Trending Pakistan: A History Workshop Procedings of a conference held on April 28 & 29, 2016 at Arizona State Univeristy, Tempe campus American Institute of Pakistan Studies
Trending Pakistan: A History Workshop
Trending Pakistan: A History Workshop Procedings of a conference held on April 28 & 29, 2016 at Arizona State Univeristy, Tempe campus American Institute of Pakistan Studies
The workshop organizers would like to acknowledge the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and all the workshop participants for their generous contribution of time, resources and support. Particularly, we would like to thank Terry Williams for his unstinting work and wonderful photography, Laurie Perko for managing the finances, and Carolyn Forbes for her support and assistance in all matters big and small. This workshop was a team effort and we gratefully acknowledge the support we received from Kamran Asdar Ali and Farina Mir, President and VicePresident of the American Institue of Pakistan Studies, Chad Haines, Matt Correa and Pawan Rehill.
Front and back cover image: Mosque of Mariyam Zamani Begumin by iStock.com/commoner28th
Copyright ÂŠ 2016 Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict All Rights Reserved
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S Yasmin Saikia (Arizona State University) Introducing the History Workshop Page 9 Panel I: History Through Religion Ammar Ali Jan (University of Cambridge) Islam, Communism and the Search for a Fiction Page 15 Tanvir Anjum (Quaid-I-Azam University) Chishti Sufism and the Muslim Nationalist Historiography in Pakistan Page 23 Imdad Hussain (Forman Christian College) Manufacturing an Islamized Childhood Page 41 Panel II: History and Its Possibilities SherAli Tareen (Franklin and Marshall College) Translating the Qur’an as a Manifesto for Revolution ‘Ubaydullah Sindhī’s Qur’ānī Shu‘ūr-i Inqilāb Page 49 Abdul Haque Chang (University of Texas, Austin) Rethinking the Question of Fishermen through Gutka Piety Page 65 Sheetal Chhabria (Connecticut College) Urbanism, Inequality and Karachi’s Contested Geographies Page 73 Panel III: Discourses and Developmentalism Akram Soomro (University of the Punjab) Editorial Framing of Terrorist Attacks in Urdu and English Dailies in Pakistan Page 91
Ahmed Usman (University of the Punjab) The Rhetoric of Hate and Othering Page 95 Rahla Rahat (University of the Punjab) Dam Women: Gender and Development in Mega Projects in Pakistan Page 103 Seemab Far Bukhari (University of the Punjab) Muslim Singing: Religious Beliefs and Music Practices in Pakistan Page 111 Panel IV: Space of History Omar Kasmani (Freie Universität Berlin) Visual Affects: The Work of Seeing in Sehwan Sharif Page 119 Amber Abbas (St. Joseph’s University) Death and Dying in Pakistan and the Diaspora: Oral History and Meaning at the End of Life Page 129 Sobia Khan (Richland College) Decolonizing/Rewriting the Pakistani Woman: Literary Resistance, Islamic Feminism and History Page 139 Panel IV: Dialogues on History Kamran Asdar Ali (University of Texas, Austin) Farina Mir (University of Michigan) Chad Haines (Arizona State University) Yasmin Saikia (Arizona State University) Roundtable Discussion Page 147 7
Introducing the History Workshop Yasmin Saikia Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies and Professor of History, Arizona State University
“Trending Pakistan: A History Workshop” was organized and sponsored by the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) and is one of three similar workshops being held at universities in the United States. The three-part workshop series grew out of the AIPS President, Kamran Ali Asdar’s initiative to encourage and infuse new thinking and intellectual questions for the study of Pakistan. The first was convened last year (2015) at the University of Michigan and focused on “New Media in Pakistan.” Next year, in 2017, a workshop on “Sustainable Environment and Challenges in Pakistan” will be held at the University of Washington. AIPS selected Yasmin Saikia to organize the second workshop that was held on April 28 and 29, 2016 at Arizona State University. The workshop was co-sponsored by ASU’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, funded by the Hardt-Nickachos Initiative in Peace Studies.
histories of Pakistan and Pakistani communities. The effort was not to draw neat and readymade connections between these different sites, but the papers explored the ways history is experienced, remembered, written and shaped. The vibrancy and possibility of multiple histories emerging and circulating in different sites was a common theme. The actors and agents who are creating history in Pakistan, too, it seems, are many. They compete and create new narratives, some of these narratives have greater longevity than others. Likewise, the papers drew attention to the audiences of history and the picture that emerged is that there are a variety of consumers. Obviously, history is not an ignored or dead topic in Pakistan, controlled and managed by one central body. Rather, history is everywhere in Pakistan – it is being actively created, consumed and recycled for use in different sites, communities and contexts.
The main aim of the workshop was to critically engage and explore the diversities of Pakistan’s history by bringing together a variety of junior and promising young scholars from Pakistan, India, and the United States. The workshop explored burgeoning new trends and approaches for rethinking the role of history in understanding Pakistan. The focus of the workshop was on issues of politics, culture and society to link the past with the present. The twelve papers presented at the conference covered local, national and diasporic
The papers presented at the conference addressed some of the broad trends of history writing that is relevant in present-day Pakistan. Political history was given a fresh new fillip by engaging political philosophy and intellectual history, the study of religion was approached through both the state enterprise as well as from marginal Sufi sites by exploring textual and visual sources, the state’s Islamization project of Pakistan was interrogated from the position of vulnerable communities of women and children, the making of post-colonial 9
cities and urban economies in Pakistan were questioned by focusing on the everyday problems facing urban communities, the changing landscape of rural Pakistan was explored through the narratives of the ignored subalterns, and identity and memory of Pakistanis were examined through the lens of “alternative” religious movements and diaspora. The vigorous conversation made it clear that Pakistan’s history is evolving and going through massive transformations as both the past and the present are rethought and reconstructed. New narratives are emerging, while narratives of the past are going through a process of reevaluation and representation for contemporary audiences. In addition to the twelve papers presented by historians and scholars of allied fields, the workshop included a special panel on “Discourses and Developmentalism”. The presenters on the panel were four faculty members from the University of the Punjab, Lahore (two from sociology and two from communication studies). The four participants are visiting fellows at Arizona State University as part of a collaborative project between ASU and PU to strengthen scholarly engagement. Their panel broadened the conversation and by including non-historians in the workshop we engaged diverse sites and methods of history that is circulated and consumed with differing outcomes. This provided a distinct sense of how events and experiences are operating over different areas and influences the course of events as communities interact with the stories of history and make them into tools to act in particular ways in present-day Pakistan. The difficult issue that faces present day historians of Pakistan was one of the main themes that these papers drew our attention to – how to think about what history does — namely, the degree to which history is a text of community and what are the challenges to the writing of this narrative that speaks about and to community. What followed thus was not an identification of some clearly packaged thoughts and suggestions of what kind of history would be good for Pakistan, but the significance of dialogue in forging multiple 10
historical narratives. This approach is important because as it allows for a diversity of knowledge that constitutes Pakistan’s societies and cultures. The effort should not be to create a limited and neat history, but open the space for multiplicities of histories to inform one another. Evolving inquiry from multiple theoretical, conceptual, empirical positions was the central theme of the different papers. Pakistan’s history can be unitary in its multiplicity, the workshop presenters reminded us. The challenge thus is to ask: how can the communities of Pakistan shape their future using history as a guide? Pakistan’s History: Then and Now The study of history in Pakistan has certainly come a long way since 1948 when the new state constituted a committee to write an Islamic history of Pakistan, emphasizing Pakistan’s connections with West Asian and Central Asian Muslims. The conquest of Sind by Muhamad bin Qasim (in 715 CE) served as the gateway episode to construct a narrative of Pakistan’s Islamic history and emphasize the connection with Arab Muslims. Pakistan’s past was thus represented as different from India, its neighbour with whom it shared a common historical experience that it actively sought to deny. Designed to establish Pakistan’s history as a separate Muslim history of the subcontinent was not easy. Although Pakistan claimed the Muslim rulers of the Delhi Sultanate (13th – 15th centuries) and the Mughals (16th – 18th centuries) in its past, this was done without reference to India. Layered on top of this selective narrative emphasizing Pakistan’s Muslim past, the colonial myth of the Punjabis and Pathans as martial races was adopted and the myth of military men as the guardians and sentinels of the Muslim nation of Pakistan served the purpose of the military administration. Thus some groups of people in Pakistan became more Pakistani than others in the state constructed history and the Pakistani military that was constituted mainly by the Punjabis and Pathans was deemed the “first citizens.” This way of thinking of history was borrowed from the British colonial narrative about
the Muslims and was adopted in independent Pakistan without critical thinking. But no one questioned it although the story of events that this history narrated was not simply imagined, it was disconnected from the reality of experiences of the majority of the Pakistani people. This history, however, served the purpose of the military government of Ayub Khan (r. 19581969) who created a special committee to write and imprint this narrative in the public level and education curriculum. It was promoted as nothing less than a military command. For the military administration history had to service another project, the making of ‘Pakistani Nationalism’ and for legitimizing military rule in Pakistan. The Pakistani people were directed to think of the military as the progeny of successful and fierce Muslim conquerors and this image was contrasted to the representation of the Other or Indian history as a Hindu civilisation that was weak and sedentary being constituted by peasant agriculturalists. Pakistan’s history was a tool for use in postcolonial warfare with India. Violence and violent actions of the army were deemed the agents of change – the site of history making. Alongside, this project of privileging the army as the sentinels of Pakistan’s history and representing them as the main architects of nation building, history as an academic subject was undermined and ‘Islamiyyat’ and ‘Pakistan Studies’ were promoted for learning at school and college level. Historical research beyond the military sponsored narrative was not encouraged. The documentation for the history written under military direction was not based on deep archival research and historical records, nor people’s memories, but the military backed project skillfully and imaginatively used the primary concerns of the time – to make the military rule legitimate in the eyes of the Pakistani public and present them as the builders and architects of Pakistan. It was not important to create a realistic picture of what people had actually experienced or understand as history, but the background of separation from India in 1947 and creation of Pakistan as an Islamic state controlled by the military was the essential
circumstance which guided the process. It is not simply that this narrative is being challenged by new and emerging scholars studying Pakistan of which the AIPS workshop represented a small segment of this effort. They are, on the other hand, creating a new landscape, not from imagination, but by returning to the solid surface of historical records and people’s experiences to write the history of Pakistan. One of the most important developments in the current scholarship presented in the workshop was the integration of the known events that shaped the pre- and postcolonial contours of Pakistan with the everyday concerns and experiences of the people. The result is that we now have an outline of an emergent history which is about people and what they say about their world, which creates the possibility of a different way of thinking what the project of history should be. History is not a tool for nationbuilding, but for generating knowledge about people and offering it as a resource for people to record their narratives. In the workshop therefore, we had histories of people and their interactions with their lived environments – the meaning of Islamization in their lives, the memory of important political and religious actors and their legacy of alternative thinking, the connection of the natural environment with the practical matters of market economics, the experience of migration and what it means to become “another” in a new place, and so on. What happened in this site of the workshop was the development of an analytical framework, connecting the vast landscape where history is happening in Pakistan, is shaped through experiences, and is claimed by people. This suggests a break from the traditional mode of history writing in Pakistan as a series of descriptive battles cataloguing Muslim superiority in the art of warfare, i.e., violence. History, in this emerging scholarship, is not seen as a straight line moving in a singular direction, but it emphasizes the circle of events, people, cultures, memories and so on that are linked to an overall way of being and becoming “Pakistani.” The ramification of this development can be 11
significant. Issues arising in various locations in peripheral and marginal spaces and cultures which once seemed unimportant and not the stuff of history can now become accepted as part of a whole and interrelated system. This can help explain the course of how history is generated and becomes in multiple sites while being connected and interlinked to other processes and systems of knowledge, like sociology, media studies, gender and development, which was emphasized in the panel on “Developmentism” by the Punjab University faculty. There is no single plot of history or one site where history is happening and is being shaped in Pakistan. There are multiple linked sites that generate the story of history. But there is Pakistani history beyond Pakistan and these sites are not disparate from the place of Pakistan but connected by people and culture moving back and forth between them, as some of the papers brought to our attention. History is also happening in other systems of knowledge production, like media and non-governmental sectors. To see the whole of the entire set as a system of interrelated circles allows for accepting the connections and the movements across a vast area that carry history forward and shape the history of Pakistan in intersecting ways. Thus, it seems, based on the new discourse of history generated in the workshop that the current scholarship does not only deepen the interpretations of the past in new ways, but also outlines some of the neglected sites in which history can be derived from and suggest the interconnections between these sites at multiple levels. Also, in this kind of historical writing, there is an effort to relate the world of external events to the world of the interior, subjective experiences of people and the shaping of mentality that allow us to understand how people process events and make sense of the distant in their intimate world of the lived. The fears and expectations, hopes and aspirations that create personal realities and give meaning in peoples’ lives although difficult to inquire and create a comprehensible picture was vigorously inquired by several of the paper presenters. History, 12
in this kind of presentation, expressed interest in people as groups and communities than as unique individuals who created history for others to experience as bystanders that was emphasized in the state’s version of Pakistan’s history. Conquerors and rulers rather than community were prioritized in the military written history. This is not to say that the subjective “us” should be the sole location of history, but the emphasis on community seeks to make connections, which cannot be missed. Thus, to sum it up, we observed three general trends in the new writing of history of Pakistan that was presented in the workshop: 1. the connection between big events and community experience; 2. the depiction of Pakistan history taking place in multiple sites and having a large-scale sphere and systems of knowledge production; and 3. the description of the internal sphere and its relation to external circumstances and events. Why should one be surprised to see this development in history writing in Pakistan? These are not totally new ideas, but has been the trend of history writing elsewhere, including in India. In Pakistan, however, these new trends of history writing are deemed an innovative development because the previous regimes of military administration had basically killed history and put history in the service of religion – Islamiyyat – and nation – Pakistaniyyat. For history to emerge from the stranglehold of these two designed constructions is an act of defiance as much as it is a new text for claiming agency and becoming a voice of decolonized independent thinking. The initial attempt of AIPS to promote this kind of history writing is not caught up in delusion that AIPS or the small group of emerging historians will shape and change the way people think and know history (unlike the military’s inflated notion of themselves as knowledge producers) nor the scholars writing this new history want to pretend their narrative will be objective, like becoming a “science” (although, even today in Pakistan a degree in History is considered a Bachelor of Science degree) or an imaginative space of “art” for offering creative options.
