Yet another example of why we don’t see more genuine Islamic reformers: “The ‘dissenting’ clerics killed in Afghanistan,” by Dawood Azami for the BBC, November 18:
The last decade has seen a little-reported but systematic campaign by insurgents to silence Afghan clerics who disagree with their tactics and ideology.
More than 800 religious scholars who confronted the Taliban by calling their insurgency un-Islamic and unlawful have been killed.
The most recent killing took place a week ago when prominent religious scholar Maulawi Ata Muhammad was shot dead in Kandahar. He was head of programming for local radio station, Voice of Islam.
Some targets are very high profile. Among the first to be killed in this way was, Maulawi Abdullah Fayaz, head of the Kandahar religious scholars council, in May 2005.
The Taliban – a word which actually means religious student – have accepted responsibility for a number of these killings. Indeed, many of those killed either taught or influenced the men who went on to join the Taliban – in effect these students are now murdering their teachers.
The militants describe themselves as being at the vanguard defending Afghanistan’s “original Islamic values”. They accuse anti-Taliban clerics of justifying “foreign occupation and creating discord within the Muslim community”…
In their edicts, pro-government religious scholars have also openly called the tactics used by the Taliban – especially suicide attacks and the random killings of civilians – un-Islamic.
“Many things are done in the name of religion which are not justified by religion, such as destroying and damaging mosques and schools,” says Qazi Nisar Ahmad Siddiqui, head of the secretariat of the National Council of Ulama.
Hundreds of other pro-government clerics have received threats from the Taliban warning them that they too will be killed if they speak against the militants.
Several have had to leave their villages and towns fearing reprisals, especially those who have made overtly anti-Taliban speeches in mosques and on local radio.
The Taliban accuse these pro-government clerics of leading people astray and weakening “the strong morale of resistance fighters”.
“If they deviate from the right path, they create a lot of problems,” a Taliban commander told me some time ago.
“We want them to support our struggle.”
The Taliban argue that the government is “illegitimate” because it relies on the support of “infidel powers” that toppled the government of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” – the name the Taliban use for their movement – in 2001.
“The Ulama working within Kabul’s corrupt administration are viewed as criminals not as religious scholars,” a Taliban spokesman said….