Neda Mohammad Nadim, the Taliban’s acting minister of higher education and a close ally to Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, proclaimed on Sunday that there is only one religious school in Afghanistan—Hanafi—which he claimed is followed by all Afghans.
Addressing a gathering in the eastern Kunar province, Nadim asserted, “There are no other religious schools in Afghanistan. There is only one school, which is the school of Imam Abu Hanifa. All Afghans follow the same religious school.”
The statement comes amid concerns, as Shiites constitute the second-largest religious group in Afghanistan after the followers of the Hanafi school.
Taliban leader Akhundzada, in a message on Eid last year, emphasized the dominance of the Hanafi school in Afghanistan, neglecting to mention the Shia school, which has a substantial following in the country.
The exclusion of the Jafari school of jurisprudence, a significant Islamic jurisprudence with many followers in Afghanistan, from Taliban discussions and the overlooking of its followers have raised criticism and concern.
University professor Ghulam Farooq Alim stated, “According to the Taliban’s perception of Islam, the Shia religions of Afghanistan are religions outside the framework of Islam and a deviant group. According to the Taliban, a Muslim is someone who is of the Hanafi religion.”
“The Taliban carry out most of the attacks on Shiite citizens. We are very worried about this,” claimed Ahmad, a resident of Kabul.
“There was an explosion and suicide attack in the west of Kabul in which our Shia brothers were killed. They are our brothers, there is a lot of concern about their safety,” said Sefat Khan, a Kabul resident.
Nadim also claimed that Daesh has been eliminated in Afghanistan, despite the UN reporting eight documented Daesh attacks in three Afghan provinces from August to November. The ongoing targeting of Shiites by Daesh remains a source of worry for Afghan citizens.
“Taliban with a white flag and ISIS with a black flag; there is no difference between white and black flags. Both of them are two sides of the same coin; only for terrorist purposes,” expressed Wais Naseri, a political analyst.
While Afghanistan hosts various Islamic religious schools, including the Hanafi religion, Shia Imamia and Ismailia, Shafi’i, and Hanbali, the Taliban rule insists on considering Hanafi school as the sole basis for decision-making.