Salafi Extremists Threatened Under Taliban Rule

In the last twenty years, all religious groups were practicing their religious beliefs freely, despite their opposition and activities against democracy. A democratic system has the capacity to promote tolerance even in Islamic societies.

Since the Taliban group has seized power in Afghanistan, tolerance and acceptance of different religious beliefs, ethnics and sects have been replaced by pressure and repression, especially for Afghanistan’s Salafi Commune, whose dozens of community members have reportedly been killed and arrested. Most people don’t know why these groups can’t tolerate each other, and they don’t even know whether the suppression of Salafis is good or bad. Is it for the benefit of the country or to its detriment?

Salafi has a specific meaning and a general meaning. In a special sense, the Salafis consider imitating a specific jurisprudence to be incorrect and believe that one can choose from the opinions of past jurists and their jurisprudence schools – as Ibn Taymiyyah and Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab said, and the word Wahhabism also comes from there. Although they themselves do not like it. Salafism in the general sense means to consider the understanding of the past Muslims to the understanding of the contemporaries and giving up one’s own reason in front of theirs. The element of imitation and following and alienation from ijtihad thinking and independent rationality is common in both spectrums, both in Salafism in a general sense and in a specific sense, but one spectrum follows the individual sayings of the past and the other spectrum follows the general from their thinking method.

Salafism is a new name for an old movement that in the first centuries of Islamic history was known as Ahl al-Hadith or Ahl al-Khabr and Narrative, and was in opposition to the rationalist movement of Muslims, known as Ahl Rai. The important feature of the first stream was relying on the apparent meaning of verses and hadiths; While, the second movement tended towards rational thinking and rational interpretation of religion, and the Hanafi religion of that time that was the most important jurisprudential branch of this movement. The founder of the Hanafi religion, Imam Abu Hanifa, had a firm position against following the past with his famous saying: If they were someone, we are also someone. He meant that we have our own thoughts and opinions and we don’t need to follow them. In later centuries, many Hanafi schools separated themselves from this rationalistic spirit, like the Ahl al-Hadith, they turned to following and pure imitation, which is a clear embodiment in the Indian subcontinent, the legacy of Shah Waliullah Dehlawi and then the Deoband school form where the intellectual lineage of the Taliban roots: a Salafi version of Hanafi.

According to this intellectual basis, the seemingly Hanafi Taliban are no different from Al-Qaeda and the completely Salafist ISIS, and what causes enmity between them is the competition for power. This competition is similar to the competition between Hizb-e-Islami and Jamiat-e-Islami – two prominent parties who fought the Soviet troops in Afghanistan – with the common origin of the Brotherhood, and the competition between Marxist-Leninist parties. Experience has shown that ideological movements turn to bloody purges; Like Stalin’s work with Trotsky’s supporters, the People’s Democratic Party with Mao’s supporters in Afghanistan, and the two big Afghan Brotherhood parties with bloody battles. It is not possible to stop the cycle of violence and killing forcibly, dominating one group and purifying the other groups. The right way is to consider the pluralism of thoughts and the diversity of political tastes to make the power structure non-ideological and turn the governance process around toa truly democratic system in which all groups have the right to operate in a peaceful manner and advance through dialogue.