As a Muslim headscarf-wearing teacher who trained in the UK, nothing pains me more than hearing of laws enacted to prevent women and girls from attending school in Afghanistan, especially when it’s their God-given and human right.
The disturbing news is that women and girls in Afghanistan have been banned from education in secondary school since March last year.
Then on December 20, 2022, they were banned from going to university, leaving nearly all Afghan women above the age of 12 now barred from formal education.
The Taliban’s draconian policies include restrictions on female movement, teacher shortages and limited career options.
And now women are banned from working for non-governmental organisations in Afghanistan.
This is abhorrent and a world away from what Islam actually teaches, and so distant from true Islam to be unrecognisable as part of our faith.
“In a true Islamic society, men and women, boys and girls should be treated equally. Those who do not do this, they are going against the teachings of Islam, “ says Caliph Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the head of the world wide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
This community has men’s and a women’s branch in Bordon that cover Alton and Petersfield areas and whose members worship at mosque in Tilford.
So why is the Taliban so intent on enforcing laws the exact opposite of Islamic teachings?
Taliban misogyny is about power and control, not religious interpretation.
The word Islam itself is derived from peace, submission and obedience to God.
The considered word of God for Muslims, the Holy Qur’an, tells us that men and women have equal rights to their education.
And it instructs all to gain knowledge and learn; it repeatedly highlights the importance of knowledge.
This scripture was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, who championed both men and women to “seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave – even if you have to go to China”.
His female Muslim companions were active partakers in civic and public life.
They fought on battlefields, defended territories, taught men and women – and were scholars in their own right.
Turkish and Saudi Arabian leaders have strongly condemned the Taliban’s nationwide ban on women attending private and public universities.
Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the Afghan economy would be harmed in the long run if women were not allowed to train as doctors, teachers, researchers, scientists and in other professions.
With January 24 marking the UN International Day of Education, the theme for 2023 is ‘to invest in people and prioritise education’.
And of the 258 million children and youths worldwide who still do not attend school, 129 million of them are girls.
As a result, there has been a consistent global voice challenging the actions of those leaders from the grass roots up to the highest levels of government office to address anti-female policies.
His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad continually champions women and girls to access high-quality higher education and pursue this wherever they live in the world.
His is true Islamic leadership, encouraging girls and women from every corner of the globe to fulfil their academic potential, to serve their nations and communities in a way that positively uplifts their communities, and to engage themselves in public life to make a change in society and humanity.
He said: “Islam protects all the religions and has nothing to do with extremism, terrorism or destroying other religions or spreading the message of Islam with the sword.”
All girls and women worldwide are entitled to education and no government or power has the right to take that away.