Essay By Islamic State (ISIS) Supporter Lashes Out At Afghan Taliban For Banning Girls' Education, Claims Ban Is Based On Mullahs' 'Whims,' Not Islam

September 6, 2022

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On September 5, 2022, pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Telegram channel Riwaq Al-Hikmah (Pavilion of Wisdom) published an essay titled "Taliban and the Crime of Education" by someone calling himself "Sayyaf" (Executioner), criticizing the Afghan Taliban's policy of forbidding girls to attend school outside the home and arguing that it has no basis in Islamic jurisprudence.[1]

The essay begins by quoting from Taliban cleric Hafizullah Haqqani's 1997 book, "Taliban: From the Mullah's Dream to the Emirate of the Believers," which argues that the Taliban believes "that a woman is allowed to learn the matters of her religion at home [instructed] by her close relatives. But for her to go out to school or university to study worldly matters is not permitted by them." Describing the ban on girls' education as "depriving a girl of her most basic rights," the pro-ISIS channel notes that Haqqani and other Islamic scholars forbade even girls younger than eight from getting an education based on the principle of "blocking the means," according to which permitted actions are forbidden to prevent the commission of sins. In their view, learning to read and write might lead a woman to correspond with strange men, and then to "fornication and licentiousness."

Arguing that "Allah created woman like man, equal in the root of their obligations, except where there is a proof that they are different," and that hadiths prove that women can be equal to men in religious knowledge, Sayyaf notes that the principle of "blocking the means" is controversial, and that the eighth-century scholar Abu Hanifah, whose school of jurisprudence is followed by "the mullahs of the Taliban," rejected the concept. Basing his argument on Islamic jurisprudence, the ISIS supporter argues that it is not inevitable, or even likely, that a girl would correspond with strange men after learning to write, and thus girls' education should not be forbidden even by those who believe in "blocking the means." Furthermore, a man is just as likely to sinfully write to a woman, so according to the Taliban logic, boys' education should also be forbidden. Sayyaf asserts that since ignorance is more likely to lead to sin than education, instead of a girl being "deprived of her right to basic education," she should be taught that corresponding with strange men is forbidden and can lead to grievous sins, lest she be "killed after committing something which she was unaware is forbidden."

Moving to another topic, Sayyaf claims that building elaborate mausoleums, worshipping at graves, and beseeching the dead are common practices in Afghanistan, despite them being either "polytheism in themselves or lead[ing] to polytheism." However, instead of "blocking the means" to idolatry by forbidding these practices, the Taliban clerics are "the first to lead people to them and permit them to do so." The ISIS supporter concludes that the Taliban's severity in banning young girls from leaving the house for education, along with their lenience in permitting "polytheistic" practices bordering on grave worship, is the result of "whims" rather than shari'a.

The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban have reportedly closed girls' schools in many parts of Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan, and have even been accused of blowing up and torching such schools.[2] It should be noted that Taliban spokesmen have denied banning female education and claimed to have opened schools for girls in areas under the group's control.[3] After opening schools for both boys and girls in the areas under its control, ISIS highlighted its educational system in its propaganda.[4]


[1] Telegram, September 5, 2022.

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