Rather, what I see emerging is substantive, not merely reactional or alternative. The works produced by the individual scholars are not isolated research meant for singular achievement, but the new scholars show in their work that they ride on the shoulders of extraordinary men and women who give shape to the history they are recording that is everywhere and belongs to everyone in Pakistan. The capacity to see this work of history ongoing and happening is the challenge that these historians draw our attention to and ask us to appreciate, and, it seems to me, they are providing important leads for the future direction that the study and writing of History can take in Pakistan. They are not only drawing together information from complex and submerged sites and providing an analytical dimension, but they are writing readable accounts that the public in Pakistan can relate to and connect with. They are making history dynamic and relational, not an icon for reverence and fear, a picture hanging at a distance from the offices of powerful state actors, but they offer the possibility of thinking of history as a changing, evolving, intimate story that is shaped and will always be in the process of emergence. It is not a static text that is a closed book to be read and repeated as a ritual for the sake of Pakistani nationalism, but they show us that history is constituted by narrators of the world in motion in Pakistan and beyond. The AIPS workshop offered this opportunity to engage this process as one of the beginning steps to appreciate the world of Pakistan history as a story that is not merely of the past and in the past, but moving through and creating new forms and shapes as it traverses complex local, national and international events and spheres â€“ some rooted and others transient and unpredictable. Together the complexity, which is life, make history a lively text of the people of Pakistan.
Islam, Communism and the Search for a Fiction Ammar Ali Jan University of Cambridge
My aim in this project is to focus on political thought in South Asia. In particular, I aim to develop a theoretical framework for understanding the subterranean connections between Islamic and Communist thought in the region. I aim to overcome simplistic binaries between ‘secularism” and “Islamic” to locate the coexistence of political ideologies in which appear to be incongruous in classical European thought. This will be part of a larger project to explore the contradictory trajectory of political thought in Colonial India and Pakistan. In this chapter, I argue that parallels between political Islam and Communism existed due to the historical moment of their birth, with Britain’s imperial order intellectually, if not politically, exhausted, prompting partisans to seek newer horizons for imagining a future political community. I deploy the concepts of “distancing”, “negation” and “heroic sacrifice” as aspects of the shared subjectivity between Communism and political Islam. We can delineate the contours of these overlapping tendencies, however, only if we view Islam and communism as p olitical projects in the makingwithin specific histories of anticolonialism, rather than as stemming from unrelated, and even opposed, textual traditions. I engage with these questions through the writings of Shaukat Usmani, one of the main leaders of the Communist Movement in colonial India, and
a partisan of the Caliphate Movement prior to his engagement with Communism. (See attached document for biographical facts). “Divine Cry of Lenin”: Communism and Political Islam The intense rivalry in Asia between the Soviet Union and the British Empire was not only a conflict between two different socioeconomic visions for the region, but in its geographical specificity, was also a contestation to become the sovereign of Muslim Asia after the impending collapse of the Ottoman Empire. While British authorities represented themselves as members of “the greatest Mohammedan Empire in the world,” the Soviet Union sought to build alliances with political Islam to construct a countergeography to the Empire. In fact, what is often termed as the “National Question” in the Soviet Union was primarily a “Muslim Question” since a majority of “nationalities” in the country consisted of Muslim states in Central Asia. Posing the most radical challenge in developing a political relationship between communism and the nonEuropean world, the newly installed Bolshevik government immediately sought common ground with Islamic movements that were challenging the British Empire or the remnants of Tsarism within Central Asia. A special appeal to “Muslims” sent out in December 1917 highlights the significance attached 15
to political Islam by the newly installed Soviet authorities. Muslims of the East! Persia, Turks, Arabs, and Indians! All you whose lives and property, whose freedom and homelands were for centuries merchandise for trade by rapacious European plunderers! All of you whose countries the robber who began the war now want to divide amongst themselves...Lose no time in throwing off the ancient oppressors of your homelands... Muslims of Russia! Muslims of the East! In the task of regenerating the world we look to you for sympathy and support. 194. Here, we witness the contradictory movement inherent in the historical conjuncture within which the Soviet state found itself. The lack of revolutionary enthusiasm in Europe, the centrality of Central Asia to any modern statebuilding project, and the emergence of an antiBritish pan islamism compelled Bolshevik leaders to develop new alliances outside their traditional relationships with European communists. Such calls for support were followed by a number of concrete measures to forge unity, including the formation of a “Muslim Congress” in Petrograd, the introduction of Sharia courts in Central Asia, and a financial campaign to fund a “global Jihad” against the British, particularly amongst the Pushtun tribes of India. In fact, at the Baku Congress of the People’s of the East, held in 1920, Soviet leaders such as Zinoviev repeatedly pledged support to anticolonial movements in the Muslim world, framing the freedom of “Muslim lands” as one of the primary internationalist duties of the revolution. The sentiments were largely mutual, as some of the most important Muslim scholars called on Muslims to take inspiration from the Soviet revolution in their own efforts to regenerate the Muslim world. In fact, rather than viewing Bolshevism as a European tradition incommensurate with Islam, many sought to displace it onto a quasispiritual register to allow for a common political project. Maulana Mohammad Barkatallah, a popular 16
Indian revolutionary with strong sympathies for panIslamism, called on Muslims to “embrace” socialism “seriously and enthusiastically.” Following on the dark long nights of tsarist autocracy, the dawn of human freedom has appeared on the Russian horizon, with Lenin as the shining sun giving light and splendour to this day of human happiness... Oh Muhammedans! Listen to this divine cry. Respond to this call of liberty, equality and brothership which brother Lenin and the Soviet government of Russia are offering you. This equation between the “divine cry” of Lenin and the historical regeneration of the Muslim nation may seem anachronistic today, but it remained a dominant theme in the evaluation of the Soviet government in Muslim political thought during this epoch. It is not surprising then that the first Emigre Communist Party of India formed in 1921 consisted entirely of Indian Muslims based in the Soviet Union, almost all of whom were related to the pan islamic movements of the era. My objective in recalling these events is not meant to inscribe this shared history between political Islam and communism onto the register of political or geostrategic interests. In such narratives, it is simply an “aligning” of interests between unrelated political currents that allow for such momentary alliances. Claiming to be free from an ideological bias but deeply embedded to a positivist sociology, such analyses naturalize “interests” onto certain sections of society, without investigating the hard labor through which individuals or groups even begin to identify with particular causes. For a muslim or an Indian or a worker is under no abstract obligation to identify with any one particular cause, let alone to agree to sacrifice one’s life for it, an act that blurs the very criterion for judging interests. My own aim now is to demonstrate that, beyond the multiple contingent reasons that brought together specific encounters between political Islam and Soviet communism, there are more deeply embedded questions of a
shared historical subjectivity that allowed these two political currents to recurrently overlap throughout the twentieth century. The Act of “Distancing” A number of scholars have argued that the inability of Indian subjects to compete with the material wealth of Europe prompted the construction of an “inner” domain or spiritual essence of the nation, both superior to, and uncorrupted from, the experience of Western colonialism. Sanyasisto s ufisto a number of other ascetic currents in india in the late 19th century, aimed to reconfigure spiritual rituals as transformative practices for carving out an indigenous mode of existence, autonomous from the constraints of a colonized world. A key feature of these practices included active distancing from the material and ideological coordinates of colonial life through embodied sacrifice and personal suffering. In a world dominated by colonial ideology preaching gradual assimilation of Indian subjects into the imperial project, and held together by the terror of unrestrained violence, rejecting the comforts of material life and voluntarily undertaking bodily suffering were aimed at creating a bulwark against submission to the compulsions of Colonial rule, at least within the realm of ideology. Once the modern Indian “political” burst onto the scene with the onslaught of the Caliphate/non cooperation movement, the motif of collective sacrifice and transformative violence took center stage in the Indian political landscape. From local to transnational “terror” outfits, to organs of mass “national” politics, the question of self negating violence dominated the political imagination in India. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, the leader of the Caliphate movement which acted as the first inspiration for Shaukat Usmani, had already called upon Muslims to “sacrifice their health, wealth and life in the name of God” and urged them to decide what “they intended to do and announce it plainly, leaving the authorities to decide their own course of action as they pleased.” Indeed, Devji has shown that even Gandhi, often held up as an
example of liberal humanism in the West, based his theories of nonviolence on the absolute rejection of life preservation as an ideal, instead privileging a relationship with death through voluntary suffering as a more authentic mode of existence. Such indifference to colonial sovereignty and commitment to axiomatic declarations were attempts to forge a political subjectivity freed from the seductive calculations and imposing violence of colonial rule. The absolute disjunct between a linear conception of Historical progress that had ungirded imperial ideology, and the actual global events that unleashed unprecedented catastrophes on a planetary scale since the outbreak of the First World War, necessitated such a distancing. As Shruti Kapila has argued in her reading of Tilak, a foremost Indian nationalist, the emergence of the Indian political was conceived as being tied to a nonhistoricist conception of a violent event that could overcome the increasingly stifling reality of colonial rule. In this conception, politics is neither merely an individual or collective relationship to the state, nor an expression of historically sedimented contradictions, but is instead a process of creative production aiming to overcome a conjunctural impasse, with transformative violence as its motor. It is no wonder then that the Caliphate movement, which coincided with the peace celebrations of World War 1 in India, urged a boycott of the celebrations in favor of a martyr’s week to commemorate Indians killed by the British, indicating that the war had only begun in India. The Caliphate Movement then provided the necessary ruptural event from Imperial rule that could inaugurate a political modernity beyond the contours of colonial governmentality. In the ensuing decade, it became the reference point for all the major currents in Indian political life, as Islamists, nationalists, “terrorists,” and even communists, oriented themselves by claiming fidelity to it. Shaukat Usmani’s political career itself was the product of the Caliphate movement as he, in a supreme act of selfnegation, left his home in the hope of finding adequate resources for launching an effective war against imperial 17
rule. The act of selfexile in the Hijrat movement inscribed a physical geography to the distancing sought from colonial ideology, as partisans literally explored novel frontiers for developing new forms of political praxis. But how did Usmani, and many others like him, subsist in this breach opened by the mass upheavals in India, guarding against the threats and temptations of reassimilation? The Interregnum: Between Negation and Death The positing of an absolute negation of colonial rule did not signify that Indian revolutionaries possessed a neatly laid out plan to replace it. Indian political imagination was at a crossroads, with the old dying and the “new yet to be born” (Gramsci 1928). A decomposition without a recomposition, a destruction sans a reconstruction, a negation without an affirmation, this interregnum was marked by ferocious violence, which could easily shift from being deployed against colonial officials to a fratricidal war against religiously or ethnically marked communities. Indeed, Usmani characterised his own decision to leave India as not only stemming out of opposition to British rule, but also out of disgust at the “nonviolence” of the movement, “a cult destitute of any dynamic force,” which “did not appeal in the least” to “the younger imagination.” What role did then violence play in this interregnum, characterized by a passionate wandering without clearly defined goals or a strategic axis to guide them? The possibility of embracing a heroic death provided a potential destination for vindicating the journey begun in India. Indeed, in an interregnum where the map of the journeytocome remained insufficiently imagined, death was elevated to the principle guarantee for subsisting in the negation opened by anticolonial revolts. For example, when the Muhajirin had been arrested by Turkestani authorities as Bolshevik spies, and were ordered to be executed. The reasons for their arrest are not entirely clear from Usmani’s account, but what is clear is that, at least from the perspective of Usmani, it was a case of mistaken identity, since 18
the Muhajirin had arrived to support the Turkestani authorities. Let me quote his description of his impending death. There was deathlike silence, no one stirred or lifted his head. The rifles were levelled at our heads in order....Death began to dance before our eyes...It was a matter of a few more minutes…With our heads bowed down we were reviewing our past. ….We resigned ourselves to our fate and had some consolation that we were dying in pursuit of noble and high principles. We reviewed our past and were satisfied that we were dying at our posts. We had set out on our journey from India and were dying for India’s cause. Within this narrative, we view two seemingly unrelated, almost schizophrenic, trajectories. On the one hand, we are confronted with the utter horror of a meaningless death imposed upon these young partisans, dying for a charge they never understood, and at the hands of an enemy that never was there’s, signifying a deadlock on the strategic plane for anticolonial politics. However, we are not immediately offered a Nietzschean recommencement after an end. Without the delineation of any clear horizon for political action, we are instead presented with death as a substitute for a political strategy. SInce the lack of a vision for a new world denied a novel measure for one’s own political actions, death confirmed the permanent subsistence in the space of anticolonial negation. The abrupt move in Usmani’s narrative from the chaos of an impending, and perhaps pointless death, to “dying for India’s cause” is part of a retrospective act to provide meaning to what appears to escape it. In short, death here “sutures” the terrifying gap between the subject’s intense desire for a new world and his complete lack of capacity to attain it, suspending political subjectivity within the space of negation.
Knowledge, Incalculability and Decision While a melancholic attachment to death maintained a pervasive presence within this interregnum, it was supplemented by the desire for a heroic overcoming of obstacles, the two often anchored in the same instance. I argue that this move from one to the other represented the passing from negation to affirmation. Such a determination to overcome adversity through transformative sacrifice structured the political landscape in which Usmani encountered communism in Central Asia. The city of Bokhara, for example, had witnessed a “revolutionary” uprising against its leader, Amir , who was backed by landlords and the institutional clergy. I quote Usmani on the encounter with this revolutionary movement to elucidate the stakes involved in his decision to side with it, as the Amir’s forces launched a counterattack to recapture the city. In a few days more the Turkomons again mustered strong and surrounded the town. One day we saw that our Afghan friends who used to come to us at least once daily did not come for two days, instead we saw a corpse lying on horseback and brought to the adjacent barracks which were occupied by the Red soldiers. We went to the President and expressed our sympathy and deep anguish to see a friend of ours thus killed….We offered him our services if required. The President welcomed our offer and took us into his confidence as good comrades. The Muhijirinwere given the task of defending a strategic point near the river by the “revcom,” the revolutionary committee of Bokhara. To defend the river front was a military problem of great interest... But what could we do? We were a motley crowd of 36 and our fighting strength really amounted to nothing.
