KABUL -- Religious scholars from countries around the world including Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Kuwait as well as foreign ministers of member states of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) are calling for an end to the war and violence in Afghanistan.
Afghan religious scholars and the Afghan Foreign Ministry welcomed the latest stance taken by scholars from the Islamic world, calling it a key step toward ending the war and bringing peace to the country.
"A strong consensus has been formed about ending the war and bringing peace and stability across the world and the region -- especially in the Islamic world," Hamid Tahzib, a deputy spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told Salaam Times.
"Scholars in the Islamic world such as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Indonesia, Palestine -- and recently the foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation -- condemned the war in Afghanistan, calling it illegitimate," he added.
The scholars and ministers urged the Taliban to use the opportunity of the peace talks to end the war and take practical steps in bringing about long-lasting peace and stability, Tahzib said.
"The position taken by the Islamic world and scholars in condemning the war and calling it illegitimate is important. The government of Afghanistan welcomes these stances and considers them a significant step toward ending the war and bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan and the region," he said.
An illegitimate war
The president of the Islamic Scholars of Palestine has labelled the war in Afghanistan as illegitimate too, based on references in the Koran, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on November 26.
"Following condemnation of the war in Afghanistan by Islamic scholars, Dr. Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, imam of the Al-Aqsa mosque [in Jerusalem] and president of the Supreme Islamic Council in Palestine, called the war in Afghanistan illegitimate based on reference to Sura An-Nisa 4:93," the ministry said.
The condemnations came in a video message addressed to the Afghan embassy in Jordan, the ministry added.
"Killing of Muslims in Afghanistan is not permissible, and groups that kill people must settle their differences through dialogue at the negotiating table, not by killing," Sheikh Sabri said in the video message.
Participants of the 47th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers held on November 27-28 in Niamey, Niger, expressed their support for the government and people of Afghanistan and condemned the war.
"The OIC condemned in the strongest terms the latest round of violence and terrorist attacks against civilians including ... in Bamiyan, at Kabul University and Kawsar-e-Danish Educational Centre [in Kabul], and at a maternity ward in a hospital in Kabul that led to the killing and injuries of numerous innocent and peace-loving civilians," the Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement on November 29.
"The OIC called on its member countries, Muslim scholars and their religious organisations to call the war against the government and Muslim people of Afghanistan illegitimate in one voice, because violence has no religious and Islamic justification, only political motives," the statement added.
In addition, the Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars as well as muftis in Bangladesh said the war in Afghanistan was illegitimate and demanded an end to the war and bloodshed.
Prior to that, Bangladeshi scholars called the war and killing of innocent Afghans as illegitimate in a meeting on October 25 in Dhaka. They urged an immediate end to the conflict.
"According to Sharia law, the war against the people of Afghanistan, be it in the form of bombing and suicide attacks or fighting, is illegitimate," Sheikh Ahmad al-Raysuni, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, said in an interview with TOLO TV that aired on October 21.
A 'forbidden' conflict
Afghan religious scholars, researchers, and analysts called the war and killing of Afghans illegitimate, supporting the position of the Islamic scholars.
"According to Sharia law, war between Muslims is not allowed under any circumstances. The Koran orders peace between Muslims whenever they fight amongst each other," said Mohammad Salem Hasani, a religious scholar in Kabul.
"The Holy Koran has forbidden war between Muslims. They must stop violence and fighting between themselves and should make peace," Hasani said. "Everyone is Muslim in Afghanistan and abides by the rules and orders of Islam; therefore, the war in Afghanistan is illegitimate."
"Islamic scholars fulfilled their Islamic and human responsibility by condemning the war in Afghanistan and calling it illegitimate," Hasani added. "This is not their personal opinion about the war in Afghanistan. They are stating the command of God, which Afghan people and religious scholars welcome and support."
"If any party kills any innocent person, according to the explicit order of the Koran, that party will be condemned to God's punishment and wrath," he added.
"The United States and other international partners of Afghanistan came here to meet the needs of the Afghan people and to fight international terrorism. Therefore, fighting even against them is not legitimate," he said.
"The war in Afghanistan is a fight for power, not a holy jihad. Those who fight are doing so based on the false ruling (fatwa). Justifying the war and giving it a religious angle are completely wrong," said Asif Nang, a religious researcher in Kabul and a former governor of Laghman Province.
"In addition to Islamic scholars, Islamic writers have written many books and articles condemning war between Muslims and the war in Afghanistan and calling it illegitimate," Nang said.
"The war and everything that is going on in Afghanistan are unprecedented in the 1,400 years of Islam's history, especially during the time of the Prophet," he said.
Betrayal, not jihad
"The Taliban have signed a peace agreement with the United States but are killing their compatriots and Muslims. The government and people of Afghanistan are Muslim, and fighting against them and killing them are prohibited," Nang said.
"Jihad in its religious sense is a holy struggle, not a holy war. Holy struggle encompasses many things such as education, development, reconstruction, economic growth, the fight against poverty, and self-reliance. Killing Muslims and fighting against them are not jihad but betrayal," he said.
"The Taliban must know that Islamic scholars have condemned their war from a religious point of view," said Maulawi Zabihullah Ateeq, a member of the Wolesi Jirga representing Badakhshan Province.
"They cannot misuse Islam by falsely giving an Islamic basis to their war. I urge parties involved in the war to welcome the call by the Islamic scholars and end the war and bloodshed among Muslims," Atiq said.
On October 25, more than 2,000 religious scholars from across the country gathered in Kabul, where they called the continuation of war and killing of Afghans illegitimate based on the Koran and guidance of the Prophet.