History repeats as 20 years later, the Taliban has seized power in Afghanistan again. The takeover has brought fear and speculation about the future of Afghanistan, as the arrival of Taliban rule will mean a return to sharia law, a senior Taliban commander declared on Wednesday.
“There will be no democratic system at all,” Taliban commander Waheedullah Hashimi said in an interview with Reuters. “We will not discuss what type of political system should we apply in Afghanistan because it is clear. It is sharia law and that is it.”
The legal system will be determined by a council of Islamic scholars and, the Islamic government will be guided by Islamic law, not the principles of democracy. During their first press conference on 17th August, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid assured women their rights would be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”. There won’t be much clarity on this for some time,” said HA Hellyer a fellow at the Centre for Islamic Studies at Cambridge University.
As Taliban officials remain vague on rules and restrictions, and the implementation of Islamic law, flashbacks of the early 1990s trouble the people of Afghanistan, as thousands try to flee the country after the Taliban invasion.
What is Sharia Law?
In Arabic, “Sharia” translates to “the way” and in practice, it refers to a wide-ranging body of moral and ethical principles drawn from the Quran and the sayings along with extreme practices of the prophet Muhammad in the context of the role of Islam in government.
Bahrain, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia as states with “strong constitutional consequences” of sharia “on the organization and functioning of power”.
Sharia is a body of religious rules to guide the day-to-day lives of Muslims. It could include a role for Sharia in criminal law, a stringent code of punishment applied in very few countries. Islamic personal law governs issues like marriage, inheritance and child custody, more common across the Muslim world. Sharia provides a detailed framework as to how the followers of Islam should live.
It broadly divides crime into two: Hadd or Tazir crimes. While Hadd prescribes a set of punishments for certain forms of crimes – like cutting hands for stealing and stoning to death in the case of adultery; Tazir crimes rather rely on the discretion of Sharia judges in awarding punishments. However, not all Islamic nations implement Sharia law.
Women under Sharia
The interpretation of Sharia is a matter of debate in the Muslim world, as governments that based their legal systems on Shariah have done it otherwise. It is necessary to understand that with the Taliban seizing power, women in Afghanistan are particularly vulnerable. Women in Afghanistan have stopped going out of their homes, fearing for their lives.
Back in 1996 to 2001, When the Taliban last controlled Afghanistan, they implemented a harsh interpretation of Sharia law. They had forbidden women from studying and gaining employment, as per the Sharia. Women were forced to wear burqas head-to-toe, face-covering garments and could face whippings if they attempted to step outside on their own without a male guardian. Man is considered “protectors and maintainers” of women and thus superior to them. Women are supposed to be “obedient” and if they persistently disobey, their male protectors, should “strike” or “beat” them. Women accused of adultery were stoned to death.
Minority groups and kids under Sharia
Thousands of religious minorities trying to escape Afghanistan illustrates the fear gripping the country after the Taliban took over.
The period of the Taliban rule in the early 1990s marked the darkest times for Hindus and Sikhs living in Afghanistan. They were constantly harassed, persecuted, killed for showing the slightest display of their faiths, and their properties were forcefully seized. Kidnappings and murders of Hindus and Sikhs were frequent. The Taliban even forced Hindus and Sikhs to wear yellow armbands for identification, reminiscent of the yellow Star of David, that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.
Much of this harassment and persecution continues for religious minorities in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has effectively suppressed and diminished all of its non-Muslim groups. Religious minorities fear for their lives every second in Afghanistan. In 2018, a suicide bomber in Jalalabad targeted a crowd of Afghan Hindus and Sikhs who were waiting to meet President Ashraf Ghani. These attacks gained global attention and became the breaking point for Hindus and Sikhs after decades of persecution, leading more to leave the country.
Schools for girls were shut, children had restrictions on watching television and listening to music. People who violated the Taliban’s rules could be publicly executed, whipped or stoned, even kids were not spared of this extreme form of punishment. Children were forced to study in religious schools in Afghanistan under Islamic law.
Sikh boys would not wear turbans in school, and Sikh women would wear burqas to appear Muslim. Facing harassment at schools, Afghan Hindu and Sikh children stopped attending schools. A child’s life is hell under sharia law and even worse in the case of a religious minority kid.
The Taliban will have to deal with a new Afghanistan compared with that of the 1990s, with different roles already in place for women and other groups, said Hellyer.
According to Kakar, an Independent Afghan analyst, while the “theoretical interpretation of the Sharia would remain by and large the same as the 90s”, the prevailing circumstances – which are usually taken heavily into account to arrive at legal judgements might be different.
India needs to ignore what the so-called ‘New Taliban’ claims and all its fake secularists, and protect the last of the vulnerable minorities in Afghanistan from the Taliban. The situation of religious minorities in Afghanistan is indeed a tight slap to pseudo liberals going against the CAA. The horrifying rules of Sharia law are something no one would want to face. Restrictions on behaviour, dress and movement enforced by morality police officers are bizarre and unacceptable.
In 1996, a woman in Kabul, Afghanistan, had the end of her thumb cut off for wearing nail polish. The Afghan populace has also grown to cherish and fight with its life for civil liberties. Unlike the past, where Afghans folded easily, the Taliban is facing stiff resistance this time around. The Afghans are willing to put down their lives but do not want to go back to the medieval, dark, sombre era of 1996-2001. Actions need to be taken before 2021 witnesses the farewell flicker of a dying flame.