But there was no other course left. Either we should choose to fight and die, or should see the town plundered before our eyes, then, falling into the hands of the Turkomans, should meet a death of ignominy and cowardice. Moreover, was not fighting for the cause of Bokharans a cause of all the freedomloving people on earth? We happened to be there, and liked to share the fate of the Bokharan soldiers. Usmani here is confronted with a political decision to side, and possibly die, for a communist government, without any knowledge of Marxism, or even an awareness of military strategy. The execution of their friends, the impending invasion by the city, and the “fearlessness” exhibited by the revolutionaries placed the muhajirin and the Bokharan communists in a shared existentialist situation. In other words, they offered to die for a regime to which they had no ideological affiliation, but only a sense of practical solidarity. This situation invoked the ethical decision of either continuing or abandoning the battle, a moment of pure scission between confidence and doubt, without any third option. For political action always depends on the existence of a remainder that cannot fully be elaborated through premeditated action or prior knowledge, opening an interstitial space that must be filled by axiomatic declarations amounting to a leap in the dark, rather than following sociologically deduced conclusions. We are already miles away from discussions of “scientific” or “sociological” political theory, engaging instead with more immediate questions of heroism and sacrifice in the face of impending danger. This primacy of political action led Usmani to repeatedly complain about the part of his life in Russia when he was compelled to undertake classes in Marxist theory. I had no knowledge of Marxism. My main aim was to fight like a soldier 19
in the ranks of the fighters for the liberation of India….It was quite amusing to come across terms such as bourgeoisie, proletariat, petty bourgeoisie and dictatorship of the proletariat. Often irresistibly I would laugh while reading such odd terms, and my fellow residents would be amused by my behaviour....Frankly speaking, I was not satisfied with a mere theoretical study of the subject... The big theoreticians drowned us in their arguments about building a theoretical background for the Indian revolution.” The primacy of politics over theory, of decision over knowledge and of confrontation over waiting, is clear from these passages. If Usmani identified with communism as a result of a prehistory of political action, what did it even mean to be a communist beyond organizational affiliation? In other words, is there any efficacy in maintaining the term “communism” after this idea’s entry into the nonEuropean world? Communism, Historical Difference and The role of Fiction As noted earlier, the deadlock of a violent and discredited imperial order in the aftermath of the war did not just present an abstract intellectual problem, but was shaping multiple political trajectories. If the ideological universe occupied by a supposedly harmonious imperial liberalism was now viewed as simply a mask displacing a deeper antagonism between the colonizers and the colonized, attempts to replace it with a newer order required a minimal level of fiction as a support for political commitment in the present. By fiction I mean the postulating of certain ideals emanating from a political terrain, in order to interrogate the same terrain in a selfreflexive act of political knowledge production. While always containing elements of ideology, the necessity of fiction arises out of the need to move out of the domain of a pure, melancholic negation and 20
allow for new coordinates of selfrelating, a new horizon for evaluating actions in the present. The name “communism” sought to provide one such horizon, inscribing into permanence the rupture from imperial liberalism instituted by the anti colonial revolt, and allowing particular actions to be inscribed with larger, transcendental meaning. It is on such a register that I read Usmani’s glorifying accounts of the Bolshevik Revolution in Bokhara “At every hundred steps the Russians and Bokharans delivered lectures in Russian and Persian, emphasising the solidarity of the oppressed people….It was a lesson for us. We saw freedom in her true guise here. In spite of their poverty the people looked more jovial, and revolution had instilled in them contentment and fearlessness. No barriers of caste or religion hindered them from mixing up with one another. Every soul was transformed into an orator..The speech, suppressed for centuries together, burst out like a flood.” How accurate his descriptions were is a moot point, since that would place us back into questions of hermeneutics, debating whether he had correctly read the situation, reducing an entire generation’s political experience to textual interpretations. Instead, we must read his choice of narrating these events onto a political register, as an attempt to produce an alternative fiction to the imperial fiction, one that could both speak to the real anxieties within the Indian conjuncture and envision an actionable plan for overcoming them. The depiction of the Soviet Union as a concrete representation of the future to come for the colonized world was perhaps a case of a poor fiction, but that does not take away the necessary function of a fiction to supplement the lack of absolute knowledge. Any oppositional political project require a minimal level of confidence in undertaking actions laden with unforeseen risks. In this respect, a fiction does not represent a sociologically deduced conclusion, but an affirmative prescription that marks the
commencement of conceptual and practical labour aimed at instituting a new form of politics. Such fictions do not function without displacing the coordinates of an existing knowledge, in this case Communism. For example, in his writings, Usmani described the institution of the “Soviets” as similar to the Indian village panchayats, contrasting their social character to the “individualistic West.” Needless to say, such affinities between a village panchayat (itself too grand a category to have much meaning) and the Soviets cannot stand a historical test. Yet, as Shruti Kapila has argued, citations of western ideas in India political life often functioned to mark a point of rupture from, rather than a fidelity to, a textual tradition. The attempts to register communism as an “Oriental ideology” or insist on the multiple ways of being a communist against the more universalizing narratives of traditional Marxism, were examples of the infidelity characteristic of Indian political thought. The emphasis on communism’s own missed encounters with the nonEuropean world propeled anticolonialism as an agent of communism’s universalism outside its point of origin. Usmani, and a host of anticolonial communists during this period, were communists to the extent that they allowed communism to speak in situations and to processes hitherto outside its purview. Thus, citations, much like borders, not only separated, but also allowed for shared intellectual trajectories, in which geographically scattered and historically disparate indices of suffering could nonetheless be concentrated into a common and actionable political project in the here and now. For Usmani, Communism was a name that summoned such heterogeneous struggles to institute a global political project, making the rupture from imperial liberalism permanent. I believe such an approach towards intellectual history can allow us to situate nonEuropean thought within a global frame, without losing its singularity.
Chishti Sufism and the Muslim Nationalist Historiography in Pakistan Tanvir Anjum Quaid-I-Azam University
The Chishti Silsilah (spiritual order or initiatic genealogy) is one of the earliest sufi silsilahs, founded in tenth-century western Afghanistan, but introduced and popularized in India by Khwaja Mu‘in al-Din Chishti of Ajmer (d. 627/1230). It is considered the most popular as well as most Indianized of all the sufi silsilahs of South Asia, as its sufi masters vernacularized the message of Islam and Sufism in local context. Their worldview reflected their belief in ‘love for all’ and religious inclusiveness. However, the nationalist narrative in Pakistan selectively highlight the role of sufis in South Asia, primarily focusing on the Naqshbandi sufis. The sufis are presented as ‘missionaries’ or proselytizers of Islam, and as reformists fostering separate Muslim identity and consciousness. There is historiographical silence on Chishti Sufism in the narrative, as none of the celebrated Chishti sufi masters find any mention in them, nor their contribution in developing a social ethos reflecting religious harmony and cultural assimilation of the migrant Turco-Persian/elite and the local popular Indian culture is acknowledged. The present study intends to undertake a critical analysis of nationalist historical narrative in Pakistan to explore underlying assumptions and misrepresentations of the historical role of the sufis. In particular, the present study investigates why there is historiographical silence on Chishti Sufism in Muslim nationalist historical narrative, why the
Chishti approach of Hindu-Muslim amity was not welcome, and whose purpose did it serve. It tries to explore the possible ‘politics’ behind the silencing of Chishti Sufism, and how this silence can be broken. The study is divided in three sections: the first sections critically evaluates the emergence and characteristics of Muslim nationalist historiography in Pakistan, the second section analyzes the portrayal of the sufis in nationalist narrative in Pakistan, while the third and the last section analyzes the absence of Chishti Sufism in it.
Section I Islam, Muslims, and the Nationalist Narrative in Pakistan Nationalism as an ideology which emerged in eighteenth-century Europe in post-enlightenment era had far-reaching political implications, but as a discourse, it is closely linked to history and historywriting. In Europe, the concept of a national history developed when the Romanticist historians tried to write the history of their own nations.1 Systematic nationalist historiographical tradition, however, emerged in Germany during the nineteenth century when historians associated with Prussian school of historiography composed national histories, which were aimed at infusing patriotism and uniting the Germans, whom they perceive as one single nation having distinct characteristics and a history 23
of their own.2 The national histories are said to represent collective identities and aspirations of any nation. However, in these narratives, nations have been perceived as ‘imagined communities’ with invented national histories, traditions and symbols.3 Nationalist historians believed that history had a role to play—it could serve their contemporary political needs, and hence, their histories were infused with presentism. These historians “essentialized supposed national characteristics, and sought to trace these national markers into the distant past, thereby placing the nation in a longterm historical framework, and legitimizing the idea of the nation.”4 Nationalism as a political ideology became popular in South Asia during the twentieth century. However, in contrast to Europe where the bases of nationalism were territorial (along with the commonality of ethnicity, culture and language), in South Asia religion became the chief denominator for nationalism. So in addition to Indian nationalism, there emerged religiously defined variants of nationalism such as Hindu and Muslim nationalisms. It also led to communalization of history-writing in South Asia, giving birth to Hindu and Muslim communal histories. It was also a response to the dogmatic assertions of imperialist historiography largely produced in Orientalist framework during the colonial era. Elliot and Dowson’s 8-vol A History of India as Told by its Own Historians, for instance, is said to have aroused “communal passions”5 as not only Hindus and Muslims were imagined as two distinct and separate communities or nations, the two were also pitted against each other. Though a few historical works appeared before the partition of India, the Muslim nationalist historiographical tradition systematically developed after the creation of Pakistan.6 A number of eminent scholars and historians have contributed to it, and it is also espoused by text books of history.7 What follows is a brief discussion on its salient features: The nationalist narrative presents religion as the most important agent of change in the South Asian society and history. Religion and politics 24
are interpreted as invariably and essentially intertwined. The roots of ideological foundations of Pakistan have been explored in centuries-old history of the region.8 The respective religious orientations of the Sultans of Delhi and Mughal rulers have been presented as the defining characteristic of their regimes. The centuries-long Turco-Persian rule is invariably referred to as ‘Muslim’ rule,9 and portrayed as a “battle of the spiritual and the profane, of the righteous Muslim and the idolatrous Hindu.”10 The nationalist narrative interprets the partition of India and the subsequent creation of Pakistan in the framework of Hindu-Muslim separatism. Religious or ideological factor in the freedom movement has been magnified to the complete exclusion of other factors.11 One finds an untenable equation of Islam and political power or rule. The rise and expansion of Arab and Turco-Persian rule in South Asia is equated with Muslim rule.12 The works of Dr. Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi (1903-1981), better known as I. H. Qureshi, a renowned historian and educationist who played a leading role in producing the nationalist narrative,13 amply reflects this view.14 The nationalist narrative projects two-nation theory on the basis of Hindu-Muslim differences, and provides a historical basis for it. Quoting Jinnah’s speech,15 Islam and Hinduism are presented as poles apart, further assuming a neat demarcation between the Hindu and Muslim communities in political, religious, social and cultural terms. It is argued that in pre-partition India, the Hindus and the Muslims lived as two completely separate and identifiable nations or communities, though they had lived as neighbours for centuries.16 The narrative argues for the presence of different nationalities in the Indian subcontinent which had made it “impossible for them to be fused into a single nation”17 and all efforts to provide a bridge between the Hindus and the Muslims had failed.18 The partition of India and the subsequent creation of Pakistan, presented as a natural outcome of the historical processes, is interpreted in framework of Hindu-Muslim separatism. The narrative strictly follows a diachronic trend with an underlying assumption that the historical events taking place
through the centuries inevitably lead to an assumed end, culminating in the creation of Pakistan. The interpretation is linear and teleological in nature.19 Attempts have been made to justify the ideology of Pakistan, based on Two Nation theory. The theory assumes Hindus and Muslims as two contrasting “nations” having entirely different religion, history, culture, language, social customs, and traditions. The Muslims and Hindus are imagined as two bounded religious communities having essentialized cores. There are frequent references to the Hindu mind/psyche/mentality, their machinations and intrigues, or Hindus as inferior beings.20 Islam and Hinduism are as mirror image of each other. This “othering” of the Hindus and Hinduism in South Asia21 has helped the nationalist historians define the own identity as Muslims. Interestingly, at present the Pakistani understanding of Two-Nation theory seems to be very diverse, with multiple functionalities. It is a slogan to rally people; a panacea for all contemporary problems of the country,22 as well as a yardstick to judge and condemn any public policy.23 It must be remembered that the term ‘Ideology of Pakistan’ (Nazriyah-i’ Pakistan) was never used by Jinnah and his associates; it was coined as late as in 1962.24 A critic aptly reminds that the national narratives or ‘state ideologies’ are often developed after emergence of states, as a kind of ‘retrospective justification,’ not before.25 The same can be said about the ideology of Pakistan, which highlights the Hindu-Muslim separatism and the distinctiveness of Islam and Hinduism. It seeks to find continuities with the past. The Two-Nation Theory and the ideology of Pakistan are projected backwards into medieval South Asia, and the case of long-standing Hindu-Muslim rivalry has been highlighted. There was uncompromising spirit of animosity between them, and any reciprocity was merely superficial.26 Hinduism is presented as a false religion in contrast to Islam which is presented as a true religion having a divine origin. Hinduism is presented as a pagan religion with the idolatrous practices in contrast to the monotheism of Islam. With the help of selective historical data,
the narrative glorifies the views of those South Asian scholars, who had expressed hostile views towards Hinduism, altogether ignoring the views of those Muslim scholars whose approach was characterized by conciliation and friendliness.27 If the views of latter scholars are referred to in the narrative, these are branded as heretical and/or heterodoxical. In terms of sources, the nationalist narrative primarily relies on the medieval Indo-Persian chronicles projecting a statist and elitist discourse, in which Hinduism is presented as an anathema to the Muslims being an antithesis of Islam. Authored by the conservative historians associated with the royal court such as Minhaj Siraj Juzjani, Zia al-Din Barani, and Abd al-Qadir Badayuni, these works blatantly express anti-Hindu views. Though the Pakistani national narrative primarily aims at fostering patriotism and love for the fellow Pakistanis (or Pakistani Muslims), it also promotes hatred against Hinduism as a faith and its adherents across the border in India. Being negatively fashioned, a reactive bigotry is the main pillar of Pakistani nationalism.28 Identifying anti-Indianism at the very heart of Pakistani nationalism, a critic argues: “If it is not anti-Indianism, then in what other terms could we possibly render PakistaniMuslim nationalism?.... People have no other alternative frame of reference in which to define Pakistani nationalism.”29 The nationalist narrative argues that the Muslims had never completely assimilated into the Indian environment and had evolved their own distinctive traditions. In the words of Qureshi: “The convert adopted a ‘Muslim’ name in the sense that it was of Arab, Iranian or Central Asian origin, broke all conscious ties with the culture of the society to which he had belonged and integrated himself fully into the Muslim community. Thus even the Hindu convert came to look upon the culture of the Muslim community of the subcontinent as his own…The Hindu converts to Islam became culturally as 25
