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Islam and the Making of State Power

seyyed vali reza nasr

In 1979 General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, the military ruler of Pakistan, declared that Pakistan would become an Islamic state. Islamic values and norms would serve as the foundation of national identity, law, economy, and social relations, and would inspire all policy making. In 1980 Mahathir Muhammad, the new prime minister of Malaysia, introduced a similar broad-based plan to anchor state policy making in Islamic values, and to bring his country’s laws and economic practices in line with the teachings of Islam. Why did these rulers choose the path of “Islamization” for their countries? And how did one-time secular postcolonial states become the agents of Islamization and the harbinger of the “true” Islamic state?
Malaysia and Pakistan have since the late 1970s–early 1980s followed a unique path to development that diverges from the experiences of other Third World states. In these two countries religious identity was integrated into state ideology to inform the goal and process of development with Islamic values.
This undertaking has also presented a very different picture of the relation between Islam and politics in Muslim societies. In Malaysia and Pakistan, it has been state institutions rather than Islamist activists (those who advocate a political reading of Islam; also known as revivalists or fundamentalists) that have been the guardians of Islam and the defenders of its interests. This suggests a
very different dynamic in the ebbs and flow of Islamic politics—in the least pointing to the importance of the state in the vicissitudes of this phenomenon.
What to make of secular states that turn Islamic? What does such a transformation mean for the state as well as for Islamic politics?
This book grapples with these questions. This is not a comprehensive account of Malaysia’s or Pakistan’s politics, nor does it cover all aspects of Islam’s role in their societies and politics, although the analytical narrative dwells on these issues considerably. This book is rather a social scientific inquiry into the phenomenon of secular postcolonial states becoming agents of Islamization, and more broadly how culture and religion serve the needs of state power and development. The analysis here relies on theoretical discussions
in the social sciences of state behavior and the role of culture and religion therein. More important, it draws inferences from the cases under examination to make broader conclusions of interest to the disciplines.

The Islamization of Pakistan

The Middle East Institute

Od 2007, Pakistan, though not on the verge of becoming a failed state, nonetheless has been gripped by a series of interrelated crises. As the contributors to this volume demonstrate, Pakistan’s current travails have deep and tangled historical roots. They also demonstrate that Pakistan’s domestic situation historically has been influenced by, and has affected developments in neighboring countries as well as those farther afield.
The origins of many of Pakistan’s troubles today lie not just in the circumstances in which the state of Pakistan emerged, but in the manner in which various domestic political forces have defined and sought to advance their competing visions of the state since independence. Over the years, successive national political leaders, the military, and other actors have appropriated the symbols, institutions, tools of statecraft, and even the rhetoric of Pakistan’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in order to advance their own narrow agendas.
As the contributors emphasize, much of the present turmoil in Pakistan dates from the late 1970s, when the rise to power of General Zia ul Haq and his Islamization program intersected with the momentous events of 1979, most importantly, the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The 18 essays comprising this volume examine the tight interplay between these domestic and regional factors, discuss the key domestic and foreign policies adopted during the Zia years, and disclose the heavy cost that Pakistan and its people have borne as a consequence. Taken together, the essays present a grim, tragic account of the past 30 years — of a country’s founding creed violated, much of its resources misspent, and its social fabric rent. And they suggest an uncertain future. At the same time, however, they point hopefully, if not confidently, to what Pakistan’s fragile civilian government must seek to reclaim and can achieve — provided that its leaders prove to be moderate, resourceful, and determined, and that the West (especially the United States) implements policies which support rather than undermine them.
In his Eid-ul-Azha Message to the Nation on October 24, 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared: “My message to you all is of hope, courage and confidence. Let us mobilize all our resources in a systematic and organized way and tackle the grave issues that confront us with grim determination and discipline worthy of a great nation.” More than a half-century has elapsed since Jinnah made this statement, yet the issues facing Pakistan are no less grave. One hopes that the current and next generation of Jinnah’s successors, together with Pakistan’s friends will be able to summon the necessary will and bolster the state’s capacity to deal with these issues effectively.

The Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan and Jama’at-i-Islam of Pakistan

Neha Sahgal

The study of Islamist activism is new to social movement theory. Socialmovement scholarship has ignored Islamist movements because of their unique faithbasednature. More recently scholars have recognized that the processes of contentionconceptualized by social movement theory can be applied to Islamist activism to seektheoretical refinements in both areas of study.In this paper, I examine variations in the strategies followed by Islamistmovements in response to government policies. States have followed various policies inmanaging the tide of Islamist opposition to their power. Some states have chosen to userepressive means (Egipat, Jordan before 1989), while others, at different times in theirhistory have used accommodative policies (Jordan after 1989, Pakistan, Malezija). Iexamine the effects of government accommodation on Islamist movement strategies.I argue that accommodation can have varying effects on Islamist movementstrategies depending on the nature of accommodative policies followed. Governmentshave employed two different types of accommodative policies in their tenuousrelationship with Islamist opposition – Islamization and liberalization. Islamizationattempts to co-opt the movements through greater religiosity in state and society.Liberalization allows the movements to conduct their activities at both the state and thesocietal level without necessarily increasing the religiosity of the state1. Islamizationdisempowers Islamists while liberalization empowers them by providing a sphere ofinfluence.

Islamic Movements and the Use of Violence:

Esen Kirdis

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Despite recent academic and popular focus on violent transnational Islamic terrorist networks,there is a multiplicity of Islamic movements. This multiplicity presents scholars with two puzzles. The first puzzle is understanding why domestic-oriented Islamic movements that were formed as a reaction to the establishment of secular nation-states shifted their activities and targets onto a multi-layered transnational space. The second puzzle is understanding why groups with similar aims and targets adopt different strategies of using violence or nonviolence when they “go transnational.” The two main questions that this paper will address are: Why do Islamic movements go transnational? And, why do they take on different forms when they transnationalize? First, I argue that the transnational level presents a new political venue for Islamic movements which are limited in their claim making at the domestic level. Second, I argue that transnationalization creates uncertainty for groups about their identity and claims at the transnational level. The medium adopted, i.e. use of violence versus non-violence, is dependent on type of transnationalization, the actors encounter at the transnational level, and leadership’s interpretations on where the movement should go next. To answer my questions, I will look at four cases: (1) Turkish Islam, (2) the Muslim Brotherhood, (3) Jemaah Islamiyah, and (4) Tablighi Jamaat