“In the Koran it is not written to beat and torture people, to force them to accept religion, as the Taliban did,” said Mullah Sayed Musa Agha, 38, of the Shah Du Shamshira mosque in Kabul about the drop in attendance in Afghanistan’s mosques. “As a result, at the time of the Taliban, most people’s prayers weren’t heartfelt because people were forced to pray,” he said. “Now, I think a lot of people pray for real, because God released them from the Taliban.” The Taliban era in Afghanistan proves what should be obvious to the Muslim world – forcing Islam on people drives them away from it. The Qur’an is clear on this (“No compulsion in religion”) but extremists like the Taliban just don’t get it. Even in this country, trends such as enforcing gender separation and hijab turn away people seeking a path to the Divine. Will Muslims get the message, or are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the Taliban?
Shahed Amanullah is editor-in-chief of altmuslim.com.