Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghans Debate Moral Cost of War

Speakers say religion must play part in determining rights and wrongs of conflict.
By IWPR Afghanistan

Afghans discussed the morality of warfare in a series of discussions held around the country last month.

Speakers in Ghor, Faryab and Kabul provinces agreed that violence went against Islamic values.

In the central Ghor province, participants said it was important to differentiate between wars fought for moral and immoral purposes.

Shamsulhaq Muwahed, a member of Ghor’s council of Islamic scholars, said that war was only justified if it was to defend a country’s borders and the Muslim faith. This meant that the current fighting in Afghanistan was wrong.

“The war now in progress in Afghanistan is not morally comparable with the wars fought in the early years of Islam,” he said.

“The outcome of war is the shedding of human blood, and that is bad,” agreed Maulavi Nizamuddin Habibi, representing the department of hajj and religious affairs in Ghor province.

As the debates were taking place during Ramadan, participants also discussed issues related to conflict during the holy month. Habibi emphasised that fighting during Ramadan was especially frowned upon.

“Muslims fighting against Muslims cannot ever be justified in Ramadan,” said Damla Gul Ahmad Lutfi, a cleric in the northwest Faryab province.

Murtaza Musleh, representing the Ghor police, said his forces did their best to minimise conflict during Ramadan.

“We do not fight out of respect for the month of Ramadan, but if we are attacked, we have to defend ourselves,” he said.

In Faryab, security chief Baryalai Bashiryar Parwani said a similar policy was in place, and his forces had not planned any offensives during Ramadan.

Instead, he said, “The police will ensure security for prayers in all mosques so that the public can worship without any fear during the month of Ramadan.”

In Kabul, speakers emphasised the terrible toll that more than three decades of war had exacted on the lives of ordinary people.

Sayed Aqa, the director of hajj and religious affairs in the Chahar Asyab district of Kabul, said, “Our houses were burned down, our property stolen, and our factories destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans were killed and others forced to migrate because of war.”

Mohammad Hasib, a preacher at a mosque in Chahar Asyab, quoted a saying of the Prophet Mohammad on war.

“Move in the name and blessing of God,” he recited. “Do not kill any elderly person, woman or child. Do not betray, but seek peace and good, because God loves good people.”

This report is based on an ongoing series of debates conducted as part of the IWPR programme Afghan Reconciliation: Promoting Peace and Building Trust by Engaging Civil Society.