Shaykh Yasir Qadhi
The recent events in Afghanistan in which tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been forced to flee for safety, and hundreds if not thousands have been killed as the forces of the Taliban battle the forces of the Kabul government is worrying to all.
Two brief comments – and as usual these are my views and I speak them from my own conviction, regardless of what the critics may say (it is obvious to all that any opinion one holds will have harsh critics from some camp or another – so I shall ignore popularity bi idhni Allah, as is my custom, and speak my mind freely).
Firstly, regardless of one’s sympathies in this conflict, this onslaught and quick recapture by the Taliban demonstrates the sheer lunacy and utter absurdity of American foreign policy in that region. The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, allegedly as a retaliation for 9/11; it spent at times a hundred billion dollars a year, for the last twenty years. Estimates are around 1000 billion dollars total – yes, you read that right, one thousand billion dollars – were spent on America’s imperialist project in Afghanistan. America lost thousands of its soldiers and injured tens of thousands more (perhaps hundreds of thousands if one includes PTSD); it caused the deaths of uncounted Afghan civilians (we will never know the exact number because as a matter of policy America did not count the number of dead it caused) and displaced close to four million Afghans….and all for what? Literally days after this superpower with all of its might withdraws its forces, the very ragtag entity it sought to fight has surged back and taken over large parts of the country, with, it should be added, popular support from some segments of the people.
Imperialist regimes and colonizing powers never learn from history. All of that effort, money, blood, sweat, and chaos was for absolutely nothing!
Secondly, during such conflicts, tensions are always high amongst spectators, and accusations fly to all and against all. Who is really to blame? America and its arrogance? The Taliban and their bizarre and fanatical interpretations? The inept and toothless Afghan puppet government, hand-picked by its foreign masters in a desperate attempt to plant a facade and create a caricature of democracy in a land that doesn’t even know the meaning of the word? The ever-present ISI with its nebulous tentacles spread everywhere? Sectors of the Pakistani government who, for reasons of their own, wish to see the collapse of any stability in that land? All of the above?!
But for the purposes of this post, I wish to bypass all of that and ask you to not forget about what’s really at stake here: what’s at stake is your average person like the father in this picture, desperate to find any medical help to save his injured son. In this anger to blame everyone, and to create enemies within ourselves thousands of miles away, we spectators forget about the real casualties of war: your average human beings who just want to live their lives and take care of their families and go about their daily routines without the threat of invasion, bombs, civil wars, or attacks.
I am not intending to cop out of a more detailed discussion – although I do state that this region and its politics is one where I genuinely don’t feel that it is my place to be more specific than what has preceded (and for the record, there’s plenty of blame to go around, as my series of rhetorical questions alludes to). What I am intending to do is to set our priorities in place. Our priorities shouldn’t be “Who amongst us, sitting thousands of miles away, is the enemy?” but rather, “What can we all do to help our innocent brothers and sisters who are suffering during this conflict?”
My heart is not with any of the fighting forces or political powers of the region. My heart is with that little bandaged child, and the panic and grief and anxiety that his father and mother have, and the many, many thousands like them.
Rather than blame me, or your fellow masjid-goer who looks slightly different than you or has different political views than you, just think of the Afghan peoples! They have been through so much for the last forty years, and it appears they still have more to go through.
But it must be said: the Afghans are a proud, fierce, folk…brave, resilient, always cheerful, ever ready to be generous with what little they have. They’ve managed to maneuver their way through all previous conflicts with their heads held high, and I have no doubt, with the help of Allah, they will continue to do so throughout this conflict as well.
Allah be with our Afghan brothers and sisters!