JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Here, a lawyer in Kabul offers his personal observations and perspective on new Islamic taxes being levied on farmers in Afghanistan. For privacy and security reasons we are withholding our correspondent’s name and institutional affiliation. The text has been only lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
The Taliban Ministry of Agriculture is setting new rules to collect Islamic taxes. The Ministry of Agriculture have announced that farmers are required now to pay zakat and oshr to this Ministry.
In Islamic law zakat refers to a religious obligation which requires Muslims to pay 2.5% of their income to the poor. In the previous government, the Taliban used to force the public to pay this amount because it was one of their revenue generation mechanisms. The Taliban hold the position that the money will go to the poor families but they have never provided any evidence of doing so. However, it was previously used to fund their war against the government.
Oshr also refers to one-tenth of whatever is produced or harvested and made available to the market. This type of Islamic tax can be collected in kind or in cash.
Over the past two decades a wide variety of businesses in Afghanistan have confirmed that the Taliban asked for more than it is said and meant by the terms zakat and oshr. In the former government the application of such rules was voluntary/optional. However, in the areas where the Taliban had more influence than the government it was a must.
If the Ministry’s applies its decision to farmers in the country, it means that the farmers are required to add these two on top of other taxes that they are required to comply as per the taxation laws and regulations.