foreign to Hindu culture as the Muslims of a foreign origin.” 30 These ideas are shared by other renowned historians such as S. M. Ikram (1908-1971), who argues that despite interaction between Islam and Hinduism, the influence was limited and confined to a small section of population.31 Though Qureshi acknowledges the influence of Indian culture on the Muslims of South Asia, he argues that these influences “occupied a minor and subsidiary position…”32 Qureshi further adds: “Anything which was antagonistic to their [Muslim] beliefs or ideas was severely discarded. The Muslims in India never permitted any impurities to creep into their doctrine, nor did they allow their new environment to affect their orientation…. assimilation of Hindu characteristics by Indian Islam was confined to the mere superficialities of life.”33 In The Pakistani Way of Life (1957), Qureshi argues that the Pakistani way of life is an Islamic way of life. He asserts: “…it would be futile to try to find any fundamental difference in creed or in the code of social and individual behavior between Indian Islam and Islam in other regions…”34 In the words of another historian, there can be no ‘half-Muslim’ since the influence of Islam embraces all domains of life.35 In South Asia, the past has been used in a variety of ways to construct identity. For this purpose, varied genres and frames have been invoked through which the past has been viewed and also used to remake the present.36 The national narrative imagines the communal identities in South Asia as rigid and fixed, with roots in ancient or medieval past, though communalism, as we know it in contemporary South Asia, is a modern phenomenon that emerged during the colonial times when nationalism took roots in the region.37 In precolonial times, the religious identities were not sharply defined. For the ashraf or the migrants, the ethnic identities such as Turkic or Persian identities were far more important than their religious 26
identity.38 The same is true for the Hindu identity, which was imagined and invented as a part of the colonial discourse.39 Nonetheless, the nationalist narrative tries to prove that Indian Muslims were one single undifferentiated and monolithic nation. The historians projected their own religious identity as Muslim in their works. Thus, the tensions between the ideology of Muslim nationalism and the geographical limitations of the Pakistani nationstate are evident in their writings.40 Highlighting the “unresolved tension between Islam and Indian nationalism” in their works, Hardy remarks that in most cases these historians chose to be Muslim first.41 The narrative invariably propagates the myths of a putative Muslim consciousness and separate identity in medieval times. Efforts of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi (d. 1624) and Mughal Emperor Aurengzeb (r. 1658-1707) in crystallizing the separate Muslim identity in India have been glorified, while religious syncretism in India, and the role of personalities like Mughal Emperor Akbar (d. 1605), who tried to bring the Hindus and Muslims together, are condemned. Historical actors have been painted in either black or white colors. One finds valorization of certain historical personalities like Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmud of Ghaznah, Muhammad Ghori, Aurengzeb, and Jinnah,42 and villainization of those who tried to bring the Hindus and Muslims closer such as Emperor Akbar and Prince Dara Shikoh.43 There are inconsistencies in the national narrative; for instance, one finds the presence of a Muslim nation and the movement for Pakistan with variously dated origin. For some, it began in 712 with Ibn Qasim’s invasion of Sindh,44 while for others when the first Muslim put his foot on the soil of India.45 For another, Ibn Qasim was not only the founder of an ‘Islamic State’ in South Asia, he was also “the pioneer of Islamic culture and civilization…”46 Commenting on these originary myths, Ayesha Jalal comments: “Writers chasing Pakistan’s mirage in the Arabian desert bridge the temporal and spatial distance between the origins of Islam and Pakistan in an imaginative leap fired
by an ideology of Muslim supremacy in the world and a geographical vision that is Pan-Islamic in scope.”47 Therefore, the narrative de-emphasizes the local South Asian roots of the Pakistanis, and insists on their link with the Arabian Peninsula. Pakistan’s nationalist narrative has been historically constructed, and the ideological orientation of Pakistani state has witnessed changes over a period of time. As Breuilly reminds that “National views of the past are contingent and constructed, constantly altering according to the results of diplomatic and military conflicts, changes in social and economic structures, and shifts in the idioms and methods used by historians. They are themselves contested, both between conflicting nationalisms and the ‘same’ nationalism.”48 What Jinnah had perceived as the ideological orientation of the newly created modern secular state, as expressed in his Presidential address at the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, was very different from what Liaquat Ali Khan had conceived as he presented the Objectives Resolution in March 1949, which asserted that the future constitution of the country would be based on the principles of Islam. Later, when Ayub Khan took over the reins of power, he tried to modernize and secularize the country, though his successor, General Yahya Khan is reported to be the first person to declare that Islamic ideology needed to be preserved.49 It was primarily after the 1971 debacle when East Pakistan was separated, that the country witnessed a state-backed systematic project to revise the textbooks of history during the Bhutto regime. Since the national pride was hurt, so the state tried to restore and promote patriotism and nationalism by varied means including the introduction of ‘Pakistan Studies’ as a compulsory subject in schools and colleges. However, this state-sponsored
discursive tradition intensified during the Zia era, when the education including the teaching and writing of history was Islamized.50 This narrative was produced by historians, scholars and writers who enjoyed high official positions in the country including Vice Chancellors of renowned universities,51 university professors,52 directors of research institutes like History Commission (now NIHCR), Quaid-i-Azam Academy, Pakistan Historical Society, Research Society of Pakistan, National Institute of Pakistan Studies (NIPS), Pakistan Study Centre (University of Karachi), South Asian Study Centre (University of Punjab), and heads of other government institutions.53 Most of their works have been published by NIHCR, Islamic Book Foundation, Services Book Club (established during Zia era in 1980s), National Book Foundation, Pakistan Historical Society (Karachi), University of Islamabad Press, Research Society of Pakistan (University of the Punjab, Lahore), Institute of Islamic Culture (Lahore), and interestingly, Army Book Club, GHQ, Rawalpindi, etc. The nationalist historians of Pakistan have a strong communalist approach.54 One must not forget that the term ‘communal’ has a specific meaning in Indian context. For Thapar, communalism in the Indian sense is “a consciousness which draws on a supposed religious identity and uses this as the basis for an ideology. It then demands political allegiance to a religious community and supports a programme of political action designed to further the interests of that religious community. Such an ideology is of recent origin but uses history to justify the notion that the community (as defined in recent history) and therefore the communal identity have existed since the early past.”55 In methodological terms, the nationalist narrative offers selective historical evidence, since it mainly relies on the medieval Indo-Persian chronicles offering a statist discourse, focused on political, military and administrative history in a dynastic framework. Most of their authors/historians were associated with the royal court, and generally had a hostile attitude towards the Hindus. The nationalist 27
narrative in Pakistan focused on the same themes, and adopted the same framework in which social and cultural history is largely ignored. So the conquerors and invaders are in sharp focus, and less attention has been paid to the peaceful settlers. Being elitist in orientation, military and political history is written from the perspective of the rulers, in which the role of the ruled/masses has not been adequately highlighted. Pakistan’s national history is fraught with sweeping generalizations, value-judgments, along with an unconcealed partiality and bias. Nationalist passions and patriotic fervor seem to play an important role in producing manipulated and distorted histories, though their authors claim them to be objectivist histories.56 These works privilege a particular viewpoint or interpretation of history, and discredit other interpretations. The select data is fitted in the ideological straitjacket of nationalist framework, and is pressed in the service of a nationalist agenda. These historians ignored, deliberately or indeliberately, the vast sufi literature, which offers a non-statist discourse, presents an altogether different picture of South Asian history. The sufi tazkirahs (hagiographies), malfuzat (collections of sufi conversations), poetry, and the other religio-spiritual and theosophical texts produced by sufi authors offer valuable insights into the social, cultural and intellectual aspects of history. These alternative sources present a very different picture of Hindu-Muslim relationship in premodern South Asian history from what is generally presented in the nationalist narrative. Marred by reductionism, the narrative projects a much distorted view of the past. Viewing the past through the lens of the present day values, norms and realities, referred to as presentism in history or contemporization of history, it well serves the interests of the political and military leadership in the country. Primarily agenda-driven, it serves contemporary needs such as infusing patriotism (not merely for the state but also for the military and political regimes) and nation-building. This is a state-sponsored discursive tradition. The notion of power is embedded in the conception of an 28
invented past in Pakistani nationalist narrative. One can clearly discern a “nexus between power and bigotry in creative imaginings of national identity” in Pakistan.57 There are spaces of silence in the nationalist narrative. For instance, there is no mention of the tragic fate of Ibn Qasim (d. 715) and the treatment meted out to Dara Shikoh by Aurengzeb after the latter’s defeat. The historical analysis revolves round a few sets of assumed binary constructions, such as Islam/Hinduism, Muslim/Hindu, orthodoxy/heterodoxy, which are assigned polar positions. An essentialized core of Muslim orthodoxy (as opposed to heterodoxy) has been presumed, though there cannot be any fixed or essentialized orthodoxy.58 The narrative is apologetic in nature, since it tries to offer justification for the policies and actions of ‘Muslim’ rulers. According to it, all Muslim rulers were good practicing Muslims, who upheld shariah (the law of Islam) in personal matters as well as in state conduct and public policy. Whatever they did in medieval times was right in political terms, if not in religious terms. In addition to multiple historical disconnects and missing links in it,59 the periodization is flawed, as ‘Hindu India’ is equated with ancient times, and ‘Muslim India’ with medieval times (though the tripartite periodization scheme of ancient-medieval-modern is not problem free).60 There is projection of ‘Muslim India’ as a category and as a distinct period in Indian history. One comes across many anachronistic expressions in these works such as Masud Sa‘ad Salman (d. 1121/22) of Lahore, an eleventh-century Persian poet of later Ghaznavid period, is declared the first national poet of Pakistan.61 Moreover, locating the origin of Pakistan Movement and nationalist feelings among the Muslims back in the eighth century are other examples. There is de-romantization of the pre-Islamic history, as the achievements and the ancient heritage of the areas now comprising Pakistan which housed the Indus Valley and Gandhara Civilizations have not been acknowledged, and dismissed as pre-Islamic pagan past.62 Contrarily, one finds the romanticization
and glorification of ‘Muslim Rule’ and military expansionism. One must not forget that the notion of a golden past has always provided solace and comfort, particularly in troubled times. Hence, in the period of political decline in the twentieth century, the idea of medieval India as a golden period in the Indian history found its way.
masters find a favorable mention in these works. The narrative fails to befittingly represent Sufism in its totality. By reviewing the representation (rather misrepresentation) of sufis in the nationalist narrative, one may discern the reasons for the silencing of the role played by the Chishti sufis. What follows is a brief discussion on it:
Emergence of Revisionist Perspectives in Recent Years
1. Sufis as ‘Missionaries’ of Islam The nationalist narrative links the spread of Islam to the sufi activities, and portrays the sufis as ‘missionaries’ or proselytizers of Islam, who converted non-Muslims, particularly the Hindus, to Islam in large numbers. It offers some select instances from the lives of sufis propagating religious exclusivism.64 The sufi-missionary equation first appeared in Arnold’s The Preaching of Islam (1913),65 from where the Muslim nationalist historians uncritically borrowed it. Thus, the narrative gives the credit of conversion largely to the sufis, understood as ‘missionaries’ of Islam, comparable to the Catholic missions, which are purpose-specific groups with the mission or goal of conversion to Christianity. However, historically speaking, it would be erroneous to assume that all sufis were consciously and intentionally involved in the process of conversion. Many sufis, particularly the Chishtis, did not consider conversion to Islam as a pre-requisite for an individual’s spiritual development. Moreover, conversion to Islam in South Asia, as shown by Eaton, was not always a conscious act; it was a glacial process, in which multiple agents played their role, and that mass conversion often lacked conviction.66
The Muslim nationalist historiographical tradition has long been a dominant discourse and a scholarly trend in Pakistani academia, which has been challenged by scholars and researches in recent decades. In recent years, under the influence of post-modernism, the linear and teleological structures underlying all meta-narratives of modern Indian history have been challenged. Fixity of terms and concepts has been challenged, and instead fluidity of categories is suggested. In Pakistan, Mubarak Ali (the Marxist author) has written prolifically on various aspects of South Asian history. Most of these books are collections of articles published in leading dailies in Pakistan. Writing in Urdu along with English, his works have wider readership. K. K. Aziz’s work, The Murder of History: A Critique of History Textbooks used in Pakistan (1998) was a pioneering effort in this regard, as he is the first noted Pakistani historian to challenge the state-backed ideologically driven historical narrative.63 Syed Nesar Ahmad’s Origins of Muslim Consciousness (1991) is another such effort. The retired Prof. Tariq Rahman has already done so in many of his works on language and politics. Pervez Hoodbhoy and A H Nayyar, though both are physicists, have also challenged the nationalist narrative.
Section II Portrayal of the Sufis in Nationalist Narrative in Pakistan The nationalist narrative and textbook histories in Pakistan partly acknowledge the historical role of the sufis in South Asia. The portrayal of the sufis is selective and biased. Only a few sufi
2. Sufis as Reformers of Islam and Champions of Separate Muslim Identity The nationalist histories present the sufis as reformers of Islam with puritanical goals, trying to purify Islam of all Hindu accretions, which is said to have eventually fostered separate Muslim identity and consciousness. Fearing complete assimilation of the Muslims in Hindu majority, the Muslims leaders including the sufi masters strove to preserve their separate identity, and thus saved them from merging in Hinduism. The foremost among them is the Naqshbandi sufi, Shaykh Ahmad 29
Sirhindi, invariably referred to as ‘Mujaddid Alf Thani’ or the Reviver of the Second Millennium. He is believed to have played a very crucial role in preserving the separate Muslim identity.67 His anti-Hindu stance is appreciated and magnified, whereas his sympathetic views regarding Hindus and Hinduism, which he developed later in his life,68 are conveniently skipped. Other reformers and champions of separate Muslim identity include Shah Abdul Aziz (the son of Shah WaliAllah), Syed Ahmad Barelvi, who initiated Jihad Movement along with Shah Ismail Shaheed, and others such as Dadu Mian, Syed Nisar Ali (Titu Mir) and Haji Shariat-Allah (who initiated ‘Faraizi’ movement in Bengal.69 Shah Abdul Aziz’s ruling that the Muslims in South Asia should avoid using copper utensils which were generally used by the Hindus,70 is presented as a conscious attempt to preserve separate Muslim identity in cultural terms.
