Why Islam Refuses to Educate Women

Saturday, 12 March 2011 10:03 Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari Women - Abuse

Taliban blow up girls’ school building in Pakistan:

It is now more or less accepted that Taliban are the truest followers of Islam and hence their deeds reflect the purest form of Islam. According to a press report appeared on March 6, 2011, in The Statesman, a Kolkata based English daily, Taliban have blown up a girls’ school building in Pakistan. The report said,

“Taliban militants blew up a state-run girls’ school in north-west Pakistan today, though there were no casualties in the attack. The militants blew up the girls’ primary school at Kalo Banda Shawa in Swabi district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province with explosives laid around the building, sources said. The Taliban, who are opposed to the education of girls, have destroyed hundreds of schools in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the adjoining tribal belt over the past three years.”[1]

As Taliban represent the purest form of Islam, one should conclude that the pure Islam is against educating its women. 

A Taliban Militant

Who are Taliban? As a reply to this question, BBC, on October 1, 2010, said,

“Recent years have seen the re-emergence of the hardline Islamic Taliban movement as a fighting force in Afghanistan and a major threat to its government. They are also threatening to destabilize Pakistan, where they control areas in the north-west and are blamed for a wave of suicide bombings and other attacks. The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. A predominantly Pashtun movement, the Taliban came to prominence in Afghanistan in the autumn of 1994.”[2]

The report also said,

“It is commonly believed that they first appeared in religious seminaries – mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia – which preached a hard line form of Sunni Islam. The Taliban’s promise – in Pashtu speaking areas straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan – was to restore peace and security and enforce their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law, once in power. In both countries they introduced or supported Islamic punishments – such as public executions of convicted murderers and adulterers and amputations of those found guilty of theft. Men were required to grow beards and women had to wear the all-covering burqa. The Taliban showed a similar disdain for television, music and cinema and disapproved of girls aged 10 and over from going to school.”

Though Pakistan has repeatedly denied that it is the architect of the Taliban enterprise, there is little doubt that many Afghans who initially joined the movement were educated in madrassas (religious schools) in Pakistan. So, there is no doubt that the virus called Taliban originated in Pakistani madrassas.

Pakistan was also one of only three countries, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which recognized the Taliban when they were in power in Afghanistan from the mid-1990s until 2001. It was also the last country to break diplomatic ties with the Taliban. But Pakistan has since adopted a harder line against Taliban militants carrying out attacks on its soil. The attention of the world was drawn to the Taliban in Afghanistan following the attacks on the World Trade Centre in September 2001. The Taliban in Afghanistan were accused of providing a sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda movement who were blamed for the attacks. Soon after 9/11 the Taliban were driven from power in Afghanistan by a US-led coalition, although their leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was not captured – and neither was Osama Bin Laden.

In recent years the Taliban have re-emerged in Afghanistan and grown far stronger in Pakistan, where observers say there is loose co-ordination between different Taliban factions and militant groups. The main Pakistani faction is led by Hakimullah Mehsud, whose Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is blamed for dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks. [2]

Observers warn against over-stating the existence of one unified insurgency against the Pakistani state, however. The Taliban in Afghanistan are still believed to be led by Mullah Omar, a village clergyman who lost his right eye fighting the occupying forces of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Their early popularity was largely due to their success in stamping out corruption, curbing lawlessness and making the roads and the areas under their control safe for commerce to flourish. [2]

Taliban treatment of women:

When the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, women were forced to wear the burqa in public, because, according to a Taliban spokesman, “the face of a woman is a source of corruption” for men not related to them. They were not allowed to work, they were not allowed to be educated after the age of eight, and until then were permitted only to study the Qur’an. Women seeking an education were forced to attend underground schools, where they and their teachers risked execution if caught. When a Taliban raid discovered a woman running an informal school in her apartment, they beat the children and threw the woman down a flight of stairs (breaking her leg), and then imprisoned her. They threatened to stone her family publicly if she refused to sign a declaration of loyalty to the Taliban and their laws.

As a result on closing girls’ schools, colleges and the female employment ban was felt greatly in the education system in Afghanistan. Within Kabul alone the ruling affected 106,256 girls, 148,223 boys and 8,000 female university undergraduates. About 7,793 female teachers were dismissed, a move that crippled the provision of education and caused 63 schools to close due to a sudden lack of educators. Some women ran clandestine schools within their homes for local children, or for other women under the guise of sewing classes, such as the Golden Needle Sewing School. The learners, parents and educators were aware of the consequences should the Taliban discover their activities, but for those who felt trapped under the strict Taliban rule, such actions allowed them a sense of self-determination and hope.

Schoolgirls, women, teachers and schools have been and continue to be attacked by arsonists in acid attacks by Taliban members. Unicef said there were 236 school-related attacks in Afghanistan in 2007.In August 2010 it was revealed through blood tests that a mysterious series of cases of mass sickness at girls’ schools across the country over the last two years were caused by a powerful poison gas.

