ZABUL -- More than 300 religious scholars, civil society activists, youth, women and tribal elders of Zabul Province have declared their support for President Ashraf Ghani's peace plan and for a recent fatwa issued by international ulema in Saudi Arabia against the Taliban's war.
The parties involved in fighting should declare a long-term ceasefire and end the war as soon as possible, said participants at the August 8 gathering in Qalat, the provincial capital.
"Our constitution is more Islamic than are other constitutions in the region... why are you [the Taliban] fighting?" Mawlawi Fazal Ahmad Mirkhil, a religious scholar of Qalat city, asked during a speech at the gathering.
"Jihad and armed struggle against the Islamic government of Afghanistan here have no legitimacy as per Islamic law. We ask the Taliban not to fight anymore and to put their arms down and to accept peace," he said.
"The Koran, Hadith and the consensus of religious scholars consider fighting here illegitimate, and it should not be done," he added.
Mawlawi Sardar Mohammad Maihun, imam of the central mosque of Zabul, speaking to the Taliban, said that now is the time to end the long-time war in Afghanistan.
"It has been for years now that Afghans have been fighting with each other, and now it is time to end the fighting and for Afghans to live a peaceful life," Maihun told the gathering.
Respecting religious scholars
Afghans have supported the religious scholars convening in Saudi Arabia and in Kabul who have called on the Taliban to stop fighting and sit down for peace talks, Maihun said.
He was referring to a meeting of ulema from around the world in Makkah and Jeddah July 10-11 and another of Afghan clerics in Kabul June 4.
"Peace is the desire of everyone, and this desire will be fulfilled when the combatants put out their arms and hug each other," Haji Abdul Wasi Tokhi, 65, chairman of Mujahideen of Zabul Province, a group of residents who fought the Soviet invasion in the 1980s, told participants of the gathering.
"We can reconcile when the soldiers and Taliban consider each other brothers," said Tokhi.
"In the light of the Holy Koran and the Prophet's sayings, shedding the blood of a Muslim is considered illegitimate and no one should kill a Muslim," Sardar Wali Sarhadi, secretary of the Zabul Provincial Peace Council, said at the gathering.
"The decree issued by [the Imam-e-Kaaba] is accepted by most of the world's religious scholars," Sarhadi said.
A bereaved mother
About 100 women were among the participants.
Salima, a 62-year-old resident of Qalat city, told the gathering that all four of her sons -- all police officers -- were killed trying to defend their territory.
"All four of my sons died in one day, and they were lying in front of me. I was sitting alone helplessly with them," she said.
With her husband also having passed away, "I don't have anyone at home to take care of my home, what can I do?" she asked.
"Those who are fighting in the mountains are also our sons, and those who are here are also our sons. We want peace," Salima said.