Suppression of National Culture
Another set of measures adopted by the mujahideen were intended to suppress or replace customs, traditions, and social conventions with the injunctions of the Islamic Shari’a. Among other things, the new measures suppressed the tradition of singing and dancing at weddings and many other similar ceremonies; traditional games, entertainments, and racing events, including those that were militarily significant; and the custom of reciting not only lyric but also epic and mystic poetry from the classic literature in which Afghanistan is so rich, substituting for these the recitation of passages from the Quran. The measures also confined to their homes women who formerly labored in the fields, assisting their men. In addition, community elders, those who embodied traditional and social wisdom, were replaced by scholars of religion and Shari’a.
These measures showed that the mujahideen’s program was intended to change and Islamize those aspects of the rural society that were considered to be un-Islamic. The new local rulers set for themselves a provocative task, since the many different groups composing the Afghan society were (and are) rich in alternative mores. Indeed, the Afghans are much attached to this legacy from the civilizations of their long history. The mores constituted the main ingredients of their identity. The efforts of the new rulers were a reminder of the unsuccessful efforts of the communists, who tried to reorganize the society along Marxist-Leninist lines. Never before had the Afghan national culture been under so much pressure: on the one hand, from the internationalist culture of communism; on the other, from the universalist culture of Islam. Recent developments are probably best explained in terms of the encounter among these three types of cultures. In particular, the implementation of the two hostile sets of measures—those of the communist rulers in the urban areas and those of the religiously oriented rulers in the countryside—widened still further the existing gaps between the cities and the countryside.