that our government, leading politicians, journalists and so many in the media are willing to speak to these mass murderers, treat them with utmost respect, honour these vile people and support their twisted version of the Shariah.
Sixth, for crying out loud, we are talking about a savage group of mass murderers. The Taliban have murdered well over 30,000 innocent men, women and children throughout Pakistan. They have deliberately sent suicide bombers to and planted bombs in crowded markets, mosques and all places where civilians gather, with the sole purpose of killing as many civilians as possible. Members of the Taliban have a history of justifying deliberate and systematic slaughter of civilians. In the areas controlled by the Taliban, innocent people have been killed upon the mere suspicion of being “spies” of the Pakistan Army. Large number of women were raped and abused in Swat in the brief period when it was under Taliban control. As if this was not enough, the Taliban have made a blanket takfir (declaration of apostasy) upon the Pakistan Army and all who disagree and oppose them (Taliban).
How on earth can we allow this barbaric gang of criminals, with the blood of the innocent in their hands, to “impose” the “Shariah” upon the masses? How is this justified, particularly when in addition to being brute killers, this group also happens to be largely illiterate and grossly ignorant?
Seventh, Even if not perfect, there is Shariah in Pakistan. Islamic punishments for various crimes (murder, theft etc) are enforced.
Islamic personal law is in place. Islamic banking and the mechanism to deal with interest is in place, devised by none other than the Grand Deobandi cleric Mufti Taqiuddin Usmani. Madaris (Islamic seminaries) flourish in Pakistan, most under the control of the Deobandis. There are thousands and thousands of mosques in the length and breadth of Pakistan. The Pakistani Constitution states clearly that there will be no law in Pakistan contrary to the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah. At most, the system needs to be improved, the law should be implemented justly, and it needs to be ensured that all existing laws and procedures are indeed in accordance with the Quran and the Sunnah. There is absolutely no need to just replace the existing system with something completely new known as the “Shariah.”
Why We Reject Taliban/TTP’s “Shariah”
The Taliban’s take on the Shariah and their style of governance is simply unacceptable to normative Muslims and minority groups such as Shiah Muslims.
The main problems with the Taliban’s odd understanding of the Shariah are listed below. I will not be arguing whether an opinion is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Instead, I will make note of genuine differences of opinions where necessary and will then simply note the treatment of those matters in a generalised manner by the bulk of Muslim scholars.
This is not an exhaustive list, nor in order of significance.
I will begin with the social issues because these have received the most attention and are sufficient to show the unusually abnormal manner of the Taliban.
Social issues. Taliban deem the violation of the below to warrant a “punishment” – beatings, imprisonment, or both. That is, if you do not adhere to the below, you have committed a “crime” and are now to be “punished.” And thus we had the most depressing societies imaginable under the Taliban (and TTP ruled areas).
Normative traditional Islam, on the other hand, at most, deems these acts to constitute “sins” and not acts for which you are to be “punished” by the authorities.
1. Women’s dress code: Contrary to Ansar Abbasi’s claim, there is no dress code of women mentioned within the Quran. The relevant ayahs state (Yusuf Ali translation):
And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their zeenah (charms, or beauty and ornaments) except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their khimar (veils) over their bosoms and not display their zeenah except to their husbands, their fathers …. and that they should not strike their feet so as to draw attention to their hidden zeenah (ornaments). (24:31-32)
O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and the believing women that they should draw over themselves their jilbab (outer garments) (when in public); this will be more conducive to their being recognized (as decent women) and not harassed. But God is indeed oft-forgiving, most merciful. (33:59)
Women are simply advised to cover their breasts and put on their outer garments in a way that enables them to avoid harassment. No detailed dress code is mentioned.
The above requirement can be met by women by wearing long skirts, shalwar kameez, (loose) jeans, trousers, shirts, etc.
The Taliban understand “modest” dress as being a mini-tent in which even the eyes remain invisible:
Nothing short of the above is deemed “modest” by the Taliban. Women under the Taliban are forced to wear the above and “punished” for refusing to do so.
