Whose Islam? Pakistani Women's Political Action Groups Speak Out
I conducted fieldwork in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a predominantly Sunni Muslim country with numerous sects and religious minorities. The relationship of religion and the state---specially how Islam should inform national law---is a key issue on which Pakistanis are divided. Female activists have been responding to government efforts to Islamize Pakistani law since Zia's Islamization campaign, in the late 1970s, and their responses reflect divergent understandings of Islam. I examine the contexts of Pakistani women's activism---its historical roots and the intellectual strands that inform political debate in contemporary Pakistan, with particular attention to their affirmation of the ideas of Jinnah and Maududi. The ideological spectrum of female political action groups in Pakistan extends from the Islamist group Jama'at-i-Islami Women's Wing (JI-WW) to the feminist Women's Action Forum (WAF). I focus on their responses to the controversial 1990 Shariat Bill, which would purportedly shift the basis of law from British-derived civil law to religious law (shari'at). WAF led public opposition to the Bill, while JI-WW campaigned for it.
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Women Preservers of Culture Agents of Change
Then and Now
1990 Shariat Bill activism affiliation Ahmadis Al-Mujahid Asma Jahangir basis of law Benazir Bhutto blasphemy British burqa chador challenges civil libertarians Constitution cultural debate democratic Deobandi dress elections elite faith female feminist fieldwork Hindu Hudood Ordinances identity independence India interpretation of Islam Islamabad Islamic law Islamic society Islamist issues Jahangir JI-WW Jinnah Khan Lahore leaders male martial law Maulana Maududi minorities Muhammad Mumtaz and Shaheed Muslim League Muslim women Nasr nation-state national mandate non-Muslim Objectives Resolution organizations PAGs Pakistan Movement Pakistani law Pakistani Muslims Pakistani society Pakistani women perspectives political action groups practice prime minister protection Punjab purdah Qisas Qur'an rajm reform relationship of Islam religious rhetoric sectarian Shariat Bill controversy social South Asian Muslim struggle Sunnah ulama understandings of Islam Urdu veil WAF members women in Pakistan women's groups women's roles women's status Zia's Islamization campaign Zina