Taliban’s Jizya on Pakistani Sikhs: Urgent Appeal to Deobandi Ulema to Issue Fatwa
by Yoginder Sikand
News is emerging about self-styled Islamist Taliban forcing hapless Sikhs in remote villages of northern Pakistan, which the Taliban have recently captured, to pay them a hefty amount of money as jizya, on account of their being non-Muslims. The Taliban have resorted even to kidnapping in order to force the helpless Sikhs to cough up the huge ransom that the Taliban have demanded in the name of imposing what they regard as an Islamic tax on them. According to a report published in the Lahore-based newspaper Daily Times (1st May, 2009):
‘Taliban in Orakzai Agency have banished 50 Sikh families from the agency for not paying Jizia, a tax levied on non-Muslims living under Islamic law, a private TV channel reported on Thursday. According to the channel, Taliban occupied houses and shops of the Sikhs and auctioned their valuables for Rs 0.8 million in Qasim Khel and Feroz Khel areas. Taliban had demanded Rs 12 million from the Sikh community but they had only paid Rs 6.7 million to the Taliban, the channel said.’ [ http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\05\01\story_1-5-2009_pg7_10 ]
According to another news report (Times of India, 1st May, 2009):
‘The Taliban has forcibly captured three houses and ten shops belonging to people of the Sikh community in the Orakzai Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) after they failed to fulfil their demands of huge protection money. According to the sources, Taliban gunmen forced all the 24 family members of one Kalyan Singh out of their houses and shops. Singh, a cloth merchant, was kidnapped by extremists a fortnight ago, and was released when he paid 3.5 million rupees out of the 13 million rupees which was demanded as protection money. After Singh failed to arrange the rest of the amount, the Taliban occupied the properties.’
This horrendous development deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms, as inhuman, barbaric and against all authentic religious values. The Taliban claim to follow the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam, whose ideological headquarters are at the Dar ul-Uloom in Deoband, India. In recent years, the ulema of the Dar ul-Uloom Deoband have been at the forefront of anti-terror campaigns and continue to insist that Islam has no room for terrorism and that oppressing non-Muslims cannot be sanction by Islam. This being the case, it is now incumbent on the ulema of Deoband to issue a fatwa branding the imposition of the jizya on the Sikhs by the Taliban and other forms of oppression directed against the Sikh minority in Pakistan by the Taliban as un-Islamic or anti-Islamic.
In this regard, perhaps a group of concerned people can approach the muftis of the Dar ul-Uloom at Deoband immediately to issue such a fatwa at the earliest. Given the fact that the ulema of the Dar ul-Uloom at Deoband are widely respected by their fellow Deobandis even outside India, including by the Taliban, it is possible that a fatwa condemning the Taliban’s atrocities against the Pakistani Sikhs might have a salutary effect.
Sukhia Sab Sansar Khaye Aur Soye
Dukhia Sahib Kabir Jagey Aur Roye
The world is ‘happy’, eating and sleeping
The forlorn Kabir Sahib is awake and weeping