Taliban and Al-Qaeda: True Sects of Islam?

Question and answer details
Do the Taliban represent a true sect of Islam? Does Al-Qaeda represent a true sect of Islam? How do their claims about Islam differ from the original claims of Islam? What exactly did the Taliban do in Afghanistan? What are Al-Qaeda’s goals?
Shahul Hameed
Salam Dear Brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

We need to realize in the first place, that Islam is the true religion of God taught by all the prophets of God and perfected by the Last Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). Allah in the Quran commands the Muslims and says what means:

{And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God [stretches out for you], and be not divided among yourselves} (Aal `Imran 3:103).

This, along with other verses, tells us that there is no provision for Muslims as a community of believers (the Ummah) to be split into sects and schisms. I hope this makes it clear why we cannot speak of one group or faction as “a true sect of Islam.”

The foregoing does not mean that we should have no organization of Muslims for any good purpose Islam approves of. Indeed, we can come across any number of organizations in this world that characterize themselves as “Islamic.” The Taliban in Afghanistan is considered to be such an organization, as the term originally denoted a group of students of religious schools in Kandahar.

The Americans who trained and supported the Mujahideen in their fight against the Russsians left the country in disarray soon after their purpose was served. The poor people were at the mercy of gangs of highwaymen and mutually contending militias. Looting and drug dealing flourished everywhere.

It was in this situation that the Taliban emerged under the leadership of Mulla Muhammad `Umar. Fighting successfully against gangsters and robbers, the Taliban gained sufficient confidence to take control of the city from the governor.

This brought them into conflict with the Rabbani government in Kabul. Soon various parties who demanded Islamization of Afghanistan joined them; and gradually the Taliban became the most powerful of all the Afghan parties.

The Taliban can be described as an extremist organization that was too rigid in the interpretation of the Islamic Shari`ah, which they wanted to implement in the country.

Naturally, their bigotry came in for severe criticism from the most prominent Islamic scholars of the world. We should concede that the anarchy prevalent in the country after the war with the Soviet Union made the use of a certain amount of force unavoidable for the restoration of peace. And yet, no sensible person can find justification for some of the draconian measures taken by the Taliban.

It must be emphasized here that Islam is quite opposed to extremism or intolerance. It is the religion of the One and Only God, meant for the whole of mankind, and for all time. Therefore Islam cannot afford to be immune to the inexorable changes that overtake life and the world.

The Quran describes the Muslim community as {a justly-balanced society}, neither going to this extreme nor that extreme. The emphasis of Islam is always on balance and moderation; and so, blind dogmatism has no place in it.

Al-Qaeda in Arabic means “the base,” and this term was originally used to refer to the base of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan under the leadership of Sheikh Osama bin Laden. The Booker-winning novelist from India, Arundhati Roy, wrote:

“… if Osama bin Laden didn’t exist, America would have had to invent him. But, in a way, America did invent him. He was among the jihadis who moved to Afghanistan in 1979 when the CIA commenced its operations there. Bin Laden has the distinction of being created by the CIA and wanted by the FBI. In the course of a fortnight—after September 11, 2001—he has been promoted from suspect to prime suspect and then, despite the lack of any real evidence, straight up the charts to being ‘wanted dead or alive.’”

The British journalist Jason Burke writes in his authoritative work: Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror :

“Al-Qaeda is a messy and rough designation, often applied carelessly in the absence of a more useful term.”

Burke points out that while many think Al-Qaeda is “a terrorist organization founded more than a decade ago by a hugely wealthy Saudi Arabian religious fanatic,”.

Dolnik and McCloud—two experts who first started studying terrorism at the prestigious Monterey Institute of International Studies in California—argue that we should “debunk the myth of Al-Qaeda.” There is a “rooted public perception of what Al-Qaeda is,” says Dolnik. “Such perceptions are far from accurate.”

In short, the objective studies made by Dolnik and other researchers prove beyond any shadow of doubt that, in many ways, the thing we refer to as Al-Qaeda is largely a creation of the so-called world media prompted by the US administration.

Some revelations about the mystery behind the September 11 attacks and their aftermath prove that many of the things hyped by the American media—and slavishly aped by others—about Al-Qaeda are mostly untrue. Now, any explosion anywhere is caused by Al-Qaeda unless otherwise proved! Anyone who questions this is called “a conspiracy theorist.”

You ask, “Does Al-Qaeda represent a true sect of Islam? How do their claims about Islam differ from the original claims of Islam? What are Al-Qaeda’s goals?”

It is obviously a waste of time to discuss “the goals” of a shadowy organization that some analysts believe it could have died in Afghanistan where it was born. And as you can see, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Al-Qaeda as the western Media show does not really exist.

But maybe we will cease to hear a lot about its goals and activities since those who invented Osama and Al-Qaeda seem to have no more use for them after killing Osama himself.

And Allah knows best. Thank you and please keep in touch.


Useful Links:

The Propaganda of Terrorism

Declaration of War… Against non-Muslims?!

Killing the “Other”…

War on Iraq: Liberation or Occupation?

War on Terror... Boiling on The Poor!