March 25, 2008
A new fatwa (religious ruling) issued in the Pashtun Darra Adam Khel region of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province declares the Taliban to be “out of Islam” as a result of their violence, failure to follow Islamic teachings and takfiri ideology (the latter referring to the Salafist-jihadi practice of declaring fellow Muslims “infidels” if they oppose jihadist dogma). According to the fatwa’s author, Mufti Zainul Abidin, “The Taliban leaders consider themselves and their directives as superior to true Islamic principles and directives as ordained by Almighty Allah” (The Nation [Islamabad], March 23). The Mufti invites other members of the ulama (scholars of Shari’a law) to denounce the “inhuman and immoral” acts of the Taliban.
The fatwa singled out the pronouncements of Mufti Khalid Shah, a Taliban religious leader of dubious credentials who has attacked established Islamic scholars in a series of Taliban-issued CDs. Khalid Shah issued a statement in December 2006 urging attacks on local NGOs “promoting the agenda of the Jews and Christians” (Dawn [Karachi], December 23, 2006). This was followed by an Urdu language fatwa pasted at night on the walls of Darra Adam Khel declaring a jihad against the Pakistan government (Daily Times [Lahore], May 3, 2007). Darra Adam Khel is notorious for its thriving arms bazaar and was the scene of heavy fighting between Taliban militants and the Pakistan military earlier this year.
Islamic scholars in the region have been reluctant to oppose the Taliban publicly since the still unsolved assassination of Maulana Hassan Jan in 2007 after he declared the practice of suicide-bombing “un-Islamic” (The News [Karachi], September 16, 2007; PakTribune, September 15, 2007).
This article first appeared in the March 25, 2008 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus