Almost all Afghans are Muslims. Approximately 84% are Sunnis; 15% are Shi'is; others comprise only 1%. The Pashtuns, most of the Tajiks, the Uzbeks, and the Turkmen are Sunnis, while the Hazaras are Shi'is. The country's small Hindu and Sikh population is estimated at less than 30,000. Before the 1978 Communist coup, Islam was the official religion of Afghanistan; in an effort to win over religious leaders, the Marxist regime set up a Department of Islamic Affairs in 1981 and began providing funds for new mosques and for the maintenance of old ones. Following the overthrow of the Communist regime, an Islamic State was again proclaimed.
In 1994 the Islamic militants who called themselves the Taliban—literally "the Seekers," a term used to describe religious students—began
to impose their strict form of Islam observance in the areas that they controlled. The Taliban, composed mostly of Pashtoons, were puritanical zealots. Women were ordered to dress in strict Islamic garb and were banned from working or from going out of their houses unless accompanied by a male relative. Some men were forced to pray five times a day and grow full beards as a condition of employment in the government. Under the Taliban, repression of the Hazara ethnic group, who were predominantly Shi'is, was severe.
Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the 1964 constitution has been used as a basis for the definition of religious freedom and practices. The 1964 constitution proclaims Islam the "sacred religion of Afghanistan" and states that religious rites of the state shall be performed according to Hanafi doctrine. Religious toleration for non-Muslims has been granted, according to the 1964 constitution and the 2001 Bonn Agreement.