I picked it up and began looking it over as I do with any book that piques my curiosity. I turned it over to read the back cover and was instantly captivated by what I saw. There written, was a list of rules imposed and strictly enforced on women under Taliban rule.
It was Post- 911 and all eyes were on the Muslim world and the religious radicalization that spawns and sustains terrorism, so the firsthand telling of a woman’s experiences living in the Taliban world would capture anyone’s interest.
But my interest was more of one who could in a tiny, suggestive way….identify.
Perplexed somewhat by the thought that I could so readily identify with this woman who suffered such extreme oppression, I pondered the idea of writing as an outlet for my own disillusionment.
Though the pain and betrayal I felt at the bidding of church family and co-laborers can in no way compare to the brutality of the Taliban, I began to recognize the extent religious radicalism could oppress in any culture and how ours is no exception.
History teaches us this.
Still stinging from the rejection and the reality of all I had lost I was just beginning to accept that life as I knew it was forever changed. I was still trying to filter what I truly believed from what I just “accepted” as truth and was aching–even to feeling I would explode–with the need to purge it all.
Writing about the feelings and the endless debates going on in my head between those dogmatic, preaching voices and the inconsistencies I observed but never allowed to surface, could give me some peace and solace.
So I decided to write.
And I began to explore–to take a treacherous trip backward to investigate what circumstances, what state of need, what frame of mind and heart had lured us to this place.
Both my husband and I were literally born into the Independent Fundamental Baptist belief system of Christianity so the foundation was already laid, but our early history in this group was nowhere near extreme by comparison to other Christian denominations, though often more conservative.
However, there were Independent Fundamental Baptists who were extreme and so proud of their extremist positions that being Independent Fundamental Baptist of this ilk was as important an identity to them as being Christian.
We gravitated to the extreme gradually as we were influenced by preachers and evangelists of the literal, KJV only persuasion.
These men were so passionate and certain about the ‘truth’ of their extreme beliefs that it is not too much a stretch to compare their radical, fundamentalist Christian beliefs and practices to the extreme Islamic beliefs and practices of the Taliban.
There are IFB preachers who I have heard state and even preach that the Old Testament capital punishment sentences should still be imposed to this day on atheists, adulterers, homosexuals, rebellious sons and other offenders of OT death penalty laws!
These sentences include stoning and burning–acts as barbaric as those of the Taliban. So given the sanction of the US judicial system, there are radical sects of Christianity who could rival the Taliban.
The Taliban literally “lops off the heads” of the infidels—the ones who do not embrace their rabid beliefs and those who break their laws. There are Independent Fundamental Baptist churches who, in essence “lops off the spiritual heads” of their tender young by offending them with contaminated doctrines of men.
From what I have been able to find, the term “Taliban” originally was defined as- to seek, or seeker of knowledge, but it has more recently come to mean-a seeker of religious truth. There are extreme religious, cult-like churches in America that similarly “seek religious truth” but though very “religious” are very far from the Truth.
Here is an article I copied from the internet reporting how women are treated under the Taliban and some of the many Taliban rules.
It is important to note how many of these rules apply only to women:
The following list offers only an abbreviated glimpse of the hellish lives Afghan women are forced to lead under the Taliban, and can not begin to reflect the depth of female deprivations and sufferings. Taliban treat women worse than they treat animals. In fact, even as Taliban declare the keeping of caged birds and animals illegal, they imprison Afghan women within the four walls of their own houses. Women have no importance in Taliban eyes unless they are occupied producing children, satisfying male sexual needs or attending to the drudgery of daily housework. Jehadi fundamentalists such as Gulbaddin, Rabbani, Masood, Sayyaf, Khalili, Akbari, Mazari and their co-criminal Dostum have committed the most treacherous and filthy crimes against Afghan women. And as more areas come under Taliban control, even if the number of rapes and murders perpetrated against women falls, Taliban restrictions –comparable to those from the middle ages– will continue to kill the spirit of our people while depriving them of a humane existence. We consider Taliban more treacherous and ignorant than Jehadis. According to our people, “Jehadis were killing us with guns and swords but Taliban are killing us with cotton.”
