December 13, 2023 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 554

Qatar-Funded International Union Of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) Delegation Meets With Taliban Ministers In Kabul: 'The Islamic Emirate's Mujahideen Achieved Success Against The World's Great Powers – Similarly The Palestinians, With Their Strong Will, Will Definitely Win This War' Against Israel

December 13, 2023 | By Tufail Ahmad*
Qatar, Palestinians | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 554

A delegation of Islamic religious scholars from the Qatar-funded International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) visited Kabul in early December 2023, conveying messages from Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani to Afghan Taliban rulers. During the meetings, parallels were drawn between the Palestinian resistance against Israel and the Afghan Taliban's 20-year jihad to defeat the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan.

During the visit, the IUMS delegation, led by IUMS Secretary General Dr. Ali Mohammad Al-Qaradaghi, held meetings with the Afghan Taliban's top leadership, including Prime Minister Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund, Foreign Affairs Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Minister of Interior Sirajuddin Haqqani, Defense Minister Mullah Muhammad Yaqoob Mujahid, and Minister of Education Mawlawi Habibullah, among others.

A delegation of IUMS clerics had visited Afghanistan in January 2023. At the time, a request by IUMS to meet with Mullah Hibbatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the Islamic Emirate, was denied.[1] The January 2023 visit had followed the Taliban's total ban on girls and women studying in colleges and universities. Fazlhadi Wazeen, who was part of the delegation in January, said: "The goal of this trip... was to learn about the situation in Afghanistan, to share ideas with Afghan government leaders and scholars, and to discuss opinions on key matters that demand an exchange of opinions and solutions from a shari'a perspective."[2]

The IUMS delegation's visits to Kabul are also part of its ongoing attempt to convince Islamic countries to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, i.e., the Taliban government. Ali Al-Qaradaghi, who led the delegation in January, said at the time: "This delegation aimed to open the Islamic and international doors to the Islamic Emirate or some of them and in addition to provide help for the Afghan people, to offer the necessary funds for education."[3] It seems that on this visit too, the IUMS delegation was not able to meet with Mullah Hibbatullah Akhundzada.

On December 2, 2023, when the delegation was still in Afghanistan, the IUMS published an Arabic-language report on its website, confirming that the IUMS delegation conveyed greetings from both Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani to the Taliban leaders, though details are sketchy in the media.[4] The Arabic report also shows that the IUMS scholars' meetings in Kabul focused on the Taliban's victory over the U.S.-led occupation coalition in Afghanistan as well as the Palestinian jihad, emphasizing their resistance against the similar occupation in Gaza.[5]

Afghan Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi sees the IUMS delegation off.

According to the IUMS report, the delegation met with Afghan Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, who expressed gratitude to the IUMS for its support and cooperation during and after the Taliban's victory over the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and praised the Palestinian resistance, acknowledging its historical significance with martyrs, the wounded, and other sacrifices.[6] He described Qatar's role on the Palestinian issue as "positive, rational, and admirable."[7]

The Taliban foreign minister added: "The ongoing situation in Palestine, the martyrdoms, emigration, and sacrifices have pained us deeply, but such sacrifices are always the beginning of success. You [IUMS members] struggled very effectively for the oppressed people of Palestine, which is commendable."[8] About Afghanistan, Amin Khan Muttaqi said: "There is complete peace here. We are witnessing political and economic developments day by day. It is a happy moment that for the first time Afghanistan is rising in various fields, and now it is also included in the list of oil-producing countries."[9]

During a separate meeting with the IUMS delegation, the Taliban's Minister of Defense Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid told religious scholars: "The issue of Palestine is a collective issue of all Muslims of the world... The Islamic Emirate is heartfully grateful to the Islamic countries for their all-round assistance and support to the people of Afghanistan."[10]

According to a report on the Urdu-language website of the Islamic Emirate, the Taliban defense minister prayed for "the souls of the Palestinian martyrs" and condemned Israel for "the barbaric bombing on Gaza by the usurper Zionist government."[11] He added: "Today everything that is happening in Palestine is the shared pain of all Muslims. The way the Islamic Emirate's mujahideen achieved success against the world's great powers, similarly the Palestinians, with their strong will, will definitely win this war" against Israel.[12]

In the meeting, Ali Al-Qaradaghi praised "the mujahid people of Afghanistan against aggression-lovers" and said: "The Islamic Emirate's victory [against U.S. and NATO forces] in Afghanistan is a message of hope for us. Due to the rule of the Islamic system [established by the Afghan Taliban], people in this country are living in a safe environment."[13] According to the report, the IUMS secretary general "lauded the Taliban's good governance and developmental projects and assured the people of Afghanistan the support and assistance of Islamic countries."[14]

