What happened in Kabul a few days ago is a bad omen. Islamists have now started bombing mosques, and are killing innocent civilians. The alarming situation out there needs serious introspection. A huge explosion ripped through a crowded mosque in Afghanistan's capital Kabul killing 21 people and injuring more than 33 persons recently. All this happens when all alien forces have withdrawn from the land and the Taliban are left to fend for them.
The Taliban have been ruling Afghanistan for a year now. But they are still struggling to run the government. They wish to run the government on principles, which are not acceptable in today's world. But they are determined to have their way.
International affairs experts believe, that Afghanistan is confronted with massive problems.
First, the formation of an inclusive government: In the Doha Agreement with the US, the Taliban leadership had assured that they would form a government in which all communities and classes would be represented. But till now the rule is dominated by Pashtuns and Talibs. Communities like Hazara, Tajik, and Uzbek are still not getting proper representation.
Not only this, the condition of minorities there is pathetic. Especially the people of Sikh and Hindu communities have had to migrate from there. Human rights violations are a big cause of concern. The women have also not gotten equal participation.
The second challenge is to control terrorism and extremism. The Taliban government seems to be struggling on this front as well. How the US killed al-Qaeda chief al-Zawahiri indicates that the Taliban has still not been able to control the activities of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS in Afghanistan.
The third challenge is to overcome economic and financial difficulties. When the Taliban took power, Afghanistan was plunged into economic difficulties. Within a year, the financial condition has further deteriorated.
Along with difficulties like drought and unemployment, the crippling banking system and dwindling foreign exchange reserves are also keeping life difficult. The international community is also not coming forward to help them, because the Taliban have still not been able to win confidence in the governance system.
The exodus of Afghans is happening very fast not only inside the country but also outside it. The fourth challenge is to gain international recognition. Of course, countries around the world are still looking at Afghanistan with hope and want to advance the bilateral relationship according to their respective interests, but no country other than the three countries has recognized the Taliban government. The United Nations has not allotted a seat for him.
The biggest problem of the Taliban is their approach. If the Taliban were practical, then they would have realized that no country in the world runs completely according to Islamic principles. Muslim-dominated countries have taken a practical approach and have only adopted the spirit of Islam in their laws and governance practices.
Unless the Taliban change their mindset, terrorist organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda will make their lives more miserable. The latter believes in running the country by the Islamist ideology. Therefore, they are eliminating all spiritual leaders in Afghanistan one by one.
The sooner the Taliban open up to the world, the better it is for Afghanistan. Today no country can stay in isolation. All countries need assimilation of ideas and their people need to respect the tradition and values of other people living in the country. Only then progress is possible.
Even the Taliban are considered to be fundamentalists, but their fundamentalism appears to be much less in intensity when compared with the ideas of ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Unfortunately, the Taliban have failed to understand a moderate approach is the only way out for them unless they want their country to die of starvation or implosion by inimical forces.
They must delineate themselves, particularly from Al Qaeda. Their area of influence is limited to Afghanistan, but ISIS and Al Qaeda have bigger plans, which expand even up to India. Al Qaeda and ISIS have the desire to rule the world, they are inspired and try to inspire youths by misplaced notions of Islam and believe in re-establishing Caliphate. Such people are reportedly behind the bombing of the mosque in Kabul recently.
There is no place for this kind of ideology in the spirit of true Islam. Unfortunately, this ideology is beginning to have some audience in India. The police claim to have arrested Al-Qaeda operatives in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. More facts will emerge as and when the charge sheets are filed and the trials are taken up.
But one thing is sure the people who are inspired by this kind of ideology like to be identified as the flag bearers of Islam. The question is should they be trusted with leading the community?
Over a decade this kind of ideology has assumed menacing proportions. It will take at least a generation to mitigate the damage it has done. A few years ago, Sultan Shaheen, a Delhi-based Islamic scholar, gave a relevant speech at the UNHRC. In his address, he said that terrorism is increasing in the world because Muslim youth are inclined towards jihad.
He said although Islam started as a peace-loving religion with elements of spirituality, due to various reasons, several misconceptions had crept into the theology largely between the 8th and 11th centuries. This caused great damage and Islam was projected as a political, totalitarian, supremacist, intolerant, oppressive, and xenophobic religion. The rationalists in Islam were subjugated and their works were destroyed. The same works such as that of Averroes (Ibn Rushd) brought about enlightenment in Europe, while it was in the Dark Ages.
Bomb blasts in a mosque in Kabul are another wake-up call. Both Allah and His Prophet wanted Muslims to be a moderate, justly balanced community. An ummat-e-wasta, Holy Quran 2:143, says. Numerous verses in the Quran and narrations of Hadith, exhorted Muslims never to take to extremes, not even in matters of fulfilling religious obligations like prayers and fasting, says Sultan.
Countries like Morocco and Saudi Arabia are doing a good job in understanding of the religion. So is Turkey, which has also selected 1600 hadith out of 10,000 hadith after a decade-long exercise. Those have been distributed in every mosque and religious institution for focused studies.
Several Islamic scholars including US-based Javed Ahmed Ghamdi, are of the view that a lot of misconceptions have made inroads into Islam and that the religion of peace needs to be seen in the right perspective to mitigate the damage being done to its image.
The Ottoman Empire ruled a large part of the world. But even after reaching the zenith, its leaders did not change with time. Their rule extended even to Europe. With the advent of the industrial revolution, the printing press developed in Europe. The Western world took full advantage of this discovery. But due to the stubbornness of the rulers of the Ottoman Empire, the printing press was not allowed to be adopted in the Muslim world for almost 400 years. A heavy price was paid for this. Perhaps if the printing press had been adopted much earlier, than today the condition of the Muslims would have been different.
By the time Ottoman rulers realized they were lagging in development and tried to mend their ways it was too late. European forces had defeated them by then. Since then, the world order has changed many times.
The point is that even the ulema who have studied from the best seats of education such as Oxford believe in following the old established traditions of Islam, or at least they consider it to be wise to follow them.
They fear that if they deviate from the deeply-entrenched misconceptions, they will have no acceptability and thus no respect within the community. The result is there for everybody to see.
In India Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and Jamaat-i- Islami and some ulemas of South India and Gujarat are creating an awakening with some good teachings. In countries like Malaysia, we have highly inspiring examples. For example, Sisters in Islam is an organization established in 1988. The members of this organization fought for their rights and did a wonderful job of empowering Muslim women.
Until and unless Muslims learn to challenge the misconceptions, which have crept into the community and take corrective steps, establish good institutions, they will not be seen as a progressive community, rather they will be run down by ideologies like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, which are not doing any good to the community.