Kabul: A huge white flag with a black shahada, or Muslim expression of faith, waves high above the Afghan capital on Wazir Akbar Khan hill.
Numerous other smaller ones — some in tatters or weathered grey — adorn vehicles, government buildings and streets across this country, which has now been the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) for over a year.
The giant flag on this hill was raised in the spring of 2022, almost eight months after the Taliban took over. Until then, the red, green, and black flag used by the former Islamic Republic of Afghanistan had been flying in this historic district of the capital where under the former government many domestic officials lived and numerous embassies were located.
Nearly two years after the change in control of the country, some here are questioning the legitimacy in Islam of the Taliban’s actions. The scrutiny comes with the group back in power but runs further back — after decades of insurgency and the times when it ran its own courts and shadow governments in some areas.
Ministry of Higher #Education of #Taliban has announced that #education of #women in #universities has been suspended until further notice.
This ministry on Tuesday in a letter has ordered private and public universities to suspend the education of #girls based on the.../1 pic.twitter.com/cnA89Gv5Zy— Reporterly (@Reporterlyaf) December 21, 2022
While some had hoped that the Taliban’s practices would become more aligned with what most people see as truly Islamic values, their cautious optimism came crashing down when, in December 2022, Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers ordered an indefinite ban on university education for the country’s women.
The names of those interviewed for this article have been withheld due to credible concerns for the security of anyone discussing sensitive topics under the IEA.
Spread of ignorance
In an interview in Kabul with Al Majalla, a professor of Islamic law claimed that the Taliban “want Islam” but said that for some reason, there are multiple things they are doing that run counter to Islam.
He said that many Taliban are illiterate, but not all of them. Therefore, he did not understand why those who presumably know the Quran well are not trying to bring the government more in line with basic Islamic precepts and aims.
For example, he noted, the current rules and style of governing means that “ignorance is spreading”, in part by preventing most high school girls from attending school.
This, he said, runs entirely counter to Islam, which orders every Muslim — “both men and women” — to read and continue to study all their lives.
Read more: Banned from schools, Afghan girls face bleak future
“The spread of ignorance causes the spread of problems and corruption,” the professor stressed, and “the problem is that they do not accept the ideas or opinions of others.”