Afghan and Egyptian religious scholars in Kabul April 18 publicly proclaimed the use of suicide bombing as specifically forbidden by Islam, joining ulema and other scholars from around the world – including Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories and Jordan – who condemned the militant tactic at a March conference in Istanbul.
The united and authoritative stance against suicide bombings draws a clear-cut line between right and wrong and could have an effect on the Taliban's abilities to recruit new suicide bombers, Afghan parliamentarians told Central Asia Online.
"The decision (fatwa) is like confronting Taliban insurgents on their own turf – religious and ideological turfs," said Amir Khan, a member of the Wolesi Jirga (the lower house of the Afghan parliament).
"As the Taliban justifies the act [of suicide bombing] on religious grounds … it (the fatwa) has cleared the air now … especially for those who were confused," he said, adding Islam has no place for such heinous acts.
World supports Afghan condemnation of Taliban
"Islam is very clear on the killing of innocent people … but Afghans knew that (those) killing innocent Afghans are not doing the same for the sake of Islam … but are serving the agenda of their foreign masters," Ismail Yun, a broadcaster and former advisor to President Hamid Karzai, told Central Asia Online.
"Pakistani religious scholar Dr. Alama Tahir-ul-Qadri also sent a message to the conference supporting the fatwa," another seasoned parliamentarian from the hard-hit Ghazni Province, Daud Sultanzai, said. Dr. Qadri was the first Pakistani scholar to issue a fatwa declaring suicide bombing haram.
"The fatwa was issued by the Islamic scholars from across the world, not just by the Afghan ulema," Sultanzai told Central Asia Online.
"Afghan ulema have questioned the narratives of the Taliban over the insurgency and suicide bombings, but they were then alone," Yun said, adding that support from Islamic authorities from across the world would add weight to Afghan condemnation of the Taliban violence.
"It's a great development," he said, terming the support of the fatwa "historic" and "unprecedented."
Mirwais Yasimi, another senior parliamentarian, agreed, saying that it would have far-reaching impact and could pave the way for reconciliation.
Spreading the word
"The ulema have done their job; … they cleared away the confusion," Sultanzai said. "Now, the political leadership and media must take this message and educate every Afghan."
Yun agreed, calling upon the media and civil society organisations to educate ordinary Afghans on the importance of the fatwa.
"Afghan media are more powerful and more assertive now," he said. "It's our national responsibility to educate each and every Afghan and expose those killing innocent people in the streets."
Those already brainwashed by the Taliban and already in their insurgent ranks will pay little attention to the fatwa, Amir said, but for others, the message that suicide bombings are haram will ring clear.
No matter what beliefs the Taliban fighters push, the fatwa will drastically decrease their ability to recruit new suicide bombers, Mangal, another Wolesi Jirga member, told Central Asia Online.
"Afghans are … true believers of Islam," he said. "The fatwa will have a tremendous impact."