I moved to the Bay Area before the September 11 terrorist attacks took place, and I was shocked and deeply saddened by these events.
Besides seeing the symbols of our country attacked, my religion Islam has been misinterpreted to justify such crimes. Since then, I have engaged in interfaith activities and academic work to promote non-violence, to help explain to people that these terrorist attacks are against all religions and beliefs, and to strengthen the common goals of our community. to promote peace and justice for all.
I think the Afghan government of the day was wrong to provide shelter for the leadership of Al Qaeda. However, it was later discovered that the head of this organization was in hiding in Pakistan. After his death, it was hoped that the activities of the terrorists would be curtailed. Twenty years of war have cost the United States, Afghanistan and many other countries dear.
Recent events in Afghanistan present challenges for the United Nations, the United States and the international community, as well as for all parties and political groups in that country. First of all, there must be a solemn pledge that terrorists should not have a safe haven in Afghanistan or elsewhere in the world. Democracy is the best system of government, which includes freedoms of speech, press and religion, the right to meet and petition the government, free and fair elections preferably under the supervision of the United Nations, the right to create political parties and a sound judicial system to ensure the proper functioning of the democratic system.
There are reports from Afghanistan that women’s education is threatened there, and religious thought has been cited to this end.
I would like to state that there is nothing in the Islamic religion to justify preventing women from having access to education or from being treated as a less important sector of society. In Islam, whether in the Quran or the tradition of Prophet Muhammad, there are many examples that emphasize that society is made up of men and women, and that there is no reason to ignore their rights. The Prophet Muhammad said that “Heaven is under the feet of mothers,” which means that pleasing mothers is the way to please God.
The Prophet Muhammad said to his companions, “Take half of your religion from the red-haired lady (referring to his wife, Aisha.)” She was a scholar who memorized many verses from the Quran and speeches of the Prophet.
During the Prophet’s lifetime and after his death, Muslims asked Aisha questions about family and community matters in accordance with Islamic rules. Therefore, I absolutely do not agree with any interpretation of religion that leads to downgrading women or preventing them from seeking education or employment.
I hope that the new Afghan leadership will end all discrimination against women, especially in education and employment.
In addition, the Afghan government should cooperate with the United Nations to establish a truly democratic system of government, including the right to vote for all sectors of society.
Dr Amer Araim is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. He is also a former Iraqi United Nations diplomat.