• Mohamad Tabbaa

Are the Taliban Backward? A rejoinder to accountability

Updated: Aug 30

So the Taliban have retaken Afghanistan. Not the news that most of us wanted to hear after 20 years of devastation wrought at the hands of its aggressive occupiers.


But here we are.


There’s been a mixed bag of responses amongst Muslims, the award for the most surprising probably going to Muhammad Taqi Uthmani for a unique take, if nothing else.


The general responses from western analysts have for the most part been predictable: orientalist tropes about bearded savages who oppress women differently than themselves and a recycled disbelief that freedom wasn’t the inevitable result of a twenty-year bombing campaign.


Hardly inspiring.


One local article however caught my eye. It was an explainer on shariah written by Associate Professors, Zuleyha Keskin and Mehmet Ozalp, both ISRA affiliates and the latter also Director of The Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation. Both have also done great work in establishing an Islamic Studies discipline at Charles Sturt University, which is no small achievement.


You can read their article here.


I’ve engaged with Zuleyha online as well as appearing as a co-panelist alongside her a few years back. Although we didn’t see eye to eye on the panel, our engagements have been respectful and genuine and I thoroughly enjoy her online posts on matters of the heart.


The article, published in The Conversation, covers topics that I also engage in my own research and work, hence the interest. The article tells the story of the shariah, “the way to the watering source”, through a series of questions and propositions. Opening with an abstract discussion of the definition, purpose and aims of the shariah, questions are then directed more specifically to the application and perception of shariah today (“Why does the shariah appear backward today?”), and then to the Taliban directly (“Taliban’s idea of shariah and women”). In its structure, the article tells a common story of a legal system with noble aims that is misapplied for disastrous consequences.


But like any article, that’s not the only story it tells.


The article delivers a concurrent story to the one above that didn’t go down very well if I’m honest. And while my initial impulse was to write a response article to pitch to The Conversation, I opted for a different approach. For most of the past two decades, Australian Muslims have been battling each other publicly, and it hasn’t really worked out very well for us. The untrained eye might not immediately recognise this by looking at the Muslim landscape today, which is good, but those who experienced it will remember how brutal it became at times.


It’s not something I want to return to.


I’ve been doing a lot of work recently on the ethics of public disputation and debate, with an eye to how we can elevate our disputes and discussions locally; how we can disagree while contributing to public discussion respectfully and responsibly. As an example, the work of renowned Ottoman Judge and scholar, Ahmed ibn Mustafa Taşköprüzade’s A Treatise on Disputation and Argument is a concise instruction on how to do exactly that.[1] Drawing on al-Ghazali’s magnum opus, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Revival of the Religious Sciences) and connecting into an 800-year tradition harmonized by Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Samarqandi, Taşköprüzade’s is a well-regarded treatise on the topic, described by famous Ottoman encyclopedist, Kâtip Çelebi as “a very useful and comprehensive compilation of the main topics of this discipline.”[2]


The purpose of the etiquette of disputation, according to Taşköprüzade, is in “governing a mature reciprocal exchange of views in debate or disputation – i.e. a dialectic – … for the purpose of removing any barriers to ascertaining the truth.”[3] Debates, according to this model, are of two types: al-Munathara (argumentation) and al-Mukabara (quarreling). The former is a praiseworthy act involving two sides debating in sincerity for the purpose of arriving at the truth. This is the etiquette shown in the famous debate between Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Malik, and is the summation of the well-known saying of Imam al-Shafi’i, worth quoting here in full: “Abu Nu’aym reported: Al-Shafi’i, may Allah have mercy on him, said, ‘I never debated anyone but that I would love for him to be guided, directed, helped, and for him to be under the care of Allah and His protection. And I never debated with anyone but that I did not mind whether Allah clarified the truth on my tongue or his tongue [emphasis mine].’”


It goes without saying that the latter form of debate (quarrelling) is neither praiseworthy nor effective, driven as it is by an egotistical pursuit of victory rather than truth. There is unfortunately no need to demonstrate what this form looks like as it’s arguably the common method employed today.


Returning to the article in question, given what I know of the authors to be genuine, I thought this would be as good a chance as any to test out this method. In what follows, I will make some observations about the article in question in the spirit of scholarly discussion and engagement on communal strategy. My hope is that by engaging in respectful discussion, we can learn from each other whilst simultaneously elevating the level and nature of community discussions, or, to employ Taşköprüzade’s terms, to remove “any barriers to ascertaining the truth.”


