Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Afghanistan)

The Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Pashto: د فضیلت تبلیغاتو او د معاونیت مخنیوي وزارت; Persian: وزارت دعوت و ارشاد امر بالمعروف و نهی المنکر) is the state agency in charge of implementing Islamic law in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as defined by the Taliban. It was first instituted in 1992 by the Rabbani government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan and adopted in 1996 by the Taliban government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan of 1996–2001.[1] The ministry was restored in the reinstated Islamic Emirate in September 2021 after the August fall of Kabul.

Ministry of Virtue and Prevention of Vice
Dari: وزارت دعوت و ارشاد، امر بالمعروف و نهی المنکر
Pashto: د فضیلت تبلیغاتو او د معاونیت مخنیوي وزارت
Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.jpg
Department overview
Formed1996 (1996) (original)
2021 (current)
Minister responsible


First Islamic Emirate of AfghanistanEdit

Established in 1996, the vice and virtue ministry received heavy subsidies and training from Saudi Arabia. When the Taliban took over Kabul, the committee announced a ban on sorcery and American-style haircuts.[2] It was closed when the Talibans were ousted, but Fazal Hadi Shinwari, an outspoken advocate of orthodoxy and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan, reinstated it in 2003 and renamed it the Ministry for Haj and Religious Affairs.[3]

Islamic Republic of AfghanistanEdit

In 2006, the Karzai government submitted draft legislation to create a new department, under the Ministry for Haj and Religious Affairs, devoted to the "Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice".[1] According to Ghazi Suleiman Hamed, Deputy Minister for Haj and Religious Affairs, the new Department would operate more benignly than the Taliban version.[1] The minister of Haj and religious affairs Nematullah Shahrani stated that the new department would focus on alcohol, drugs, crime and corruption, even though Afghanistan’s criminal laws already addressed these issues.

According to Human Rights Watch, reinstating the virtue and vice department would have a negative impact on women rights, a major lever of development for the country.[4] Shukria Barakzai, a member of Afghanistan's National Legislature, saw in this draft legislation a reminiscing legacy of the Taliban era.[1] Felice D. Gaer, Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, stated that the US expressed a strong opposition to reinstatement of the ministry of virtue and vice, calling it a violation to religious freedom rights.[5]

Second Islamic Emirate of AfghanistanEdit

In the 2021 Islamic Emirate Cabinet declared on 7 September 2021, following the 15 August 2021 fall of Kabul, the ministry was restored, according to The Guardian. The Cabinet itself was restricted to men only.[6] The Ministry was installed in the offices of the former Ministry of Women's Affairs, displacing staff of the World Bank’s Women’s Economic Empowerment and Rural Development Program.[7]

In March 2022, the Islamic Emirate required all men to sport a beard as a condition of government employment.[8]

In May 2022, the ministry published a decree requiring all women in Afghanistan to wear full-body coverings when in public (either a burqa or an abaya paired with a niqāb, which leaves only the eyes uncovered). The decree said enforcement action including fines, prison time, or termination from government employment would be taken against male "guardians" who fail to ensure their female relatives abide by the law. Rights groups, including the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan, sharply criticized the decision. The decision is expected to adversely affect the Islamic Emirate's chances of international recognition.[9][10] The decree was drafted by the ministry and personally approved by Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.[11] In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, First Deputy Leader Sirajuddin Haqqani claimed the decree is only advisory and no form of hijab is compulsory in Afghanistan,[12] though this contradicts the reality.[13] It has been speculated that there is a genuine internal policy division over women's rights between hardliners, including Akhundzada, and pragmatists, though they publicly present a united front.[14]


In the 2000 book Taliban by Ahmed Rashid, the ministry is referred to as the Department of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Maulvi Qalamuddin, the head of the ministry during the first Taliban era, preferred the English translation Department of Religious Observances.[15]

Role and actionsEdit

The Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice of Afghanistan was in charge of implementing Islamic rules (Hanafi principles) as defined by the Taliban. Its religious police raided the streets arresting women not fully covered and people listening to music.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Esfandiari, Golnaz (2006-07-18). "Afghanistan: Proposed Morality Department Recalls Taliban Times". Radio Free Europe. Archived from the original on 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  2. ^ Steve Coll (2004). Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Penguin. ISBN 9781594200076.
  3. ^ Franco, Claudio (2004-12-07). "Despite Karzai election, Afghan conservatives soldier on". Eurasianet. Archived from the original on 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
  4. ^ "Afghanistan: Vice and Virtue Department Could Return". 18 July 2006. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Afghanistan: Return of Religious Police a Step Backward". 27 July 2006. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  6. ^ Graham-Harrison, Emma; Makoii, Akhtar Mohammad (2021-09-07). "Taliban name all-male Afghan cabinet including minister wanted by FBI". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2021-09-07. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  7. ^ Gannon, Kathy (2021-09-18). "Taliban replace ministry for women with 'virtue' authorities". AP News. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  8. ^ "Taliban bars government employees without beards from work". New York Post. Reuters. March 28, 2022. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  9. ^ George, Susannah (7 May 2022). "Taliban orders head-to-toe coverings for Afghan women in public". The Washington Post. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  10. ^ Graham-Harrison, Emma (7 May 2022). "Taliban order all Afghan women to cover their faces in public". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  11. ^ Hadid, Diaa (7 May 2022). "The Taliban orders women to wear head-to-toe clothing in public". NPR. Islamabad, Pakistan. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  12. ^ Shelley, Jo; Popalzai, Ehsan; Mengli, Ahmet; Picheta, Rob (19 May 2022). "Top Taliban leader makes more promises on women's rights but quips 'naughty women' should stay home". CNN. Kabul. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  13. ^ "Taliban to Enforce Hijab Decree Despite Protests". Voice of America. 10 May 2022. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  14. ^ Gannon, Kathy (8 May 2022). "Taliban divisions deepen as Afghan women defy veil edict". Associated Press. Kabul. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  15. ^ Rashid, Ahmed. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. Yale University Press: New Haven, Connecticut. 2000. 105. ISBN 0-300-08340-8.

External linksEdit