Islam, Identity and Discourses in Pakistan

Authored by: Samina Yasmeen

Routledge Handbook of Political Islam

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415484732
eBook ISBN: 9780203154144
Adobe ISBN: 9781136577239


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The assassination of two prominent Pakistani politicians in the first two months of 2011 for their stance on the blasphemy law has drawn attention to the sharpening divide between liberal and orthodox notions of Islam in the country. The concurrent prevalence of militancy and identification of Pakistan as the central locale for terrorism has reinforced concerns regarding the religious trajectory along which the country is currently moving. Implicit in these concerns are questions regarding the role of political Islam in Pakistan – a state created out of British India as a homeland for Muslims in 1947. This chapter develops an argument that since its creation, Islamist groups have aimed at ensuring that the state acquires a definable Islamic identity. The ideas presented by Maulana Maududi of Jamaat-e-Islami encapsulated this preference for an Islamic state of Pakistan. Since the turn of the 1980s, however, a combination of politicostrategic, generational and ideational factors has resulted in the emergence of multiple ideas on the essence of an Islamic state and its practical manifestations in Pakistan. The resulting diversity of views carries both risks to and possibilities of ensuring that liberal Islamist notions remain relevant in Pakistan.

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