I’ll begin by acknowledging that the desire to inform the public about what shariah is and isn’t, especially on the cusp of the 20th anniversary of the War on Terror and the return of the Taliban to power, comes from a good place. Likewise, the discussion of the overarching aims of the shariah gives good (if oft-repeated) context to help western audiences understand how and why things are done differently to what they consider their universal customs.


In other words, it’s a worthwhile intervention.


What made the Criminologist in me uncomfortable, however, was how the intervention was framed. And this is especially poignant given the context of the Taliban’s return and the closing of the War on Terror era.


To this end, there are three particular contributions regarding framing that I wish to make.


Oriental Violence


The first is my contention that the article relies on caricatures of the Taliban (and Islamists generally) that are Orientalist in their effect, even if not in their intention. From Criminology to Anthropology, Sociology and even Psychology and others besides, the study of modern violence and its causes is a hotly-contested and highly-complex debate spanning many decades.


Central to these discussions are the nature of (post)modern society and its inhabitants, including the mystical yet foundationless authority invested in the nation-state (replacing the historical divine right of kings) resulting from the European desacralisation project, alongside the corollary discussion of the complex relationship between citizenry and this unprecedented Leviathan, mediated through a legalism unprecedented in its encompassment. Add to that a totalizing, exploitative economic model that thrives on human misery (capitalists thrived during both the GFC and COVID), masked by a liberal language that convinces us that working our entire lives to finally have some savings when we’re too fragile to use them is the epitome of freedom. Sprinkle in recent psychological developments on the body as the site of trauma, meaning that experiences from our childhood (and in fact, before we were even born), can have a direct impact on our behaviours. Finally, add a dash of conflicting identities and serve on endless philosophical debates such as the immutable tension between structure and agency and you have… who can say for sure?


It’s for this reason that Anthropologist Michael Taussig complained that the state’s monopoly on violence fails to address “the intrinsically mysterious, mystifying, convoluting, plain scary, mythical, and arcane cultural properties and power of violence to the point where violence is very much an end in itself – a sign, as Benjamin put it, of the existence of the gods.”[4]


In case it wasn’t clear enough, modern subjects are a unique and complex breed. Why we act the ways that we do is equally unique and complex.


Orientalist depictions, however, reduce this complexity to a simplistic binary cast in the moral language of judgement: non-violence good, violence bad. More specifically, West good, East bad. Edward Said famously demonstrated how the Orient is constantly produced by the West in an image of its own convenience, such that the discourse of Orientalism can have a greater bearing on the reality of the Orient than that which constitutes its physical make-up. In other words, Orientalism can teach us more about those ‘describing’ it than about that which it purports to describe:


That Orientalism makes sense at all depends more on the West than on the Orient, and this sense is directly indebted to various Western techniques of representation that make the Orient visible, clear, “there” in discourse about it. And these representations rely upon institutions, traditions, conventions, agreed-upon codes of understanding for their effects, not upon a distant and amorphous Orient.[5]

When it comes to Afghanistan (and Muslims generally), the complexities of their (often-forced) formation as a singular nation from disparate cultural and religious groups, their complex geopolitical realities that include decades of foreign occupation, theft of resources, enforced patronage to secular ideals, indebtedness to a global usurious system, their unique experiences with a highly-sophisticated religiosity navigating the secular fundamentalist imperative, their various attempts at preserving tradition in the face of the modern decimation of their integral institutions and languages, and numerous other contingencies besides, are discarded in place of a neatly packaged and simplistic soundbite: the Taliban are backward. Muslims are violent because they misread the Qur’an.


The article unfortunately relies on such depictions in some of the questions that it poses: “Why does the shariah appear backwards today?”; [will the Taliban] “follow the puritanical Salafism or a more traditional Islamic legal school?”. It further relies on these depictions in its critical appraisal of alternative Muslim views on shariah by “secular and modernist” and “ultra-conservative” Muslims (Islamists are singled out as belonging outside of the latter definition of Muslims), which are pit in sharp distinction to the more generously defined “third group, holding perhaps the majority view.” This third group “considers the complexity of the world” and uses “the principles and methodology of shariah” to “apply it correctly”, intimating by contrast that the other groups share neither the complexity nor the methods that appear to uniquely define this third group. These depictions also find expression in the article’s presentation of the Taliban’s violence as a result of their being influenced by jihadist groups (“A fifth factor is the influence of puritanical Salafism among jihadist groups such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State”)[6], their ignorance of Islam and misreading of its texts (“These groups often ignored the vast shariah legal literature, scholarship and historical experience. They cherry-picked and implemented certain Quranic verses and prophetic traditions as Islamic law”) and their general backwardness (“Online access to the world would certainly have a moderating effect”).


