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Government, Judiciary

extreme punishments, old debts, bride price, beheadings, Sunni Islam

The constitution of 1931 stated that Islam was the sacred faith of Afghanistan and that the Hanafi rite of Islam was law. The Hanafi rite, one of four orthodox systems of jurisprudence in Sunni Islam, is an interpretation of the Sharia (Islamic law). The 1964 constitution stated that no laws could contradict the basic principles of Islam, but that the actual laws were to be resolutions passed by the houses of parliament, which the Sharia used when no such law existed or when the law was ambiguous. This constitution incorporated the previous religious judges into the system, but it also established the supremacy of secular law. The highest court was the Supreme Court. It administered the lower courts on the provincial, municipal, and district levels. Cases could be tried in Pashtu, Dari, or the languages of the minority nationalities. Special courts were established to try political cases. After the coup in 1978 and the change in government, a series of legal decrees designed to modernize the countryside were issued. These decrees included the elimination of usury (lending money at excessively high-interest rates), old debts, land mortgages, and bride price (payment made on behalf of a prospective husband to the bride’s family); the establishment of equality between the sexes in married life; and minimum ages of marriage. Many of the reforms were considered forward-looking, but they created conflict that helped lead to the civil war. The Taliban enforced its version of the Sharia by imposing extreme punishments such as stonings, amputations, hangings, and beheadings for certain offenses.

Article key phrases:

extreme punishments, old debts, bride price, beheadings, Sunni Islam, Special courts, Taliban, houses of parliament, Islamic law, Sharia, highest court, lending money, hangings, coup, married life, civil war, Dari, Supreme Court, sexes, lower courts, constitution, reforms, resolutions, amputations, conflict, countryside, Pashtu, languages, interpretation, rates, government, payment, behalf, change, version


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