3. Interpretation of Bhakti Movement as an Attempt to Merge Islam and Hinduism Bhakti Movement originating in the sixth century AD does not find a favourable mention in the nationalist narrative, and misinterpreted as an attempt to merge Islam and Hinduism.73 Writing about the effects of Bhakti Movement, Qureshi writes that “if Islam and Hinduism were the same, then the Muslims had no reason to be proud of their faith; if this pride was gone, the Muslims had no other loyalty to keep them from absorption into Hinduism…”74 To Qureshi, Bhakti movement was “more dangerous” as it was subtle, and under its garb, Hinduism could absorb Islam and Muslims in South Asia.75 The nationalist narrative fails to understand and appreciate the core message, teachings and impacts of Bhakti Movement in creating peace and inter-faith harmony in South Asia.
The nationalist narrative also considers the Mughal Emperor, Aurengzeb Alamgir as a reformer and champion of Islam, who was influenced by the views of Sirhindi and his successors, and thus lauds his efforts in this regard. Qureshi interprets the war of succession between Dara Shikoh (executed 1659) and Alamgir, the sons of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan (r. 1628-58), as a conflict between the forces of heterodoxy and orthodoxy respectively. In his opinion, victory of the orthodox and puritanical Alamgir proved to be the “political culmination of the Mujaddidi movement,”71 since he tried to purge Islam in India of “un-Islamic accretions…”72 The efforts of Shah Wali-Allah, who invited Ahmad Shah Abdali to crush Maratha power in the Third Battle of Panipat, 1761, are appreciated, while Syed Ahmad Barelvi and Shah Ismail Shaheed who fought against the Sikhs, are presented as the holy warrior sufis. In addition, the role of the sajjadah-nashins (custodians of sufi shrines) and pirs who supported the demand for Pakistan such as the Pir Muhammad Abdus Sattar Khan Niazi (b. 1915-2001) of Manki Sharif and Pir Abdul Latif of Zakori Sharif (1916-78) is also approvingly acknowledged.
4. Sufism as a Source of Heresy and Corruption of Islamic Beliefs While acknowledging the contribution of a handful of sufis, the nationalist narrative holds the sufis responsible for corrupting the Islamic beliefs in South Asia. Qureshi, for instance, associates heresy with Sufism in historical perspective, and argues that the sufis had borrowed un-Islamic heretical ideas such as belief in metempsychosis, incarnation and pure immanence from the Hindus, and thus corrupted the Islamic beliefs. Eminent sufis like Hallaj are condemned for expressing “opinions which were patently heretical.”76 He further adds that there was “sub-conscious acceptance of some notions that were not Islamic in origin”, and “Sufism could give cover to many ideas which were unacceptable to the orthodox…” 77 In particular, Prince Dara Shikoh, who was an accomplished Qadiri sufi theosophist and author, is presented as a heretic, and strongly condemned for his heterodox views. He is almost portrayed as a villain—an infidel or unbeliever, who preached heretical views through his writings, most notably Majma‘ al-Bahrayn [ The Confluence of Two Oceans].78 Dara is primarily villianized as his views are interpreted as a challenge to the separate Muslim identity. As a matter of fact, the said work
was merely an attempt to harmonize the HinduMuslim relationship by highlighting the similarities between the esoteric traditions of Islam (Sufism) and Hinduism (Vedantism). The narrative also links decline of the political power of the Mughals to the degeneration of Sufism, as Sufism is believed to have become an “escapist philosophy of life” during the eighteenthcentury.79 Ikram, while focusing on the social, religious and cultural history of the Muslim community, (unlike other nationalist historians who have merely focused on the political and military aspects), holds the non-conformist Sufism (sufis who apparently do not conform to the social norms or the norms of shariah) responsible for the decay of the Muslims.80 Regarding the influence of sufis among South Asian Muslims, a historian comments: “Popular Islam which was a compromise between the pristine simplicity of Islam and the superstition ridden belief in charms and magic, while pirs imported innumerable rituals and beliefs into Islam...”81 The narrative views the vernacularization and indigenization of the message of Islam and Sufism, most notably associated with the Chishti sufis in India, as vulgarization of Islam.82 5. Wahdat al-Wujud as a Contradiction of HinduMuslim Separatism The renowned sufi philosophies of Wahdat alshahud (unity of manifestations; also referred to as Monism) and Wahdat al-Wujud or Tawhid-i Wujudi (unity of Being/Existence), and their dialectical relation is often highlighted in the nationalist narrative. But it is highly critical of the philosophy of Wujud,83 which postulates that God and His creation are one, and thus there is no fundamental difference between a believer and unbeliever at ontological level. The Wujudi philosophy is believed to “undermine the fundamentals of Islam and the integrity of the Muslim society … calculated to obliterate all distinction between belief and unbelief. [The] misguided mystics, taking inspiration from non-Islamic sources, held up to ridicule the Islamic tenets and beliefs…” 84 The philosophy of Wahdat al-Wujud supports
the claim of the ultimate unity of all religions (wahdat-i adyan), which in the words of Qureshi, was “the main weapon in the armoury of Hinduism against Islam.”85 Since this philosophy is seen as a contradiction of Hindu-Muslim separatism preached by the narrative, it is presented as a marginalized discourse in medieval South Asia, despite the fact that a vast majority of sufis advocated it. 6. Depiction of Wahdat al-shahud as the Spiritual Foundation of Hindu-Muslim Separatism The nationalist narrative selectively highlight the role of some select Naqshbandis sufis. More accommodative Naqshbandi sufis such as Fazl Rahman Ganjmoradabadi (d. 1895) do not find any mention in these works,86 while those who are generally known for their puritanical zeal, insistence on strict observance of shariah, and alienation from the Hindus are in focus. In particular, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi’s efforts to popularize Wahdat al-shahud are lauded, as he is said to have exposed the falsity of Wujudi philosophy and its dangerous implications for the Muslim society, and thus “saved Islam from contamination and distortion.”87 Shahudi philosophy distinguishes between the Creator and the creation, and hence the believer and unbeliever, and is therefore directly linked to the latter-day Muslim separatism.88 It is against this backdrop that one may discern the historigraphical silence of Chishti Sufism in the nationalist narrative.
Understanding the Silencing of Chishti Sufism in the Nationalist Narrative Silence is understood as an absence or a gap; it is a loss of voice as well as loss of power, and generally seen as negative. Silence can be intentional or unintentional, and it can be imposed by varied agencies. Sometimes silence is institutionalized and deeply embedded in varied social and political structures, as well as historiographical traditions, or schools of historians. In case of Pakistani nationalist historiography, there are multiple blanks in it, and certain episodes of history seem shrouded in silence. This master narrative provides 31
shared frameworks for nationalist historians. There seem to be a commonly accepted attitude of silence among them towards a host of issues and themes, Sufism and the role of sufis, particularly of the Chishtis, being one of them. The nationalist historians share a ‘culture of silence,’ which might also be termed as a ‘conspiracy of silence,’ as they seem to have had an unspoken consensus or an unstated agreement to remain silent on issues or evidence contrary to the two-nation theory or the ideology of Pakistan. The threat of political oppression and dire consequences for their personal and professional life have seriously compromised their neutrality and impartiality. Such attempts at nationalizing the past amid institutionalized silence are characterized by deployment of selective memory, and hence, selective amnesia. The Chishti Silsilah (or spiritual order) is one of the earliest sufi silsilahs, founded in about 318/930 in Chisht, a small town near Herat in present day western Afghanistan, by Abu Ishaq Shami, “the Syrian,” (d. 328/940), but introduced and popularized in India by Khwaja Mu‘in al-Din Chishti of Ajmer (d. 627/1230). It is considered the most popular as well as most Indianized and “most humane and peaceful”89 of all the sufi silsilahs that flourished in South Asia, as its masters enjoyed popular appeal, and tried to vernacularize the message of Islam and Sufism in local context. Vernacularization of Islam is the process through which the message and teachings of Islam adjusted and adapted in local regional environments, particularly in the non-Arab regions. In these non-Arab lands where Islam spread, it promised enough flexibility and accommodation to be adjusted in varied socio-cultural backgrounds. Consequently, the universal principles of Islam were vernacularized in specific time and space, and contextualized or localized forms and expressions of Muslim piety emerged in these regions. Owing to the geographical and cultural variations, diverse manifestations of Islam can be seen in these regional settings. Many practices associated with Islam reflect the indigenous social and cultural traditions. For many shariah-minded sufis, vernacularization appeared to be “diluting Islam 32
with paganism” but despite such criticism, the Chishti sufis were willing to take that risk.90 In South Asia, what particularly made the Chishti sufis endearing was their conviction in ‘love for all’ and religious inclusiveness, rooted in their belief in transcendent unity of all religions. In this regard, historically speaking, the Chishti sufis in South Asia may be viewed as the faithful custodians of the teachings of the renowned thirteenth-century sufi philosopher, Ibn al-‘Arabi, particularly his thesis of the transcendent unity of religions.91 According to it, despite multiplicity of outward forms and ritualistic expressions, there exists unity of the inner meaning or essence of all religions, since all world religions share a common divine origin.92 That is why, the Chishti sufis have been acclaimed as the champions of Hindu-Muslim unity in South Asia, along with the Qadiri and Shattari sufis. There is a general consensus among the scholars of Sufism that the Chishti sufis were not involved in conversion of the non-Muslims to Islam either by proselytization or by persuasion.93 Many of them did not believe in religious conversion per se; they believed that salvation is not the prerogative of the Muslims alone, and thus others could also attain it, and hence, saw no need to convert. The Chishti sufis advocated and popularized the philosophy of wahdat al-wujud, not merely with an instrumentalist view of achieving HinduMuslim unity, it was an integral part of their worldview. Their writings were often informed by the Hindu texts and religious literature as well as local customs and traditions. Nonetheless, in the nationalist narrative, one never finds the recognition of Chishti services for inter-faith harmony such as the interpretative translation of Bhagvad Gita in Persian (titled Mirat al-haqaiq) by a seventeenth-century Chishti sufi, Abd al-Rahman (d. 1683).94 Its target readership was Persianspeaking Turco-Persian Muslim elite, and was aimed at creating better understanding of Hinduism among them.
Similarly, the Chishti contribution in developing a social ethos reflecting religious harmony and cultural assimilation of the migrant Turco-Persian/ elite and the local popular Indian culture is not acknowledged. Similarly, the contribution of Chishti affiliates like Amir Khusrau (d. 1325), a harbinger of Hindu-Muslim unity, in the realm of culture (such as the development of classical music theory by synthesizing the Indian and Persian musical traditions, and the invention of musical melodies and instruments) and literature (sufi and folk poetry)95 is completely ignored. Scholars like Khusrau played a great role in cultural assimilation of the migrant Turco-Persian and the local Indian cultures, but it is never acknowledged. Many sufis of South Asia, particularly those belonging to the Chishti tradition, are credited with vernacularization of the message of Islam and Sufism. The sufis preferred to converse in local dialects than Persian (the court language) or Arabic (the language of formal religious instruction). Many of them including Baba Farid (d. 1271) also prescribed dhikr (recollection of God) to the native people in local languages.96 Shah Fakhr al-Din of Delhi (d. 1784) argued that the khutba (sermon) before the Friday congregational prayers should be read in Hindawi language.97 Many of them composed poetry in vernacular languages to disseminate the teachings of Sufism through popular songs.98 Despite the tremendous contribution of the Chishti sufis in South Asia at social, cultural, religio-spiritual, intellectual, and philosophical levels, it is unfortunate that the nationalist narrative is almost silent on the historical role of Chishti Sufism in South Asia, and the Chishti sufis are dismissed in a few pages.99 The Chishti sufis appear to speak from the margins in the nationalist narrative. Their suppressed voices have been unrecorded by historians. The dominant or master narrative cannot absorb the role and contribution of Chishti sufis in South Asian society and culture. Historical evidence pertaining it does not fit the master narrative. For this reason, one does not come across a single reference to any of the celebrated Chishti masters in the nationalist historical works. These works are silent about the
conformist Chishti sufis such as Khwaja Moin al-Din Chishti of Ajmer, Qutb al-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki (d. 1236), Baba Farid, Nizam al-Din Awliya (d. 1325), Nasir al-Din Chiragh-i Delhi (d. 1356), Bandanawaz Gesudiraz (d. 1422), Muhibb-Allah of Allahabad (d. 1648), Kalim-Allah of Delhi (d. 1729), Fakhr al-Din of Delhi (d. 1784), Nur Muhammad Maharvi (d. 1793), Muhammad Sulaiman of Taunsa (d. 1850), what to talk of the libertine or non-conformist ones such as Ala al-Din Sabir of Kalyar (d. 1291), or Shaykh Musa â€˜Sada Suhagâ€™ (d. 1449). In particular, the pluralistic and accommodative teachings of Chishti Sufism are not adequately highlighted in the nationalist narrative including the textbook histories, and instead a very different and sketchy picture of their historical role is presented. There is a need to encourage revisionist perspectives on the role of the sufis, particularly the Chishti sufis, in South Asia. The plethora of Chishti sufi literature offers a non-statist discourse, can be explored for articulating the diverse voices in South Asian history. Unfortunately, the nationalist narrative has made the readers to believe in the absence of these diverse voices. Many people assume the anti-statist discourse such as the one offered by the Chishti sufi sources to be marginalized, but the alternative sources of history like the sufi literature reveals it to be part of a mainstream discourse. The present study is an attempt to explain the silence on Chishti Sufism in the nationalist narrative, while highlighting the richness and complexity of the diverse voices associated with Chishti Sufism in South Asian history. Master narratives can sometimes be layered, and there can be narratives within narratives. Among the nationalist historians writing invariably on political and military history, S M Ikram and Aziz Ahmad seem to be exceptions, as they wrote on themes in social and cultural history. Historically, Sufism has had a tremendous influence in the development of South Asian society and culture. Nonetheless, Ikram and Ahmad judged the trends in social and cultural history through the culturally 33
dominant narrative, privileging conformist Sufism and discrediting all expressions of non-conformist Sufism. The knowledge-power nexus as revealed by Michel Foucault suggests that knowledge production, including the production of historical narratives, cannot be separated from power. Foucault, who challenged the conventional historical thinking, and viewed the past from a new perspective, maintained that the mechanisms of power and its exercise have never been much studied by historians, who have largely focused on studying those who held power, and so there are anecdotal histories of kings and generals.100 It has been asserted that the “production of historical narratives involves the uneven contribution of competing groups and individuals who have unequal access to the means of such production…The ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; the ultimate challenge, the exposition of its roots.” 101 The present study is also an attempt to unmask the politics behind the silencing of Chishti Sufism in the nationalist narrative of Pakistan. Contemporary Context: Challenges and Impediments Sufism is generally considered the ‘soft side of Islam’, a variant of Islam that is liberal, nondogmatic, non-violent and accommodative. This universalist sufi worldview which transcends religious exclusivism, and advocates for religious inclusiveness has tremendous social implications. This view imparts an increased openness for recognizing multiplicity of views and accommodation of differences. This view urges for a non-communal approach towards people professing other faiths. It preaches conciliatory attitude towards other religious philosophies and systems, and propagates reverence for all sacred scriptures. It also encourages universal respect for the priests and spiritualists belonging to other religious traditions. The Chishti sufi worldview regarding the so-called ‘religious others’ can serve as a basis for promoting global peace and harmony. 34
Owing to the misrepresentation of Hinduism in the nationalist narrative, a majority of the Pakistanis believe that Hinduism is a false religion with no divine origin or book or prophet. It is loathsome and despiseable to them, and it has often resulted in the maltreatment of Hindu minorities living in the country. Interestingly, an average Pakistani does not despise Christianity and Judaism (treated as Abrahamic faiths as mentioned in the Quran), the way he despises Hinduism, for it is perceived at large as the religion of their arch enemy. Moreover, keeping in view the increasing religious radicalism and extremism in contemporary Pakistani society, often referred to as ‘Talibanization,’ which has led to increasing maltreatment of the religious and sectarian minorities, and the growing ideological rejection of Sufism in the wake of proliferation of Saudi-funded Deobandi-Wahabi madaris (religious seminaries) in the country, it seems all the more challenging as well as promising to study and undertake research on the message and the historical contribution of Sufism, particularly of Chishti Sufism, in South Asia. Critics often suggest that Pakistanis have become hostage to the past the nationalist narrative has constructed for them. The textbook history taught at schools and colleges in Pakistan is seen responsible, among other factors, for the rising religious radicalism in society. In the words of a critic: “In the absence of any other point of view, these textbooks are making the young generation narrow minded and prejudiced and…intoxicated by the fundamentalism…they seek violence to solve their disputes.”102 Last but not the least, the question of retrieval is integral to the issue of silence. As Fivush reminds: “what is voiced becomes privileged in memory and what is silenced becomes more and more difficult to recall”103 as well as difficult to believe in. Keeping in view the contemporary context, it seems more and more challenging to salvage the history of Chishti Sufism since its retrieval is not simple. An average Pakistani student of history or a reader may find it very troublesome to accept certain historical facts associated with Chishti
Sufism. Nonetheless, it holds a promise for a better future for them since the past may offer an inspiration to the people.
