Taliban’s Resurgence Of Hudood Punishments: A Deep Dive Into Legitimacy And Justice – OpEd


In recent times, the world has witnessed with growing concern the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan. A specific aspect of their governance that has sparked global debate is their renewed emphasis on the strict enforcement of Hudood—a set of corporal punishments derived from their interpretation of Islamic Shari’a law. While the Taliban views this as a return to their roots and an embodiment of their core beliefs, many within Afghanistan and beyond question the legitimacy of such actions and their alignment with true Islamic principles.

The very essence of governance lies in its legitimacy—the consent and acceptance of the governed. When the Taliban embarked on their mission to impose Hudood punishments, a set of stringent penalties ranging from public floggings for drinking to stoning for adultery and amputations for theft, it raised immediate concerns. These actions, echoing the brutalities of their previous reign from 1996 to 2001, have prompted Afghans and international observers alike to question the ethical, legal, and religious foundations upon which such decisions rest.

Historically, Afghanistan has been deeply rooted in its Islamic traditions. Yet, the Taliban’s recent actions have left many wondering whether their interpretation of Shari’a law resonates with the broader principles of justice, compassion, and equality espoused by Islam. Former lawmakers, religious scholars, and legal experts within Afghanistan have been vocal in their criticisms. They argue that the Taliban-led government, despite its claims, lacks the legitimacy and the moral authority to enforce such sweeping changes that fundamentally infringe upon the rights of its citizens.

Shukria Barakzai, an outspoken former lawmaker, encapsulated this sentiment, highlighting the Taliban’s failure to establish a transparent, accountable political system rooted in Islamic principles. She emphasized that true adherence to Shari’a law mandates an environment where leadership is answerable to the populace—a criterion that, many argue, the Taliban’s governance sorely lacks. Moreover, concerns have been raised about the alleged nepotism within the Taliban’s justice system and its reliance on forced confessions through torture, further undermining its claims to religious and moral righteousness.

Salahuddin Saeedi, another Afghan religious scholar, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that the Taliban’s current approach to Hudood lacks the nuanced understanding and stringent conditions required by Islamic law for its implementation. He underscored the need for the Taliban to earn the requisite legitimacy and meet the rigorous criteria set forth by Islamic jurisprudence before enforcing such penalties.

Mir Abdul Wahid Sadaat, an Afghan legal expert, further elaborated on this perspective, emphasizing that the Taliban’s actions not only contravene the spirit of Afghan lawmaking but also undermine international human rights conventions to which Afghanistan was previously aligned. Such a stance resonates deeply, emphasizing the need for governance that balances religious beliefs with the universal principles of justice, equality, and human rights.

However, it’s essential to recognize the nuances within Afghan society. While there are staunch critics of the Taliban’s approach, even among those sympathetic to their cause, questions arise about the timing and focus of such punitive measures. Hatef Mukhtar, a political commentator, emphasized the need for the Taliban to prioritize securing domestic legitimacy and international recognition over the immediate imposition of Hudood punishments. He aptly highlighted that the emphasis should be on gaining widespread acceptance and ending the government’s international isolation rather than focusing solely on punitive measures that alienate large segments of the population.

In conclusion, the Taliban’s renewed emphasis on Hudood punishments in Afghanistan raises profound questions about governance, legitimacy, and justice. While the group seeks to enforce its interpretation of Islamic Shari’a law, the broader Afghan populace, religious scholars, and international observers question the moral, ethical, and religious foundations of such actions. As Afghanistan navigates this tumultuous period, it becomes imperative for the Taliban to engage in dialogue, prioritize inclusivity, and genuinely reflect upon the principles that define just governance, ensuring that the nation’s future is built upon foundations of justice, compassion, and respect for all its citizens.

Mohan Malawya

Mohan Malawya is currently pursuing a degree in Social Sciences from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and writes on India's domestic politics, foreign policy and India-Pakistan relations.

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