The Grand Imam of Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb
“I call upon those in authority in Afghanistan to reconsider their decision, for the truth is more deserving of being followed,” the head Egypt’s top religious authority said in a statement posted in Arabic, English and Pashto on Thursday.
In his message, El-Tayyeb affirmed that banning Afghan women from accessing university education contradicts Sharia and conflicts with its call for both men and women to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.
Such call for knowledge among men and women “has produced mighty minds among women along the scientific and political history of Islam,” the statement said.
El-Tayyeb added that the ban overlooked more than 2,000 hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) in this regard and also overlooked the historic examples of pioneering women in education, sciences and politics.
The grand imam also rejected the ban on the grounds that the Quran mentions “knowledge,” “reason” and their derivatives more than a hundred times.
“This shocking decision to the conscience of Muslims and non-Muslims alike should not have been issued by any Muslim,” El-Tayyeb stressed.
The grand imam warned Muslims and non-Muslims alike of believing that banning women’s education in acceptable in Islam.
“Islam firmly denounces such banning since it contradicts the legal rights that Islam equally guarantees for women and men. So, claiming otherwise is a fabrication against this valuable religion,” El-Tayyeb affirmed.
Earlier this week, the Taliban banned women from university education and female staff from working in schools, a decision that has sparked international condemnation.
The Taliban also banned girls from primary education, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, which constitutes a total ban on education.
The Taliban’s minister for higher education has defended the decision, saying female students were dressing “like they were going to wedding,” reported AFP.
He also claimed that some of the science subjects are not suitable for them.
The Taliban’s ban on women’s education comes although the group, which returned to power in 2021, has vowed that all citizens would be granted access to education.