KABUL -- Afghanistan's Ulema Council has issued a resolution declaring that the country's ongoing war does not meet the criteria to be considered "jihad" and is therefore illegitimate from an Islamic point of view.
Participants attending the Saturday (July 3) meeting in Kabul called on the Taliban to end violence and resolve its issues through peace talks.
"The ongoing war is illegitimate in every sense because it is only about killing Muslims, fratricide and destruction of the country," said Ulema Council chairman Sardar Mohammad Zadran.
"Based on its religious responsibility and duty, Afghanistan's Ulema Council considers it incumbent upon itself to express its support for the security forces and the oppressed people of Afghanistan," he said.
The council "calls on the parties to the conflict to cease hostilities", he added.
The war has caused the loss of young, innocent lives and has spawned hatred and animosity, he said. It has made women widows and children orphans, it has inflicted people with terrible disabilities, and has created a social crisis.
It also has resulted in the widespread destruction of public and private property.
"In sum, only Afghans suffer from the conflict," he said. "Therefore, we call on the parties involved, especially the Taliban, to stop the ongoing war that they have been waging in the name of Islam and jihad."
"According to Islam and religious scholars, this is not jihad, and it has no legitimacy," he stressed.
Religious scholars denounce unjust war
"Fatwas on the illegitimacy of the current war in Afghanistan already have been issued in the international arena by religious scholars from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and Saudi Arabia," Zadran said.
Scholars from Afghanistan and Pakistan recently issued a similar fatwa.
"The actual victims of the ongoing war in Afghanistan are Afghans and Muslims," said Ulema Council member Mawlawi Abdul Khabeer Chechka.
"Roads, educational and health centres, and people's homes and farms are destroyed," he said. "If the war continues, it will again harm Afghans and Muslims."
For this reason, Chechka said, "religious scholars from across Afghanistan issued a fatwa on Saturday stating that according to the Qur'an and the prophet’s hadiths, the ongoing war in Afghanistan is totally illegitimate and forbidden".
"Before this, renowned scholars of the Islamic world, such as the imam of Haramain al-Sharifain, imam of al-Aqsa Mosque and other scholars of the Islamic world issued a fatwa saying that the war in Afghanistan is among Muslims, and hence illegitimate," Chechka said.
"Islam has forbidden Muslims from infighting," said Mohammad Anwar Sadeqi, a religious scholar and imam at a mosque in Kabul.
"The Prophet of Islam declared war between Muslims forbidden 1,400 years ago, and now, following that principle, all Islamic scholars, including Afghan religious scholars, consider the ongoing war forbidden and denounce it," he said.
"Therefore, based on the guidance and principles of sharia, the war waged by the Taliban or by any other group in Afghanistan is illegitimate," he said.
Return to the negotiation table
The Taliban previously said they would continue their fight until foreign troops left Afghanistan, said Kabul resident Ahmad Samir, who is in his final year at Naderia High School.
"Now there is no reason for the Taliban [to continue to fight], since foreign troops are leaving Afghanistan forever in a few days," he said.
"The [Taliban] must respect the will of God which is peace among Muslims, and should not kill Afghan youth, children and women," he said, calling on the insurgents to "stop violence and fratricide and make peace with the Afghan government and people".
"Afghans have been fighting among themselves for more than 40 years," said said Sayed Safiullah Hashimi, a member of the Meshrano Jirga representing Samangan province.
"No group or party has been able to defeat another one during this time," he said, adding that the only outcome of the violence has been "to harm the nation and destroy the infrastructure of Afghanistan".
"No ethnic group, faction or party can rule the country alone," he said. "Afghans have no option but to accept each other and to strengthen unity, brotherhood and understanding."
"If they continue violence, more Afghans will die, Afghanistan will be further destroyed, and the Taliban will be further defamed," Hashimi said.
"Now that foreign [forces] are leaving, the only way to save Afghans and Afghanistan is to stop bloodshed and war and reach unity, peace and create a national unity government in which all Afghans, including Taliban are a part," he said.