Politicisation of islam settled
The politicization of Islam is not a new phenomenon. From the outset, politics and religion have been intertwined both conceptually and practically in Islam. Because the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) established a government in Madina, precedents of governance and taxation exist. Indeed, one of the beliefs of Islam is that the purpose of the state is to provide an environment where Muslims can properly practice their religion. If a leader fails in this, the people have a right to depose him. The Islamic tradition or faith is defined by developing an appreciation of the richness of Islamic literature and arts, the increasing importance of Islamic banking and redistribution of resources through the zakat, the role of Islamic law in the Shar’iah, and the complexity of the range of Islamic religious traditions.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Politicisation of islam settled
The Politicization of Islam in Pakistan: A Proposal
The politicization of Islam is not a new phenomenon. From the outset, politics and religion have
been intertwined both conceptually and practically in Islam. Because the prophet Mohammad
(PBUH) established a government in Madina, precedents of governance and taxation exist.
Indeed, one of the beliefs of Islam is that the purpose of the state is to provide an environment
where Muslims can properly practice their religion. If a leader fails in this, the people have a
right to depose him. The Islamic tradition or faith is defined by developing an appreciation of the
richness of Islamic literature and arts, the increasing importance of Islamic banking and
redistribution of resources through the zakat, the role of Islamic law in the Shar’iah, and the
complexity of the range of Islamic religious traditions.
The contemporary Islam is a history of challenges and response, tensions and conflicts. It has
been dominated by two major struggles: the first, the war of independence at the turn of the
twentieth century; and the second, in the latter half of the century, the internal battle over religio-
cultural identity and integrity associated with public life. Although present-day Pakistan is
thought to have experienced a shift towards democracy, it is far from being ideal. The lack of
comprehensive political participation in the choice of policies and leaders, a substantial and
extensive competition among established groups and persons, and a degree of civil and political
liberties, freedom of expression continues to haunt the international observers.
The issue on Islamization remains a burning question in Pakistan. Pakistan came into existence
in spite of the opposition of the ulema. But once it came into existence the Ulema thought they
held an opportunity to play a role in changing its direction for they had serious reservations about
the western educated elite. This, then, is the process of converting the country into a real
Pakistan’s insistence on Islam taking precedence over every aspect of national life has made it
easy for the army to seize power on a regular basis. This has resulted in impaired development,
on the one hand, and in the growth of radical Islam, on the other. The growth of Islamic
fundamentalism in Pakistan radically changed the correlation of forces.
At first in Pakistan the secular tradition of Jinnah was maintained. In March 1949, moving the
“Objectives Resolution” in the Constituent Assembly, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan
declared: “The people are the real recipients of power. This naturally eliminates any danger of
the establishment of a theocracy.” The Ulema were not happy with the first draft constitution.
As soon as the regional protest against Punjabi rule began to get under way, the ideological tune
changed. Suddenly Islam and the notion of Islamic brotherhood became the order of the day. It
was unpatriotic on the part of Bengalis, Sindhis, Pathans and Baluch to make demands in terms
of their regional ethnic identities because all Pakistanis were brothers in Islam. The constitutional
proposals were quickly redrafted. The Second Draft Constitution was noted for elaborate
provisions relating to the Islamic character of the proposed Constitution. The noblest feature of
the Islamic provision was a board of ulema which would examine if any law was repugnant to
Quran and Sunnah.
All that this ‘noble feature’ added up to was a smoke-screen, for it went little beyond setting up a
Board of Talimat-i-Islamia, which formally had some advisory functions but, in the event was to
exist only on paper, for the bureaucratic-military oligarchy which dominated Pakistan, had no
intention of giving the mullahs a share in power. The only concrete result of all this, after years
of rhetorical Islamization was a decision to change the name of the Republic to “The Islamic
Republic of Pakistan” and, further, a provision was inserted in the Constitution that the President
of the Republic shall be a Muslim. But these were mere symbolic gestures. The ruling oligarchy
was in no mood to make any real concessions of substance to the Islamic ideologists. The secular
mood of the country was dramatically demonstrated by the rout of “Islam Loving” Parties in the
first national election of Pakistan in 1970. The secular Awami League, predominantly Bengali,
which had no influence in West Pakistan, swept the board in East Pakistan, winning every seat
but one; that one seat for the Chittagong Hill Tracts being uncontested to allow its tribal leader to
be elected there. In West Pakistan the Pakistan People’s Party, with its secular slogan of “Roti,
Kapra aur Makan” (i.e. Bread, cloth and shelter ) got a landslide victory in Sind and Punjab
(giving it an overwhelming majority in West Pakistan as a whole) and the “left-wing” National
Awami Party made a very good showing in NWFP and Baluchistan. The Islamic Parties came
nowhere. The Bengali movement was eventually to lead to the liberation of Bangladesh.
The ideology of Sindhi nationalism too is explicitly secular. Like the East Bengalis, the small
Sindhi salariat is also backed by the entire Sindhi rural population, for they too are the sons of
Sindhi peasants and landlords, big and small.
Importance of the Subject:
Modern Political Islam was invented by the orientalists serving British colonialism in India and
was adopted intact by Maulana Mawdudi of Pakistan. It consisted mainly in “proving” that
Muslim believers may only live under the rule of an Islamic State – anticipating the partition of
India – because Islam cannot permit separation of Church and State. The orientalists
conveniently forgot that the English of the 13th Century held precisely such ideas about
Colonialism, rural overpopulation, poverty and other social problems have provided a fertile
ground for the rise of political Islamic movements. Such ideologies gained widespread appeal
due to their strong social orientation. Another major factor facilitating their widespread growth is
the ineffective government of the country. The failure of economic reforms and social policies
has resulted in worsening living conditions for the majority of the population.