Many practising and believing Muslim women do not wish to wear the above dress. They believe they can modestly dress by donning a host of diverse clothing items.
Also: the vast bulk of Muslims disagree with the view that if a woman chooses not to cover her face or head, that she is then to be “punished.” There are no “punishments” for women if they do not cover their heads and faces, even according to scholars who deem face covering to be compulsory.
Certainly, outright nudity and wearing clothes leaving nothing to the imagination is not permitted and women in our society are not generally known to dress (or undress) in this manner. Hence this is a not an issue.
Yet if a woman, for whatever reason, chooses not to cover her head and face, she is to be left alone and the matter is then between her and God. She is not to be “punished” either through jail time, beatings and whipping. The authorities cannot force her to either
cover her face or head or wear particular clothes.
How women commonly dress in Pakistan:
None of these women have committed a “crime” in their choice of dress and warrant no “punishment.”
There are some who might regard many/some of the women above to be dressed inappropriately and may deem that to warrant a “sin” – for not covering the hair and/or face. But that’s just about it. There is no “punishment” to be inflicted by the State for this alleged “sin.” While it might be a “sin,” the State is to do nothing. There is no “punishment” in the Shariah for not covering the face and hair.
2. Shaving: Taliban in Afghanistan “forbade” men from shaving their beards. In Swat the Taliban also banned shaving: Beardless men and those caught shaving were “punished.” Barber shops were forced to be closed. Many scholars regard beards to be preferable, even a must, but there have never been any “punishments” for shaving the beard in Islam. That is to say that scholars who deem beards to be fardh (must/compulsory) do not say that the one who shaves is to be “punished” by the State authorities. Even in a staunchly conservative country such as Saudi Arabia, men shave openly at barber shops, in their homes and shaving items are openly available for purchase in stores. So we disagree with “punishments” for shaving. At most, for those who deem maintaining beards a fardh, one is engaging in a “sinful” act by shaving. But the individual is not to be “punished” by the authorities for engaging in this “sin.”
3. Hair cuts: Taliban made certain normal haircuts “un-Islamic” and, consequently, a “punishable” crime. We disagree with this. No haircut calls for a “punishable crime” and Leonardo Dicaprio’s haircut in Titanic is perfectly “Islamic.” Elvis Presley’s hairstyle (particularly from the late 60s to the 70s) is also fine. Examples: see this, and this, and this, and this).
4. Male-Female interaction: For the Taliban, unrelated men and women cannot interact. Period. If they do, then they can be beaten and/or “appropriately punished.” This is totally unacceptable to Pakistani Muslims (the overwhelming majority) and Islamic law itself does not forbid male-female interaction in toto. In all normal societies, men and women interact with each other daily. It is unavoidable. Men and women, even if unrelated, can talk to each other! Certainly, sex outside of wedlock is a definite no no, but they can talk and greet each other and interact publically. Usually, this normal interaction is not known to cause a man and a woman to
suddenly start having sex! A very detailed article on this subject can be read here.
5. Music, movies, etc – This is definitely not permitted by the Taliban but almost all Pakistanis cannot live without this. Now true, many scholars can be cited talking against listening to music and watching movies and even forbidding taking photos – the reason being maintaining/increasing religious piety. And many can also be cited with more relaxed views. Be that as it may, ignoring debating the merits of the positions, even if we go along with the opinion forbidding music and movies, it remains that still choosing to watch movies and listening to music is not tantamount to a “punishable crime” in Islam. At most, this also falls under the rubric of “sin” – something between the sinner and God.
6. Women cannot step outside their homes: the Taliban did not allow women to leave their homes. If a woman had to go out, to buy food for example, she had to be accompanied with a mehrum (man – male guardian) or go out with a group of women. But a woman was not permitted to venture out alone and was beaten and “punished” for doing so. The overwhelming bulk of Pakistanis find
this to be unacceptable. A woman can go out completely alone. She can go out to do shopping, to a restaurant and to her job within a secure peaceful environment etc. There is no “punishment” to be inflicted upon a woman in Islam if she goes out alone. Of course, if the environment is dangerous, then women (and men) are advised not to venture out alone.
7. Women’s employment: Taliban do not allow women to work. This is unacceptable to the vast bulk of Pakistanis. A woman can work even if she is otherwise financially stable. A woman can work and get a job even if her family is supporting her. There are no “punishments” in the Shariah for a woman who chooses to work, get a job and earn a living.
8. Women and cars – having a severe distrust of women, the Taliban (like their Saudi-Wahabi cousins) do not permit women to drive cars. This restriction is unacceptable to Pakistanis in general. The vast bulk of Pakistanis have no problem with women drivers – even if most men deem women to be rather lousy drivers. Women can drive cars, rickshaws, trucks, bikes, and cycles if they wish to do so. They can ride a horse, camel, and a donkey as well. Nothing in the Shariah prohibits this. In fact, the mother of the believers / the wife of the Prophet (saw), Aisha (RAA), is known for riding a horse. A wife of Khalid bin Walid (RTA) is also known to be a horse rider. Throughout Islamic history women have been horse and camel riders.
9. Watching TV, having an enjoyable gathering of family/friends, family/friends laughing, talking, celebrating eid, weddings, birthdays (and yes yes yes, this is alcohol free, lacks vulgarity, and there is no pre-marital sex taking place), playing popular songs, clapping, dancing in celebrations etc etc – all of this is a part and parcel of all societies and cannot be eliminated. This is part of normal life. As much as the Taliban hate these and want us all to live as depression patients, we are not against these and want a thriving society where there is religion and play hand in hand, side by side. Of course, in all events acts take place which many ulema may not deem desirable and consider entailing “sin.” But in 99.9% of such cases, there are no “punishments” inflicted upon the supposed sinner. The matter is left between God and man. However, in the0.01% of instances, where the Shariah does stipulate a punishment for certain moral lapses, then the standard of evidence required by the Shariah to get the process moving tends to be very high and implementation is the business of the State where, presumably, qualified and trained personnel are managing the process. Neither are people encouraged to “make public” such deeds and neither is the government required to “spy” upon the citizens to ascertain if someone has committed a moral bobo. Such issues are highly encouraged by the Shariah to be kept “hidden” under lock and key, to be kept indoors.
Now to additional serious beef we have with the Taliban’s bastardisation of the Shariah:
1. Wanton murder– deliberate killing of women, children, the old, the disabled, and civilians to force authorities to accept demands and to kill anyone over mere suspicion. Almost all Pakistanis (excluding the likes of Ansar Abbasi) disagree with this approach and practise of the Taliban. All traditional, classical scholars following normative Islam vehemently disagree with this terrorism and condemn it in the strongest terms and deem it to be a punishable crime.
This is also the view of Shiah Muslim scholars. Taliban and other terrorists, including their supporters such as Ansar Abbasi, disagree with what the Shariah has to say about terrorism and the punishment prescribed for those who commit terrorism.
2. Democracy – The vast bulk of Pakistanis want a democracy, where they can elect and vote for their desired leaders (of course, the voted leaders will not have the right to introduce laws contrary to the Quran and the Sunnah). The Taliban are against democracy. The Taliban’s conception of a State and of appointing a Head of State is completely unacceptable to Pakistanis. The Taliban believe that their way of thinking about how a State should function and how a leader should be appointed is “Shariah compliant” whereas normative Muslim scholars disagree with this and insist that the views of the Taliban have nothing to do with the Shariah in this regard and that democracy is perfectly acceptable in and compatible with Islam.
3. Buddha statues and cultural heritage: Taliban of Afghanistan destroyed the ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan, causing offence to the followers of another religion. Here the Taliban violated another clear command of the Quran and, therefore, disregarded the Shariah. The Quran states (6:108, Yusuf Ali translation): “Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance.” We disagree with acts aimed towards causing offence to the followers of another religion and we also disagree with the destruction of statues and historical artefacts. Statues, paintings and historical artefacts are to be found till this day in lands ruled by Muslims for centuries (Egypt, Spain, Turkey, Middle East, India etc). Yet Muslims were not known to destroying art, statues and historical artefacts for any “Islamic reasons.” Most importantly, the Shariah does not permit Muslims to mock, ridicule and cause offense to the beliefs of non-Muslims.
