Well, this was inevitable: As the Taliban have taken power in Afghanistan and declared their intention to impose Islamic law, the American establishment media has swung into action, ready as always to exonerate Islam of all responsibility for the crimes done in its name and in accord with its teachings. And so it was that USA Today on Saturday published an article by one Hamid Khan, whose résumé is as predictable as it is revealing: He is “an adjunct professor of Islamic law at the University of Michigan Law, a national security fellow with the Truman National Security Project and an attorney with the U.S. government.” Of course he is. And he is here to tell us that the “Taliban doesn’t equal Islam,” and to complain that “news coverage of Afghanistan disserves a great religion.”
Khan claims counterfactually that “news outlets and commentators have recklessly referenced Islam, fundamentalism, Islamic law and Shariah with little, if any, context, definition or understanding of the religion and its complex layers of teachings, laws and people,” when actually the establishment media in the U.S., and in the West in general, has a long-established practice of downplaying and whitewashing Islam’s role in any Sharia-inspired atrocity.
Undaunted by facts, however, Khan claimed that “although Islamic law is frequently equated with the Sharia, they are not the same thing. Sharia is an Arabic term that means ‘a path to the source of water’ and is mentioned just once in the Quran; it is used to distinguish between an utterly whimsical path of lawlessness and a straight path bound by certitude.” In other words, it is Islamic law, the straight path bound by certitude.
Khan continued: “Yet, most of what has been described as Islamic law — including that articulated by the Taliban — is really a body of law produced by scholars trying to understand God’s will and the result of fallible human interpretation. There is no singular ‘lawbook’ for Islamic law.” He insists that “Islam is not a monolith,” and yet doesn’t produce even a single example of the Taliban violating any tenet of Islamic law, or any specific example of a Sharia tradition that differs from the ones the Taliban is implementing.
It will come as no surprise that he also doesn’t explain the Islamic basis for some of the Taliban’s more outrageous acts. For example, the Taliban have begun subjugating women and girls, in accord with this Qur’an passage: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend of their property. So good women are obedient, guarding in secret what Allah has guarded. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, give them a warning and banish them to separate beds, and beat them.” (Qur’an 4:34).
The Taliban have seized girls and made them sex slaves, considering them the “spoils of war.” This, too, is based on the Qur’an: “O Prophet, indeed, we have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have paid their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses of those whom Allah has given you as spoils of war…” (Qur’an 33:50)
The Taliban have been killing Muslims whom they consider to be rebels against Allah. That also comes from the Qur’an: “They wish that you would disbelieve even as they disbelieve, that you may be on the same level. So do not choose friends from them until they migrate in the way of Allah, if they turn back, then take them and kill them wherever you find them, and choose no friend or helper from among them.” (Qur’an 4:89). That is, those who join the Muslims (“migrate in the way of Allah”) and then leave again are to be hunted down and killed. The Taliban considers those Muslims who reject their authority as worthy of death.
The Taliban have even been killing Christians, another practice justified in the Qur’an: “Fight against those do not believe in Allah or the last day, and do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden and do not follow the religion of truth, even if they are among the people of the book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” (Qur’an 9:29).
Even if the Taliban are misinterpreting or misunderstanding these verses, they are doing so in a way that accords with their obvious literal meaning.
Why does it make any difference whether or not what the Taliban are doing is in accord with Islamic texts and teachings? Among other reasons, because it will help determine how much support they will ultimately get from Muslims worldwide, and will serve as an indicator of how much we can expect to see the actions of the Taliban replicated by other Muslims elsewhere. But the establishment media is never, ever going to explore that. They’d rather go live in Kabul.