I Prayed have prayed
Lord, we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Afghanistan. We pray for safe places where they can sing and make music from their hearts to You.

Analysis. I haven’t been able to shake it out of my mind. Last week I wrote an article for IFA focused on the ongoing danger to Afghan Christians one year after the rapid return of the deadly Taliban — a resurgence made possible by the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. forces. Our brothers and sisters in Christ were foremost in my heart, but something else I learned in my research also struck me.

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“While the radical Islamist group attempts to promulgate a veneer of tolerance to the outside world, it has actually taken steps … to outlaw music.”

I wrote that line almost in passing, but the Taliban’s crackdown on music lodged itself in my spirit. My church recently explored the biblical exhortation: Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19, NIV). So that likely attuned me to this matter. And then my attention only grew when I read a recent Christianity Today piece highlighting Nyack College’s efforts to rescue and care for musical Afghan refugees.

I wondered, “Why?” Why would the Taliban target music? After all, we’re not talking about a debate over morally acceptable songs or types of instruments. This isn’t even about western or modern tunes versus local or traditional expressions. It’s a ban on music. Period.

One ethnomusicologist traces this vehemence against music to a small band of Muslim legalists in the 14th century who considered it proscribed by Islamic law. There are qualifications, of course. Apparently, the Taliban permits some non-instrumental religious chants. But generally “they are not only opposed to secular forms of music but also sacred sounds and practices.”

The Taliban is so anti-music that they reportedly harass musicians and potential venues like wedding halls. They smash instruments and in at least one case even executed a folk singer.

During the 20 years of relative freedom aided by the U.S. presence in Afghanistan after 9-11, musical artistry blossomed in universities, on the streets, and in popular culture. But after the return of the Taliban, musical refugees like those highlighted in the Christianity Today article had to flee for safety. On the way many hid or abandoned their beloved instruments.

“Musicians do not belong here anymore. We must leave,” one drum player told the Associated Press last year. “The love and affection of the last years are gone.”

Similarly, Ahmad Sarmast, head of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, told NPR, “It’s clear that the music is not welcome in Afghanistan.” In fact, his institute is now occupied by militants indifferent, if not hostile, to the school.

“From the day that the Taliban returned back to Kabul, you see that Afghanistan has been [turned] once again into a silent nation,” said Sarmast.

This hurts my heart. I am not a professional musician or even a hobbyist. But I do love music. And so do many others.

It’s no accident that giants like Amazon, Apple, and Spotify are vying for supremacy in the music streaming arena. Hundreds of millions of people around the world value instant access to music they love. And globally the music industry is worth tens of billions of dollars. The moral positives and negatives within that industry and the music craze are worth exploring, but important to this immediate matter is that music appears to be powerful for people at a very fundamental level.

And that shouldn’t surprise us. Scripture is very clear that music is meant to be part of our lives. The book of Psalms, which makes up a substantial part of the Bible, is essentially a song book. And prominent figures, like David and Moses, have songs recorded there. In the New Testament Mary’s prayer in Luke 1:46-55 (the “Magnificat”) is considered by many to be a recorded song of praise. And certainly we see Jesus and his disciples sing (Matthew 26:30), as well as other references to music like the singing of Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:25). Moreover, we see the singing of new songs in Revelation (Revelation 5:9 and 14:3).

Further underscoring the importance of music, one article for BibleStudyTools.com, a Salem Media platform, says, “Music, a bridge builder of compassion and empathy, helps us weep together and bear each other’s burdens. In the same vein, it allows us to experience and share in each other’s victories.”

I also appreciate this description from California pastor Gavin Ortland:  “If a triune God created the world as a work of art—not out of necessity, but out of love and freedom—then music… is a tiny echo of what was happening before time and space…. Viewed in this way, music is not a distraction away from reality, but rather a clue toward it.”

However we describe it, it’s clear music is important to our humanity. So a total ban on music seems to me to be dehumanizing. It also is one more way our brothers and sisters in Christ — and those around them they seek to reach with the Gospel — are under assault.

What are your thoughts on this blanket music ban? And will you pray for our fellow Christians in Afghanistan? May they find safe places to sing and make music from their hearts to the Lord.

Share your own prayers for Christians in Afghanistan below.

Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.s public policy arena. Photo Credit: Mohammad Rahmani on Unsplash.

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Gail Wood
September 12, 2022

