(© Zubair Qamar 2013)
Ahmed Rashid, the well known journalist and author of the book, “Taliban,” among other books, was told the “justification” by the Afghan Taliban of growing opium when they were in charge and running affairs in Afghanistan.
The then head of Taliban’s anti-drugs control force in Kandahar, Abdul Rashid, said he imposed strict bans on hashish
“because it is consumed by Afghans and Muslims”
“Opium is permissable because it is consumed by kafirs [unbelievers] in the West and not by Muslims or Afghans” (sic). (Taliban, p.118).
Then Governor Mohammed Hassan of the Taliban said that while “drugs are evil,” they would only think about substituting it with another crop if they received “international recognition.” (Taliban, p.118). The elusive, one-eyed Mullah Omar took that position for “[o]ver the next two years.”
Seems like international recognition was more important to them than following Islam properly. Neither of the reasons were a proper Islamic justification from any of the Sunni schools of jurisprudence. In this matter, the Taliban were less crooked when they first took over Kandahar. They wanted to eradicate drugs, which was in line with Islam.
However, after a few months passed, Shaytan got into their heads and they decided to do a one-hundred-and-eighty and support opium growth instead. Why? Because they realized they needed drugs for easy money and they did not want to upset the farmers who grew it.
But, again, these justifications are not Islamic at all. The Taliban depended on haraam income to establish themselves, and they were rather organized about it. They imposed a so-called “Islamic tax” on “all dealers moving opium.” They could have at least been honest and called it a “haraam tax.”
On top of that, “individual commanders and provincial governors imposed their own taxes to keep their coffers full and their soldiers fed.” Some among the Taliban decided to become drug dealers and even involved their relatives to do haraam deeds.
“Some of them became substantial dealers in opium or used their relatives to act as middlemen” (Taliban, p.118).
Spreading sin cannot be “Islamic” from an Islamic perspective.
But eradicate the hashish they did, which was probably an attempt to take away a guilty conscience for promoting opium. All along, they pretended opium business was halaal, even though it was not. This sinful indulgence was a violation of the Qur’an and Sunnah. How could the Taliban have expected Allah to be happy with them for breathing, eating, and sleeping with opium? Were they unafraid that living and imposing Islam through sinful means would render their “good” deeds null and void and bring Allah’s Wrath on them?
This matter was undoubtedly tugging at them for a while. Seemingly it was too tempting for them to stop opium business so soon. After all, it ran their so-called “Islamic” Emirate.
If the Taliban were sincere Muslims, they would have done things differently. They chose material convenience over the religion they deceptively claimed to follow.
First, they had a double standard that it is okay to let non-Muslims become addicts, while it is prohibited for Muslims to become drug addicts. Sunni Muslim Yahya Birt has excellently noted that this is
“hypocritical and cynical. There is not one standard of upright conduct for Muslims and another for non-Muslims: our religion requires us to behave impeccably with both.”
Second, the Taliban’s assumption that Muslims do not consume opium-derived drugs like heroin is to misunderstand the facts. This was a poor and sinful jurisprudential attempt by the Taliban to justify the promotion of something unlawful using an “Islamic” argument. Birt gives them a reality check:
“And far from Muslims being unaffected by Afghani heroin, Pakistan now has the highest heroin addiction rate in the world. In 1979, Pakistan had no addicts, in 1986, it had 650,000 addicts, three million in 1992, while in 1999, government figures estimate a staggering figure of five million.”
A joint report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) and the Government of Pakistan states that in Pakistan there was a
“100 percent increase in injecting drug use between 2000 and 2006.”
The National Institute of Drug Abuse states,
“Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, and—particularly in users who inject the drug—infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and liver or kidney disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health of the abuser as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration. In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin often contains toxic contaminants or additives that can clog blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, causing permanent damage to vital organs.”
Third, the use of intoxicants is categorically forbidden in Islam. Prophet Muhammad said,
“Every intoxicant is prohibited” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 4088).
Opium is an intoxicant. Therefore, it is forbidden. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Islam’s Prophet also said,
“If a large amount of anything causes intoxication, a small amount of it is prohibited” (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Drinks (Kitab Al-Ashribah), Book 26, Number 3673).
Seems the Taliban’s knowledge department lacks knowledge of the above hadeeth.
Fourth, the Taliban will be responsible for all sins associated with drug use by their promotion of opium. While the Taliban are currently ousted from power, the drugs they promoted under their leadership – while foolishly believing they were not affecting Muslims – are surely still spreading catastrophe, including among Muslims, in terms of health and other effects.
Fifth, even when the Taliban were later doing something right – hashish demolition – they mixed it with torture. Abdul Rashid of the Taliban said,
“When we catch hashish smugglers or addicts we interrogate and beat them mercilessly to find out the truth.”
He then said,
“Then we put them in cold water for many hours, two or three times a day. It’s a very good cure” (Taliban, pg.119).
“Good cure” from the Taliban perspective, but an utter disregard of the Qur’an and Sunnah that emphasize mercy. Prophet Muhammad said,
Why sanction torture when Prophet Muhammad said to be merciful?
Continuous accumulation of sin for even dead Taliban will not stop if they were in any way responsible for promoting drugs when they were alive. The Messenger of Allah said:
“Whoever sets a good precedent in Islam will have the reward for that and the reward of those who do it after him, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. And whoever sets a bad precedent in Islam will bear the burden of sin for that, and the burden of those who do it after him, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.”
The Taliban is therefore responsible for Muslims and non-Muslims who became addicts when they permitted and promoted the opium business in all of its manifestations. While the Taliban were propping up their “Islamic” Emirate with a foundation of drugs, addicts were on the increase locally, regionally, and globally.
From an Islamic standpoint, the Taliban will be held accountable for the burden of sins associated with the spread of opium, for violating the Qur’an and Sunnah, and for deceitfully promoting something haraam in Islam’s name through pseudo-Islamic jurisprudence.
 “Illicit Drug Trends in Pakistan”. April 2008. Pg.7. “The Paris Pact Illicit Drug Trends Report for Pakistan was prepared by the Paris Pact Coordination and Analysis Unit (CAU) of the UNODC Country Office for Pakistan and benefited from the work and expertise of officials from the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia” (pg. 3).
 Narrated Muslim.