During another meeting with the delegation, the Taliban's Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani – who is on the FBI's List of Most Wanted[15] and is chief of the Haqqani Network, which was responsible for bombing U.S. Embassy in Kabul as well as U.S. and NATO targets elsewhere in Afghanistan – said that the Palestinian territories would be liberated from occupiers through their resistance, highlighted that victory in war is possible through collaboration and with the help of Allah, and emphasized that all Afghans will be honored to assist the Palestinian people.[16]

According to a report on the Urdu-language website of the Islamic Emirate, Sirajuddin Haqqani said: "We feel the pain of Palestinian Muslims. We are victims of the atrocities and crimes of the Jewish usurpers... As a result of the Palestinian resistance, Palestinian land will be freed from the clutches of the usurpers."[17] The Taliban interior minister also said: "At present, the power in Afghanistan is in the hands of the Ulema [Islamic religious scholars] and they understand the country's interests better."[18]

On his part, Al-Qaradaghi told the Haqqani Network chief that "the Afghans' struggle for freedom [against U.S. and NATO forces] is a beacon for the Muslims of the whole world and historic for the world of Islam."[19] He assured the interior minister of Qatar's continuing cooperation with Afghanistan.

The IUMS delegation also held meetings with the Taliban's Education Minister Mawlawi Habibullah Agha and Deputy Minister Sibghatullah Wasil. A series of Dari-language tweets by the Taliban's Education Ministry show that the delegation discussed the education system and curriculum reforms by the Taliban rulers.[20] The tweets clarify the kind of reforms initiated by the Taliban rulers: "Curriculum reform is related to reforming the system because we can prevent negative Western thoughts in it."[21] The reforms make it "a necessity that a young Muslim should know Islamic education alongside modern sciences..."[22]

It should be noted that the Taliban's continuing banishment of girls and women from schools, colleges, and universities, as well as from workplaces and public life has damaged their image worldwide. According to the Education Ministry's tweets, the Taliban officials told the delegation that the international community has developed "negative perceptions of us and we want you to return from Afghanistan presenting to the world a true image of our country."[23]

During the meeting, Education Minister Mawlawi Habibullah Agha, while referring to the struggle for the rights of the oppressed people of Palestine, said the issue of Palestine relates to the entire Islamic world and the Muslim Ummah and expressed support for it, while the delegation praised the Afghan Taliban's curriculum reforms for schools and colleges, saying that through such a step "the negative thoughts of Westerners" can be eradicated.[24]

The IUMS delegation also met with the Afghan Taliban's Prime Minister Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund who, according to an official Taliban statement, "expressed gratitude to the visiting scholars and acknowledged their role in shaping the current Islamic system in Afghanistan" and "also highlighted the parallel struggles faced by the Afghan people and the Palestinian nation throughout history, emphasizing the need for unity within the Islamic Ummah to overcome these challenges."[25]

During the meetings, Dr. Ali Al-Qaradaghi, secretary general of the IUMS, thanked the Islamic Emirate for its good reception and respect. "The issue of Palestine is the issue of the entire Ummah, the responsibility of which belongs to all the Muslims of the world" was a key message that he conveyed during these meetings with the Afghan Taliban leaders.[26]

Following are some images from the IUMS delegation's trip to Afghanistan:

December 4, 2023: The IUMS delegation talks with Afghan Taliban Defense Minister Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid (second from right)

The IUMS delegation meets with Afghan Taliban Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani (fourth from left)

The IUMS delegation holds talks with the Afghan Taliban officials led by Foreign Minister Amin Khan Muttaqi

Afghan Taliban leaders including Foreign Minister Amin Khan Muttaqi offering prayers led by IMUS delegation leader

The IUMS delegation held a meeting with Afghan Taliban's Education Minister Mawlawi Habibullah Aghan

* Tufail Ahmad is Senior Fellow for the MEMRI Islamism and Counter-Radicalization Initiative.


[1] (Afghanistan), January 8, 2023.

[2] (Afghanistan), January 8, 2023.

[3] (Afghanistan), January 8, 2023.

[4], December 2, 2023.

[5], December 2, 2023.

[6], December 2, 2023.

[7], December 2, 2023.

[8], December 1, 2023.

[9], December 1, 2023.

[10] (Afghanistan), accessed December 9, 2023.

[11] (Afghanistan), accessed December 9, 2023.

[12] (Afghanistan), accessed December 9, 2023.

[13] (Afghanistan), accessed December 9, 2023.

[14] (Afghanistan), accessed December 9, 2023.

[15], accessed December 11, 2023.

[16], December 2, 2023.

[17] (Afghanistan), accessed December 11, 2023.

[18] (Afghanistan), accessed December 11, 2023.

[19] (Afghanistan), accessed December 11, 2023.

[20], December 4, 2023.

[21], December 4, 2023.

[22], December 4, 2023.

[23], December 4, 2023.

[24], December 4, 2023.

[25] (Afghanistan), accessed December 8, 2023.

[26], December 1, 2023.

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