The above examples from the article are part of the “agreed-upon codes of understanding” that Said refers to, which play their role in reinforcing the discursive power of Orientalist discourse. What this discourse produces, Said continues, is a reality within which “Orientals were rarely seen or looked at; they were seen through, analysed not as citizens, or even people, but as problems to be solved or confined or … taken over.[7]


These talking points ultimately belong to the same rhetorical family that was employed to initially justify the unjust invasion of Afghanistan that has produced the situation now being lamented.


On the specificity of the claims made above, a few simple points will suffice in demonstrating that this framing is inaccurate and goes against the scholarly spirit of the article as informative.


To begin with, that the shariah “appear[s] backwards today” has as much to do with its Orientalist representation in popular and academic discourse as its (mis)application in Muslim societies. In discussing representations, Talal Asad draws our attention to the importance in our assessment of understanding “the formation of listening subjects, of subjects who can open their minds to something that is strange or uncomfortable or distasteful."[8] A moment of honesty is in order here: if the audience of the article (its “listening subjects”) were demonstrably “subjects who can open their minds to something that is strange or uncomfortable or distasteful”, we would not be having to explain the shariah for the umpteenth time, particularly in an age of freely available information. Listening subjects would not need an explainer on the shariah after 20 years of consistent shariah explainers. Hence it is not the (mis)actions of Muslims alone that are responsible for the shariah appearing backward, which renders such a framing in the article imbalanced.


On the Taliban more specifically, it is well-known that they are neither Salafis nor jihadis, but Deobandi Hanafis. One does not need to agree with their interpretation of Islam, nor their political methodology, to see that the two are quite distinct. Linking them to jihadist groups conjures up images of foreign fighters forcefully attempting to take over a local population through the use of terror, as we witnessed in places like Iraq and Syria.[9] The Taliban, however, are indigenous to the land and have enjoyed various levels of local support over the years. Secondly, the presentation of their violence as emanating from a misreading (or “cherry-picking”) of Islamic texts is not only a simplistic and reductionist theorization of violence, but also casts serious aspersions on their intentions; the authority for which is reserved for a judge, not an academic. Finally, the assumption that modern technology has a necessarily moderating effect rests on the same Orientalist narrative of civilizational progress that has not only historically been used to enact and justify racist and violent policies, but is demonstrably falsified by simply pointing to the number of people who remain ‘unmoderated’ despite their immersion in modern technology: Trump is certainly not lacking “online access to the world” and we would do well to remember that our very own government is led by religious fundamentalists.


I make these points not to erase our role in our predicament, nor to vindicate the Taliban’s violence or justify their approach, which, for the record, I strongly disagree with. Rather, it is simply to say that the explanations being presented for why they behave in that manner are not correct, and furthermore, are harmful to the (Afghan and Muslim) subjects of the article as well as its (non-Muslim, Western) readers.

Ultimately, the discourse of Orientalism is dehumanizing and not befitting of deployment by scholars.


Abdication of Responsibility

The second contention is that one of the effects of employing Orientalist framings is the abdication of responsibility towards aggressors; in this case, Afghanistan’s occupiers of the past 20 years, which includes Australia.


The article contrasts the liberal West with the illiberal Taliban: “This means a move away from the liberalism Afghans grew accustomed to in the past two decades” and, later: “In short, life for women in Afghanistan will be better than during the first Taliban rule, but worse than the liberal rights they enjoyed in the past two decades.”


Aside from taking liberalism at face-value as being about rights and the delivery of a better life, which is highly contested in its own right, such a framing makes a statement about what types of violence are justifiable and what types are condemnable; or, stated differently, what types of people commit justifiable violence and what types cannot. This again plugs into the civilizational discourse described earlier.


