Pakistan: Islamic Dis-unity

Peel off the rhetoric of Islam and the all-too-familiar pattern of power politics can be seen running through Pakistani history. In an attempt to dodge, fudge, and suppress the ethnic and linguistic diversity of the country, successive civil and military regimes have played up religion as a symbol of unity. None of them has been successful. In fact, the more the state relied on Islam as a political slogan, the sharper and more irreconcilable these divisions have become.

In the process the myth that Pakistan is a religiously homogenous Muslim country has also been shattered. Those who identify themselves as Muslims are more precisely either Shias or Sunni-Barelvis or Sunni-Deobandis, or Wahhabi or Ahle-Hadith or Maududi’s followers, or belong to one or the other of the many mutually exclusive sects and cults. (Even the constitution of Pakistan concedes that “[I]n the application…to the personal law of any Muslim sect, the expression ‘Qur’an and Sunnah’ shall mean the Qur’an and Sunnah as interpreted by that sect.) So problematic has been the task of interpreting “true” Islam that the constitution had to be amended to insert a clause to define who is a Muslim -- rather who is a non-Muslim. Similar sectarian disputes, which have marked efforts to Islamize education and laws, have often taken a violent turn. [...]

From HERE, great article, I recommend you read it all.


Steve Scott said…
From my small understanding of Pakistan, I remember hearing of something like 63 major languages and 173 distinct people groups. Not to mention Afgan refugees and border skirmishes with India. Abu, with so many people groups, do you think it indicates that the concept of "true" Islam is trumped by day-to-day life amongst the people they most consider their own? Do you see parallels with Christianity? This was a fascinating article.
Abu Daoud said…
Good question Steve. Let me suggest that tribalism is integral to Islam. I don't think that Muhammad wanted it to be that way, but because he tied his religio-political empire to Arab culture (which was and is irreversibly tribal) he kind of defeated his own vision of an egalitarian society wherein all shared the same status.

In reality, that vision has NEVER been realized in the history of Islam.

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