Just to refresh, the characteristics that defines the Taliban:
- Extreme hatred of women.
- Terrorism and militancy.
In addition to the 4 characteristics above I am adding 2 more because yes, they are rich that way:
- Banned entertainment: all forms of music, movies, visual and performing arts, even the old tradition of flying kites were completely prohibited as un-Islamic. Despite the depiction of Prophet Muhammad on thousands of artworks throughout the centuries, lately, it causes violent and murderess reaction.
- Religious diversity is abhorred, only their interpretation of Islam is acceptable and other faith traditions are unacceptable. Infamous example was the blowing up of the Buddhas of Bamiyan (Afghanistan) and the recent destruction of a Sufi mosque, the grave of a 15th Century Sufi scholar, its books burned (Libya), are just two examples.
Taliban-lites are woven in into every Muslim society and very much like the actual Taliban, they are abusive, instill fear, are big bullies, and they dictate their ideology and force it down the throats of the rest of us Muslims. Respect for diversity of thought and interpretations of Islam are an alien concept to them. In America the Taliban-lites scorn, slander, call you a Zionist, a lesbian, a CIA agent and send you hateful and threatening emails because they believe they are absolutely right and can therefore condemn you. They are dogmatic.
The Quranic mandate that states “There is no compulsion in faith” died with Prophet Muhammad. The fact is, the law of punishing apostates is un-Islamic and came long after the Prophet’s death. In “moderate” Malaysia, once you convert to Islam you are not allowed to leave it. If you try you will be sent to a “rehab” center. In more conservative nations, the punishment ranges from jail time to death. In the U.S., if you leave Islam, the Taliban-lites in your family and community will ostracize you because you have essentially left the “tribe.”
In most Muslim countries freedom of thought is curtailed. In Malaysia many books that are deemed not Taliban enough are banned. Book titles banned in Malaysia - Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Extremism (published by Sisters in Islam) and the Malay-language Strange but True in Prayers . In America browse through books sold at Muslim online bookstores and you’ll only find the same Taliban-lite theology by the same Taliban-lite theologians. The Quran commands Muslims to think but Taliban-lites insist we be sheeps.
Moral police is rampant in the Taliban-lite communities. Remember they think they are absolutely right and everyone else is wrong. Hamza Kashgari and numerous other Muslim bloggers, writers, thinkers have been arrested or disappeared after expressing “inappropriate” ideas. Malaysia is now proposing a law such that Internet users will be responsible for postings on their sites, page, and comment section even when authored by others. Any “seditious or defamatory comments posted” gets you hauled away.
Taliban-lites dictate artistic expression. It needs to be “halal” and that depends on who is dictating and to what shade of Taliban-lite they are. As I wrote in another column, in America (and in European nations), Taliban-lites dictate that Islamic songs have only to be accompanied with percussion, and by male voices only. Most, not all, famous Muslim male singers from Yusuf Islam on down subscribe to this theology. Visual arts that depict images of human beings and animals are “haram,” lest it compels you kneel over and worship those images.
Look at recent news coverage. “Lady Gaga cancels Jakarta concert” due to threats from Taliban-lites in moderate Indonesia. (To be fair to the Muslim Taliban-lites, Christian Taliban-lites also protested against her concert in the Philippines). Beyonce and Erykah Badu’s concerts were also cancelled in Malaysia also due to the protests of Taliban-lites there.
In Taliban-loaded Saudi Arabia bans entertainment and music unless you are the Saudi Royalty. Yes Saudi Royalty gets a special pass from God.
My Islam is hinged on the verse: “We have created you man and women, divided you into nations and tribes, so that you may learn from each other and not hate each other (Quran verse 49:10).” The dogma of the Taliban-lite runs contrary to the teachings of the Quran.
To the Taliban-lite preachers, teachers and imams I call upon you to cease playing God. No, your Islam does not make you a better Muslim than me and no, you are not allowed to terrorize others. For all the preachers who propagate hate, and who skillfully label the rest of us as ‘out of the realm of Islam’, you are as guilty as Sarah Palin for putting out cross-hairs on a map of Democratic held offices and for the subsequent shooting of a Democratic held representative.
We Muslims have to wake up to the extremist elements in our communities. Don’t let them teach your children because before you know it, we will have the same displaced angry frenzy of murder and destruction in the name of Islam, in America.By Ani Zonneveld, Aslan Media Columnist