Relax: UK Muslim Prof Says Taliban Are Misunderstanding Islam

(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Over in the Afghanistan That Old Joe Biden Built, the status of women continues to worsen. Molvi Mohammad Sadiq Akif, who is the spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue, said Thursday that “it is very bad to see women (without the hijab) in some areas,” but he went much farther, adding that “our scholars also agree that women’s faces should be hidden.”


Akif added: “A woman has her own value and that value decreases by men looking at her.” However, a Muslim professor in Britain assures us that the Taliban have misunderstood Islam on this point, and so surely reason will eventually prevail even in Afghanistan. Won’t it?

One of the most persistent and cherished, as well as potentially catastrophic, fantasies of our Age of Absurdity is the near-universal belief that Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists. This idea in turn gives rise to related falsehoods, such as the claim that all religious traditions are equally capable of giving rise to violent fanaticism and above all the idea that Islamic terrorists don’t know much about Islam and both misunderstand and misapply its core teachings.

Ever since George W. Bush went into the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17, 2001, along with the leader of a group that has been linked to Hamas and a man who was later found to be funding al-Qaeda, and proclaimed that “Islam is peace,” these comforting falsehoods have deformed our domestic and foreign policies in innumerable ways. But no matter how much reality disproves them, they persist and continue to be disseminated and taken for granted as axiomatically true.

The latest to spread these pleasing untruths is Tim Winter, also known as Abdal Hakim Murad, an Englishman who converted to Islam in 1979 and is now the Shaykh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University. The Associated Press reported Friday that Winter “said there was no scriptural mandate in Islam for face coverings and the Taliban would struggle to find anything in Islamic scripture that backed their interpretation of hijab rules.”


He added, “Their name implies they are not senior religious experts. The word Taliban means students.” This implies that eventually those who know about Islam will prevail in Afghanistan, and women’s rights will be restored. But is what Winter is saying true? Does he really know Islam better than the Taliban do?

It is noteworthy that at, a repository of hadith texts, we read this about a woman complaining to Muhammad that one woman “does not have an outer garment (to cover her face and body). He said: Let her sister cover her with her outer garment” (Sahih Muslim 890c). The words “to cover her face and body” are not in the original Arabic; the translator added them. But clearly, unless is hiring Taliban members to translate for them, the Taliban are not singular among Muslims in thinking that women’s faces should be covered.

Related: Hey, At Least He Has A Sense of Humor: Taliban Top Dog Insists Women Have It Great In Afghanistan

Another tradition is translated as saying that after the Qur’an’s revelation that women should be veiled (24:31) was delivered, women “covered their heads and faces” (Sahih Bukhari vol. 1, book 65, no. 4578). Here again, the words translated as “covered their heads and faces” in Arabic are less specific, saying just that they “covered themselves.” But once again the translator, who is likely not a member of the Taliban, seems to think that this passage gives warrant for the idea that women should cover their faces.


Obviously, this is a matter of dispute among Muslims. Yet Tim Winter/Abdal Hakim Murad doesn’t bother to inform AP that many Muslims, not just the Taliban, believe that Allah wants Muslim women to cover their faces. Why wouldn’t he simply acknowledge this obvious truth? Instead, he tries to give the impression that the Taliban are ignorant of the very law they’re trying to implement.

Would Molvi Mohammad Sadiq Akif really dare to suggest that he knows more about Islam than Tim Winter? And above all, what game is Winter playing, and what game is the Associated Press playing by passing on his words uncritically? Surely they aren’t trying to foster ignorance and complacency about Islam among non-Muslim Westerners — are they?


Trending on PJ Media Videos

Join the conversation as a VIP Member