Taliban restrictions and mistreatment of women include the:
- Complete ban on women’s work outside the home, which also applies to female teachers, engineers and most professionals. Only a few female doctors and nurses are allowed to work in some hospitals in Kabul.
- Complete ban on women’s activity outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, brother or husband).
- Ban on women dealing with male shopkeepers.
- Ban on women being treated by male doctors.
- Ban on women studying at schools, universities or any other educational institution. (Taliban have converted girls’ schools into religious seminaries.)
- Requirement that women wear a long veil (Burqa), which covers them from head to toe.
- Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women not clothed in accordance with Taliban rules, or of women unaccompanied by a mahram.
- Whipping of women in public for having non-covered ankles.
- Public stoning of women accused of having sex outside marriage. (A number of lovers are stoned to death under this rule).
- Ban on the use of cosmetics. (Many women with painted nails have had fingers cut off).
- Ban on women talking or shaking hands with non-mahram males.
- Ban on women laughing loudly. (No stranger should hear a woman’s voice).
- Ban on women wearing high heel shoes, which would produce sound while walking. (A man must not hear a woman’s footsteps.)
- Ban on women riding in a taxi without a mahram.
- Ban on women’s presence in radio, television or public gatherings of any kind.
- Ban on women playing sports or entering a sport center or club.
- Ban on women riding bicycles or motorcycles, even with their mahrams.
- Ban on women’s wearing brightly colored clothes. In Taliban terms, these are “sexually attracting colors.”
- Ban on women gathering for festive occasions such as the Eids, or for any recreational purpose.
- Ban on women washing clothes next to rivers or in a public place.
- Modification of all place names including the word “women.” For example, “women’s garden” has been renamed “spring garden”.
- Ban on women appearing on the balconies of their apartments or houses.
- Compulsory painting of all windows, so women can not be seen from outside their homes.
- Ban on male tailors taking women’s measurements or sewing women’s clothes.
- Ban on female public baths.
- Ban on males and females traveling on the same bus. Public buses have now been designated “males only” (or “females only”).
- Ban on flared (wide) pant-legs, even under a burqa.
- Ban on the photographing or filming of women.
- Ban on women’s pictures printed in newspapers and books, or hung on the walls of houses and shops.
- Apart from the above restrictions on women, the Taliban has:
- Banned listening to music, not only for women but men as well.
- Banned the watching of movies, television and videos, for everyone.
- Banned celebrating the traditional new year (Nowroz) on March 21. The Taliban has proclaimed the holiday un-Islamic.
- Disavowed Labor Day (May 1st), because it is deemed a “communist” holiday.
- Ordered that all people with non-Islamic names change them to Islamic ones.
- Forced haircuts upon Afghan youth.
- Ordered that men wear Islamic clothes and a cap.
- Ordered that men not shave or trim their beards, which should grow long enough to protrude from a fist clasped at the point of the chin.
- Ordered that all people attend prayers in mosques five times daily.
- Banned the keeping of pigeons and playing with the birds, describing it as un-Islamic. The violators will be imprisoned and the birds shall be killed. The kite flying has also been stopped.
- Ordered all onlookers, while encouraging the sportsmen, to chant Allah-o-Akbar (God is great) and refrain from clapping.
- Ban on certain games including kite flying which is “un-Islamic” according to Taliban.
- Anyone who carries objectionable literature will be executed.
- Anyone who converts from Islam to any other religion will be executed.
- All boy students must wear turbans. They say “No turban, no education”.
- Non-Muslim minorities must distinct badge or stitch a yellow cloth onto their dress to be differentiated from the majority Muslim population. Just like what did Nazis with Jews.
- Banned the use of the internet by both ordinary Afghans and foreigners. And so on…….
There is only a few degrees separation between the legalistic Baptist and the Taliban. There is none so blind as ones who will not see. We must open our eyes…
Cindy Foster is “Mom” to eight gorgeous, talented, temperamental, noisy, opinionated, alike-but very different kids. She has been married to their daddy, Paul, for 36 years.
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