The Council of Mullahs to Be Convened by the Taliban: The Group Does Not Believe in Social Contract

The Taliban is about to hold a so-called council of mullahs who are scheduled to gather in Kabul to endorse the group’s leadership decisions, ostensibly to legitimize its actions. This is a kind of simulation of Hamid Karzai’s proposed Loya Jirga with the membership of mullahs where the people are absent and the decisions for their future are being taken behind the closed doors by some mullahs who are basically either forced to attend this meeting or are the Taliban’s like minded individuals with black portfolio

The most important question now is why the concept of the social contract is not taken into account, which in today’s world is considered the basis of the legitimacy of political systems. Prior to the concept of the social contract, the pope and the church apparatus in medieval Europe considered themselves as sole the representatives of God on earth, and kings gained legitimacy for their rule by colluding with the church or paying tribute to its leaders. The crises and catastrophes caused by the priests’ ignorance of the public interest led scientists and philosophers to seek a reasonable way to establish a legitimate and acceptable political system. The product of these theoretical endeavors was the emergence of the theory of social contract, which after the Renaissance, by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and others, became well known and their theories became a universal standard for the legitimacy of systems.

According to the theory of social contract, the individual, as a basic unit in society, has absolute equality and equal rights with others, and the philosophy of the emergence of the state is to regulate the relations of individuals and prevent the encroachment of some of them on the privacy of others. In fact, individuals delegate part of their rights to the government in order to represent them for the sack of public interests. In other words, the government is the ombudsman who  derives his authority from the client, and has the right to exercise sovereignty until he is removed by the client. In this theory, the public realm is separated from the private realm, and the administration of the public realm depends on the agreement of all stakeholders which is the result of that law. The system derived from the social contract is both popular, legal and just, because it is not the monopoly of a particular individual or group, but serves the public interests, and therefore is strong enough to survive against challenges. A number of contemporary scholars have compared the theory of social contract with the experience of the beginning of Islam, especially the treaty of Medina, which was signed between the Prophet of Islam and its citizens, and found it to be compatible with the purposes of Sharia. Some of them have come to the conclusion that the word “Caliph”, in the political terminology of Muslims, means succession by the people, not by God; That is, the government is the advocate of the people, not an authority independent of them.

The structure of the Taliban system, however, shows that they consider the Catholic popes in the Middle Ages as their role models and, by ignoring the people in the process of governance, have resorted to reproducing their own version of the ecclesiastical system. The meeting of the mullahs of this group is an imitation of the gathering of Catholic bishops and cardinals in the Middle Ages, which shows both their ignorance of modern political philosophies and their disbelief in the position of the people. Those who serve this church structure participate in the removal of the people and the violation of their right to self-determination. This act is like a church coup against the people and changing their role from the client to the oppressed and ruling subjects, which takes the society back to the Middle Ages in terms of governance.