the academia but also at popular and state levels, and all narratives be allowed to coexist together.
1 Monika Baár, Historians and Nationalism: EastCentral Europe in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), see Chapter 2: Romantic Historiography in the Service of NationBuilding, pp. 46-74. 2 Particularly, the works of Johan Gustav Droysen (d. 1884), Heinrich von Sybel (d. 1895), and Heinrich von Trietschke (d. 1896) played a great role in the unification of Germany in 1871. For details, see Benedikt Stuchtey “German Historical Writing,” in The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 4: 1800-1945, pp. 161-83. See also Stefan Berger, Inventing the Nation: Germany (London: Arnold/New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2004), and Robert Southard, Droysen and the Prussian School of History (Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 2015). 3 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London & New York: Verso, 1983); and Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalisms (Oxford: Blackwell, and Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983). 4 Catherine Carmichael and Michael AlmondWelton, “Nationalism,” in Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing, ed. Kelly Boyd, Vol. 2 (M-Z), (London & Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999), p. 856. 5 Harbans Mukhia, “Communalism and the Writing of Medieval Indian History: A Reappraisal,” Social Scientist, Vol. 11, No. 8 (August 1983), p. 60 [pp. 58-65] 6 Abdul Wahid Khan, Musalmanon ki siyasi zindagi (1941), Mohammad Noman, Muslim India: Rise and Growth of the All-India Muslim League (Allahabad: Kitabistan, 1942), Ashiq Husain Batalvi, Hamari Qaumi Jiddo Jahad (19381939 and 1940-1942 (rpt Lahore, 1975), and A. B. Rajput, Muslim League: Yesterday and Today (Lahore: Muhammad Ashraf, 1948 & also London 1948). 7 Yvette Claire Rosser, Islamization of Pakistan: Social Studies Textbooks (New Delhi: Rupa,
The production of nationalist historical narrative in Pakistan, which invents the past, is inextricably linked to power. The political and military leadership in the country has promoted the nationalist narrative as it serves its interests. Apart from fostering patriotism and national integration, the political and military leadership in the country believes that history has a definite role to play; and it can well-serve the contemporary political needs. The nationalist historical narrative tends to view the past through the lens of the present day values, norms and contemporary circumstances. In a bid to justify the ideology of Pakistan and Two-nation Theory based on Hindu-Muslim separatism, these works cite select historical evidence, and press data in the service of a nationalist agenda. Marred by reductionism, they project a much distorted view of the past, completely ignoring the role and contribution of the Chishti sufis in South Asian social and cultural history. There seems to be politics behind the deliberate silencing of Chishti Sufism in nationalist historical narrative. In Pakistan, the use of history as a tool has been promoted in order to achieve political ends such as legitimizing the military and political regimes by means such as Islamizing the teaching of history, among others, or justifying huge defense budget by encouraging anti-India and anti-Hindu rhetoric in nationalist narrative. Islam was presented as the most important determinant of historical change throughout the South Asian history, the anti-India and anti-Hindu rhetoric was made to appear as historically rooted in the experiences of the South Asians. This institutionalized silence on Chishti Sufism needs to be broken by highlighting the richness and complexity of the diverse voices associated with Chishti Sufism in South Asian history. In Pakistan, the plurality of historical narratives need to be acknowledged and celebrated not merely among
2003). See also Yvette Claire Rosser, “Curriculum as Destiny: Forging National Identity in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh,” Unpublished PhD diss., The University of Texas at Austin, 2003. 8 See, for instance, Waheed Qureshi, Ideological Foundations of Pakistan (Lahore: Aziz Publishers, 1982). 9 Not only expressions like political power and rule were Islamized, i.e. Muslim power or rule, other expressions were also Islamized. For instance, Qureshi writes: “Muslim arms clashed with a Hindu dynasty in the subcontinent at the beginning of the eighth century…” See I H Qureshi, “Introductory,” in A History of the Freedom Movement, Vol. 1 (1707-1831), (Karachi: The Board of Editors, 1957), p. 7. 10 Ayesha Jalal, “Conjuring Pakistan: History as Official Imagining,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Feb 1995), p. 78 [pp. 73-89]. 11 Riazul Islam, “Religious Factor in the Pakistan Movement: A Study in Motivation,” in The Quest for Identity (Proceedings of the First Congress on the History and Culture of Pakistan held at the University of Islamabad, April 1973), ed. Waheeduz-Zaman (Islamabad: Univ. of Islamabad Press, 1974), pp. 10-17. 12 See for instance, Hussain Khan, “The Rise and Expansion of Muslim Power,” in Islam in South Asia, eds. Waheed-uz-Zaman and M. Saleem Akhtar (Islamabad: NIHCR, 1993), pp. 14-51. The chapter narrates political history, written in dynastic framework, from the Arab conquest of Sindh (712) coming down to the demise of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir (1707). See also N. A. Baloch, “The Advent of Islam,” in Islam in South Asia, eds. Waheed-uz-Zaman and M. Saleem Akhtar, pp. 1-13. 13 He was born at Patiali, U.P., in pre-partition India. He taught history at Delhi University, University of the Punjab, and Columbia University, New York, and also served as Vice-Chancellor at the University of Karachi. 14 I. H. Qureshi, The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent (610-1947): A Brief Historical Analysis (Karachi: Ma’aref, 1977 2nd ed.; first published 1962). Its chapters are titled “Islam 36
enters the Subcontinent”, “Islam gains a Foothold in the North-West,” and “Islam Spreads into Other Areas,” etc. 15 See Jinnah’s address in Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, ed. Foundations of Pakistan: All India Muslim League Documents 1906-1947, Vol. II (Karachi: National Publishing House, 1970), p. 338. The author’s other work Evolution of Pakistan (Karachi: Royal Book Company, 1995, first pub. 1963) also offers the nationalist perspective. 16 I. H. Qureshi, The Struggle for Pakistan (Karachi: University of Karachi, 1965), pp. 3-5. See also Abdul Hameed, Muslim Separatism in India (Lahore, 1967). 17 Pirzada, ed. Foundations of Pakistan, vol. II, see Introduction by the editor, pp. xii-xiii. 18 S. M. Ikram, Modern Muslim India and the Birth of Pakistan (1858-1951), (Lahore: Institute of Islamic Culture, 1965), p. 1. See also I. H. Qureshi, The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent (610-1947): A Brief Historical Analysis (Karachi: Ma’aref, 1977 2nd ed.; first pub. 1962); and Saeeduddin Ahmad Dar, Ideology of Pakistan (Islamabad: Islamic Book Foundation, 1992), p. 2. 19 Peter Hardy, “Modern Muslim Historical Writing on Medieval Muslim India,” in Historians of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, ed. C. H. Philips (London: OUP, 1967; first pub. 1961), p. 309. 20 Aslam, Tehrik-i Pakistan, pp. 15-23. 21 Tahir Kamran, “Islam, Urdu and Hindu as the Other: Instruments of Cultural Homogeneity in Pakistan” in Composite Culture in a Multicultural Society, eds. Bipan Chandra and Sucheta Mahajan (New Delhi: Pearson Education, 2007) pp. 93-122. For details, see Tahir Kamran, The Construction of Hindu as the ‘Other’ in Pakistani History Textbooks (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2005). 22 Jama‘at al-Dawa‘’s Head of Political Affairs Wing, Prof. Hafiz Abd al-Rahman Makki said in a speech delivered at the “Seminar on Nazariya-i Pakistan” organized by District Bar Council, Islamabad that only Two-Nation Theory (Do Quami Nazariya) can solve all the problems of Pakistan. Daily Express, March 26, 2016. 23 The Council of Islamic Ideology declared the
Protection of Women Against Violence Act unIslamic, unconstitutional and in conflict with the Two-Nation Theory. The Express Tribune, March 3, 2016. 24 It was coined by Prof. Khurshid Ahmad, one of the leading members of Jama‘at Islami, whose founder Abul Ala Mawdudi (d. 1979) is said to have opposed the very creation of Pakistan. Muhammad Munir, From Jinnah to Zia (Lahore: Vanguard, 1980), p. 28. 25 Salman Tarik Kureshi, “The National Narrative,” Daily Times, June 12, 2010. 26 Muhammad Aslam, Tehrik-i Pakistan (Lahore: Riaz Brothers, n.d.), pp. 25-42; Farooq Ahmad Dar, Communal Riots in the Punjab, 1947 (Islamabad: NIHCR, 2003), p. 1; Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi, The Struggle for Pakistan (Karachi: University of Karachi, 1974 rpt of 2nd ed.; first pub. 1965), p. 5; Jamil-ud-din Ahmad, Early Phase of Muslim Political Movement (Lahore: Publishers United, n.d.), p. 1. 27 Yohanan Friedmann, “Islamic Thought in Relation to the Indian Context,” Purusartha, 9 (1986), 79-91. 28 Jalal, “Conjuring Pakistan,” pp. 80-81. 29 Najam Mushtaq, “Ideological Crossroads,” The New International, June 10, 2001. 30 Qureshi, The Struggle for Pakistan, p. 8. 31 S. M. Ikram, History of Muslim Civilization in India and Pakistan (Lahore: Institute of Islamic Culture, 1983 3rd ed.; first pub. 1961), pp. 25354. Previous editions were printed under the title Muslim Rule in India and Pakistan. 32 Qureshi, The Struggle for Pakistan, p. 9. 33 I H Qureshi, The Pakistani Way of Life (Karachi: Royal Book Company, 1988 2nd ed.; first pub. 1957), pp. 7-8. Italics mine. See also Sher Muhammad Garewal, Pakistan: Way of Life and Culture (Lahore: Publishers United Ltd., 1985). 34 Qureshi, The Pakistani Way of Life, pp. 5-6. 35 Sheikh Abdur Rashid, “Growth and Development of Muslim Community,” in Islam in South Asia, eds. Waheed-uz-Zaman and M. Saleem Akhtar, p. 101. Sheikh Abdur Rashid was an Aligarh historian, who later shifted to Pakistan and joined University of the Punjab, Lahore. 36 Daud Ali, ed. Invoking the Past: The Uses of
History in South Asia (New Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press, 1999). See also Sylvie Guichard, The Construction of History and Nationalism in India: Textbooks, Controversies and Politics (New York: Routledge, 2010). 37 Gyanendra Pandey, The Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1990). 38 Cynthia Talbot, “Inscribing the Other, Inscribing the Self: Hindu-Muslim Identities in Pre-colonial India,” in India’s Islamic Traditions, 711-1750, ed. Eaton, pp. 83-117. 39 Romila Thapar, “Imagined Religious Communities? Ancient History and the Modern Search for a Hindu Identity,” Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 23, No. 2 (1989), pp. 209-231. 40 Jalal, “Conjuring Pakistan,” p. 78. 41 Hardy, “Modern Muslim Historical Writing on Medieval Muslim India,” p. 305. 42 Mohammad Haneef Shahid, Islam aur Quaidi-Azam [Islam and Quaid-i-Azam], (Lahore: Printman, 1991 for Pakistan International Research Institute, London). 43 Sharaf-un-Nisa, “Portrayal of Dara Shikoh in Muslim Nationalist Historiography: A Critique,” Unpublished MPhil diss., Department of History, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, 2015. 44 Justice Syed Shameen Hussain Kadri, Creation of Pakistan (Rawalpindi: Army Book Club, GHQ, 1983), p. 1. The author was Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, Punjab. 45 Ikram writes: “the ground for Muslim separatism was prepared when Islam entered the subcontinent...” Modern Muslim India and the Birth of Pakistan, p. 1. 46 Kadri, Creation of Pakistan, p. 2. 47 Jalal, “Conjuring Pakistan,” p. 78. 48 John Breuilly, “Nationalism and the Making of National Pasts,” in Nations and Their Histories: Constructions and Representations, eds. Susana Carvalho and François Gemenne (Houndsmill: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), p. 21. [pp. 7-28] 49 Legal Framework Order, 1970, Article 20 states: “Islamic ideology which is the reason for the creation of Pakistan shall be preserved.” Cited in Munir, From Jinnah to Zia, p. 113. 50 Pervez Hoodbhoy, Education and the State: 37
Fifty Years of Pakistan (Karachi: OUP, 1998). 51 Dr. I H Qureshi (educationist & VC, University of Karachi, Karachi), Dr. Waheed-uz-Zaman (VC, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad), and Dr S M Zaman (VC Allama Iqbal Open University, and Director NIHCR). 52 Riazul Islam (Prof Emeritus, Univ of Karachi), Sheikh Abdur Rashid (Professor, Dept of History, Univ of the Punjab), Prof. Muhammad Aslam (Professor, Dept of History, Univ of the Punjab). 53 Dr S M Zaman (Director NIHCR), Dr. S. A. Dar (Director NIPS), QAU), Shariful Mujahid (Former Director, Quaid-i-Azam Academy, & HEC Distinguished Professor), Zawar Husain Zaidi (Head of the Quaid-i-Azam Academy, & the Editorin-chief of the Quaid-i-Azam Papers Project), S. Moinul Haq (General Secretary, Pakistan Historical Society), S. Sharifuddin Pirzada (Senior Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan). 54 Hardy, “Modern Muslim Historical Writing on Medieval Muslim India,” p. 302. 55 Thapar, “Imagined Religious Communities?,” p. 209. 56 Rajeev Bhargava, “History, Nation and Community: Reflections on Nationalist Historiography of India and Pakistan,” Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Jan-22-28, 2000), pp. 193-200. 57 Jalal, “Conjuring Pakistan,” pp. 73-74. 58 Talal Asad, Idea of an Anthropology of Islam (Washington, D.C.: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, 1986), pp, 15-17. 59 For details, see Tanvir Anjum, “The Emergence of Muslim Rule in India: Some Historical Disconnects and Missing Links,” Islamic Studies, Islamic Research Institute (IRI), International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI), Vol. 46, No. 2, Summer 2007, pp. 217-40. 60 Tanvir Anjum, “Temporal Divides: A Critical Review of Major Periodization Schemes in Indian History,” Journal of Social Sciences, GC University, Faisalabad, Vol. 1, No. 1, July 2004, pp. 32-50. 61 Hafeez Malik, Hafiz Malik, Muslim Nationalism in India and Pakistan (Washington, D.C: Public Affairs Press, 1963), p. 15. 62 Sher Muhammad Garewal, Pakistan Way of Life 38