Taliban kill lady teachers:

According to a report appeared the Statesman on December 10, 2006, the Taliban militants broke into a house where two teachers lived and shot dead five family members in Ghwando, eastern Afghanistan, bringing to 20 the number of educators killed in attackas this year, the official and a relative said. A NATO spokesman meanwhile said, an investigation was launched into allegation that British forces opened fire on civilians, killing one and wounding six, after a suicide attack earlier this month. The five family members were killed overnight in the eastern province of Kunar after gunmen climbed over the home’s high outer wall using a ladder they had brought with them.

A grandmother, a mother and two daughters, who were teachers were killed, Ghaleb said. A 20-year-old grandson was also killed and a younger grandson injured in the attack in a village in Narang district. The two sisters had been warned in a letter from the Taliban to quit teaching, said Gulam Ullah Wekar, the provincial education director, Ghaleb said the letter warned the women that it was against Islam for them to teach, and if they continue they would “end up facing the penalty.”

The Taliban claimed to recognize their Islamic duty to offer education to both boys and girls, yet a decree was passed that banned girls above the age of 8 from receiving instruction. Maulvi Kalamadin insisted it was only a temporary suspension and that females would return to school and work once facilities and street security were adapted to prevent cross-gender contact. The Taliban wished to have total control of Afghanistan before calling upon an Ulema body to determine the content of a new curriculum to replace the Islamic yet unacceptable Mujahadin version. [3]

Brother kills sister for receiving education:

Muslims consider Girls’ education a shame for the family. According to a press report appeared on January 20, 2007, in the Ananda Bazar Patrika, a Kolkata based Bengali daily, a brother in Pakistan killed his 22-year-old sister Nahida for educating her and doing a job at Rawalpindi. She was a resident of a village of Manshera in the North-Western Frontier Province, but for sake of her job and studies, she had to leave her village home and live at Rawalpindi. She dreamed to become a school teacher. A couple of days ago, she came to her village to see her mother and other relatives. On January 19, when she was waiting for a bus at the bus stand, her brother Gul Shahjad, a fruit vendor, attacked her with a pistol. He shot three bullets at her and she died at the spot.

Her offence? Her family considered the she brought shame to the family by becoming economically self sufficient and live alone in a faraway place. It is said that her kin advised her many times to mend her ways, but she never paid heed to their requests and that the reason her brother had to adopt the extreme step. After killing his sister cried out, “I have punished her for her sins and I do not repent for her death”. Later on, Nahida’s mother lodged a complaint to the police station and Gul Shahjad was arrested. During his arrest, Gul Shahjad again cried out, “I have punished her for her sins. I have no repentance for that”. One should notice the power of Islamic brainwashing that motivates a brother to kill his own younger sister.

Kulsooma blinded by acid for receiving education:

Kulsooma-blinded-by-acid-attack. On August 6, 2000, Kulsooma, a ninth-grade student from Srinagar, Kashmir, was going for tuition with her cousin Fauzia. On the way, 4 boys appeared from nowhere and threw a bottle of acid on Kulsooma’s face [3]

“These were the times when Kashmir was gripped by fear as the Lashkar-e-Jabbar, a lesser known militant group which, with the support of Kashmir’s only woman militant organization Dukhtaran-e-Millat was enforcing the Muslim dress code – veils, covered head and no cosmetics. Kashmiri women and girls were asked to quit studies and stay at home”, says Ms Suri.

“An attempt to talibanise education in Kashmir was started in 1991-92, when the Allah Tigers and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat had issued diktats on the dress code. The Lashkar-e-Jabbar cadres had also thrown acid on Gazala and Rubia, the teachers of government schools, for not wearing veil and for wearing make-up. The incident took place at Rangers’ Stop near Khanyar in Srinagar”, adds the Statesman story.

Just after the attack, Kulsooma’s cry rent the air. She cried to onlookers to come to her rescue and take her to a hospital. But, in fear of the fanatics, nobody came forward to help her. Fauzia, her cousin, threw water on her face to alleviate the pain and took her to the Srinagar Hospital. Nearly ten years after the tragedy, Kulsooma is still terrorized. She rarely speaks. She talks only with her mother and that too in monosyllables.

Taliban’s war against girls’ schools:

In her article Taliban Wages War on Afghan Girls School, Ms Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson says, “The re-emergence of the Taliban is threatening one of Afghanistan’s greatest achievements in the post-Taliban era: education. Female students, whom the Taliban denounces as un-Islamic, are at greatest risk. Their teachers are kidnapped and killed. Their classrooms are torched. Their parents are threatened. In the southern Afghan province of Helmand, the Taliban is waging war not only on foreign and Afghan troops, but on education. Of 224 schools that opened after the Taliban fell, at least 90 have been forced to close because of threats and attack — especially schools that teach girls.[4]

The only remaining schools for girls are in the provincial capital Lashkargah, where the principal of one school, Jamila Niazi, says she endures repeated threats to her life. But the girls and teachers keep coming — 6,000 of them to Niazi’s school alone — saying it’s worth the risk. District schools supervisor Sayed Gol says that intimidation and threats remain rare in Lashkargah. But he says he fears that may not last long. He complains that so far, NATO’s month-old Operation Achilles has caused more schools to close, due to the fighting, but also because the Taliban returns to villages and towns after Western and Afghan troops leave.”We are unhappy with this campaign,” Gol says. “It’s had no effect other than to make things worse”, he adds.

