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Sh Haitham: Does the Taliban Have What It Takes?

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In the Name of Allah, the most gracious and merciful. All praise belongs to Allah. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His final Messenger, Muhammad , his family, and his Companions.

As the Taliban prepare to rule Afghanistan after sweeping across the country in a very short period of time, this raises a number of obvious and fundamental questions. Perhaps the most significant question is: will they be able to sustain their power and rule this country, which has been suffering wars and conflicts for the past half century?

This article aims to explain why this is the fundamental question that the Taliban and its sympathisers should explore and effectively answer. This piece will not be able to provide a decisive answer to this question. In fact, I wonder whether anyone would be able to provide such an answer for it.

To start with, it is true that the believers should show a level of happiness when other believers achieve success and gain victory. Allah says, “The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.”[1]

However, the wise stance is to focus more on what needs to be done to maintain this achievement and victory, so that tangible gains are realised in the long run. This is true happiness, rather than an impulsive pleasure that will be followed by severe pain and loss, as we have witnessed numerous times in history.

The Taliban managed to get into power in 1996. Many of us were very happy with their rise in power, but soon that happiness changed into disastrous sadness in 2001. Recently, al-Ikhwān al-Muslimūn in Egypt got into power in 2012, but they were removed in 2013; all Muslims are still suffering miserably due to that loss. Similarly, Islamic groups in Sudan lost power after they managed to rule for over 30 years. As is well known, the damage now is grave. The only surviving experiences are Hamas in Gaza and the AK party in Turkey. All of this makes us so worried about this new experience with the Taliban taking over Afghanistan for the second time.

In fact, as mentioned earlier, there are even more reasons for wise people to be worried about this recent episode.

Will the oppressive and unjust actors in the world allow the Taliban to govern?

The first question that needs to be asked is: how was the Taliban able to sweep throughout this vast country, while many parts of it are controlled by different militias and groups?

The Taliban has been resisting the presence of the American and allied troops for the last 20 years. They have been carrying out aggressive war tactics and suffered an estimated loss of 50,000 fighters during their struggle. However, what is surprising is the speed of their advancement in the last two years. Furthermore, many other exclamation marks should be raised when examining the context of this victory. First, reports confirm that the Americans left a lot of weapons behind them in deserted military posts, as if they left them for the disposal of the Taliban. The least they could have done was to destroy them, as they have done in many places. Secondly, the Western media and politicians were not as critical as they typically are when an Islamic power – let alone the Taliban, which was once classified as a terrorist organisation – takes over an entire country. In fact, many Western countries welcomed the negotiations between the Taliban and the US when they started to take place openly and officially in Qatar last year. Furthermore, America’s puppets in the Gulf – who always attack any Islamic movement that tries to achieve power – kept almost completely silent.

This is not normal. There may indeed be some strong strategic goals that the US and its allies are trying to achieve out of this.

For many people, mainly Muslims, the US left Afghanistan due to the defeat it received at the hands of the Taliban. On the other hand, many US officials and commentators see it differently. Whatever the case is, it is confirmed that the US goal to build Afghanistan as a strong ally which adopts American values has failed miserably. However, it is very unlikely that the Americans will leave the country after they have poured into it around one trillion dollars without having a plan B. The question is: what is this plan B – “the alternative goal” – that the US is aiming to achieve? Is there any secret agreement between the Taliban and the US? Bear in mind that the Taliban killed more than 50,000 Afghani troops since the negotiations commenced between them and the US. However, they did not kill any American or Western soldier after the Doha Agreement. Yet, during this period they claimed that they were fighting the occupation.

Does the US want to build a strong ally and front on the Chinese borders? Although this is a good possibility, it is contradicted by the fact that China has a good relationship with the Taliban. There are reports that China aided the Taliban in neighbouring regions to safeguard their border. Furthermore, China might be the first power that recognises the authority of the Taliban over Afghanistan. On the other hand, will China support and be satisfied to see an Islamic Emirate similar to that of the Taliban on its border, only a few miles from the Uyghur Muslims subjected to genocide? There are some racial differences between the Taliban and the Uyghurs, but China is aware that the Islamic links between both sides of the border may encourage some Taliban and Uyghur elements to conduct a revolt against China.