It’s no secret that the liberal west that is here being credited with giving Afghan women a better life is also responsible for varieties of violence that terrorist groups can only fantasize about. From the early days of indiscriminate carpet bombings to the biometric warfare that within 10 years impacted 1 in 20 Afghans, the liberal West has brought levels of coercion and suffering to Afghanistan that are simply unmatchable by any other civilisation. More locally for the audience of the article, Australian soldiers were exposed in an ABC report as having engaged in a “warrior culture” that involved hunting Afghans for sport, slitting the throats of children, coercing fresh soldiers to shoot prisoners as an initiation ritual and deliberately covering up these violent acts, amongst numerous other terrors. So entrenched was this violence across different levels, the report shows, that "Running became a death sentence, even for women and children, with the dead person's actions being recorded as 'tactically manoeuvring' to a firing position”.


That the Taliban have been cruel and violent is indisputable. But the suggestion that “life for women in Afghanistan” under the Taliban will now be “worse than the liberal rights they enjoyed in the past two decades” under liberal rule in which “running became a death sentence, even for women and children” represents an inaccurate and irresponsible framing. This is again not befitting of a scholarly article aimed at informing.


I don’t doubt the authors’ intentions, nor their integrity. What they have presented is a quite common framing method in discussing violence, especially as it relates to Muslims.


But common is not always ethical.


Talal Asad extrapolates on how modern liberal ethics, especially as it relates to warfare, has moved away from judging actions according to a series of laws, towards judging actions based on the conscience of the actor. He notes, “law is always a matter of argument because it requires interpretation, but here emphasis is placed not so much on what the military commander does (which is comparatively easy to determine in relation to absolute rules) but on what he has judged necessary and then chosen to do, an interpretive process that lies at the heart of modern ethics.”[10] In other words, by locating the criterion for ethical conduct in the conscience, rather than the action, of the liberal subject, and further placing that liberal subject within an Orientalist discourse as essentially civilized in perpetual opposition to their uncivilized Other (Afghans, in this case), any and all of the liberal subject’s violent actions can be cast as ethical and hence not only justifiable, but ultimately good. This ethics is developed in the space where the civilizational discourses of Orientalism (progressive West and backward East) and the liberal self-serving definition of violence-as-eternally-Other play out. The result? Liberal terror, even if it has the same impact as its savage Other, is not terror, but the unfortunate and necessary cost of civilizational progress.


Importantly, it is precisely this liberal loophole that allows Western armies to commit the merciless atrocities they are renowned for, while simultaneously decrying their enemies as the uncivilized and violent ones. And it is this same ethic that allows prominent Israeli apologist, Michael Walzer, to justify Israel’s calculated destruction of the Palestinians under an “emergency ethics” whilst simultaneously bemoaning, with no sense of irony, that “for all their military strength, Israelis feel terribly vulnerable.”[11]


The result of this liberal ethics, Asad concludes, is that “it is not cruelty that matters in the distinction between terrorists and armies at war, still less the threat each poses to entire ways of life, but their civilizational status. What is really at stake is not a clash of civilizations (a conflict between two incompatible sets of values) but the fight of civilization against the uncivilized. In that fight, all civilized rules may be set aside.”[12] It is hence no accident that Walzer pins the cause of terrorism not to Israel’s brutal, decades-long occupation and destruction of Palestinian lives, but to the lazy cliché that Muslims are unwilling to modernize.


The article in question mimics this liberal ethics in its presentation of the (civilized) liberal West (the occupying power akin to Israel) as improving Afghan women’s lives through the bestowing of rights (an argument commonly made by Israelis about Palestinians), which the (uncivilized) jihadist-inclined Taliban detest on account of them not yet being modernized through the “moderating effect” that “online access to the world” purportedly delivers. And while the article makes passing mention of European colonisation’s collapsing of Muslim “political, legal and religious institutions”, it is offered as a single (two-sentence) factor amongst five, the remainder of which return focus to Muslim factors for the current state of affairs. In other words, modern Muslim violence is not framed against a background of a destructive colonial project, but as a Muslim problem to which colonization makes a modest contribution.


But the deliberate destruction of “political, legal and religious institutions” is not an incidental fact in the question of Muslim violence, as it was not an incidental fact in Indigenous violence in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Canada, South Africa or other locations where indigenous populations dedicated their lives to a protracted fight precisely against the destruction of their traditions and lives at the hands of Western empires. Rather, the destruction of Muslim political, legal and religious institutions is “the canvass upon which the story of terror is painted”, and an account that unwittingly reverses the order of affairs ultimately obfuscates the central role Western actors have played in the production of violence, both within Afghanistan and globally, as the superpowers shaping the modern world. Such an act abdicates Western actors of their responsibilities for their violence and likewise makes it more difficult to hold them to account for such actions.


