Taliban force distressed Afghan farmers to pay “zakat”
New Delhi, October 31: The cash-strapped Taliban regime is forcing Afghan farmers to pay so-called charity taxes on their land and crops, describing the payments as an obligation under Islamic law, RFE / RL reported.
War, drought and Covid have devastated farmers across Afghanistan. Now Afghan farmers who have lost money trying to grow crops over the past year say the Taliban is dealing another crippling blow to them, according to the report.
Charitable taxes are collected despite the fact that the farmers themselves are among the 14 million Afghans who, according to the World Food Program, already face acute hunger.
Farmers say they have to pay a 2.5% “zakat” tax on the value Taliban tax collectors believe his property is worth.
The Taliban justify their charitable taxes as one of the five pillars of Islam which are considered obligations for all Muslims.
Zakat differs from the voluntary act of giving charitable gifts out of kindness or generosity, according to the report.
It is supposed to be compulsory for those who earn income above a certain amount, and it is based on a person’s income as well as the value of their assets.
The recipients of zakat are said to be the poor and needy, struggling converts to Islam, people in bondage or in debt, stranded travelers, and soldiers fighting to protect the Muslim community.
Those who receive zakat are also paid for the work they do.
Critics of zakat include Islamic scholars and aid workers who note that the practice has failed to reduce poverty in the Muslim world, the report added. They argue that funds are often wasted and mismanaged.
Residents of Ghor province refute the ministry’s claim that the Taliban are not issuing tax payment notifications, the report adds.
The Taliban’s tax collection process began when local activists posted so-called night letters in local mosques and on the walls of residential complexes, the report added.
Farmers in Afghanistan’s central province also claim armed Taliban storms their homes at night demanding they pay tithing and charity taxes.
Those without the money to make the payments say the Taliban have instead seized their cattle, making their families even more dependent on humanitarian aid in the months to come, the report adds.
In Kabul, the agriculture ministry of the Taliban-led government said it was collecting charitable taxes from farmers, ranchers and people with small garden plots to boost incomes and increase “l ‘self-sufficiency’ of the country. (IANS)