Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who are the TALIBANS?

By Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood, (S.I)
President Ummah Tameer-e-Nau,
an organization engaged in relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.

Talibans of Afghanistan are making the world headlines since 1994, but most people have little knowledge who they are and what are they really far? Some paint them as demons and some praise them as the true representatives of the true Islam in the 21st Century. Writer of this article along with a team of professionals has been working in Afghanistan since last two years on different relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction projects, and thus coming in close contacts with the people and also with the high ups in the Government, including the Ameer-ul-Momineen, Prime Ministers, Ministers and heads of departments. Also he had to deal with their civil bureaucracy in connection with getting approvals for the projects. Thus he can claim first hand knowledge about the working of the Taliban Government, and is quite qualified to shed light on the above questions to help the readers in knowing the reality.


In Persian language the world "TALIB" means "Seeker" which in its common meaning in used for every "students". Taliban is the plural of the word Talib. A Talib after about ten years successful stay in school can appear in the Mullah examination, which is the intermediate level of education. But one still needs another four years to qualify as Moulvi, who is eligible to work as an Islamic Teacher. It is interesting to know that Ameer-ul-Momineen, Muhammad Omar's surname Mullah indicates that he has yet to complete his education to earn the title of 'Moulvi'.


History of Talibans in Afghanistan is as old as the history of Islam in that country, which reached there in the year 635AD, when soldiers of Islam, a good proportion of whom were the companions of the Prophet (May peace be upon him) occupied Kabul after ferocious battle with the Indian Hindu Raja of Kushan family. It is worth noting that Afghanistan and present day's Pakistan have been one country for more than 2000 years. They departed only after the British occupation of India. Afghanis proudly tell you that their country is blessed with many shrines of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (May Allah be pleased with them). I have been to some of these Shrines which are visited daily by hundreds of the devotees. We have also visited the common grave of forty martyrs. As the story goes, they were treacherously killed by a neighboring Hindu Raja in a feast arranged to sign submission agreement. Muslim rule was fully established by the year 650AD and majority of the Afghans accepted Islam as their religion. They were so keen to learn the details of their new faith that they called themselves "Talibans" seekers of the knowledge of Islam. Every city tried to surpass in establishing Colleges/Universities to graduate scholars/teachers and preachers. Thus Taliban has been enjoying great respect in the society always. Normally they engaged themselves in religious studies and works of reformations in the society. But through out Afghan history when ever there was call of duty for Jihad, they left their colleges for fighting with the infidels. For example, major portion of the army of great conqueror Mahmood Ghaznavi is said to consist of Talibans during his conquest of India.


As said earlier, throughout the history of Afghanistan, Taliban's role has been only supportive for Jihad. As soon as the objectives of Jihad were achieved they would go back to their schools. The same happened in their Jihad against the Russian Communists. In 1989, when Russians left their country, Talibans as per their tradition went back to their schools, mosques on learning or teaching jobs. In the confusion that followed, country was occupied by hundreds of warlords without any central command. The chiefs such as Ahmed Shah Masood, Hikamat Yar, Rashid Dostum had very little control on their men, who behaved autonomously in their areas of control. Each of the big cities like Kabul and Kandhar had more than one rulers, all fighting with each other, collecting their own taxes from citizens, looting, beating and killing there opponents indiscriminately.

In 1993, Kandhar had four warlords who had divided the city into their area of control. If a citizen wanted to travel from one area to the other, he had to pay toll tax at each ones boundary. One of the road barrier was by the side of the mosque where Mullah Muhammad Omar was an apprentice teacher. He was a veteran Mujahid who in the Jihad days was given the nickname of Mullah Rackety, because he was very good in firing rockets. I have been told by various senior persons that Omar was a silent and a very serious soldier, who cared little for his life. Once he was seriously wounded by enemy fire, with multi injuries, the serious most being that he lost one of his eyes which is permanently closed now. Moulvi Saeed ur Rehman Haqqani told me that Mullah Omar remained unconscious for many days in a Quetta hospital. But as soon as he could walk, he went back to Jihad.

Mullah Omar was perturbed deeply about the happenings in the city of Kandhar and openly spoke against them, which put him on the hit list of the warlords of the area. One day it so happened that a family was stopped at the check post, while the husband and the children were kept waiting in the open, the bandits took away the wife; she was gang raped and the poor woman died in this horrible process. To tease Mullah Omar, they threw her body in his mosque. This outraged him but his companion prevailed upon him not to react, fearing that the enemies will kill him. However, a similar happening took place again. This time, the victim was a fourteen years young boy. Now Mullah Omar could not be controlled by any body. He said to his friends and students, "Whether you come with we are not, I will fight against this cruelty till my death". With a stick in hand, he ran to the check post alone but soon he was followed by forty two of his students and co-teachers. It was 5'Oclock in the morning. After a little resistance they occupied the post, and snatched their weapons. Now equipped with Kalashankofs, Mullah Omar and his companions rushed to the next post, and thus one by one they took over six of them till people came to know at sunrise what had taken place early dawn on that day. They started rallying behind him, and by that evening, warlords had vacated the city leaving huge quantities of weapons behind. Entire city had come under the control of Taliban by next morning. But they did not rest. Mulla Omar appointed one of the Talib as Governor of city with the instructions to enforce Islamic rule there. The word had spread in the neighboring localities also and they came in large numbers to join the Talibans and free other towns from the occupation of the bandits. As they took over the control of any city, Mulla Omar went on establishing Taliban rule under the Islamic law, on the pattern of the Khilafat-ur-Rashida i.e. the Govt. established by the Caliphs after the departure of the Messenger of Allah, (May peace be upon him).