The critical assessment of this liberal ethical deployment, and its resultant self-invitation of Western interventions, is not new. For almost four decades, this dynamic has been analysed and dissected in academic (and now popular) discourses across the world in a variety of disciplines and mediums.


It behoves scholars of Islamic Studies to be across, if not at the forefront, of analyses about their people and advocates of just accountability.


The Ethics of Scholarship


The third is the question that the article raises regarding the ethical responsibilities of scholarship in this country; something that has rarely been explicitly discussed in our communities.


I refer specifically to what I glean as the article’s main intention as an explainer; namely, to explain Islam (in this instance, the particular aspect of shariah) to a non-Muslim audience in a palatable manner. If I have read it correctly, the article is arguably attempting to engage its audience according to a principle of mercy, hence the emphasis on identification and similarity (we both detest the Taliban’s violence, its misappropriation of Islam/shariah and we both respect universal rights and moderation).


This, again, is a noble intention in alignment with Qur’anic guidance on the topic calling towards an ethics of highest mercy. For example, the Qur’an says of Prophet Muhammad, “We have sent you for no other reason but to be a mercy for mankind”[13], elsewhere showing the practical manifestation of this edict: “And indeed you possess an exemplary character.”[14] In contrast, another passage directed to Prophet Muhammad states, “and had you been rough, hard hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you”[15]. The Prophet’s understanding of these facts led him to implore us to “be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.” In an instruction to Prophets Musa and Harun on how to engage the Pharoah of their time, the Qur’an similarly states, “And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah]."[16]


In other words, the intention of mercy driving the approach of the article is respectable. But intentions alone to do not exhaust the ethical deliberations required of public engagement. Indeed, if intentions alone determined good conduct, much of the article’s criticisms of the Taliban could not be made.


I return here to Asad for guidance on such an ethics of criticism: “criticism, in my view, is most useful when it aims at reformulating the questions underlying a work, not at demolishing it. In such an engagement it seems to me more fruitful to try to shift critical attention toward what one thinks important for research and inquiry.”[17]


In formulating the questions that it does (Why does the shariah appear backwards today? [will the Taliban] follow the puritanical Salafism or a more traditional Islamic legal school?) as part of its problematic framing, the article “shifts[s] critical attention” almost exclusively towards Muslim actions as the site of explanation for violence, reaching as far back as the 11th Century decision to close the gates of Ijtihad (legal reasoning) as a primary contributing factor. Such a narrow frame of questions applied to such a broad and complex topic ultimately fails the authors’ own scholarly criterion of “[considering] the complexity of the world … to fully examine Islamic law”, and, I would add, Islamic violence.


I would further add that such a framing as employed in the article is not reflective of the ethics of highest mercy that the article appears to intend towards its non-Muslim audience.

Returning to the Qur’anic edict of mercy outlined above, we can see in the same stories that while gentleness is posited as the ideal manifestation of mercy in the conveyance of the message, the manifestation of mercy in the purpose of the message itself is one of reminder and accountability. In various sections of the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad is instructed that his mission is to remind people of their accountability before God. In the chapter of The Overwhelming (al-Ghashiyah), he is instructed, “So remind them! Surely you are only a constant Reminder.”[18] In alternative translations, remind is supplanted with admonish. Elsewhere, in the chapter of The Winnowing Winds (al-Dhariyat), the same word is used to again instruct the Prophet of his mission: “And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.”[19] Indeed, the Qur’an refers to itself as a reminder (“Indeed We have sent down the Reminder”) and The Reminder is one of its recognised names.[20] The living example of the Prophet Muhammad (his sunnah) shows us that he carried out this mission of accountability with an “exemplary character”. He did this by reminding his people of their accountability in a gentle and balanced manner, commending and encouraging their virtues while simultaneously denouncing and discouraging their vices, extensive examples of which abound in seerah and hadith literature.


Indeed, had he only focused on their virtues, he would not have been met with the extreme rejection and violence that often led him to despair, resulting in God directly reassuring him, “your Lord has not forsaken you, nor does He hate you.”[21] Rather, as the “embodiment of the Qur’an”, the Prophet’s application of this higher principle of mercy was to make every attempt to rescue his people from their self-destructive behaviours through rejoinders to accountability.


