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Islam in Pakistan

Islam in Pakistan



Islam is the official religion of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In the 1998 census, it found 96% of the total population were Muslims, and in 2007 at 96% (Sunni 76%, Shi'a 20%). The estimated population of Muslims of Pakistan in 2008 is 169,800,000[3]. Pakistan has the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. The majority of Muslims in Pakistan are Sunnis, and the Shi'a Muslim population is the second largest in the world after Iran.

Islam in Pakistani Society

The Badshahi Masjid, literally the 'Royal Mosque', was built in 1674 by Aurangzeb. It is one of Lahore's best known landmarks, and epitomizes the beauty and grandeur of the Mughal era.

Islam arrived in the area now known as Pakistan in 711 CE, when the Umayyad dynasty sent a Muslim Arab army led by Muhammad bin Qasim against the ruler of Sindh, Raja Dahir, whose pirates attacked Arab ships. The army conquered the northwestern part of Indus Valley from Kashmir to the Arabian Sea. The arrival of the Arab Muslims to the provinces of Sindh and Punjab, along with subsequent Muslim dynasties, set the stage for the religious boundaries of South Asia that would lead to the development of the modern state of Pakistan as well as forming the foundation for Islamic rule which quickly spread across much of South Asia.

 Following the rule of various Islamic empires, including the Ghaznavid Empire, the Ghorid kingdom, and the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals controlled the region from 1526 until 1739. The The Muslim technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and Sufis flocked from the rest of the Muslim world to Islamic Sultanate and Mughal Empire in South Asia and in the land that became Pakistan. The Muslim Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting the millions of native people to Islam. As in other areas where Sufis introduced it, Islam to some extent syncretized with pre-Islamic influences, resulting in a religion with some traditions distinct from those of the Arab world. Two Sufis whose shrines receive much national attention are Data Ganj Baksh (Ali Hajweri) in Lahore (ca. eleventh century) and Shahbaz Qalander in Sehwan, Sindh (ca. twelfth century).

The Muslim poet-philosopher Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal first proposed the idea of a Muslim state in northwestern South Asia in his address to the Muslim League at Allahabad in 1930. His proposal referred to the four provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and the NorthWest Frontier--essentially what would became Pakistan. Iqbal's idea gave concrete form to two distinct nations in the South Asia based on religion (Islam and Hinduism) and with different historical backgrounds, social customs, cultures, and social mores.

Islam was thus the basis for the creation and the unification of a separate state, but it was not expected to serve as the model of government. Mohammad Ali Jinnah made his commitment to secularism in Pakistan clear in his inaugural address when he said, You will find that in the course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State. This vision of a Muslim majority state in which religious minorities would share equally in its development was questioned shortly after independence.

Politicized Islam

From the outset, politics and religion have been intertwined both conceptually and practically in Islam. Because Prophet Muhammad established a government in Madina, precedents of governance and taxation exist. Through the history of Islam, from the Ummayyad (661-750) and Abbasid empires (750-1258) to the Mughals (1526- 1858), Safavis (1501-1722) and the Ottomans (1300-1923), religion and statehood have been treated as one. 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.

In 1977, the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto outlawed alcohol and changed the weekend from Sunday to Friday, but no substantive Islamic reform program was implemented prior to General Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization program. Starting in February 1979, new penal measures based on Islamic principles of justice went into effect. These carried considerably greater implications for women than for men. A welfare and taxation system based on Zakat and a profit-and-loss banking system were also established in accordance with Islamic prohibitions against usury but were inadequate.

Muslim sects in Pakistan

Census data[4] indicates that over 96% of the population is Muslim. The Muslims belong to different schools which are called Madhahib (singular: Madhhab) i.e, schools of jurisprudence (also 'Maktab-e-Fikr' (School of Thought) in Urdu). Around 76% of Pakistani Muslims are Sunni Muslims and there is sizeable minority 20% Shi'a Muslims. Nearly all Pakistani Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi school with a small Hanbali school represented by Wahabis and Ahle Hadith. The Hanafi school includes the Barelvis and Deobandis schools. Although the majority of Pakistani Shia Muslims belong to Ithna 'ashariyah school, there are significant minorities: Nizari Khoja Ismailis (Aga Khanis) and the smaller Mustaali Dawoodi Bohra and Sulaimani Bohra branches.

The difference among Sunni schools (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi, and Hanbali) are small in practice, and they may pray together in any Sunni Masjid. In Pakistan, adherents of the Barelvi and Deobandi schools also pray together in same Masjids.

The Shia Ithna 'ashariyah school has its own Masjids and Hussainias. Mustaali Dawoodi Bohra and Sulaimani Bohra also have their own Masjids. While the Nizari Khoja Ismailis (Aga Khanis) pray in Jama'at Khanas.

There are small non-Muslim religious groups: Christians (1.6%), Hindus (1.85%), Ahmadis, Sikhs, Parsis, Bahá'ís, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and others making up 4% of the population.

Data Durbar in Lahore, Pakistan is the tomb of Ali Hajweri, eleventh century Sufi. People come each year to pay their respects and to say prayers. The large complex also includes Jamia Hajweri, or Hajweri Mosque.

Laws and customs

There is no law in Pakistan enforcing hijab, although there is strong social pressure for women to observe Purdah in some regions. The practice of wearing Hijab among younger women is growing due to media influence from the Middle East and travels to Persian Gulf countries.

More and more educated people have started learning about religion, as a result of which following of one school of thought is gradually replacing practices and beliefs based on alleged evidence from Quran and Sunnah. There are also incidents of violent reactions to perceived anti-Muslim events in the world.

Islamic education to the masses is propagated mainly by Islamic schools and literature. Islamic schools (or Madrasas) are for the most devoted Muslims, mostly comprising youth and those learning to be Islamic clerics. More casual and even research oriented material is available in the form of books. While the most prominent of these schools are being monitored, the latter are being 'moderated' by both the government and some of the scholars, thereby also removing in the process the various material present in it that is used by Anti-Islam/Anti-Sunni writers. Oldest and universally accepted titles such as the Sahih Bukhari have been revised into 'summarised' editions and some of the old, complete titles, translated to Urdu, the national language, are not available for purchase now. These changes are also a herald to new outbreaks of religious controversy in the region.

The episodes of sectarian violence have significantly decreased in frequency over the years due to the conflictual engagement of the Islamic militant organizations with the state's armed forces and intelligence agencies.

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