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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 31 Aug 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Taliban Are Unlikely To Reform: Afghan Women's Greatest Fears May Realise even under Taliban 2.0

Taliban From 1996-2001 until Now: With the RAWA Study, One Might Smell Hypocrisy about Taliban Leaders’ Recent Assurances to Defend Women's Rights

Main Points

1.  Taliban promised that the rights of women would be protected under the framework of "Sharia", but they have not provided any additional details.

2.  From 1996 to 2001, repression was a component of the Taliban's reign, as they imposed several restrictions on women.

3.  The Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women (RAWA) published an “abbreviated” list of 29 restrictions imposed on women and 11 restrictions imposed on all Afghans between 1996 and 2001.

4.   The four schools of Islamic law disagree on the subject of Hijab and Niqab.

5. The only point on which the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence disagreed was whether a woman's hands and face should be covered or left exposed.

6.  Taliban are unlikely to reform and the greatest fears of women in Afghan may come true.


By New Age Islam Staff Writer

31 August 2021


Daily life in Kabul in 1988, one year before civil war broke out. Patrick Robert/Sygma via Getty Images


The Taliban controlled almost three-quarters of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, enforcing a harsh interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law. The Taliban arose as one of the most powerful forces in the Afghan Civil War in 1994, consisting primarily of students (Talib) from Pashtun districts of eastern and southern Afghanistan and had fought in the Soviet-Afghan War. The movement extended throughout most of Afghanistan under Mohammed Omar's leadership. In 1996, the Taliban formed the dictatorial Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and Kandahar became the new Afghan capital. At its peak, only three countries, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates recognised the Taliban's authority. After being ousted from power in 2001, the Taliban reorganised as an insurgent force to fight the US-backed Karzai administration and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan's war. As a result of the war, thousands of civilians were killed, and millions were displaced. After two decades of fighting, the Taliban have raced to victory in Afghanistan. The group took Kabul on August 15, 2021, capping an extremely quick push across the country. All of this occurred as a result of the US-Taliban peace agreement, in which Taliban leaders have sworn to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists posing a threat to the West. However, concerns have already been expressed about how the group plans to govern the country, as well as the implications of their rule for women, human rights, and political liberties.

Although the Taliban clearly promised an amnesty shortly after reclaiming control in Afghanistan and stated that women and girls would be permitted to attend school and even work within the framework of "Sharia", they have not provided any additional details. At a news conference, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that women will have rights to education, health care, and jobs and that they will be "happy" under the “Sharia Law”. He added saying “The Taliban is dedicated to ensuring women's rights based on Islam. Women can work in the health sector and other fields where they are required. There will be no discrimination against women”. Suhail Shaheen, another Taliban spokesman, says the group will respect women's and minorities' rights "as per Afghan customs and Islamic values."

A woman holds a placard as Afghan migrants demonstrate against the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, on the island of Lesbos, Greece. (REUTERS)


Concerns are being raised about how the Taliban would interpret Islamic teachings this time about women’s rights. The last time they were in power from 1996 to 2001, repression was a component of the Taliban's reign. They moved quickly to impose several restrictions on women. Women were unable to attend school, have employment, or leave their houses without the presence of a male relative. Those who disobeyed the Taliban's orders and their interpretation of Islam were subjected to floggings or beatings, which were often cruel and against Islam, according to several other interpretations of Islam.

The Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women (RAWA) published an “abbreviated” list of 29 restrictions imposed on women and 11 restrictions imposed on all Afghans between 1996 and 2001, when the Taliban ruled. After two decades, the Taliban leaders are reported to have said that they would respect women’s rights as per Islamic values and the questions are to be raised about what are the Islamic values they are referring to in their interviews. Are the “Islamic values” of 2021 are going to be different from those of 1996-2001? Since in Islamic Jurisprudence, there is somewhat flexibility and the derivative rules [furu’i masail] might be changed to be adjustable with the need of the time, can we expect so from the Taliban? Another concern is if they will build a new jurisprudence to be known as Talibani jurisprudence, as there are various types of Islamic jurisprudence in the traditional interpretation of Islam; Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki, Hanbali, and Jafari – with each having a different interpretation in the derivative rules of Islam.

For example, on the subject of Hijab and Niqab, the only point on which Muslim jurists of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence disagreed was whether a woman's hands and face should be covered or left exposed. The four schools of Islamic law disagree on this point. Most Maliki and Hanafi jurists believed that a woman's complete body ought to be covered, except for her face and hands. The Hanbali and Shafii jurisprudence, the two strictest of the four schools, required Muslim women to cover their entire bodies, including their face and hands. As for the Taliban’s Hijab Law, it is unclear at this time, despite Talibani spokespersons recently agreeing to allow women to work in offices, whether there would be a concession in the law of Hijab or if the strictest version of Hijab will be made mandatory for women. Concerns regarding women's rights arise when we consider the Taliban's past, which initially emerged in the public arena twenty years ago as the most radical organisation denying women their rights.

Taliban restrictions and mistreatment of women during its reign from 1996 to 2001, according to RAWA’s report, include the:

1- Complete ban on women's work outside the home, which also applies to female teachers, engineers, and most professionals. Only a few female doctors and nurses are allowed to work in some hospitals in Kabul.

