Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have ordered an indefinite ban on university education for the country’s women, the ministry of higher education said in a letter issued to all government and private universities. After taking power in August 2021, the Taliban banned girls from secondary education and barred women from long-distance travel without a male chaperone, working outside, and going to public parks.

Researchers and Western diplomats who maintain contacts with high-level Taliban officials say the ban on girls attending school came from the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, and a handful of other ultra-hardliners who surround him.

This is not the first time but continuation of the series of bans on women/young girls seeking education and empowerment.

Taliban’s act is against the true teaching of Islam. It is the right of every Muslim man and woman to seek knowledge equally. It protects women’s rights. In many Muslim countries, women are very well protected and enjoy all rights. Even, some women have been elected to the highest positions in Muslim countries, like Bangladesh, Turkey, Pakistan, etc. They have served even as Prime Misters of the country.

Well, there is a general perception that in the garb of NGOs many agencies are pursuing their agenda/political objectives.

If the Taliban consider women in NGOs working for foreign agendas or if someone is misusing them for their nefarious acts against the de facto government of the Taliban or a threat to their security that can be understood. But how on earth can the Taliban ban women from education? It is a serious offense and against Islamic teachings.

If we go back to the history of Islam, the first word revealed was “READ” – if religion Islam was supporting men/boys’ education alone – then the word should be explicitly pointing towards men only. However, the word “READ” does not represent any gender but the same rule for all that read. In Islam seeking education, conducting research, and valuing consensus have great significance. The Last Prophet (PBUH) supported education for girls then why on earth Taliban think it is against Islam?

I would like to quote some Hadith here for better understanding. ‘Whosoever follows a path to seek knowledge therein, the Almighty will make easy for him a path to paradise’.

‘Education is not only the right but the duty of every Muslim, male or female”. The best gift from a father to his child is education and upbringing’.

Well, these are just a few Hadith to quote here – they were never meant to be for men alone.

The religion Islam prefers education for all categories of gender. No one has the right to deprive any gender of their basic fundamental right.

The unseen leader of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Hibatullah Akhundzada, has kept mum despite growing demands from across the Muslim world to lift his ban on secondary education for Afghan girls.

Officials in the Taliban government’s Ministry of Education say they stand ready to reopen schools for all girls anytime Akhundzada orders. But the reclusive Taliban leader, who carries the religious title of “Commander of the Faithful,” has ignored repeated calls — even from many Afghan Islamic clerics — to reconsider his decision.

“Islam is the bearer of rights for women, including the rights to education and work,” a group of clerics in Kabul said on Tuesday while calling for the reopening of secondary schools for girls. It was the clerics’ second such demand in less than a month.

Many Muslim leaders and scholars have also condemned the Taliban’s action and urged them to restore the Islamic teachings and rights protected by Islam.

With such gestures, the Taliban cannot bear fruit and sustain their position but this will lead to the world questioning the identity of the Taliban as Muslims/leaders. Perhaps this is not what the Quran and Hadith have taught Muslims. The world can understand the cultural values and traditions of the Taliban.

The UN was “deeply concerned” by the order, said Ramiz Alakbarov, the secretary general’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan. “Education is a fundamental human right. A door closed to women’s education is a door closed to the future of Afghanistan,” he tweeted.

The Taliban adhere to an austere version of Islam, with the movement’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, and his inner circle of Afghan clerics opposed to modern education, particularly for girls and women.

Although during the last four decades, Afghanistan was under the influence of foreign invaders has suffered a lot. The whole country is damaged totally, infrastructure completely destroyed, power plants were damaged, hospitals and schools were bombed, and the local population was forced to flee to safe camps inside Afghanistan or take refuge in other countries. Especially, the education sector was destroyed. During the two long decades of the American occupation of Afghanistan, education was used as a tool to transform them into spies working for the CIA or transformed them into sex workers – prostitution. By design, they implemented this agenda. Natural beauty was God-gifted to Afghans, they are unique and most beautiful races on earth. Their traditions kept them virgins and untouched. The American Army availed this opportunity and spoiled their society – acts of war crimes.  The Americans have exploited them to a maximum extent.

Despite all evils inherited from the American rule of Afghanistan, the Taliban’s action cannot be justified. They should have rectified the systems and followed the true Islamic spirit. Unfortunately, whatever the Taliban are doing in Afghanistan is not based on religious understanding but on some personal agenda with which they cannot survive in the twenty-first century.

To survive they need flexibility and get recognized by the international community and build alliances with the neighboring nations and the Muslim world. With rigidity, they cannot make friends around but can increase hatred towards them. In the end, I would sincerely like to appeal humbly to the Taliban to change their mindset before the world disregards them. We stand with the Taliban in all principle stances in the light of Islam, but, will condemn all actions and deeds against the spirit of Islam.

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