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Taliban harm Islam
By Mohammad Abdus Samad

Taliban's recent actions pose a question: are non-Muslims living in an Islamic state allowed to maintain their religious identity? If so, the destruction of Buddha statues by the Taliban is an injustice to the religious sentiments of the Buddhists.

Non-Muslims living is an Islamic state are considered ‘protected people’ (dhimmis) implying that the Islamic government has made a covenant with them for providing safety and security to their lives, properties and faith. Having emphasized the duty of Muslims towards non-Muslims living in an Islamic state, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘On the Day of Resurrection I shall be the adversary of the one who oppresses a dhimmi or violates his right or puts a responsibility on him which is beyond his capacity or takes something from him against his will’ (Abu Dawood). The Prophet also said: ‘He who hurts a dhimmi hurts me and he who hurts me annoys Allah’ (Tabarani).

The Prophet maintained good relations with those non-Muslims who did not want to harm Islam and Muslims. It is reported that the Prophet offered gifts to non-Muslim kings and received same from them. A polytheist known as Abdullah ibn Uraiqit was employed by the Prophet as his guide during his emigration (hijrah) from Makkah to Madina in 622 CE.

The religion of Islam is based on the absolute belief in the Oneness of God (Tawhid). Worship of no object is allowed other than Allah. It teaches us that Allah is the Lord of heavens and earth and all that is in between them. Hence He alone deserves worship and praise from Mankind and other creatures. But this does not mean that idols or any objects worshipped by believers in other religions should be forcefully destroyed in order to maintain the Oneness of God (Tawhid). There is not a single verse in the Holy Qur’an directing the Muslims to destroy the idols worshiped by other religionists. Conversely the Holy Qur’an orders Muslims not to abuse and decry the objects worshipped by others: ‘Revile not those unto whom they pray besides Allah lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance’ (6:108). Thus Allah has ordered us to avoid a situation which allows others to hate and abuse our religion and its symbols. The recent burning of Qur’an in India is a reaction to the demolition of Buddha statues in Afghanistan.

The Holy Qur’an says: ‘Invite all to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious’ (16:125). Conversely the use of force and coercion in the matter of faith (Iman) is prohibited in Islam. The Holy Qur’an states: ‘There is no compulsion in religion (2:256); ‘There has already come to you enlightement (proof) from your Lord, then whoever is enlightened is for his own soul and whoever remains blind is so against it’ (6:105); ‘Unto you your religion and unto me my religion’ (109:6).

Justifying the act of Taliban, some Muslims would like to reason that the Taliban have followed the footstep of Sahabis who destroyed the idols installed at the Ka'ba. It is a wrong perception. Prophet Abraham (pbuh) built the Ka’ba at Makkah and dedicated it to One Allah. But in the course of time, polytheists in Makkah placed 360 idols inside the Ka’ba for worship. When Prophet Muhammad came to power in Makkah in 630 CE, his companion, at his behest took all idols out of Ka’ba and destroyed them and thus restored the original status of the Ka’ba and re-established the worship of Allah therein which was the objective behind the construction of the Ka’ba at Makkah. So we can not reasonably equate the destruction of idols by Sahaba with the destruction of Buddha statues by Taliban as both cases are different.

Again, the Taliban would like to reason that they have destroyed the statues with a view to eradicating the worship of false gods which is prohibited in Islam. According to Islam, the worship of any object or being other than Allah is considered as the worship of false gods. There is always a section of people in every age who worship various objects and beings either material, spiritual or celestial. As for example, pagans worship idols and Christians worship Jesus Christ as their gods. So how can it be possible on the part of Taliban to eradicate the worship of false gods and goddesses? The worship of false gods can be wiped out of society only when people would be aware of the teachings of Islam and the fear of punishment in the next world.

When Hazrat Omar (R) was elected as the second Khalifa, he brought Egypt under his rule and appointed Hazrat ‘Amr ibn a-Aas (R) to the post of governor in Egypt. There were then in existence the statues of Pharaohs and other heroes in ancient Egypt. If the existence of statues in an Islamic state had been prohibited, the Khalifa would have then directed his officials to destroy them. But this did not so happen. The statues still exist in Egypt where they are preserved as historical and cultural heritage. Are the Taliban better Muslims than Khalifa Omar (R) and his governor ‘Amr ibn Al-’Aas (R.)?
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