Shaikh Ali Timimi on the Taliban and the Statues
By Shaikh Ali Timimi, 7 March 2001
I just wanted to share a few quick thoughts on the Taliban and their destruction of Buddhist idols in Afghanistan.

1. Over the past two to three years, I have been increasingly asked by Muslims both locally (i.e., here in the US) and abroad regarding the Taliban and our responsbilities toward that regime. I will never forget one incident in Singapore two summers ago when I was asked to convey a letter to Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen --- may Allah's mercy be on his soul --- asking for an unambigious ruling on the Taliban government and a Muslim's responsbility to that goverment. Shaikh Ibn Uqla's recent fatwa I think is a positive step in the right direction but there still is a need for more voices to be heard on the topic so a consensus or majority opinion may be formed.

In general my response when asked is that while I do not have all the facts to say unequivocally that the Taliban represent THE Islamic state of our time and their emir THE emir of the Muslims --- for to do so has its implications on bay'a, hijra, nusra, etc. --- we can say the following we are obliged to support all that they do which is in agreement with Islam. This is the same principle which is used time and time again regarding those contemporary states (few as they are) which still remain in the pale of Islam and the various Islamic groups movements when they are do something that is within the bounds of the Sunna. In other words, our wala' does not have to be 100% or nothing --- rather the principle of Ahl as-Sunna is that wala' is shown to the degree someone is in agreement with Islam and the Sunna. Likewise bara'a is also not 100% or nothing rather again it is to be shown to the degree someone is at variance with Islam and the Sunna.

2. One brother correctly remarked that there are two issues here, a purely Islamic ruling and what we may term a timing ruling. The first is clear and has overwhelming evidence from the Quran and the Sunna where we have been commanded to destroy all images and flatten all graves. The famous hadith of Abul-Hayyaj al-Asadi upon Ali ibn Abi Talib -- radi Allahu anhu - is just one evidence. The second question on timing, this is an issue of the fiqh of masaalih and mafaasid which is primarily one of ijtihaad. It is clear from the Prophet's sira --- sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam --- (as well as there exists evidences to be taken from the Quran and the Sunnah) that while the Prophet --- sallallahu alaihi wa sallam --- made it clear from the onset that his da'wa was one of "breaking idols" (kasrul-awthan) as is the wording of the famous hadith of Amr ibn Abasa as-Sulami, he did not actual implement that until he was in a position of strength after the conquest of Makka and the entry en masse of the Arabs into Islam . (There is one hadith however in Musnad of Imam Ahmad that idols were broken in Makka covertly. However this hadith if authentic would be the exception not the rule as it was clearly done covertly.)

Even if someone was to argue that given the geopolitical situation of the umma as a whole the timing is questionable, it is, however, highly questionable to publicly decry the Taliban for an action which is without doubt Islamic even if for the sake of argument poorly timed. Indeed to add one's voice to the chorus of the shouts of the unbelievers is an action which resembles that of the hypocrites who command evil and forbid good.

3. One should not be surprised by the statements of the so-called scholars and representatives of the Muslims in the United States. I think it has been suprisingly quite tame thus far perhaps due to the hajj season. If world opinion (and especially opinion in the United States) turns more severe against the Taliban you should expect them to clap along singing Amen. As I have said before on this forum and elsewhere the struggle with the modernist movement is not one simply of a secondary issue like voting or something dealing with women's fiqh issues, etc. It is primarly one of iman and kufr. Until we realize that and begin to  formulate our responses in that tone we will remainineffective before this trend.

4. Jihad and Tawhid.... There is an undeniable relationship between the two. Indeed when I first heard of the intention of the Taliban to destroy these idols two historical incidents came to mind.

a. The first was from Salahuddin al-Ayyubi (Saladin) may Allah have mecy on his soul. It is reported by his biographer the Qadi Ibn Shidad in an-Nawadir as-Sultaniya wal-Mahasin al-Yusufiya that after the conquest of Jerusalem (may Allah hasten its rescue from the hands of the evil Zionists), Richard the King of England wrote Salahuddin regarding three matters Jerusalem, Christian settlements in Palestine and Lebanon, and the "true" cross (and we bear witness to what Allah has said that they neither cricuified nor killed the Messiah alaihi as-salaam). Regarding the cross, Richard wrote "as for the cross it is only wood in your eyes and of no value but for us it is great so be charitable with us..." Salahuddin wrote back ... "As for the cross its destruction is a great act of piety we can not allow ourselves to be negligent regarding that unless there was some greater benefit [in not doing so] that would return to Islam."

b. The second incident is from the the sira of Mahmud ibn Subuktikin may Allah have mecy on his soul of Ghazna (which today is in Afghanistan) this great leader and mujahid has been chronicled by Islamic historians like Ibn Athir and Ibn Kathir ay Allah have mecy on them. Ibn Kathir remarks in al-Bidaya wa n-Nihaya, "The Muslims invaded India during the days of Mu'awiya in the year 44 A.H and [great] events transpired then. And [likewise] the mighty and magnificent King Mahmud b. Subuktikin the ruler of Ghazna invaded the lands of India at the turn of the fifth century. He entered India and killed, took captive, [and] enslaved [many]. He took [much] booty. He entered as-Sumanat and destroyed the great al-Budda which they worship and he stripped it of its jewlery. He then returned [to Ghazna] safe, [Divinely-]aided, and victorious."

5. Finally, I would like to say al-hamdulillah for this step taken by the Taliban. It brought a joy to my heart that I have not felt for a very long time. Especially for it to have occured during these days of hajj when we revive the milla of Ibrahim --- alaihi as-salaam. I ask Allah with all His beautiful names and exalted attributes to protect, guide and strengthen the Taliban and to break the backs and put to shame the forces of unbelief and hypocrisy.

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