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Culture, Conflict, and Counterinsurgency$
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Thomas H. Johnson and Barry Zellen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785952

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785952.001.0001

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Religious Figures, Insurgency, and Jihad in Southern Afghanistan

Religious Figures, Insurgency, and Jihad in Southern Afghanistan

Chapter:
(p.120) 5 Religious Figures, Insurgency, and Jihad in Southern Afghanistan
Source:
Culture, Conflict, and Counterinsurgency
Author(s):

Thomas H. Johnson

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804785952.003.0006

This chapter discusses the critical role religious authorities’ play in Afghanistan’s present conflict. As an example, nearly all Taliban leaders from senior leadership down to sub commanders at the district level are mullahs. It’s easily argued that the present conflict in Afghanistan represents a classic insurgency wrapped in the religious narrative of jihad. The author introduces how the philosophical influence of Sufism and Deobandism work together with traditional tribal mores has shaped the cognitive structure of southern Afghans. He further highlights, in order to understand the Afghanistan conflict and its nuances, it is critical to understand the societal role religious figures play. Lines between religious and political authority are frequently shifted and blurred. The author concludes, by asserting, the failure of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is due to the misunderstanding of the religious dynamic and lack of examination of Islamic realities in Afghanistan.

Keywords:   religious authority, mullah, tribal patriarchies, Pashtun, Taliban, kahol, namaz, madrasah, Sharia Court, sufis

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