Difference Between Taliban and Mujahideen

Taliban vs Mujahideen

It is natural for people in the western countries to be baffled when they hear words like Taliban and Mujahideen. For one, there are too many cross cultural differences for them to appreciate subtle differences or nuances in Islam, and for two, it is not possible to provide correct translations of many Islamic words in English. This article will attempt to clear the doubts in the minds of westerners pertaining to words like Taliban and Mujahideen by highlighting the similarities and differences between them. What is interesting is that both Taliban and Mujahideen have originated from the time when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and forcibly occupied it for a number of years.

To fight Soviet forces and to evacuate them from their native country, Muslim troops were mobilized and recruited from all parts of the world in the name of Islam. These fighters had one common root and that was they all belonged to Muslim faith and gathered together to save their Muslim brethren from Soviet oppression. These fighters were labeled as Mujahideen and were asked to wage a holy war, referred to as Jihad by the Muslims. Many outfits were created for this purpose and interestingly, the US, because of its strategic interests in the area, provided help and assistance to these outfits. This included providing weapons and military training to these Mujahideen.

After a long drawn out war, finally Mujahideen succeeded in their efforts and the Soviets had to relent and leave the country by 1989. Soviet withdrawal, however, resulted in a chaos in the area as there was a war between warlords and people of political background to gain control over the area. This led to a long civil war leaving thousands dead and kids orphaned and the situation became grim. Hundreds of thousands of Afghanis sought refuge and shelter in the neighboring Pakistan where their kids were taught in madarsas. These children received pure Islamic education and their minds were imbibed in militant Islam.

Afghan populace was fed up with the situation and they wanted peace at all costs. They yearned for a political class that could provide good governance and could bring peace to the war torn country. The word Taliban was coined for people who were educated in pure Islamic ways. In fact the word Taliban comes from talib, which in Urdu means student. The reason why this group was created was to portray them as being different from Mujahideen who did not find favor with all sections of the society. The main objective of creation of Taliban was to bring peace to war ravaged country and to administer the country as per Sharia Law.

All looked rosy when the Taliban took over the control of Afghanistan in 1994 but soon people realized that Taliban were not benign rulers as they enforced a totalitarian regime and brutally punished those who did not follow Sharia laws.

In brief:

Taliban vs Mujahideen

• Taliban and Mujahideen are two different classes of people having their origins in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

• Mujahideen are warriors or fighters recruited and trained in gorilla warfare to fight oppressors and to save Islam.

• Taliban are a class of people getting education in Islamic laws and were once the ruling elite in Afghanistan before their ouster by the US

• Interestingly, both Mujahideen and Taliban can be said to have been indirect creations of the US to fight the hegemony of Soviets during the cold war period.