Afghanistan and the Spread of Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism has been a major factor in the political and social developments of Afghanistan for the past four decades. While the strategic errors of leftists in inciting fundamentalism cannot be ignored, it was the West and their interests that fostered fundamentalism in the region, and thus it requires a comprehensive examination due to its significant role in the social unrests.

Scholars have not been able to agree on a definitive definition for fundamentalism, as is the case with many other social science concepts. However, there are some common elements among these definitions; a group of religious forces assume certain religious foundations based on an antiquated understanding of religion to be their guiding principles in the modern world. They believe that returning to these foundations and a simpler way of life is the only way to be saved from the anxieties and complexities of the modern world. They also have a strong sense of nostalgia for the past and the golden era that once existed, when devoted men were conquering lands and plundering riches and finding peace in this practice; thus, they wish to return to this age at any cost.

Despite the stark contrast between fundamentalism and modernity, the latter has given rise to the former in a way that fundamentalism is a response that utilizes ancient epistemological tools and wisdom to address modern complexities. According to the fundamentalists perspective, in the past there was a unified interpretation of religious texts and a consensus on religious lifestyle among all followers, which provided the source of power and unity that led to numerous conquests and advancements. Unfortunately, in the process, they often sacrifice diversity and freedom of speech in order to recreate an imaginary metahistory of a golden era, and are willing to shed countless lives in order to reach the promised paradise after death.

Experts assert that their imaginedgolden era is in stark contrast to the actual historical golden era; it is largely based on fantasies rather than facts and realities. When such false images with a religious hue are presented as absolute and undeniable truth, and millions of people are expected to accept it without question, and any doubt about its veracity is met with excommunication, labeling as secular, and being accused of servitude to foreign fundamentalism, the situation spirals out of control. Over the last four decades, Afghanistan has seen a continuous growth of fundamentalism due to the dynamics of international politics. The topic of fundamentalism has come to dominate any public discourse, making life unbearable for the public, and even for some fundamentalists who wanted an unrealistic utopia for others.