and Culture (Lahore: Publishers United, 1998), pp. 53-56. Courses on Ancient India once taught to the students of history in all Pakistani universities were removed from the curriculum during 1980s. 63 Nadeem F. Paracha, “K. K. Aziz: Murder He Wrote,” Dawn, April 27, 2014. 64 See, for instance, Ikram, History of Muslim Civilization in India and Pakistan, p. 231. 65 Thomas W. Arnold, The Preaching of Islam (London: Constable, 1913), pp. 154-93. 66 Richard M. Eaton. “Approaches to the Study of Conversion to Islam in India,” in Approaches to Islam in Religious Studies, ed. Richard C. Martin (Tuscon: The University of Arizona Press, 1985), pp. 106-23. 67 Muhammad Aslam, “Mujadid Alif Sani and the Quest for Identity,” in The Quest for Identity, pp. 75-80. 68 M. Mujeeb, The Indian Muslims (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1967), p. 244. See also a discussion in Yohanan Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: An Outline of his Thought and a Study of his Image in the Eyes of Posterity (Montreal: McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies, 1971), pp. 74-75. 69 Qureshi, The Muslim Community of the IndoPakistan Subcontinent, pp. 218-39; A History of the Freedom Movement, Vol 1 (1707-1831), see Chap. XVIII, XIX and XX, pp. 542-600; Ahmad, Early Phase of Muslim Political Movement, p. 3. 70 Aslam, Tehrik-i Pakistan, p. 22. 71 I. H. Qureshi, Ulema in Politics (Karachi: Ma’aref, 1972), p. 98. 72 Ahmad, Early Phase of Muslim Political Movement, p. 2. See also Aslam, Tehrik-i Pakistan, p. 17. 73 Sheikh Muhammad Ikram, Aab-i Kauthar (Lahore: Ferozsons, 1952), pp. 529-31. 74 Qureshi, The Muslim Community of the IndoPakistan Subcontinent, pp. 136-37. 75 Qureshi, “Introductory,” in A History of Freedom Movement, Vol. 1, p. 22. 76 Qureshi, The Muslim Community of the IndoPakistan Subcontinent, p. 145. 77 Ibid., pp. 146, 147. 78 Ikram, however, argues that Dara was not an unbeliever or infidel, as argued by others. Rud-i
Kauthar, pp. 397-410. 79 Mahmud Husain, “Sayyid Ahmad Shahid,” in A History of Freedom Movement, Vol. 1, p. 571. 80 Sheikh Muhammad Ikram, Rud-i Kauthar (Lahore: Ferozsons, 1958). 81 Abdur Rashid, “Growth and Development of Muslim Community,” p. 102. 82 For instance, Aziz Ahmad views Shaykh Musa Sada Suhag’s transvestite behaviour, which was a practical manifestation of the idea of God’s bride, through his puritanical lens as ‘vulgarization’ of sufi practices in Indian social context. Aziz Ahmad, Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), p. 161. 83 Qureshi, The Muslim Community of the IndoPakistan Subcontinent, pp. 144-46. 84 Ahmad, Early Phase of Muslim Political Movement, pp. 1-2. 85 Qureshi, “Introductory,” in A History of Freedom Movement, Vol. 1, p. 23. 86 Fazl Rehman Ganjmuradabadi, Manmohan ki batain (A Hindi Translation of the Quran), (Patna: Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library, 1990). 87 Ahmad, Early Phase of Muslim Political Movement, pp. 1-2. 88 Ikram, Rud-i Kauthar, pp. 259-79. 89 Mehru Jaffer, The Book of Muinuddin Chishti (New Delhi: Penguin, 2008), p. 109. 90 Nile Green, Sufism: A Global History (Chichester & Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), p. 111. 91 Muhammad Suheyl Umar, ed. The Religious Other: Towards a Muslim Theology of Other Religions in a Post-Prophetic Age (Lahore: Iqbal Academy, 2008), see Preface by the editor, p. ii. 92 Frithjof Schuon, The Transcendent Unity of Religions (Wheaton: Quest Books, 2011 rpt.) 93 Carl W. Ernst, The Sufi Martyrs of Love: Chishti Sufi Order in India and Beyond (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), Carl W. Ernst, “India as a Sacred Islamic Land,” in Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (ed.), Religions of India in Practice (New Delhi: Social Science Press, 2004; first pub. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1995), pp. 187-206, and Riazul Islam, Sufism in South Asia: Impact on Fourteenth Century Muslim Society (Karachi:
Oxford University Press, 2002). 94 Roderic Vassie, “Abd al-Rahman Chishti and the Bhagvadgita: ‘Unity of Religion’ Theory in Practice,” in The Legacy of Mediaeval Persian Sufism, ed. Leonard Lewisohn (London: Khanqahi Nimatullahi Publications, 1992). 95 Sunil Kumar, Amir Khusraw: The Poet of Sufis and Sultans (Oxford: Oneworld, 2006). 96 Shah Kalim-Allah Jehanabadi, Kashkol-i Kalimi (Delhi: Matba‘ Mujtabai’, 1308 AH), p. 25. 97 Fakhr al-Talibin, Delhi, 1315 AH, p. 23. 98 Anthology of Poets of the Chishti Sufi Order, Eng. tr. Intro & Notes Paul Smith (New Humanity Books/Book Heaven). 99 See, for instance, Ikram, Rud-i Kauthar, pp. 6675. The book is quite voluminous. 100 Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, ed. Colin Gordon, Eng. trans. Colin Gordon, Leo Marshall, John Mepham & Kate Soper (Brighton; Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1980), p. 51. 101 Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995), Preface, p. xix. 102 Mubarak Ali, Historian’s Dispute (Lahore: Fiction House, p. 1998), p. 109. 103 Robyn Fivush, “Speaking Silence: The Social Construction of Silence in Autobiographical and Cultural Narratives,” Memory, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2010, p. 91 [pp. 88-98).
Manufacturing an Islamized Childhood Imdad Hussain Forman Christian College
I look at the manufacturing of a new type of childhood, in urban Pakistan in general and in Lahore specifically, and the way it was inscribed by the martial law regime of Zia-ul-Haq 1977-88. I investigate this because it is generally ignored in the scholarly works on Islamization in Pakistan. Moreover, it is especially difficult to find work on the Islamization of girlhood. In order to contribute to fill these gaps, I have collected oral histories of different individuals whose childhood was inscribed by the policies of Zia regime, analyzed textbooks and reports that the Council of Islamic ideology produced during Zia regime. In order to understand how Islamization under Zia influenced Lahore and its children, it is important to know about everyday life in the city before Zia regime. There was little gender segregation among children. Young boys and girls in the inner city and other parts of Lahore (such as Saman Abad and Ravi Road) used to play together in their streets and neighborhoods. One of my interlocutors, Surraya, recalls that there was little gender segregation in 1960s and 1970s. She commented: When I was young, boys and girls used to play together. No elder scolded if a girl did not wear a chador (i.e. a long piece of cloth
used to cover head and body) or played with boys outside home. The young girls from the inner city used to go to cinemas in Lakshmi chowk in 1970s. They could go to bazaars for shopping and for fun. They did generally not need to care about donning purdah (veil) while leaving their homes. Though some women used to veil before Zia period, but it was mostly a voluntary act of their personal choice. Girls would wear fashionable clothes because wearing them and making-up were valued among many families of the city. Besides, it was common for magazines, newspapers, and television to show girls in fashionable clothes. Sectarian identities did not matter in the public sphere. Children were hardly aware of the sectarian identities of their schoolmates. Zia intended to reverse these cultural trends in Lahore primarily through Islamization policies. Since the people of Lahore had resisted Zia’s military regime, he undertook measures to discipline the city, its people and public spaces. Zia portrayed Pakistan as a morally degenerating society because of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s “Godless government,” which he had disposed. In an interview in 1979 to British journalist Ian Stephens, 41
Zia characterized Pakistani society as follows: The moral fiber of the society has been completely broken and this was done basically in the last sevenand-a-half-years. Mr. Bhutto’s way of flourishing in this society was by eroding its moral fiber…He eroded the moral fiber of the society by pitching the students against their teachers, sons against their fathers... He also added: Therefore, to my mind the most fundamental and important basis for the whole reformation of the society is not how much cotton we can grow…but I think it is the moral rejuvenation which is required first and that will have to be done on the basis of Islam…It [Islam] tells the young to respect the old, it tells the old to love the young, it tells society that elders have a say in the matter. These quotations point to Zia’s plans to colonize childhood by putting children under the control of their elders and Islamization policies of the state. Students were required to participate in morning assemblies in their schools where religious clerics and Islamic studies teachers would propagate their views on jihad, modesty and Islamic life. The emphasis on purdah (veil) is evident throughout the illustrations in the textbooks published during Zia era. Girls were always depicted with purdah and performing domestic roles. School textbooks obscured and distorted Pakistani history. Some of the textbooks depicted Founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was a secular, as a champion of veiling. His non-veiling sister, Fatima Jinnah was depicted as the embodiment of veiling. Similarly, the women activists and political workers who participated in Pakistan movement were depicted to be donning veils.
In a lesson, “Women’s Role in Pakistan Movement,” in a 1982 Urdu language book, for example, Jinnah was depicted as a supporter of veil. Pakistani women are adequately performing their work and social responsibilities in addition to their domestic roles. But today they need to remember just one advice that they need to protect their feminine modesty. Quaid-i-Azam [i.e. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan] had repeatedly said that by becoming true and correct Muslims; women can perform more useful tasks. He did not like [women] to follow non-Muslims. His sister Fatima Jinnah always appeared in veil. Quaid-i-Azam has advised Pakistani girl to observe Eastern civilization and never lose her modesty. This is called civilizational balance which Islam terms as a middle way. Similarly, the women political workers who participated in movement for Pakistan’s independence during 1940s were shown to be donning veils. In a 1982 Urdu textbook, they were depicted as follows: Begum [i.e. Mrs.] Muhammad Ali was not educated at school and college. She was embodiment of sincerity. She was ba purdah (veiled) women but veiling was not an obstacle for her. Ba purdah (veiled) women would visit their neighborhoods with Muslim League membership forms in their hands and would make women members by charging two annas (two pennies) membership fee.
In a way veil was enforced on Pakistani girls. It was made a requirement for all girls in educational institutions. One of my interlocutors, Surraya, said gender segregation among children started during Zia era. But Zia’s time was different. Many things changed. Boys and girls started to play separately. Even blood-related girls and boys, even the cousins started to play separately. The elders would ask girls to wear chadors. It was not considered good for girls to play outside home. Time changed. Zia changed it. Here, Surraya narrated her experience of the changing social expectations regarding girls and boys during Zia regime. The extract also points to a sense of the tightening of social controls on girls and their spaces. As Zia regime emphasized veil, moral vigilantism grew among those who internalized state ideology. An excerpt from one of my interlocutors, Saira’s interview illustrates this point well. Some of my friends went from the school to bazaar in Gulberg sometime in 1983. They were bare-headed. A man admonished them saying how could they be so shameless as to be in the public without wearing veils. Bewildered and terrified, my friends returned to the school. This kind of vigilantism was common in Zia era.… In their childhood, in 1960s and 1970s, my mother and her friends did not observe purdah (veil). Another interlocutor, Iffat Rizvi, who is now a school teacher in Gulberg area of Lahore, discontinued wearing fashionable clothes of Bhutto era during 1980s. She recalls she would wear bell bottom and short shirts, both fashionable attires of Bhutto era. Since wearing them was regarded as immodest and immoral, Iffat had to conform to the dressing codes of Zia regime.
