Original Articles

Could Pakistan have remained Pluralistic? – Pervez Hoodbhoy

As Kamran describes it, the “Deobandi denomination epitomized the scriptural interpretation of Islam. Ulema like Imdadullah Muhajir Makki, Rahmatullah Kairanwi and later on Anwar Shah Kashmiri played a role in bringing local version(s) of Islam in line with the way it was practiced and professed in Hijaz and Egypt.

In the 20th century, the war of Tripoli [the Tripolitan War (1801–1805)] and, later, the First World War (1914–1918) helped crystallize the pan-Islamic episteme.” According to a PhD thesis on terrorism in Pakistan, around 90 percent of religious terrorists are Deobandi by faith and many of them are Pashtun by ethnicity.

However, one must be careful not to ascribe the shift entirely to the Deobandi version of the faith. One notes that Barelvis are today the strongest champions of the blasphemy law, a weapon that non-Muslims have come to fear like nothing else. The centrality that religion has acquired today in matters of eating, drinking, apparel, and culture cannot be attributed to the efforts of any one Muslim sect.

Pervez Hoodbhoy, “Could Pakistan Have Remained Pluralistic?”, (2016).