The Taliban and Shariah
Since the arrival of Islam to the two sides of the Hindukush mountains over 1300 years ago, Afghanistan has always been, and will always remain, an Islamic country. Except for the relatively short but bloody period of the Communist reign in the 20th Century, the political regime of the country has been based on the teachings of Islamic Shariah. Islam always provided the fundamental legal code or the set of laws upon which the political, economic and the judicial systems of the country were founded. During this century, these laws twice underwent some modifications: Once during the time of King Amanullah in 1921 and for a second time during the reign of the former King Mohammad Zaher Shah in 1964.
Every country of the world has its own legal system. Legal systems develop in their respective societies over long periods of time and in accordance to the special needs and conditions prevailing in those societies. One cannot import legal systems into a country the way one imports cars or radio sets. Except for the fourteen years of the Communist rule, the legal system that existed in Afghanistan rested on the Islamic Shariah. This system had become part of the people's lives. Its rules and principles are known to all devout Muslims and are derived from the teachings of Noble Quran and the Sunnah of the Messenger, Muhammad (SAWS).
After liberating Kabul in September 1996, the Taliban Islamic Movement declared all non-Islamic laws and regulations, passed and practised during the Communist regime, invalid, and reintroduced the Islamic Shariah in their place. They founded the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and re-introduced Shariah as the legal system of the country. This choice of the legal system was based on the expressed will of the people of Afghanistan, who fought and suffered for fourteen years for the purpose of restoring the rule of Shariah in their country. In this way, the Islamic Laws applied by the Taliban Movement in Afghanistan are in no way something new or strange to the people of Afghanistan. This system has existed, and been practised, in the country for 1300 years and has been fully integrated in the Afghan code of personal and social behaviour.
By enforcing the Islamic Law, the Taliban have won the full support of the people and succeeded to restore peace and security in all areas under their control. Through the implementation of Shariah rules, the Taliban have been able to restore and protect human rights and dignity, including the rights and dignity of women. These rights were systematically violated by the Communist regime and by the warlords who replaced it. By restoring the Islamic Shariah, the Taliban have been able not only to provide their countrymen and countrywomen with the needed security and peace, rather they have also succeeded to create a safe and secure atmosphere for foreign visitors and relief workers.
A working judicial system has been put into place in the areas under the Taliban Administration, which, as of December 2000, comprises over 95% of Afghanistan. Life, property, children, personal rights, and dignity of people in these areas that one could aptly call "the liberated areas," are protected in the framework of the Islamic Shariah, regardless of race, language, tribe, or regional origin of the persons involved. Property rights of individuals and legal entities enjoy full protection in the Islamic courts. Properties taken away by force or deception from people by the previous administration or by individuals are returned to their original owners. Checkpoints and looting posts erected by self-styled administrators and commanders have been eliminated from roads and highways. Roads have been opened for free movement of persons and goods.
By restoring security, and applying the uniform rules of the Islamic Shariah, for the first time since April 1978, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is providing equal protection and justice for all. As a result of the introduction of Shariah, arbitrariness in resolution of disputes, nepotism, discrimination on the basis of tribal, linguistic, religious orientation, or regional affiliation have been eliminated. Individual property rights have been restored, confiscation of private property by Emirate, or by those attached to it, have been stopped. Freedom of engaging in legal economic activities and freedom of movement have been guaranteed.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan adheres to the principle of a representative government based on the teachings of the Islamic Shariah. Government in Islam is open to all groups living in the Islamic society, irrespective of their race, language, region, ethnicity, tribal affiliation, and religious orientation within the Islamic faith. Discrimination by government and in government on any pretext is strictly prohibited in Islam. Government posts in an Islamic society are to be given to those who are the most virtuous members of the society. Leaders of an Islamic Emirate serve as role models and set examples. Thus, these leaders are chosen on the basis of their merits and virtues, not on the basis of their party or other kinds of affiliations.
Members of the current interim Administration in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan have been chosen by the Ulema of the country. These members represent all ethnic, religious and Jihadi groups who have struggled to free Afghanistan from the tyranny of atheism and fascism. When circumstances change and an appropriate environment more conducive to political dialogue is created, the Taliban will take further steps towards solidifying the representational foundations of the Islamic Emirate.