Skip to comments.FYI: A Brief History of the Tailban (not too long, pretty insightful)
Posted on 09/04/2005 3:27:45 PM PDT by yankeedame
A brief history of the Taliban
by Dr. Saleem Qureshi
"Taliban" is the plural of talib, literally meaning seeker, in context, a seeker of knowledge, i.e., talib-e-ilm, or a student.
The Taliban were the children of Afghan refugees who fled their country in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that started on December 25, 1979. The refugees were housed on the Pakistan side of the frontier where relief and education were provided by religious organizations in Pakistan, funding and organizational facilities by Saudi Arabia and the CIA.
The schooling was provided by religious parties, particularly the Jamiat-ul-ulema-e-Islam, a fundamentalist part that espouses the most puritanical, restrictive and harsh interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence, variously called Deobandi (in India and Pakistan), Wahabi (in Saudi Arabia), and Hanbali (one of the recognized four schools of Sunni fiqh-jurisprudence).
The Taliban thus represent the least progressive or moderate interpretation of Sunni Islam and along with Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan under Taliban rule was the only country to be so closed off from the rest of the world.
Prior to the Taliban, the majority of Afghans, like the majority of Indian-Pakistani Muslims, Turks, Central Asians and Caucasians, belonged to the most tolerant and eclectic interpretation of Islamic Law, i.e., Hanafi.
Starting with the communist coup of April 20, 1978, and exacerbated by the Soviet invasion of December 25, 1979, the 'reforms' that were introduced so conflicted with the Afghan values that they were identified as anti-Islamic, making it incumbent on every Afghan to oppose those 'reforms' and the advocates of those 'reforms'--that is, the Afghan communist rulers and their patrons, the Soviets.
The Americans, who saw the opportunity to humiliate the Soviets, enthusiastically encouraged the Islamic dimension of the Afghan nationalist war against foreign occupation, hence the rise of Jihad and the Mujahideen, who were then the darlings of the CIA. Osama bin Laden was a Mujahid who developed a mind of his own, independent of his CIA creators.
The Soviets departed in defeat but left Afghanistan in shambles. The Afghan society, which has always been tribalistic and historically held together by traditional loyalty to monarchy, had no acceptable symbol of legitimacy any more.
Even during the insurgency and at the height of Jihad against the Soviets, no Afghan Khomeini emerged to unite the various tribal strands that were engaged in combat against the foreigner. Consequently, on the departure of the Soviets, and once their surrogate, Najibullah, had been dislodged, Afghanistan was faced with a political vacuum.
This vacuum was made worse by the fighting between the contending forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Burhanuddin Rabbani, tribal leaders vying for exclusive control. Kabul suffered a great deal of damage as a result of bombardment and the rather cruel treatment of the population by the contending warlords.
In this environment of war entered the Taliban, supported by Pakistan, and promising peace and stability.
By 1996, the Taliban succeeded in establishing themselves as the rulers of most of Afghanistan. Though harsh and very restrictive, the Taliban rule succeeded in providing peace and security to the Afghans under their control.
The Taliban are Pushtuns, who account for almost 48 percent of the Afghan population and their area is mainly the southern half of Afghanistan. To rule Afghanistan, the rulers have to have the support of the Pushtun; all the rulers of modern Afghanistan since its founding in 1747 have been Pushtuns.
Pushtunwali is the customary law of the Pushtuns, which has two major pillars: honour and hospitality. Honour lies in freedom, and an Afghan will not willingly tolerate to be ruled by a foreigner--as the British in the 19th century and the Soviets in the 20th century learned to their dismay. Hospitality means that an Afghan will never surrender a guest, especially to the enemies of the guest so long as even a single member of the host family is alive. No wonder those who know the Afghan culture know that you can coax an Afghan into hell, but you can't push him into heaven.
Dr. Saleem Qureshi is a professor emeritus of Middle East politics in the University of Alberta Department of Political Science.
Bump for reading!
Tailban?? Would you please ask the moderator to correct the spelling so we can find this post using the search tool?
I would recommend the novel "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini, for a fascinating look at Afghani life...utilizing a universal theme of guilt and absolution.
bump for when the hurricane obsession leaves me.
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