Gol also says he hopes that the troops will speed up their efforts. But Dutch Gen. Ton van Loon, the NATO commander in charge of the troops, said at a news conference late last month that they are acting cautiously to ensure Afghan civilians are not caught in the crossfire. For their part, Taliban spokesmen insist they are not targeting any Afghan schools. Except, they add, for those that teach Christian values or serve American interests.

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR Lycee Naswan and Principal Jamila Niazi in one of her classrooms

Exactly one year later, Taliban captured the Afghan capital, Kabul, after overthrowing the regime of President Burhanuddin Rabbani and his defense minister, Ahmed Shah Masood. By 1998, they were in control of almost 90% of Afghanistan. They were accused of various human rights violations and cultural abuses. One notorious example was in 2001, when the Taliban went ahead with the destruction of the famous Bamiyan Buddha statues in central Afghanistan, despite international outrage.

On October 7, 2001, a US-led military coalition invaded Afghanistan and by the first week of December the Taliban regime had collapsed. Mullah Omar and his comrades have evaded capture despite one of the largest manhunts in the world Mullah Omar and most of the other senior Taliban leaders, along with Bin Laden and some of his senior al-Qaeda associates, survived the American onslaught. Mullah Omar and most of his comrades are believed to be guiding the resurgent Taliban. Since then they have re-grouped in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, but are now under pressure in both countries, from the Pakistani army and NATO respectively.

Pakistan Sunni Islamists attack females for studying:

Schoolgirls in Pakistan face daily threats for attending schools. The nation of Pakistan is currently in crisis because many parts of this nation are out of control and central forces can do little to stem the tide of Islamic hatred. Given this reality, the Taliban and other radical Sunni Muslim organizations have warned young girls from obtaining education. This policy is not related to the government of Pakistan but the government of this nation must be held accountable for not protecting female students and lady teachers. Instead this barbaric policy is being introduced by radical Sunni Islamic forces who desire to rule by fear. Attacks which began to increase in 2009 have continued in 2010 and schools have been bombed by pro-Taliban forces. [5]

“It is necessary for the liberals’ in the West to do something and not to excuse every crime committed by these fanatics. We hear so much about Guantanamo Bay but what about the dark forces of radical Sunni Islam in Pakistan? Why don’t we get more information about this global reality? What about informing people about the brutal ideology of radical Sunni Islam? It is not expected from them to remain silent about persecution of women, killing homosexuals, killing converts from Islam, stoning people to death for adultery, closing female schools, killing teachers who teach females, and many other barbaric and draconian measures”, says a political observer.

It is needless to say that a new wave of radical Sunni Islam, in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, is emerging once more. This means a new drive against women in order to maintain a firm male grip over society. However, the mass media, on the whole, appears to be asleep on this issue and feminists remain mainly silent and the same applies to moderate Muslims.

So, even in the early part of the 21st century we are witnessing a militant Sunni Islamic ideology which supports destroying schools, which teach hatred to the female students, killing teachers who teach young girls, and other brutal methods in order to rule by fear. This is being done in the name of Islam and this barbaric way of thinking appears to be gaining ground. At the same time, threatens the minorities Ahmadiyya Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and others. This mindset somehow appears to be growing in parts of Pakistan and the fundings from Saudi Arabia and other draconian nations is enabling this.

But followers of this radical Sunni Islamic ideology consider the killing of innocents and ruling by fear to be a divine right. In their eyes it is right to humiliate and persecute women, Shia Muslims, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs; kill converts who leave Sunni Islam; to chop hands and feet off for minor crimes; to stone women to death for adulter;, and so forth. “This ideology is more or less similar to Nazism, it is about the destruction of all alternative thought patterns and it is based on ruling by fear.”

In fact, this radical Sunni Islamic Sharia state which is desired by Islamists would mean a return to an age of complete barbarity. If a political movement in any developed nation rose up like this, then all liberals and democrats would be aghast, however, many parts of the mass media are ignoring the reality of what radical Sunni Islam means. Therefore, without any major political desire, this problem will be left unchallenged and females and their freedom and education would be the first victims and after them the rest will follow.

But the moot question – Why these Islamists are hell bent on against educating their women folk? We shall try to explain in the next article.


[1] http://www.thestatesman.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=361350&catid=37

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11451718

[3] Valley of Fear, The Statesman, June 2, 2005.

[4] http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9396748

[5] http://www.faithfreedom.org/articles/op-ed/pakistan-sunni-islamists-attack-females-for-studying/