“We knew about the risks, but we, as scholars, thought it is more important to hold the gathering despite all the risks because attaining peace is our prime objective,” said Maulavi Shafiullah Nuristani, who was thrown by the blast on Monday and injured his leg. “Nothing can stop us — not these attacks or anything else. We are ready to do our best to achieve peace.”
The gathering of religious scholars on Monday is part of a broader Afghan government effort to shrink the space for the Taliban and urge the group to meet for peace talks. The insurgents, however, have proven resilient in the face of military operations that began in 2001. Despite claims by officials that many channels of communication with the Taliban were open, there are no tangible signs that the war could end soon, and the death toll continues to rise.
A conference of Islamic scholars urging peace in Afghanistan was recently held in Indonesia, and another, larger event is expected soon in Saudi Arabia.
Just an hour before the blast, the scholars read a 26-page proclamation that drew on verses from the Quran and the sayings of the prophet Mohammed to declare the ongoing violence in Afghanistan as religiously unjustifiable.
“It’s been decades that Afghanistan is burning in the fire of war,” the clerics said. “In the last 16 years in particular, the war has become extremely bloody, and it does not respect any religious or national values.”
While their declaration also called for government action, it was largely focused on the Taliban.