A group of Islamic scholars and activists recently issued a statement against the demolition of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan:
The senseless policy of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan of destroying statues is a reprehensible act that must be condemned by all Muslims. We ask the Taliban government of Afghanistan to stop the destruction of statues and relics in their country. Their decision contradict the principles of Islam and are very dangerous.
Islamic law requires the interests of the people (al-maslaha) be met in any decree or legislation. The destruction of shrines of other faiths runs counter to that goal, for the Taliban decision has led to hate crimes and burning of Qurans in India.
Furthermore, the Quran states: “And had God willed, they would not have associated idols with Him. And We have not made you a guardian over them, nor are you over them a patron (6:108); for you be your religion and for us be ours. (109:6)” Tolerance of other faiths is not optional in Islam but a requirement, and coexistence within the framework of religious pluralism is an aspiration for all Muslims.
The statues in Afghanistan are its historic treasures. These statues have existed in Afghanistan long before Afghans became Muslims. No Afghan Muslim government in the past tried to destroy them. They represent the past history of Afghanistan and its transformation into a Muslim community that recognized monotheism. Past generations and governments of Afghanistan did not destroy these images and yet Islam flourished in Afghanistan.
In many other countries where Muslims are a majority, and have ruled those lands for centuries, they did not destroy the religious symbols of other people. Such images and symbols of the past still exist in almost all Muslim countries.
We denounce the Taliban regime for this act and hope that will reconsider its decision and will give full assurance to the world Buddhist community, and others, about the safety of these historic relics of the past.
The world community is rightly outraged at the destruction of these statues and relics. However, it is a shame to see that there is not much concern about the death and starvation of millions of human beings in Afghanistan and Iraq due to unjust sanctions or famine and disease in Africa, not to mention the death, torture, economic blockade and political oppression against Palestinians by the Israelis. All religions teach that the life of a human being is much more important then any relic. We should have more concern for human life and their well-being.
Aslam Abdullah, The Minaret Magazine
Sadik Alloo, Shia Ithnaa Ashari
Salam Al-Marayati, Muslim Public Affairs Council
Hassanudin Hashmi, Professor of Islamic law, Momin Lodge
Maher Hathout, Chairman, American Muslim Political Coordinating Council
Hassan Hathout, Author, “Reading the Muslim Mind”
Sadallah Khan, Islamic Center of Southern California
Muzammil Siddiqui, President, Islamic Society of North America
I would like to add my signature to this statement:
Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim