How will Taliban 2.0 interpret Sharia law in Afghanistan?


Images of women on the facade of a beauty salon in Shar-e-Naw, Kabul are defaced as the Taliban arrive to retake the city. Photograph: Wakil Koshar/AFP/Getty Images.

As the world waits to see the extent to which the Taliban’s victory will see the return of its brutal interpretation of Islamic law, RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL reports on different approaches used in other Muslim countries

In all the shock and horror provoked by the Taliban’s implacable promise to return Sharia law to Afghanistan, a basic fact is missed: Sharia has been a source of Afghan law for much of the past 20 years.

The country’s 2004 constitution, adopted by its western-backed government, declared that “no law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan”. It specifically recommended that Afghan courts look to Hanafi jurisprudence, the oldest school of Islamic law, for guidance.

In so doing, Afghanistan joined 15 other countries — Sudan has since left the club — including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Mauritania, in implementing a classical Sharia system.

But the Taliban’s stated plan for Afghanistan has revived memories from its previous five-year stint in power. It was a grim period from 1996 of amputations, stonings, austere prescriptions on music and representation and a brutally enforced determination to render women invisible and unheard in public spaces.

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