Skip to main content.
In forcing the Russians to withdraw in 1989, the Afghans became the heroes of many in Islam. The subsequent civil war saw the fundamentalist (Deobandi) Taliban emerge and take power. They viewed their victory as a triumph of Fundamentalism and Allah's will. For about five years, they enforced a strict Islamic code on the nation. Women, in particular, were disadvantaged under the Taliban interpretation of the Qur'an.

After 9/11, the collapse of the Taliban in a matter of weeks contrasts sharply with their fundamentalist vision and all-conquering image. How could this happen if Allah is all powerful and on their side?

Perhaps Mr. Karzai and his government can survive the bullets. Much depends on that, for the present generation of terrorists knows well how to destabilize Afghanistan.

Middle Eastern states find basis in the Qur'an for an Islamic rule that transcends secular management of daily affairs. Such a governance has support from many Muslims even as it suppresses other sects. This Qur'an-based hope sustains many Muslims, Middle Eastern States, and numerous terrorists in the face of what appear to be hopeless odds of ever matching the West in economic power and innovation. Bin Laden had it right when he declared this to be a holy war.

Islamic governance is quite complex; Hijab (code of dress and also behavior) is one prominent issue that gives rise to tension: see excerpts — Aisha Geissinger

    "To most Muslims, the Afghans are the heroic people who defeated the former Soviet Union despite overwhelming odds. The subsequent civil war in Afghanistan deeply disappointed most people and has led them to turn their faces from the ongoing conflict as much as possible. The majority of Muslims worldwide cherish visions of a just Islamic state emerging somewhere, if not in their own country. This hope sustains many people in the face of what appear to be hopeless odds. To see the dream become a nightmare, and the phrase 'IIslamic justice' used as a synonym for tyranny, is painful."

    "… The Islamic movement needs to look honestly at the situation in Afghanistan (and places such as northern Iraq and Pakistan, where Taliban-style ideas have following), consider the origins and consequences of such groups, and develop responses that will solve the problems they create within an Islamic framework. Averting our faces from painful realities is an option we cannot afford, both because it betrays the suffering of many Afghan men and women and because of the long-term consequences for the Ummah [the Muslim community] as a whole."

The Taliban, of course, are Deobandi extremists for whom every issue has only two colors, right or wrong, depending on how one interprets the Qur'an. Aisha Geissinger again:

    "This focus on rules also ignores the prerequisites for establishing an Islamic system in the modern world. Since the 1975 drafting of CEDAW (Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women), the UN and various NGOs have been trying to discourage single-sex education and medical care when possible. [NGOs are non-governmental organizations associated with the United Nations]. Muslims by and large have ignored this, with some communities quibbling over whether and to what degree women should be educated. As a result, there is still a marked shortage of women physicians, nurses, other medical personnel, and educators in most Muslim communities, including Afghanistan."
    --By Ali Abunimah; Electronic Iraq

Geissinger is affiliated with the International Institute of Islamic Thought .

There is more: women in the Middle East suffer greatly, just because of their gender. Doubtless that arises from their second-class status in the Qur'an. It is true that Mohammed improved the status of women in his day. It is also true that the Qur'an, written by others, remains frozen in that status rather than Mohammed's style of liberation. For more on that see Women.

We appeal to the moderates in Islam to heed what Aisha Geissinger has to say. Here is a person who sees things for what they are-Islam needs her vision.

From Ramallah Online

"Women's rights, championed by liberal supporters of the Afghan war, are in a dreadful state. Back in November 2001, a New York Times editorial gushed: "America did not go to war in Afghanistan so that women there could once again feel the sun on their faces, but the reclaimed freedom of Afghan women is a collateral benefit that Americans can celebrate. After five years of Taliban rule, women in Afghanistan are uncovering their faces, looking for jobs, walking happily with female friends on the street and even hosting a news show on Afghan television.

"The changes in women's status were -- forgive the pun -- largely cosmetic. While the Taliban's worst anti-women decrees were formally lifted nationwide, they have been re-imposed by individual warlords. In Herat, for example, repressive new decrees restrict women's movement and participation in civil society, and women's NGOs are systematically intimidated and harassed. Throughout the country, Amnesty says, "violence against women by both state and non-state actors continued. The violence took the form of rape, forced marriages, kidnappings and traditional practices discriminatory toward women in settling tribal disputes." Women found no redress through the inadequate, biased and in many places nonexistent judicial system. Overall, Amnesty concludes, "fears for their personal safety" prevented Afghan women from "participating fully in civil society and denied them the opportunity to exercise their basic rights."

"On top of these problems, almost two million Afghan refugees have returned home to a country in chaos with collapsed health and education systems, continued drought and insufficient international aid.

"Tony Blair, one of the most enthusiastic participants in the Afghan war, promised that, 'this time we will not walk away from Afghanistan.' Yet, he and the world have done precisely that. This is the same Blair, by the way, who affirmed at that time that he would oppose any military action against Iraq unless strong evidence emerged linking the regime to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"The situation in Afghanistan is an enormous, ongoing tragedy, but as we watch chaos, disease and insecurity spread in the "liberated" Iraq, the Afghan experience has a depressing resonance. With the UN giving its belated blessing to the US occupation of Iraq, there does not seem to be an international mechanism to hold Washington accountable for the smoldering wrecks its wars leave behind. The most frightening prospect is that new and ever more ruthless anti-US groups will emerge to try to fill that gap, fueling forever this endless global "war."

Fact Book — Geographics & Demographics
Towards Objective Islamic Media Nida'ul Islam


No comments yet

To be able to post comments, please register on the site.