Pakistan: Shari'a and the state

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9 Scopus citations


In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Pakistan received a great deal of international attention. The Pakistani government and military had close relations with the Taliban of Afghanistan, but were forced to abruptly change course after 9/11 as they became part of the U.S.-led War on Terror. The social, religious, and political impact of this shift (and questions about the degree to which such a shift has, indeed, been effected), continuing political and economic instability, the government's inability to regulate the activities of the country's twenty thousand or so madrasas, and the rise of a deadly insurgency with its strident conceptions of the shari'a in parts of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province-these and other changes have all brought Pakistan very much to the center of international attention in journalistic, scholarly, and policy circles.1 This essay is not primarily concerned with these broad-stroke political developments, however, but rather with evolving debates on the shari'a among Pakistani Muslims of varied intellectual and religio-political orientations. Such debates make up a crucial part of the larger context in which contemporary contestations on Islam and politics in Pakistan ought to be understood. Who are the major contributors to these debates? How have the particular orientations to which they belong evolved in modern South Asia? What are some key themes in discourses on the shari'a in Pakistan? How have questions relating to the reform of particular shari'a norms been addressed in the Pakistani context? And why have modernist approaches to the shari'a been considerably less successful, as this chapter suggests, than conceptions endorsed by Islamists and the ulama? These are among the questions this essay seeks to address.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationShari'a Politics
Subtitle of host publicationIslamic Law and Society in the Modern World
PublisherIndiana University Press
Number of pages37
ISBN (Print)9780253356277
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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