4. Killing of non-Deobandis/Wahabis: Taliban are known for killing and massacring those who do not adhere to the Deobandi and Wahabi versions of Islam. So if we do not adopt Deobandism or Wahabism, we’d be in deep trouble in lands ruled by the Taliban.
5. Implementation of hadd punishments: we disagree with the way capital punishments are “implemented” by the Taliban. In war torn areas, localities suffering from intense poverty, unemployment and famine, hadd punishments are lifted. For example, due to a famine, the second caliph Umar (RTA) lifted the hadd punishment for theft. Hadd punishments are implemented only when the society is in a state where no one has a reason to steal and when people are not going hungry and dying from starvation. Therefore, implementation of punishments such as cutting of the hands in lands such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa etc is completely against the Shariah.
Moreover, the State, aided by trained scholars, is responsible for implementing the Shariah. Only competent, highly trained scholars and jurists of Islamic jurisprudence – who have spent their lives learning about Islamic law and sciences, who have in turn been trained by highly qualified teachers – have the authority to determine the implementation of hadd punishments. No illiterate and semi-literate group – such as the Taliban – and no Tom, Dick, and Harry has the right to ‘enforce’ Shariah punishments upon the masses.
6. Female education: Taliban either completely forbade female education or, in rare situations, are only known to have permitted women to receive very limited education: usually restricted to Islamic studies. This is totally unacceptable for the vast bulk of Pakistanis and all normative/traditional Muslims.
7. Co-education: Taliban do not permit schools and universities where both men and women can receive education within the same roof. This is unacceptable to the vast bulk of Pakistanis. If someone has a problem with co-education, then they have plenty of options in the form of thousands of female/male only schools throughout Pakistan.
8. Destruction of shrines of Awlia (‘friends of God’, religious people deemed to be close to God, such as Sufi Shuyukh) and traditional scholars, desecrating the burial places and the bodies of awlias – all traditional normative Muslims vehemently stand opposed to this well known and evil Taliban practise and condemn it. For them it is completely unacceptable to destroy the resting places of the scholars of tassawwuf. Tassawwuf, or Sufism, is a part and parcel of Islam. All of the great Islamic scholars, such as Imam Ghazali, were sufi Muslim scholars. Taliban, following the footsteps of their Wahabi cousins, have been busy destroying and bombing the tombs of traditional classical Sunni Sufi scholars in parts of Pakistan. Notice that Wahabi terrorist organisations in Somalia, Mali and Libya have been destroying tombs of Sunni scholars, historical sites and burning manuscripts of Sunni religious manuals. The Taliban have committed similar acts in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hence for the bulk of Pakistani Muslims – Sunnis and Shias – the Taliban’s understanding of the Shariah is completely unacceptable.
9. Digging out bodies, burning them, hanging them on posts, and refusing burial of the dead – these are all well known Taliban practises and they deem these to constitute “Shariah.” Normative Sunni Muslims and Shiah Muslims regard these acts to constitute severe crimes, violation of the Shariah and sins. These are horrendous and condemnable acts, having nothing whatsoever to do with the Shariah. For example, seethis and this.
Ansar Abbasi knows this and still acts innocent in his trashy article.
In conclusion: the “Shariah” of Ansar Abbasi, Taliban and TTP and their sympathisers is a satanic system having nothing to do with the real Shariah. The Taliban are completely unacceptable as enforcers of the “Shariah” and their understanding of the Shariah is grossly deficient, odd, abnormal and driven by gross ignorance. Normative and traditional Sunni Muslims (ahle sunnah wal jamaah) and Shiah Muslims reject the Taliban’s “Shariah” completely!