Socio-economic difficulties are not the only factor strengthening the Islamic opposition. The
fragile-national political culture in Pakistan is accompanied by the consolidation and growth of
authoritarian tendencies, springing from the local political culture. Through preventing the
formation of a democratic opposition, the authorities have inadvertently fuelled the rise of
Islamic parties into becoming the main opposition.
Role of Islam is quite controversial in Pakistan.Thus one can say it is politicization of Islam
which is real problem than religion per se. It is very important to understand this in order to
promote communal harmony in any country.
This research is based on the cycle of action research where the researcher himself will assume the
role of an observer using the historical framework. The aim as mentioned above is to understand the
factor behind the role of politicization in Pakistan and its development in the political system of
Pakistan. It include the field notes, interviews, books, official and other primary sources.
Main Questions to be explored:
South Asia comprises the largest concentration of Muslims in the world, and has a long history,
both of communal confrontation and violence, on the one hand, and of co-existence within an
eclectic culture that has accepted differences, on the other. This duality is ingrained in the unique
and diverse set of practices and beliefs that comprise Indian Islam. But Indian Islam is, today,
under a deep and penetrating attack, a “hardening” of beliefs that may lend itself to the extremist
jihad in an uncertain future.
Viewed in the perspective of the above-mentioned debate, some of the important questions that
can be explored in this project can be enumerated as such.
What is Islam?
What are the reasons for Islam becoming today a religion associated with terrorism and
What challenges does Islam face?
What is the role of geopolitical considerations in raising threat of Islamic extremism in
How to explain the demographic, political and sectarian conflicts in S Asia in general and
Pakistan in particular?
How much the establishment of mosques and madarsas contributed to hardening of Islam?
What is the role of International support and linkages of Islamic extremism in Pakistan?
Literature review:(Initial Bibliography)
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Chomsky, Noam. On Power and Ideology: the Managua lectures. Boston: South End
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Chomsky, Noam. World Orders Old and New. New York: Columbia University Press.1994
Chomsky, Noam Power and Prospects: reflections on human nature and the social order.
Boston: South End Press. 1996
Chomsky, Noam. New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press. 2000
Chomsky, Noam. (2000). Rogue States: the rule of force in world affairs. Boston: South
Ayesh Jalal, Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia, Sang-e-Meel Publications,
Abraham, A. J. Islamic Fundamentalism and the Doctrine of Jihad. Lima, OH: Wyndham
Hall Press, 2000
Binder, Leonard, Religion and Politics in Pakistan, University of California Press, Los
Abuza, Zachary. Militant Islam in Southeast Asia. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2003.
Acquaviva, Mike. Terrorism: Special Studies. Bethesda, MD: University Publications of
Adamec, Ludwig W. Dictionary of Afghan Wars, Revolutions, and Insurgencies. Lanham,
MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc, 1996.
Ahmed, Akbar S., Pakistan Society, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 1988
Ahmed, Ishtiaq, The Concept of an Islamic State in Pakistan, Vanguard, Lahore, 1991
Ahmed, Manzooruddin, Contemporary Pakistan, Royal Book Company, Karachi, 1982
Oleg v. Pelshov, Islamism and travail of Democracy in Pakistan, Greenwich millennium
Press, Delhi, 2004
Alavi, Hamza & Halliday, State & Ideology in the Middle East and Pakistan. London:
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New York: Verso, 2003
Fazal-ur-Rehman, Dr., Islam, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London 1966
Gauhar, Altaf, Ayub Khan: Pakistan's First Military ruler, Sang-e-Meel Publishers,
Ghoudhury, Golam W., Pakistan: Transition from Military to Civilian Rule, Scorpion
Publishing Ltd., Essex, England, 1988
Hakim, Dr. Khalifa Abdul, Islamic Ideology, The Institute of Islamic Culture, Lahore, 1980
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Mohammad Ashraf, Lahore, 1988
Lamb, Christina, Waiting for Allah: Pakistan's Struggle for Democracy, Viking, New
Delhi, India. 1991
Iqbal, Dr. Afzal, Islamisation of Pakistan, Vanguard Books Ltd., Lahore, 1986
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Patel, Rashida, Islamization of Laws in Pakistan, Faiza Publishers, Karachi, 1986
In order to understand the phenomenon of politicization of Islam, it is necessary to have an
indepth study of Maududi and Qutbs’ political ideas, which are bound up in the all importance of
Islam and Allah in society. “Sovereignty and legitimacy are unassailably placed beyond the
realm of human endeavour”, Secularism and democracy are seen as a usurpation of Allah’s
sovereignty. Democracy is therefore, a direct violation of divine laws and a reversion to the days
of pagan ignorance (jahiliyya), secularism meanwhile, is said to lead to corruption, oppression
In order to understand the Western perception however, reference in this regard may be made of
Bernhard Lewis, who wrote an article in 1990 titled “The Roots of Muslim Rage”, in which he
maintains that the struggle of Islamic fundamentalists is against secularism and modernism, he
also coined the term “clash of civilizations” to describe his predictions.
Influenced by these ideas, Samuel Huntingdon went on to write the now famous ‘Clash of
Civilizations’ (1993). He predicted that “the fundamental source of conflict in this new world
will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind
and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural”. Viewed in the context of these two
prevalent fears with regard to deteriorating relationship of the civilizations in future, it is
necessary to have a look at these views anew in the light of new challenges, which remains the
prime objective of this proposed project.
Dr Arshad javed Rizvi
Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology