Country Profile: Afghanistan

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Jamhuri-ye Islami-ye Afghanistan), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Afghanistan’s Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) is the principal source for legislation.

Country Background

Afghanistan is a landlocked country located in Southern/Central Asia. It is bounded by Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, China, and Pakistan. The capital of Afghanistan is Kabul. The official languages are Pashto and Dari; the latter also functions as the main language of government. The country’s population in 2016 was approximately 33.3 million. Afghanistan is a predominantly Muslim country, with about 85-90% of the country’s population Sunnī and 10-15% Shīʿī. It is important to mention that before the Soviet War (and subsequent Afghan Civil War, followed by the ongoing U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan), Afghanistan was for centuries a religiously diverse country, with well-established communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, and Christians. Afghanistan is a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Constitution & Legal Structure

Afghanistan is referred to as a presidential Islamic republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the nation. The current Constitution of Afghanistan was adopted in 2004. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. Afghanistan has a mixed legal system of civil, Islamic, and customary law. In rural, Pashtun areas, customary law, referred to as Pashtunwali or “way of the Pashtun,” operates in conjunction with Islamic law at the local level.

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law is a principle source of legislation in Afghanistan. It is referenced throughout the Constitution . . .

Read Afghanistan’s profile.