As the Taliban movement picked up warlords began to unite also; and took refuge in Kabul under their chiefs like Ahmed Shah Masood, Gulbadin Hikamat Yar; Rashid Dostam and Ismael. When Taliban reached Kabul, to their surprise, it was a no man land with Masood, Hikamat Yar and Dostam pitched on the surrounding hills, firing missiles on their own city mercilessly from three sides. City population welcome and joined Taliban, to win their freedom from the warlords, and after some resistance succeeded to push them out but the city had already turned into rubbles, with tens of thousands of innocent people dead at the hands of their ex-Mujahideen. Warlords had not only destroyed the city with rocket attacks, but they also looted it most mercilessly. They even ripped apart windows, doors, and flooring of schools, stole laboratory equipment, tables, and chairs. Nothing indeed escaped from their hands. They removed anything, they could from the 124 industrial units in Kabul alone. If machine were too heavy to carry, they broke them into parts and took them away. I was extremely sorry to see large transformers bodies cut into pieces to remove copper of the winding. One of the commander had the Asphalt covering of the road removed to sell it in the neighboring Pakistan. We saw similar cruelties and loot all over the country, in Hirat, Mazarsharif, Jalalabad and Kandhar, and every where.

This was the Afghanistan, what Taliban had to put together, rehabilitate and reconstruct. Its people were horrified, dismayed, divided, hungry and poor; suffering from depression and psycho illness of various types due to 15 years of horrow. Women and children had been the worse sufferer, most insecure and deprived.


After Kabul fell to Taliban they decided to establish their Government. Their guidelines was Islam and only Islam. Therefore it was natural for them to establish the Khilaft system of Govt. on the model of the pious companion of the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him). In this Govt. constitution is "The Quran book of Allah"; and "The Sharia" the explanation of the Quran as delivered by the Prophet, peace be upon him. So Taliban had a ready-made constitution.

As far the system of the Government, an Islamic State is based upon Shoora i.e. Mutual Consultation of a body of people, selection criteria for whose members is also prescribed in Islam, which is piety, knowledge and physical fitness of the person. Thus Taliban called a grand assembly of 3500 Ulma i.e. recognized practicing scholars of Islam from all regions of Afghanistan, many of whom were their teachers. Their task was to select their Ameer i.e. ruler could to run the Islamic Govt. in Afghanistan. Muhammad Omar was excluded from this grand assembly of the learned ones as he was only a Mullah. After three days deliberations the assembly decided that Mullah Omar was the best among them to lead the Islamic Emirate and to achieve its objective due to his leadership qualities, boldness, wisdom and par excellent contribution to Jihad against infidels. Moulvi Saeed-ur-Rehman Haqqani told me that Mulla Omar was called in the final session to listen to the judgement of the leaned ones. As they announced his Emirate, he wept bitterly and begged them to spare him of this great responsibility; while pleading that there were many among them who in his opinion were formore suitable for this great job. But the grand assembly of learned it ones unanimously asked him to accept the responsibility. Thus Mullah Omar was established as the Ameer-ul-Momineen, with the title "Almujahid" - but even this honor does not make him Moulvi, untill and unlessl he appears in examination and qualifies it, till then he will remain a Mullah only.


Appearance of Taliban on the political scene of Afghanistan was a surprise for every one in Pakistan as in the rest of the world. If you go through the newspapers of 1994-1995, you will see many types of whims and stories about the Taliban. It was commonly believed that Americans had brought them to power, some called them the force of Naseer Ullah Babar, who was Interior Minister of BeNazir Government in those days. Some said, "They are American stooges nourished by Naseer Ullah Babar", some credited Pakistan's I.S.I and some went so far to say that it was Russian inspired revolution. But none of these theories was right. As you have seen, it was an indigenous people's revolution led by the students of Islam against the oppressive rule of the warlords. It was the fruit of the blood of two million myrtars of Islam who came from all corners of the world to fight and sacrifice their lives for the glory of Islam. Thus Taliban and their leader Mullah Muhammad Omar are not ordinary people in power but upholders of a movement - the movement of reconnaissance of Islam in the world. Simple proof of this is that all anti Islamic forces are united in opposition to them. In the Holy Quran Allah has told us "All Kufr (wrong) will unite against the Haque, the truth of Islam". Today world is witness of this truth.


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