2- Complete ban on women's activity outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, brother, or husband).

3- Ban on women dealing with male shopkeepers.

4- Ban on women being treated by male doctors.

5- Ban on women studying at schools, universities, or any other educational institution. (Taliban have converted girls' schools into religious seminaries.)

6- Requirement that women wear a long veil (Burqa), which covers them from head to toe.

7- Whipping, beating, and verbal abuse of women not clothed in accordance with Taliban rules, or of women unaccompanied by a mahram.

8- Whipping of women in public for having non-covered ankles.

9- Public stoning of women accused of having sex outside marriage. (A number of lovers are stoned to death under this rule).

10- Ban on the use of cosmetics. (Many women with painted nails have had fingers cut off).

11- Ban on women talking or shaking hands with non-mahram males.

12- Ban on women laughing loudly. (No stranger should hear a woman's voice).

13- Ban on women wearing high heel shoes, which would produce sound while walking. (A man must not hear a woman's footsteps.)

14- Ban on women riding in a taxi without a mahram.

15- Ban on women's presence in radio, television, or public gatherings of any kind.

16- Ban on women playing sports or entering a sports center or club.

17- Ban on women riding bicycles or motorcycles, even with their mahrams.

18- Ban on women wearing brightly coloured clothes. In Taliban terms, these are "sexually attracting colours."

19- Ban on women gathering for festive occasions such as the Eids, or for any recreational purpose.

20- Ban on women washing clothes next to rivers or in a public place.

21- Modification of all place names including the word "women." For example, "women's garden" has been renamed "spring garden".

22- Ban on women appearing on the balconies of their apartments or houses.

23- Compulsory painting of all windows, so women can’t be seen from outside their homes.

24- Ban on male tailors taking women's measurements or sewing women's clothes.

25- Ban on female public baths.

26- Ban on males and females travelling on the same bus. Public buses have now been designated "males only" (or "females only").

27- Ban on flared (wide) pant-legs, even under a burqa.

28- Ban on the photographing or filming of women.

29- Ban on women's pictures printed in newspapers and books, or hung on the walls of houses and shops.”

It further says, “Apart from the above restrictions on women, the Taliban has:

- Banned listening to music, not only for women but men as well.

- Banned the watching of movies, television, and videos, for everyone.

- Banned celebrating the traditional New Year (Nowroz) on March 21. The Taliban has proclaimed the holiday un-Islamic.

- Disavowed Labour Day (May 1st) because it is deemed a "communist" holiday.

- Ordered that all people with non-Islamic names change them to Islamic ones.

- Forced haircuts upon Afghan youth.

- Ordered that men wear Islamic clothes and a cap.

- Ordered that men not shave or trim their beards, which should grow long enough to protrude from a fist clasped at the point of the chin.

- Ordered that all people attend prayers in mosques five times daily.

- Banned the keeping of pigeons and playing with the birds, describing it as un-Islamic. The violators will be imprisoned and the birds shall be killed. The kite flying has also been stopped.

- Ordered all onlookers, while encouraging the sportsmen, to chant Allah-o-Akbar (God is great) and refrain from clapping.

- Ban on certain games including kite flying which is "un-Islamic" according to Taliban.

- Anyone who carries objectionable literature will be executed.

- Anyone who converts from Islam to any other religion will be executed.

- All boy students must wear turbans. They say "No turban, no education".

- Non-Muslim minorities must distinct badge or stitch a yellow cloth onto their dress to be differentiated from the majority Muslim population. Just like what did Nazis with Jews.

- Banned the use of the internet by both ordinary Afghans and foreigners.

And so on...”

Rawa further says that The Special Rapporteur's attention has been called to the Ordinance on the Women's Veil, which has allegedly been issued by a nine-member professional committee of the High Court of the Islamic State of Afghanistan and which reads as follows:

"A denier of the veil is an infidel and an unveiled woman is lewd".

"Conditions of wearing a veil:

1. The veil must cover the whole body.

2. Women's clothes must not be thin.

3. Women's clothes must not be decorated and colourful.

4. Women's clothes must not be narrow and tight to prevent the seditious limbs from being noticed. The veil must not be thin.

5. Women must not perfume themselves. If a perfumed woman passes by a crowd of men, she is considered to be adulterous.

6. Women's clothes must not resemble men's clothes.

"In addition,

1. They must not perfume themselves.

2. They must not wear adorning clothes.

3. They must not wear thin clothes.

4. They must not wear narrow and tight clothes.

5. They must cover their entire bodies.

6. Their clothes must not resemble men's clothes.

7. Muslim women's clothes must not resemble non-Muslim women's clothes.

8. Their foot ornaments must not produce sound.

9. They must not wear sound-producing garments.

10. They must not walk in the middle of the streets.

11. They must not go out of their houses without their husband's permission.

12. They must not talk to strange men.

13. If it is necessary to talk, they must talk in a low voice and without laughter.

14. They must not look at strangers.

15. They must not mix with strangers."


After considering the findings of the RAWA survey as well as the recent vows of Taliban spokespersons to protect women's rights, one would infer that the Taliban are unlikely to reform and that Afghan women's worst fears may come true. 


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