KABUL -- Afghanistan's war and Taliban attacks against civilians and security forces are illegitimate according to Sharia law, Afghan and international religious authorities say in unequivocal terms.
More than 2,000 religious scholars from across Afghanistan gathered in Kabul Sunday (October 25) to reiterate calls for a ceasefire and permanent peace in Afghanistan.
"Every day, children, women and religious scholars are victimised in this country," said Abdul Salaam Abid, a religious scholar from Kabul.
"We have gathered here to share the real voice of the public with the government and the Taliban and send them a clear message that they shouldn't lose the opportunity for peace in front of them," he said at the gathering. "It is a golden opportunity for Afghans to resolve their issues themselves after 40 years [of war]."
"When you are at the negotiation table, you must not fight," Abid said. "Stick to talks, flexibility and tolerance during the negotiation because it is what Afghans, Islam and Sharia want."
"Any party that creates an opportunity for peace while exercising flexibility, understanding and tolerance will be commended by Afghans and God," he added.
"We witness the heinous incidents, grief and pain the nation suffers," said Habibullah Hasam, imam of the Milad-un-Nabi Mosque in Kabul.
"We have gathered here today to raise the nation's pained voice, and we, the religious scholars, have gathered today to represent the book of God, traditions of the Prophet, and the pulpit of the mosque, and we call on both parties to put an end to the war in accordance with the teachings of the Koran and Sunnah."
"We expect all parties to the conflict to stop fighting," said Fazal Rahim Basirat, a religious scholar from Kabul who participated in the gathering.
"Peace is the best option for us," he said. "Even if you fight for another 80 years, you will need to make peace. But if you make peace today, the people will be rescued by God's mercy."
"We ask both parties to agree to a ceasefire and permanent peace," he said.
The Afghan government and the Taliban launched peace talks on September 12 in Doha, but little progress has been made amid an uptick in violence.
No justification for violence
There is no justification for the Taliban's continued violence, said Maulawi Jalaluddin Ziayee, a religious scholar from Firoz Koh, Ghor Province.
"The Taliban imposes a war waged by neighbouring and regional countries' intelligence agencies on Afghanistan," he said.
"Afghans fall victim to the imposed and illegitimate war every day, and anyone who associates this war with religion perpetrates a great sin and will see God's punishment in this world and in the hereafter."
Those who try to justify the war in Afghanistan and kill civilians and security personnel every day are no longer the followers of Islam, said Abdul Ghafoor Abasi, a religious scholar from Qala-e-Naw, Badghis Province.
The war waged by the Taliban and other terrorist groups is completely illegitimate and un-Islamic, and these groups have been cursed by the people and by God, he said.
"The Taliban must declare a ceasefire... instead of escalating violence and killing Afghans," Abasi said.
The Taliban misuse the name of Islam to achieve their goals, which is considered treason, said Sayed Muhammad Sherzadi, a religious scholar in Herat city.
"Those who kill Muslims, or innocent human beings in general, will face God's curse, and they will remain in hellfire for eternity," he said. "If the Taliban legitimise the killing of Afghans, they are infidels."
"We, all religious scholars, invite the Taliban to peace and reform," said Maulawi Faiz Muhammad Hanafi, a religious scholar in Zaranj, Nimroz Province.
"Dozens of civilians, including women and children, lose their lives to roadside bombs and combat every day throughout the country, and the Taliban should realise that they are responsible for killing innocent civilians," he said.
Engaging in peace talks is the best opportunity for the Taliban to end this illegitimate war and protect themselves from God's punishment, Hanafi said.
End the war
The Taliban have no reason to fight, agree religious scholars from abroad.
The killing of innocent Muslims is a great sin, and suicide attacks represent double the sin, said Sheikh Ahmad al-Raysuni, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars based in Doha, Qatar.
"War against the Afghan people -- whether it is in the form of suicides and bombings or combat -- is prohibited," al-Raysuni told TOLOnews in an interview aired October 21. "When someone commits suicide, he commits another crime as well, according to Sharia."
"I told some of the Taliban brothers that there is no justification and no Sharia-based reason for fighting the war in Afghanistan," he said. "Even if one person gets killed in this war, it is against Islam and Sharia."
The war in Afghanistan is not "jihad", he said.
According to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, when a man or woman commits a sin other than murder, he or she can seek forgiveness from God, al-Raysuni explained. There is no forgiveness for murder.
"There is no permission for war; the killing of even a single person is not allowed," he said. "Therefore, first, the war should end in Afghanistan, and then talks should begin to determine a new government that can represent a prosperous and Islamic Afghanistan that can engage itself in global affairs."
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, religious scholars, clerics and mufti participated in a conference titled "Invitation to Peace in Afghanistan" on October 25.
"Bangladeshi scholars, referring to the fatwas from other scholars of Islam regarding the illegitimacy of war in Afghanistan, considered both parties to the conflict as brothers and Muslims," a statement from the Afghan Foreign Ministry said.
The Bangladeshi religious scholars stressed that "the continuation of ... terrorist and violent attacks is against Sharia scriptures and Islamic teachings", the statement said.