Islam reached this part of the world in the 7th century and Pakhtana accepted it as part of their faith and socio-economic culture by the 11th century. Islamic fundamentalism however appeared to influence people’s mentality only after 1964 and practically after 1978. It concentrated the efforts towards a deliberate struggle for taking over political power in the country. The fundamentalists grasped the political power in 1992 and then vandalized the existing government framework of decades old afghan nationalism.
Islam, as a universal religion, transcends other values and permeates every Muslim individual and group. Islam has been the unifying factor for centuries, but in the post-Soviet period (1989 to date), political groups in Afghanistan have made use of Islam in a divisive way. For these groups, the belief and adherence to Islam tends to be ignored when some aspect of social organization (and/or political power?) is considered separately. In Pashtun traditional areas, as I have pointed out, Islam is sometimes in conflict with the much older customary tribal code, of Pashtunwali.
These contrasting spheres - Islam and Pashtunwali - articulate tension in Pashtun society, but also demonstrate that there are Pashtun tribal democratic ways of coming to terms with these divergences. It also further indicates that Islam is not the only institution among Pashtuns that regulates everyday affairs. Instead, Islam coexists with other traditional sources that have been around from times well before the advent of Islam. So, in order to resolve any tension, Pashtun common-law experts, or merakchian, integrate and articulate those shared ideological elements that are the product of centuries old political discourse with a view to resolving or neutralizing antagonistic approaches, whether between Islam and Pashtunwali or in tribal conflicts. All such approaches are regarded to be Islamic by the actors.
In Islam, for example, a woman’s consent is necessary for marriage. In Pashtunwali if a girl’s scarf is snatched from her head, or a man starts firing into the air, announcing his engagement to a girl, she has to be given to him in marriage. But normally the high bride price and the years it would take for a father to agree in such cases deters most men from such bravados. Also in Pashtunwali, a woman whose husband dies may be remarried to the man’s brother or another close relative. But in Islam, a woman can not be re-married without her consent and her husband’s family has no right of possession over her. In Islam, [providing that the immediate family has decided against forgiveness and mercy] A must die for unjustly killing B (an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth), and that is the end of the matter. In Pashtunwali revenge killing continues for generations. In short, for the rural Pashtun restoration of honor, and in order to not give the impression of being weak, redress is preferable when it is in accordance with Pashtunwali rather than Islam. In rural Pashtun society, asking for justice under Islamic injunctions would indicate a man’s weakness and thus leave him wide-open to further encroachments by his rivals. However, in non-Pashtun ethnic areas, Islamic decisions often override local customs, rawaj or 'adat.
- ↑ WAK Foundation: Mohammad Enam Wak
- ↑ Historic Perspective on Afghanistan, its People and Culture” by Dr. Nabi Misdaq