Satan is behind the Taliban’s hatred of music. Satan was the head of all music in heaven. Because he wanted to become a God and greater than our God he was cast down to earth in bolt of lightning. Along with him went his evil angels who listened to him.
Satan hates music as he hates all people because through his wickedness he lost his position as the head of all music and singing in heaven.. He hates singing and instruments as well as the singers. Satan has used people to sing songs that are vile and evil in every sense. How many people have committed sins while under it’s influence?
God’s children who love the Lord , sing from a heart that longs to worship God.
The Taliban are killers of not only the body but the spirit. They are evil because they have had wrong teaching that came from people who in ignorance , generation after generations have spread their untruths to gullible, brainwashed people who were and are open vessels for everything negative and ungodly.
They are no different than every person who ever lived though .God created every human being with a void inside of us. Nothing can fill that void but Jesus.
These people do not know God and certainly not Jesus who died for them.
It is so difficult to pray for those who are so evil , so wicked who joyfully execute such heinous crimes as they do.
They squash the absolute joy from all things.
It has been said that the Iranian and Afghan Christians have actually been able to lead Taliban members to the Lord. They do this knowing that they could be killed at any time. They choose to do this for the Kingdom of God. To honor and show obedience to God thus fulfilling God’s word to evangelize the world.
God is so much greater than the enemy the Taliban serve and our God is going to do miracles in Afghanistan , Iraq and Iran. There has been a movement of God going on in Iran for quite some time now. People are receiving Jesus as their personal Savior and being Baptized in secret. One day these countries will be openly free to become Godly nation’s and sing all the praises openly to God that they want.
We have to as dedicated children of God , pray for the Taliban as difficult as it is that more of them will open up to Jesus and allow Him to fill that big void inside them and that God’s music will flood their souls and come pouring out of their mouths for many to hear.
God’s word says that the Holy Spirit has come to bring us under conviction, what we have to do is pray the prayer of agreement and join our hearts , prayers and faith and watch what these evil men who hate music to become those who play instruments and sing to become mighty musicians and singers to God themselves.
In California Church’s were told during the Covid lockdown that they could not sing. Satan is everywhere and his mission is to kill all things of God but we know that , that is never going to happen because we serve the only true and living God whose Son Jesus shed His blood for us and that precious blood is as fresh , alive and powerful today as the day it first was shed.

Father , in Jesus Holy name we pray for all Muslims and for the Taliban , Isis and all it’s branches to come to know you.
We pray Father that You will pour your love and Your Spirit upon the void in these people. We pray Heavenly Father that you will cause their ears and hearts to become so sensitive that they run towards you and fall on their knees in worship and adoration of you. That as they cry out for forgiveness that we know that you will give it liberally to all who ask you.
Father , we know that you are true to your word Father and we praise you for Your great mercy towards all whom you created . Teach us to love through Your heart and to see others through your eyes no matter how difficult it is to pray and love them.
Use us for your will oh Lord and to your glory.
Amen

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Heather Greenwood
September 6, 2022

Some theologians suggest that Satan was the “choir director” in heaven, before he was cast down, so it stands to reason that he would hate music, praise and worship with a passion.
Lord Jesus, you said that “even the rocks would cry out in praise to you.” Lord comfort the people of Afghanistan. May they hear your song, the song of the Lord, in their hearts and minds.

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Darlene Estlow
September 5, 2022

Father, thank you for music. It is so uplifting to be able to sing and if I am feeling down, music can lift me. Even Saul was calmed by David’s playing his harp. I pray the Afghan Christians might be able to find a way to praise you in song. Hide them from the Taliban and let them make music. Turn the hearts of the Taliban soldiers and leaders to desire music.

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Mary Ann Canfijn
September 5, 2022

May there be an eruption of music — in Afghanistan and throughout the world — sacred music, uplifting music, for the strengthening and enriching of lives to the glory of God!

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Jessica Renshaw
September 4, 2022

“Amen” button was not working– I tried to “Amen” five of the comments below!

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Gail Segars Rainey
September 4, 2022

Psalm 150: Praise the Lord.
Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens.
Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness.
Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise Him with the harp and lyre;
praise Him with timbrel and dancing, praise Him with the strings and pipe,
praise Him with the clash of cymbals, praise Him with resounding cymbals.
LET EVERYTHING THAT HAS BREATH PRAISE THE LORD.
Praise the Lord.
If not allowed, Taliban in Afghanistan, EVEN THE ROCKS WILL CRY OUT!!!!!

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Linda Rice
September 3, 2022

Governor Nuisance of Cali.

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Cathy Lovato
September 3, 2022

Yesterday my husband and I were talking about how important music is in the Christian faith. I told him that it seems to be the only faith that sings about and to the creator and the savior of our souls. However, a little later we saw a program about a large group of Israelis who were singing worship songs, which confirmed for me that our God has created us with the capacity and desire for music as an expression of love to Him.
It is no wonder that the Taliban want to outlaw this way of expression to God, and by the way, all musical expression as it’s reminder that they are in control.
Father we pray that soon and very soon we are going to see the King, and that He will bring deliverance from all of the oppressing spirits in this world and bring back the joy of music that was created by You.

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Suzanne
September 3, 2022

You can tell that satan is running scared. He knows that music is a weapon against the enemy. How many times did Isreal go marching towards the enemy singing songs of praise to God while God defeated their foe without their involvement. Satan is pulling out all the possibilities of defeat by banning this and banning that. I can only laugh and say to satan, the victory is ours and you know it. Too late, we win.

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Don Loucks
September 3, 2022

Lord YaHshUaH, without music the world is truly darker. Dear Holy Spirit, please move on these Satanic elements and restore the joy in their hearts that music brings. In YaHshUaH’s Name I pray.

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Becky
September 3, 2022

Lord, this really is so sad but not surprising.
That old snake, who has deeply deceived those in the Taliban is a bully to the core. This is one more example of why we, the USA, ought to have helped the people of Afghanistan, not abandon them to more atrocities. But also why we, people of the Cross, children of The One True God, Most High God, needs to be praying for the deliverance of those in the Taliban, for boldness for those believers in Afghanistan and for a revival to sweep through America to Afghanistan! Come Lord Jesus! That is not too hard for You!

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