How will Russia feel about all of this? We must return to Afghanistan’s history and recall what happened when the Afghans forced the Soviets to leave their country in 1989. Following the retreat of the Soviet aggressors, violence erupted among the brothers of jihād. This resulted in a catastrophic civil war, until the Taliban arrived and managed to control Kabul and the country for a few years. Ideologically speaking, the Taliban are the same as the mujāhidīn that fought against them.

The emergence of an autonomous Islamic state and its people in Afghanistan will cause consternation in Uzbekistan and elsewhere, knowing that they could be the prey of similar revolutions. The fear of experiencing similar repercussions will undoubtedly force other countries to act. However, in Russia’s case it is amazing to see that the enemies of yesterday are flirting with each other today. Will this flirting build trust between them?

The US is always in favour of having more anti-Russia and anti-China allies next to their borders. However, is the US in favour of having a strong and sincere Islamic regime in that area? We have seen what the US has done and is still doing to remove the AK party from power. This is despite the fact that the Islamic outlook of the AK party is far below that of the Taliban.

Internally in Afghanistan, some may say that the victory of the Taliban and the quick takeover of the country was due to the support that Afghans demonstrated towards the Taliban. This is questionable due to a number of reasons. Many reports have confirmed in fact that not all people are in favour of their arrival.

India, the Taliban, and Pakistan

India is most concerned about the Taliban’s rise, owing to their relationship with Pakistan. First, the Taliban could cause problems for the occupiers of Kashmir. The presence of an Islamic Emirate that managed to end the occupation will serve as an appetizer for the Kashmir mujāhidīn to increase their struggle against the Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. Secondly, it could end the role of India in running and influencing the water dams which it helped to build in Afghanistan. Those dams control a large percentage of water that feeds into Pakistan – the historical enemy of India – and Iran as well.[2]

Iran and the Taliban

Iran is a Shia-dominated country, while the Taliban champions a Sunni state. The Afghan Shia population has complained about the treatment of the Taliban many times. They were worried about the return of the group, and hence built a few fronts to protect their people in Afghanistan. Furthermore, Iran is also worried that its past Sunni rival found in the Taliban will control the water which reaches Iran though the water dams, which were discussed earlier.

The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) Pipeline, also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline

TAPI is a natural gas pipeline being developed by the TAPI Pipeline Company Limited with participation of the Asian Development Bank. The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. Reports confirm that this is one of the main international projects lead by the US and many countries have interest in it including Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India. Some claim that it is a strategic project which is part of the cold economic war against Iran and possibly Russia. Some claim that the increase of oil and gas prices after the take-over by the Taliban is a proof that the US and many other countries wanted stability in Afghanistan, with the Taliban bringing the only stability to a country that has been suffering conflicts and wars for the past 40+ years. Some also support this assumption by the reports of secret meetings that took place between Taliban and the US in the last few years.

Two key questions are still are unanswered:

1) Will the US and the west trust the Taliban to rule that strategic and central country?

2) Our central question—can the Taliban run Afghanistan.

Internal challenges

The Taliban face an unlimited number of internal challenges related to the economy and educational sector, and are threatened by the possibility of disunity and internal conflicts. These challenges are enumerated in many published reports, which include The Civil Challenges to Peace in Afghanistan, that was published in 10 September 2019 by the Center of Strategic and International Studies. According to this report, “Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, and one of the least developed.” Furthermore, according to the Asian Development Bank, 47.3 percent of the population lived below the national poverty line in 2020. It adds by noting that: “[M]uch of the population lives in dire poverty and faces serious problems in terms of health.” For every 1,000 babies born in Afghanistan in 2019, 60 died before their 5th birthday.[3]

It is beyond the remit of this article to recite more of these facts, many of which are well known to everyone.

As for the ethnic character of Afghanistan, it is one of those countries that has a very diverse population with reference to the number of groups found within the country. It has Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimaq, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashai, Nuristani, Gujjar, Arab, Brahui, Qizilbash, Pamiri, Kyrgyz, Sadat, and other ethnic fractions within the country.

These factions, whether ideological or racial, are sceptical and worried that the Taliban will not let them share power in decision-making and governance. The Taliban’s ambitions are also unclear, and subsequently these groups may not trust the Taliban, thus depriving them of their experience and capabilities. They may also refuse assistance from other groups. It is true that the Taliban is evolving and are showing more tolerance but they need to demonstrate that by their actions as quickly as possible.

One of the main internal military threats is from Panjshir, which is historically an anti-Taliban province. Reports are suggesting that Amrullah Saleh, Vice President of Afghanistan, and Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, were spotted in Panjshir; supposedly bringing all anti-Taliban commanders together in Panjshir. This province is still free from the Taliban. Will the Taliban be able to deal with this militant threat easily?

The internal challenges which the Taliban faces can be summarised by making the following remarks. Over the past four decades others have used Afghans as proxies for achieving their interests. Afghans have defeated three superpowers at the height of their strength: the British, the Russians, and the Americans. However, none of these victories have really bore fruits to improve the living conditions of the Afghans themselves. Nation building and institutional development has never been organically achieved by the Afghans. Will the Taliban be able to make the right transformations in order to be able to run Afghanistan?

Conclusion and advice

The fundamental issue for Muslims is not gaining power, but rather retaining it, as well as running and governing a country effectively.

The Taliban should consider benefiting from Islamic models that are still in power such as the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). A better model will be the Turkish AK Party, as they are one of the most successful models in our current time and age.

Along with Pakistan, the Taliban requires a strong partner. That powerful ally is none other than Turkey, which has strong connections with Pakistan. This will not be an easy goal, given that Turkey is connected to the likes of Massoud (an adversary of the Taliban, the Islamic direction of Afghanistan). But if there is a will, both the Turks and the Taliban can make good headway on that front. To reiterate, the challenge is not to merely stay in power, but to genuinely maintain the power.

When the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ migrated from Makkah to Madinah, he stopped before entering the city and declared his manifesto which is the following:

“O people! Spread the Salām (peace or greetings of peace), feed each other, perform Salāh while the people are sleeping; you will enter Paradise with (the greeting of) Salām.”[4]

Similarly, when the Prophet Ibrahim (‘alayhī al-Salām) made his du’ā to Allah to establish the first Muslim society in Makkah after decades of disbelief, he said:

“My Lord, make this a secure city and provide its people with fruits – whoever of them believes in Allah and the Last Day.”[5]

Security and economic prosperity are the two wings a society can fly with, directed by the head which is connection with Allah. They work hand in hand to produce social justice. Eliminating extreme poverty is the bare minimum achievement for any honest and successful government.

Establishing Unity between all Afghanis despite their differences is the main component of security especially at this stage. That was the strategy of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ when he entered Madinah. He tried to maintain peace and unity between all inhabitants of Madinah despite their fundamental ideological and racial differences.

Inshā’Allāh, in the next article, we will explain what it truly means for the Taliban – or any government – to implement Sharia faithfully, unlike the caricatures that are painted of the Sharia by some, reducing it to some punishments.

We ask Allah to protect Afghanistan and the Afghani people and to help them to maintain their peace and īmān in order for them to be successful in this world and the hereafter.



[1] Al-Qur’ān, 9:71.

[2] To read more about the water geo-politics of the water dams in Afghanistan, see:

[3] Cordesman, A. (2019). (Rep.). Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Retrieved August 17, 2021, from

[4] Ibn Mājah

[5] Al-Qur’ān 2:126

About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Council of Europe as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.


  1. We wish the best for the people of Afghanistan and that they have a secure and peaceful future.

    Still, the article does not make any mention of alleged Taliban links with al-Qaidah and the potential threat this poses to others, including us living in the West.

  2. Ma sha Allah & tabarak Allah.

    Jazakum Allah khayra for this article.

    The Deen is naseehah and this is something we owe to every Muslim.

    I21C and/or some of its readers who have the right connection(s) should be able to get key Muslim nations to work together to bring peace, stability, and all kinds of success to Afghanistan bi ithnillah.

    In sha Allah the country has the potential to show the world what a real Islamic state is as opposed to a slaughter house that everyone believes it to be.

  3. It’s not the rapid withdrawal of the US forces that enabled the Taliban’s speedy power grab, it was their presence in Afghanistan in the first place.

  4. It’s not the rapid withdrawal of the US forces that enabled the Taliban’s speedy power grab, it was their presence in Afghanistan in the first place.

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