Likewise, in its exhortation to Prophets Musa and Harun, the Qur’an enjoins them to approach Pharoah gently, but explicitly for the purpose of accountability for his violence towards his people, so that “perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah]”. The act of highest mercy in this situation is therefore precisely to remind Pharoah of his harmful and ultimately self-destructive behaviours so that he may take heed and desist; in other words, to hold him to account for his actions, not to enable them via an exclusive focus on the behaviour of his victims.


The mark of scholarship is in providing beneficial analyses while striking the right balance between accusation and apologia, while the Islamic mission is mimicry of Prophet Muhammad in serving as a “mercy for mankind”. In its deployment of Orientalist framings, the article in question reduces the complex reality of the Taliban’s violence to a caricature, in the process abdicating occupying liberal forces of responsibility and ultimately reading as a liberal apologetic. In engaging a Western audience exclusively through the amplification of its virtues, the article in question covers its audiences’ vices, in the process failing to remind them of their accountability and ultimately falling short of its mission of mercy.


Conclusion


In what proceeded, I have outlined three contentions with the article under discussion in the spirit and purpose of disputation as outlined by Taşköprüzade; namely, “[to remove] any barriers to ascertaining the truth”.


I would posit that, despite the best intentions of the authors, the above points I have raised about the article present a barrier to the truth of the shariah and the Taliban’s violence specifically, and of Islam’s mission generally.


At a critical juncture when a Muslim land has returned to local rule after decades of foreign occupation, the moral imperative is to assist in its successful functioning according to the Islamic ethos. Such advice requires the nuance of scholarship delivered in the language of rejoinder, the ‘criticism’ of “shift[ing] critical attention toward what one thinks important for research and inquiry” that Asad offers.


In this spirit of criticism, I would offer the below questions as more appropriate considerations of “the complexity of the world” that the authors call on Muslims to engage, as well as a higher principle of mercy towards non-Muslim audiences that the authors attempt.


What are our obligations to each other as a minority in this country? What are our obligations to each other as a global ummah whose solidarity transcends national borders? What are our obligations towards our host country that simultaneously serves as an internationally-legitimated government and a locally-illegitimated occupying force? What are our obligations towards Indigenous people of this land whose plight resembles our own in Palestine, yet to whom our structural relationship is one of occupying settler? What are our obligations towards our host country that belongs to a first-world order responsible for distributing unprecedented amounts of aid, whilst simultaneously producing the unprecedented conditions that render that aid necessary? How do we remind them to take account of their self-destructive behaviours in a manner congruent with the Prophet’s merciful character? How do we implement the shariah as the legal institutionalization of a public mercy for the cultivation of virtuous dispositions given these contingencies?


To put it simply: how do we be Muslim in today’s world?


[1] My thanks to Samir Mahmood and David Drennan for their help in respectively recommending and helping me find the text. [2] Ahmad b. Mustafa Taşköprüzade, A Treatise on Disputation and Argument, London, Dar al-Nicosia, 2020. [3] Ibid, p. 28. [4] Tala Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity, Stanford, Stanford University Press, p. 22. [5] Edward Said, Orientalism, New York, Pantheon Books, 1978, p. 22. [6] Further links between the Taliban and Salafism/jihadism, and allegations that the former do not belong to the Islamic tradition are made towards the end of the article: “The next important question is whether the Taliban will follow the puritanical Salafism or a more traditional Islamic legal school?” [7] Orientalism, p. 207. [8] Kevin Hamilton, Beyond Utopia? Response from Kevin Hamilton “From Agnostics to Aporias”, The Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, https://unitforcriticism.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/beyond-utopia-response-from-kevin-hamiltonfrom-agonistics-to-aporias/, accessed August 28, 2020. [9] The suicide bombing carried out against the Taliban by jihadis as I finalised this article is a vivid demonstration of the distinction in question. [10] Talal Asad, On Suicide Bombing, New York, Columbia University Press, 2007, p. 21. [11] Ibid, 22. [12] Ibid, pp. 37-38. [13] See Qur’an, 21:07. [14] See Qur’an, 68:4. [15] See Qur’an, 3:159. [16] See Qur’an, 20:44. [17] Shahab Ahmed, What is Islam?, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2016, p. 117. [18] See Qur’an, 88:21. [19] See Qur’an, 51:55. [20] See Qur’an, 15:9. [21] See Qur’an, 93:3.


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