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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

The Truth about Jihad and the Taliban

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

He was a famous Indian Muslim scholar and a leader of the Indian National Congress before independence, later becoming federal education minister in India. He writes:

"There are serious misconceptions regarding what is jihad. Many people think that jihad means only to fight. The critics of Islam too labour under this misunderstanding, whereas to think thus is to utterly narrow the practical scope of this sacred commandment.

“Jihad means to strive to the utmost. In the Quran and Sunna terminology, this utmost exertion, which is undertaken for the sake of truth rather than personal ends, is indicated by the word jihad. This effort could be with one's life, or property, or expenditure of time, or by bearing labour and hardship, or fighting the enemy and shedding blood." (Mas'ala Khilafat, p. 47)

Late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia

This internationally famous figure declared:

"Honoured brethren! You all have been called to raise the banner of jihad in the way of God. Jihad is not just taking up the gun or raising the sword. Jihad is to invite to the Book of God and the Example of the Prophet, to hold fast to them, and to stick to them despite difficulties, distresses and afflictions of all kinds." (Umm al-Qura, Makka, 24 April 1965)

Ghulam Ahmad Pervez

In his commentary of the Quran, this religious thinker of Lahore writes:

"Jihad means labour and struggle. The Quran has made its true meaning clear by using the word qu`ood (sitting) to mean the opposite: `Those who sit back from among the Muslims'…Hence it means action…

"The jihad of the true believer includes the smallest action, going up to the highest deed of sacrifice. The last stage of this exertion is that where man risks his precious life to join the battle against falsehood." (Mu`arif al-Quran, vol. iv, p. 481)

This theologian who compiled the well-known Sirat an-Nabi (Life of the Holy Prophet) by Shibli, wrote:

"Jihad is generally taken to mean qital and fighting, but this limitation of significance is entirely wrong…It means striving and effort. Its technical meaning is also close to this, i.e. to undertake all kinds of struggle and exertion for the supremacy, propagation and defence of the truth, to make sacrifices, to employ in the way of God all the physical, material and mental resources which He has given to His servants, so much so as to sacrifice one's own life and that of one's family and nation.

“To oppose the efforts of the opponents of truth, to foil their plans, to counter their attacks, and to be ready to fight them in the field of battle is also jihad. Regrettably, our opponents have reduced the scope of this important and broad significance, without which no movement in the world has or can succeed, to merely war with the enemies of the faith. It is necessary here to dispel the misconception, namely, that most people think that jihad and qital are synonymous. This is not so…One is general and the other is particular, i.e. every jihad is not qital, but among the various kinds of jihad one is qital or fighting the enemy." (Sirat an-Nabi, vol. v., pp. 199--201)

Ghulam Ahmad Pervez

"Qital is also included in jihad. One can say that it is the last stage of jihad. It is clear from this that jihad does not always mean qital. The whole life of a true believer is jihad." (Mu`arif al-Quran, vol. iv, p. 488)

Sayyid Abul Ala Maudoodi

He expressed his opinion as follows:

[i.]"In the terminology of the Shari`ah, qital and jihad were two different things. Qital is applied to the military venture undertaken against the armies of the enemy. Jihad is applied to the total effort mounted by the whole nation for the success of the objective for which the war began. During this struggle, qital may stop at times, and may also be suspended. But jihad continues till the time when that aim is achieved for which it began." (Newspaper Mashriq, Lahore, 12 October 1965)

[ii.]"Jihad means not only fighting with weapons, but is applied collectively to the whole struggle made for success in war. The field of battle is only one of the many fronts of this struggle." (Newspaper Kohistan, Lahore, 18 September 1965)

Where did the Taliban come from?

The first devotees came from the poverty-stricken refugee camps that sprung up along the Pakistani border during the Afghan-Soviet war. The young men of these camps learned a fierce and fundamental strain of Islam through the madrassas, Islamic schools that dotted the Afghan-Pakistani border. In September 1994, Mohammad Omar, then a mullah and today the leader of the Taliban, created the militia in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar. From the start, its goal was to unite a divided and war-plagued Afghanistan under a strict and unyielding version of Sharia -- Islamic law as written in the Koran, the life of Mohammed and his followers, and Muslim scholars through the ages.

Building an Islamic state

After seizing control, the Taliban instituted strict enforcement of Sharia, Islamic religious law. Modern conveniences such as computers, televisions, movies and radios were banned under the pretext that they diverted minds from the tenets of Islam. Any depiction of living things, including photography, paintings and sculpture was banned. Men were required to wear beards at least a fist-length below the chin. Women and girls were banned from schools and the workplace and ordered to wear burqas, a one-piece gown with a built-in mesh screen from which to see and breathe. Enforcement for breaking Taliban law is meted out by the Department for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice. Infractions such as improper beard lengths may merit a public beating. More serious crimes such as theft or blasphemy could result in an amputation or execution.