Decoding Talibani Psyche

The news that Taliban beheaded 17 Afghan civilians, including two women, at a late night party in Helmand province in South Afghanistan for mingling and dancing together, calls for the harshest words to condemn this religious massacre.

At times I wonder: is this the same Afghanistan which gave Jalaluddin Rumi to the world? He was born in Afghanistan’s Balkh region on September 30, 1207.

Taliban are hardcore Sunnis. And Sunni Islam is the strictest of all Islamic sects. Yet, I’ve many Sunni Muslim friends who aren’t that monomaniac and are genuinely critical of the ways of Sunni Taliban. It’s worthwhile to state that the entire Sub-continent has the majority of Sunnis. At the crossroads of human civilization, we’re more apprehensive of theological adamancy than the religious stubbornness. A deep understanding of Talibani mindset will reveal that it’s more of a misinterpreted theological adamancy of their sect than an attempt to prove Islam’s greatness. Taliban are tribal people with very little understanding of Qur’an and Islam’s vastness.

There’s no denying the fact that tribalism has been a core element in the consciousness of Islam. Prior to the advent of Islam in the Arab peninsula, there were innumerable tribes in the desert. Muhammad integrated those warring tribes into a cohesive unit and brought them together under the all-encompassing umbrella of Islam.

These people (Taliban) recite Qur’anic verses without understanding their import and take only those things that attract them. The idea of ‘Nizam-e-Mustafa’ (Islamic Order) appears to them mutatis mutandis (without a deletion) and worldwide.
The Quranic injunction that there’ll be just one true sect and only the followers of this sect will be able to enter Paradise on the Day of Judgment has been taken too seriously by the Taliban.

To quote VS Naipaul, ‘Taliban think that they have the divine right to ‘reestablish’ the hegemony of the Sunni sect and no other sect in Islam has the right to survive’. Like the rabid white supremacists and skin-heads racist groups in the US, Taliban are sectarian racists who want to make it clear that only through their version of Sunni Islam can one go to heaven and be dear to Allah.

In the early days of Judaism and again in the 13th century, there were different sects vying for the ultimate ‘truth’. Midrashim (plural of Midrash=Commentaries on a Hebrew biblical text) reveal that Judaism also passed through phases when one of its sects threatened to have its unquestioning Talmudic supremacy over other sects within the purview of Judaism.

Taliban are under the impression that theirs is the sect that is even greater than the existing Sunni Islam, much like the way many Christians still believe that only by following Old Testament’s Jehovah’s Witness sect, can they be god’s ‘chosen people’. Taliban also think that by slitting the throats of their brethren and decapitating them, they can be Allah’s ‘chosen people’.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2012 on page no. 11

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