The willful ascension of Taliban to power and their unilateral declaration of Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan has posed genuine questions about legitimacy of the group’s ideology and activities. Answering these questions is desirable as the exclusionist policies of this inflexible militia not only look bizarre to non-Muslims but even many among the Muslims would resist to substantiate them. These acts would appear rather stranger when committed in a country, such as Afghanistan, where the very first three articles of the Constitution describe the country as an Islamic Republic and Islam as state religion, not allowing promulgation of any law contravening the basic tenets of Islam. Many among the Sunni Deobandi Islamic clergy and the Akhwani Jihadists would not hesitate to certifying Taliban’s activities as purely Islamic. However, rationalist Islamic scholars, such as Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, do not believe even in their Islamic veracity. “From Islamic point of view, there is only one justifiable way to establish a government and it is the establishment of government on the basis of the will of people, not at gunpoint,” Ghamidi said when asked by a Pakistani TV channel days after the takeover of Kabul by Taliban. He says Taliban’s government has no Islamic justification. In fact, the holy Quran has not mentioned any explicit method for induction of an Islamic government or Caliphate, nor has Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) specified any formula for the appointment of a Caliph or Emir al-Momineen (leader of the faithful). Even the first four pious Caliphs were appointed in different ways. Regarding statehood in an Islamic polity, Quran has presented only scattered verses in its different chapters from which Muslim jurists have inferred a code of legal conventions for functioning of Caliphate, though consensus on those conventions also remains based on sectarian considerations. In all the five cases, the induction of Caliph was subject to swearing of allegiance by the common Muslims. While narrating attributes of true believers, the Quran says (Ayah 38, chapter 42): “Who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation.” Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the authoritative English commentator of Quran, while explaining this most cited Ayah, says: “This principle (of consultation) was applied to its fullest extent by the holy Prophet in his private and public life and was fully acted upon by the early rulers of Islam.” (“Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary” by Abdullah Yusuf Ali p. 1317) Ali further elaborates: “Modern representative government is an attempt – by no mean perfect – to apply this principle in state affairs.” While Quran and Hadiths (traditions of Prophet Mohammad) have not specified any rules for induction of a Caliph, the Islamic history is also silent on the issue. The first of the four pious Caliphs succeeding the Prophet, Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddique was selected by a group of elite disciples of the Prophet while the whole body of Muslims swore allegiance to him in Medina. Hazrat Omar, the second Caliph, was nominated by his predecessor when the latter was on his deathbed. Similarly, the third pious Caliph, Hazrat Usman, was selected by a council of six elite disciples nominated by the second Caliph. Hazrat Ali, the fourth pious Caliph, was compelled by the people of Medina when a delegation from Kufa and Basra besieged the city after the martyrdom of Hazrat Usman and warned the city inhabitants to elect a Caliph or they would kill the top disciples who neither themselves accepted the post of Caliphs, nor agreed on anyone else. The fifth Caliph, Hazrat Hassan bin Ali, was elected by a Shura-e-ahl-e-Hall-wal-Aqd or council of elites qualified to appoint or depose a Caliph. In all the five cases, the induction of Caliph was subject to swearing of allegiance by the common Muslims. Sahih al-Bukhari, one of the six authentic books on traditions of Prophet Mohammad, has quoted Hazrat Omar as saying, in his weekly Sermon: “There can be no Caliphate without the consent of the Muslims.” Ascension of a Caliph or Emir apart, even the practice of coercive enforcement of Islamic injunctions by an Islamic government is also devoid of any credible consensus. The holy Quran says (Ayah 256, chapter 2): “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” Similarly, in Ayah 99, chapter 10, it says: “Will thou then compel mankind to believe.” In his commentary on this Ayah, Yusuf Ali categorically states, “Forced faith is no faith.” Almighty Allah even tells the holy Prophet in Ayahs 21, 22, chapter 88: “Thou art one to admonish. Thou art not one to manage (men’s) affairs.” That an Islamic government can enforce Hijab (veil) on women or regulate the latter’s appearance in public also lacks any authentic consensus. Quran does enjoin a certain code of modesty for Muslim women but that is neither as stricter as the politically motivated Islamic clerics would insist, nor is that mandatory to be enforced by a government at gunpoint. Ayah 31, chapter 24 prescribes a general rule of modesty for Muslim women. It says: “That they (women) should not display their beauty except what appears thereof; and they should draw veil over their bosoms.” In his commentary on the Ayah, Yusuf Ali says, “for Muslim women generally (not for the Pious Mothers of Believers or wives of the Prophet), no screen or Hijab is mentioned but only a veil to cover the bosom.” However, Ayah 59, chapter 31 is more explicit in this connection. It says, “They (women) should cast their outer garments over their person (when abroad). That is most convenient that they should be known.” According to Yusuf Ali, “It was never contemplated that they (Muslim women) should be confined to their houses, like prisoners. The object was not to restrict the liberty of women but to protect them from harm and molestation under the conditions then existing in Medina.” So in all cases, observing of veil is not to restrict liberty of women but for their ‘convenience to be known’ (identified). Today’s Muslim women generally use Burqas, Abaya, Chaddur or headscarves but every Muslim culture has its own dress for women to wear in public. Ironically, the black Burqa, which has become symbolic for orthodox Muslim women today, was a symbol of fashion among modern women in Pakistan in 1960s and 70s and were even not viewed with much respect in conservative households. Even an Urdu novel is on record in Pakistan at that time highlighting the cultural and moral drawbacks of black Burqa in a respectable Muslim society. Anyhow, obligatory or not obligatory, the question is whether social and cultural restrictions can be enforced in a Muslim society at gunpoint. Javed Ghamidi says: “That governments should enjoy the right to impose whatever they consider as Islam on the people at gunpoint, Islam does not allow for that.” He categorically states that ‘no government has the right to interfere in private affairs of the people.’ The writer is an independent freelance journalist based in Islamabad.