RELG300 Research Paper on Islam and the division of Afghanistan

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Research paper for comparative religion class on Islam and how it’s different interpretations have contributed to social, ethnic, and political division within Afghanistan. 2500-3500 words in APA format. Need to follow the outline below. References and citations need to be from the attached annotated bibliography.



-History and the Five Pillars of Islam

-Tribal and ethnic division within Afghanistan

-Islam within the Afghan Government

-Taliban and violence in Islam

-Muslim beliefs on women’s rights


Annotated Bibliography:

Primary Sources:

Armstrong, K. (2000). Islam: a short story. New York: Modern library.

In this book Karen Armstrong explores the history of Islam and the prophet Muhammad. She addresses the West’s common perspective of Islam and how it can be generally feared and misconceived. The book also covers some of challenges the followers of Islam face today. I will use this source to provide some history on the expansion of Islam but mostly for different points of view on Islamic civilization.

Smith, H. (1991). The World’s Religions. Harper One.

This book covers wide array of different factual overviews of the world’s religions. When pertaining to Islam, Huston Smith does an excellent job breaking down the basic tenants of Islam and the foundation of which its beliefs have advanced. Smith includes the social teachings of Islam, specifically in reference to economics, racial relations, and use of force. I will use this source for more historical overview of Islam and evidence of how far the majority of Muslims have strayed from their teachings of social relations.

Green, N. (2017). Afghanistan’s Islam: from conversion to the Taliban. Oakland, CA: University

of California Press.

This book focuses on the development of Islam in Afghanistan. Green discusses how religion in Afghanistan has acted as the bedrock of its divided population, providing dialect for both state and anti-state movements. This book offers some of the most in depth anthropological knowledge of Afghanistan up to date. I will use this source for insight into the different versions of Islam seen in Afghanistan and Afghan’s interpretations of them.

Scholarly Journals:

Shah, N. (2005). The constitution of Afghanistan and women’s rights. Feminist Legal

Studies, 13(2), 239-258.

This article discusses the issue of women’s rights, or lack thereof, in Afghanistan. It covers the poor treatment of Afghan women throughout a history of changing rulers. It stresses the importance of a reformation of the constitution if any real change is to occur in regard to women’s rights. I will use this article to show the oppressive treatment of women in Afghanistan and how it’s contributed to the country’s division.

De Lauri, A. (2013). Corruption, legal modernization and judicial practice in Afghanistan. Asian

Studies Review, 37(4), 527-545. doi:10.1080/10357823.2013.832112

This article addresses the corruption inside of Afghanistan’s judicial institutions. It discusses how reconstruction of Afghanistan’s judicial system has been an ongoing project that has been undermined by corruption within its government. De Lauri points out the key factors that have been critical in the reconstruction of Afghanistan’s judicial system. This article will support my paper by providing examples of a dysfunctional Afghan government.

Riphenburg, C. (2005). Ethnicity and civil society in contemporary Afghanistan. Middle East

Journal, 59(1), 31-51.

This article observes how Afghanistan’s ethnic diversity isn’t the only factor in its civil unrest. The article explores how a lack of civil society and democracy contribute to the volatility found in modern day Afghanistan. This source will help identify ethnic boundaries and how ethnic identification plays a role in politics which separates some members of Afghan society from their government’s spokespeople.

Scholarly Books:

Barfield, T. (2010). Afghanistan: A cultural and political history (Princeton studies in Muslim

politics). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

This book focuses on the unstable political climate and the changing of authority within Afghanistan. Barfield explains the diversity between tribal and ethnic groups, factors that unify them and divide them. He discusses how the region was better governed when the nation’s power came from a small group of political elites but destabilized when rural militias formed to combat foreign occupation. This reference will assist me in explaining the turmoil caused by both foreign and domestic conflict.

Tomsen, P. (2011). The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic terrorism, tribal conflicts, and the

failures of great powers. New York, NY: Public Affairs. (2011).

While serving in Afghanistan as ambassador Tomsen worked closely with Taliban commanders, warlords, and senior religious leaders throughout the country. Through these experiences, he shares his knowledge of Afghanistan’s history of conflict as well as issues that still remain. Tomsen discusses how religion plays a role in Afghan politics. This information will be useful for my paper when I discuss if the violence in Afghanistan stems from ethnic tribal or religious differences.

Shirazi, F. (2009). Velvet Jihad: Muslim women’s quiet resistance to Islamic fundamentalism.

Gainesville: University Press of Florida. (2009).

Velvet Jihad talks about Middle Eastern women taking to the internet to discreetly attempt to improve women’s rights in a patriarchal society. It discusses the differences of what roles women are supposed to play according to the Koran and how Middle Eastern culture have come to interpret their place in society. Shirazi discusses the many challenges Muslim women are faced with in Islamic society. This information will assist me when addressing how oppression in Islamic societies, such as Afghanistan’s, contribute to their division and how this treatment may be the result of misinterpretation or neglect of religious doctrine.

Bergen, P., & Tiedemann, K. (Eds.). (2013). Talibanistan: Negotiating the borders between

terror, politics and religion. New York: Oxford University Press. (2013).

This book examines the territorial battle from Kandahar, Afghanistan to Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province fought by Islamic militants. It points out the distinctions between different Islamic militant groups and even the distinctions between members of the same Islamic militant groups hailing from different regions. Talibanistan will contribute to my paper by providing evidence that even members of the same militant movement that fall under the same strict perception of faith still fail to unify and remain divided.

Murphy, A. (2011). The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence (Blackwell companions

to religion, 42). Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. (2011).

This book covers the complicated but undeniable relationship between religion and violence. In its chapter on Islam, it discusses how Western modern views of Islam are that it is a religion of violence due to the high number of attacks carried out by extremists. It also addresses the vast number of violent Muslim extremists that claim to commit violent acts on the behalf of their faith. This will be useful when approaching the topic of violent interpretations of Islam by some of its followers contributing to the division of Afghanistan.

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