His interpretation of Islam excludes the slightest deviation from orthodoxy. Its penal code imposes physical punishments reminiscent of the Middle Ages. They separate women from public space and when they are allowed access to it they must fully cover their body shapes, from head to toe. They prohibit music and any other entertainment. It is the description of the Taliban society that we knew in the 1990s, but it could be the Islamic State (ISIS), Saudi Arabia (before the latest social reforms) and even early revolutionary Iran. Radical Islamists have a lot in common, but they are not the same.
Those similarities have led some observers to equate the ideology of the Islamic Emirate, as the Taliban call themselves, with Saudi Wahhabism. Undoubtedly, the money that the Desert Kingdom sent to Pakistan to finance the United States’ war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s radicalized the students of the madrasas and favored the extremist advance in the region, where a movement prevailed. local known as deobandi, emerged in the nineteenth century and of Sufi origin. But the Taliban are not Wahhabis, and their moral for society has more to do with their Pashtun origins than with Islam.
Bashir Ahmad, professor of Islamic Studies, explains that “there are many differences between the Taliban ideology and Wahhabism”, which equates to the ideology of ISIS, with which the new rulers of Kabul rival. “The Taliban follow the jurisprudence we call Hanafi, and [los grupos wahabíes] they don’t follow any of the schools [del islam suní] Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki or Hanbali; they have their own ideas, “he said in conversation from Kabul.
It is, explains Zahid Hussain, a Pakistani expert on the Taliban phenomenon, “a movement built on Islamic fundamentalism and a strict adherence to conservative Pashtun culture.” This seemingly academic distinction may be key to the Taliban’s ability to be flexible as rulers. Perhaps the most visible and easy-to-understand example is the burka, a common garment in Pashtun society, but unparalleled in the rest of the Islamic world.
In their first government, the Taliban imposed the burka Afghans, especially in cities outside their fiefdom, where their customs were more questioned. In the countryside, the existing segregation was enough, and the nomads kuchi They never used that coat with only a slit at eye level. Now, they are talking about the obligatory nature of the hiyab, not from burka.
Being a cultural rather than a religious imperative allows some flexibility. Only 40-50% of the Afghan population is Pashtun; the other half, although it is made up of ethnic minorities who are also Muslim and generally conservative, do not adhere to the same codes. It remains to be seen what the rules will be and whether head covering will allow women to work and participate in public life, as is the case in Iran (under a Shiite Islamist regime), or whether the goal is to re-lock them in their homes. houses.
The comparison with Iran has also emerged these days in the wake of the leak that the leader of the Taliban is going to become the highest authority in the country, comparable to a head of state, with the last word in religious, political and military matters. The figure refers to the Iranian Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. However, the Taliban are Sunni and in Sunni tradition the idea of following a guide (the concept of taqleed) It is controversial. While the Deobandis accept it, the Salafis reject it.
On the appointment of Hibatullah Akhunzadah as supreme leader, Ahmad explains that “it is the norm of the Taliban.” “There is a big difference between the Iranian government and the Taliban government. Maybe from the outside it seems [un cargo] like that of the Iranian Government, but there is no relationship ”, emphasizes this professor from the Salam University of Kabul, without going into specific details of the difference. “You will understand it better in the next few days,” he responds when asked for an example.
Another important difference with the Wahhabis – or Salafis as they prefer to be called – is the concept of jihad, or holy war. While for these it is an imperative (as seen in Al Qaeda or ISIS), for the Deobandis it is a less strict concept. In fact, while the Taliban once sheltered al Qaeda, they have never been linked to operations outside their country. Hence, the United States did not include them on its list of terrorist organizations (although it did include one of its factions, the Haqqani Network) and does not believe that they now pose a direct threat to its interests.
Significantly, the Dar ul Ulum theological seminary in the Indian city of Deoband, from which the deobandi movement arose and took its name, has consistently supported the aspirations of the Taliban, but condemns Islamist terrorism (it even issued a fatwa on the matter). in 2008).
Also the Salafis are more intolerant than the Deobandis towards non-Muslims (suitcase) and even Muslims who do not follow their line, as seen with the treatment that the Islamic State gave to minorities (Yazidis, Christians or Shiites) during the time they imposed themselves in northern Iraq and southern Syria. When asked whether the ideology of the Taliban is closer to the Iranian theocracy or the Saudi regime, Ahmad answers neither. “They have their own idea of government,” he concludes.
Although it seems contradictory given the doctrinal differences inherent in both branches of Islam, other analysts are convinced that today the Taliban have a better political relationship with Tehran than with Riyadh.