My third interlocutor, Shireen Sukhan, who was enrolled in University of the Punjab in Lahore in 1980s, recounted her experiences as follows: We were required to wear veil, it was essential. Dance was outlawed. Wearing fashionable clothes was discouraged. Dramas were outlawed. Student unions were banned. Boys and girls could not talk to each other in the university. Canteens were separated for boys and girls. The university atmosphere was depressing and suffocating. Before Zia, girls wore sashes [i.e. strip of cloth worn about the waist or over the shoulder]. But under Zia, they wore chadors. It was really suffocating for girls… I used to go to watch [film stars] Babra Sharif’s and Nadeem’s films with my khala (maternal aunt) during Bhutto era. But in Zia era, going to cinemas became impossible for girls. One of my interlocutors, Iman Khan, talked about the changes in everyday lives of girls. According to her, there have been major changes in girls/ women’s mobility during Zia era. In describing this change, she recalled: My father’s great grand aunt used to bicycle from her house on Edgerton Road, all the way to Kinnaird College for Women on Jail Road, Lahore in the early 1970’s…The cycling stopped though in the late 1970’s when the Zia period kicked in. Girls were generally banned from going out in public without a chador, let alone, cycle. The cycling stopped not because she was scared, but because it was expected of girls in those times. Similarly, in the same era in a different part of the country, Multan, my mother used to cycle from her house to nearby stores for general chores. Sometimes even without a duppata (veil). But this 43
was soon stopped too during Zia’s time. It’s such a sorrow, that what was stopped then, failed to ever grow again. We as young girls have never been allowed to cycle. One wonders, whether it’s the unsafe environment or just an offshoot of Islamization that prevailed secretly even decades after the Zia’s regime ended. In order to deepen gender segregation in society, Council of Islamic ideology (CII) demanded eliminating coeducation in the country. In 1981, for instance, the CII had concluded that “coeducation has destroyed morality [in Pakistan],” and demanded to end it. It further demanded to enforce the sanctity of chador aur char diwari (lit. long cloth to cover head and body and confine of four walls of home) and proscribe be pardagi (non-veiling). The CII also recommended proscribing female nurses attending to male patients. It demanded that girls not be given education in disciplines such as geography, botany, and engineering because these disciplines would not benefit them [as they were male subjects]. It demanded educating girls only in the ‘responsibilities of family life,’ ‘socialization of children,’ ‘stitching’ and ‘preparing household budget.’ As Zia regime progressed, so did the segregation between boys and girls in Lahore as in other cities of Pakistan. Zia and his intellectual aides understood Pakistani children as menacing beings associated with immoral influences, as delinquents, and as vulnerable, at-risk beings. Hence they viewed children as dangerous for Pakistani society. Zia and his aides maligned Western civilization for damaging character of Pakistani society. For example, in 1978, the Council for Islamic Ideology (CII), the lynchpin of Zia regime, accused Western civilization of promoting fahashi (obscenity) and uryani (nudity) among the nai nasal (literally new generation, i.e. children) of Pakistan. In 1981, the CII expressed its concern with perceived moral degeneration of children as follows:
Smoking and the use of drugs is gradually rising among our students. Some reports point to the regretful situation of rising drug addiction among girls. Moral obscenity is rampant in the form of digests, spy novels, cinematic photos of women, romantic fiction and dramas. Young students are wasting their time and destroying their morality by reading immoral texts instead of syllabus books. As one of the antidotes to the perceived immorality among children, Zia regime encouraged Pakistani students to identify themselves as part of the Islamic ummah (global Muslim community). Zia managed to get textbooks filled with lessons on the ummah. Instead of having text about Pakistani geography, a seventh grade 1985 social studies textbook by Punjab Textbook Board, for instance, had lessons on Muslim countries, their population, climate, resources, and trade. Interestingly, it also included a lesson on imperialists’ conspiracies against Muslim countries. Teachings, mostly focused on the Muslim world, were included to ensure students would learn about the Muslim ummah. Though children in Zia era identified themselves with the Muslim ummah, ironically, they also became increasingly aware of their own sectarian identities and differences. It was because Zia promoted specifically Deobandi and Wahhabi versions of Islam, both constituting a small minority in Pakistan. The doctrines of both were antithetical to other Pakistani sects such as Barelwis and Shias. The participants of this research recalled that they, as children, internalized love for other Muslim countries. But these positive feelings could not prevent them to become more aware of and more attached to their own sectarian identities. In the view of some participants, Zia regime’s disapproval of politics contributed to the reinforcement of sectarian identities among Pakistani children. Since separate Islamic Studies textbooks were introduced for Sunni and Shia students, and since sectarian
organizations were established towards the mid1980s, sectarian identities were reinforced among children in Lahore as well as in other cities. The cordiality among various sects was gradually replaced by prejudices in a matter of few years in Lahore. Shias as a minority sect increasingly became the victims of prejudices. I am reproducing an account from an interview with Durdana, a journalist to know how prejudices against Shias were held in Sunni families of Lahore. At home, we were taught that Shias were the scum of the earth. A particular reference was given of Shiekh Abdul Qadir Jilani, who was believed to have proclaimed Shias as kafir (infidels). I was taught that Shias spit in the food they serve to Sunnis. I was told that Shias extracted water from the bodies of their dead ones to serve it to Sunnis. Shias were considered liars with an emphasis that their sect promoted lies. Our Shia neighbors were called khatmals (bedbugs). There was a similar disdain for Ahmadis. I had been taught that even passing through the house of an Ahmadi could pollute Sunnis and their faith. A complete boycott of the Ahmadi community was preached at my home. As sectarianism grew, some Deobandi fundamentalists established Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP-Army of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad) in 1985. Since its establishment, the SSP carries out campaigns against Shias declaring them infidels. In the mid-1980s, the SSP recruited Deobandi students from madrassas and public schools to disseminate their anti-Shia ideologies in Lahore and other cities such as Jhang, Okara and Sheikhupura. Besides going to the public school, an interlocutor, Ammar Ahmad, was memorizing Quran in a Deobandi madrassa in Okara in 1986 where he was contacted by the SSP workers. He recalls:
I have been going to the processions of Sipah-i-Sahaba. The [SSP] students would inscribe kafir, kafir, Shia kafir (Verily Shias are infidels) at various places. It was disgusting to read this slogan in public toilets. I would go to the meetings of Sipahi-Sahaba with my mother. I had a gloomy childhood. The Jihadis would visit my school. They would give lectures to the students. They would share the stories of martyrs in Afghanistan. Those stories were emotional. Jihadis came to recruit children from my madrassa. I was ready to go with them but my mother did not allow me to leave her. Now I think she made a good decision. The students who joined Jihadis are still unemployed. Wahabi, Deobandis and Barelwis would quarrel amongst themselves during that time. Shia children were not the only targets of discrimination. Ahmadi children were also subjected to prejudicial treatment. One of my interlocutors, Zulqurnain, had an Ahmadi classmate in the 1980s who was also his friend. The Ahmadi boy would sometimes visit Zulqurnainâ€™s family home. Zulqurnainâ€™s mother would always give food to that Ahmadi boy in a separate plastic plate. She believed that Muslims and non-Muslims cannot share their utensils and crockery. The non-Muslims transfer their impurity to the utensils and the pots and render them useless for Muslims. Hence she would serve food to non-Muslim friends of Zulqurnain in separate bowls. An important theme that emerges from the interviews is the ways in which children internalized symbolic and physical violence in Zia regime. Public lashing of political dissidents and criminals was introduced by Zia as a form of Islamic punishment. The events of public lashing were publicized through megaphone by a lower cadre state official on bicycle in the streets of inner city Lahore. One of my interlocutors, Rashid Mehmood, who is now a public servant, had watched, as a child, public lashings many times in 1980s at Mochi Gate in the inner city of Lahore 45
where he used to go to school. He recalls the police placing loud speakers in front of the tortured so that hundreds of people could listen to the cries of the lashed. Watching public lashing had always terrified Rashid and his friends. Since the girls were not allowed to watch public lashings, one of my interlocutors Saira watched them on television. She recounts her experience as follows: Once I saw a public lashing of a police constable on television for taking hundred rupees bribe from someone. The photos of his lashing were also appeared in newspapers. It was really terrifying. I heard many stories of public lashing and torture of political prisoners. It is because of these things I had a gruesome childhood. The paper has shed light on the strategies implemented to mold childhood according to Zia’s moral rejuvenation program. The Islamic engineering of childhood under Zia determined that children in Lahore would grow up according to an imposed Islamization model, which altered their everyday life routines, their identities and rituals. It also contributed to the development of new uncertainties, fears and violence among children. The then Islamized girls and boys have grown up and constitute today’s contemporary Lahore. The narratives collected briefly show some insights of how Lahore’ adults still carry the influence of their Islamized childhood. More research is needed to ascertain and analyze how Islamization of childhood under Zia continues to influence everyday life in contemporary Lahore. I intend to conduct more in-depth interviews with individuals who lived their childhood during Zia regime, analyze textbooks and children’s literature produced during Zia regime.
Translating the Qur’an as a Manifesto for Revolution ‘Ubaydullah Sindhī’s Qur’ānī Shu‘ūr-i Inqilāb SherAli Tareen Franklin and Marshall College
Introduction On a spring day in March1939, a crowd of a few hundred people gathered on a platform at the Delhi train station, eagerly anticipating someone’s arrival. Their enthusiasm peaked as the train carrying this person reached the platform. A thin and elderly, yet tall and commanding man came off the train, amid boisterous cheers from the assembled crowd, as people competed to catch a glimpse of him. This man’s name was ‘Ubaydullah Sindhī (d.1944), a prominent yet curious Indian Muslim scholar whose life and career had taken a course quite unlike that of his peers in the Indian Muslim scholarly elite. On this day, Sindhī had returned to India after being in exile for twenty-five years. Twenty-five years ago, Sindhī left India for Kabul in Afghanistan at the behest of his mentor, Maḥmūd Ḥasan (d.1920), a major scholar of the North Indian Deoband seminary, established in 1867. Sindhī was charged with the task of leading a conspiracy movement to topple the British colonial government in India. An avid anti-colonial thinker and activist, Sindhī spent seven years in Kabul, and from there on he traveled to the Soviet Union where he stayed for three months, Turkey where he lived for four years, and finally Mecca where he lived for twelve years before returning to India. On returning to India, unknown to many who had come to welcome his arrival at the Delhi
train station that day, Sindhī had transformed from an arch anti-colonialist to a staunch believer in a socialist revolution inspired by the Qur’an. More specifically, he had become a dogged proponent of a socio-economic and indeed a moral revolution (inqilāb) that combined the socialist promise of proletariat emancipation with what he regarded as the egalitarian revolutionary ethos of the Qur’an. Sindhī spent the last five years of his life until his death in August 1944 trying to convince Indian Muslims of the need to recognise and embrace the urgency of such a revolutionary program. This essay engages with some fragments of Sindhī’s life and thought with the purpose of presenting an example of the translation and reconfiguration of the Muslim intellectual canon, primarily the Qur’an, for decisively modern political projects and aspirations.1 More specifically, by highlighting the hermeneutical procedures through which ‘Ubaydullah Sindhī read the Qur’an as a manifesto for revolution, I hope to show ways in which the politico-conceptual terrain of colonial modernity informed and generated new imaginaries of Islam and approaches to reading and translating the Qur’an. Thus I approach translation in this essay less as the movement from one language to another, and more as the interpretive mechanisms through which certain discursive 49
artifacts, in this case the Qur’an, are translated and mobilised for particular ideological and political purposes. Let me begin with a brief overview of Sindhī ’s religious and political career, as a way to contextualize his intellectual thought and output, especially his Qur’an commentary that forms the focus of this essay. Conversion and Conspiracies ‘Ubaydullah Sindhī was born into a traditional Sikh family in the village of Chilanwali in Sialkot district in British Punjab on March 28th, 1872. His name until he became Muslim was Būtā Singh. When Sindhī was 12, a Hindu classmate in school gifted him a copy of the Persian text Tuḥfat ul-Hind (‘Gift of India’). This text was apparently written by a Hindu convert to Islam from Malerkotla in Punjab who had later become a Muslim scholar known as Mawlānā ‘Ubaydullah. So taken was the young Būtā Singh with ‘Ubaydullah’s conversion narrative and by this text that not only did he embrace Islam in 1887, at the age of 15, he also adopted the name ‘Ubaydullah. Another text Sindhī came across at this time that played a pivotal part in his conversion to Islam was the late 18th/early 19th century Indian Muslim scholar Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s (d. 1831) Urdu text Taqvīyat al-Īmān (‘Fortifying Faith’). Taqvīyat al-Īmān is a powerful polemic against popular customs/traditions and a vigorous defense of divine sovereignty that is regarded as arguably the most widely read Urdu religious reformist text in modern South Asia. In 1888, after embracing Islam, Sindhī left his home and moved to Sindh, where he became affiliated with a Sufi order in Chundi Sharif. That same year he went to Uttar Pradesh in Northern India where he enrolled as a student at the prestigious Muslim seminary the Deoband Madrasa. At Deoband, Sindhī studied and prospered under the tutelage of the towering Deoband scholar Maḥmūd Ḥasan, popularly known as Shaykh ul-Hind (the Shaykh of India). Sindhī distinguished himself as a scholar in all traditional 50
Islamic disciplines (such as the Qur’an, Hadith, Islamic jurisprudence etc.). He also mastered Arabic.2 Travel The next major turning point in Sindhī’s life came in 1915, at the height of World War One, when he was commanded by Maḥmūd Ḥasan to migrate to Afghanistan. A prominent and prolific scholar, Ḥasan was also a leading anti-colonial activist affiliated with the Indian National Congress. The same year, 1915, that he dispatched Sindhī to Kabul, Ḥasan also traveled to Mecca to seek Ottoman support against the British. He was arrested from Mecca in 1917 and imprisoned by the British in Malta, and released only shortly before his death in 1920. Ḥasan had charged Sindhī with the task of establishing a branch of the Indian National Congress in Kabul and, in collusion with Afghan monarchs, with leading an anti-colonial conspiracy movement to bring an end to British rule in India. Accompanied by a band of devoted followers (including many non- Muslims), Sindhī traveled to Kabul via Balochistan. He stayed in Kabul for seven years until 1922. In Kabul Sindhī launched and managed a transnational conspiracy movement to overthrow the British known as the ‘Silk Handkerchief Movement’ (Rayshmī Rumāl Teḥrīk). This name owed to the multicolored pieces of silk cloth on which the participants of this movement would write and exchange letters between Kabul, Delhi, and Mecca, where Maḥmūd Ḥasan had moved. When the British caught whiff of these subversive plans, they pressured Ḥabībullah Khān, the then Afghan ruler, to hand Sindhī over to them. While Khān did not fully oblige, he nonetheless put Sindhī in jail. Sindhī was imprisoned for four years until 1919, reportedly in torrid conditions, and tortured on an almost daily basis. He was released only after Ḥabībullah’s assassination in February 1919 and the eventual succession of his son Amānullah Khan as the new Afghan king. Sindhī is said to have met the young prince Amānullah frequently while in jail. He is also said
to have played a key part in convincing the latter to invade British India in May 1919, in what came to be known as the third Anglo-Afghan war. Apparently, while in jail, Sindhī had proposed to Amānullah a deal. According to this deal, in exchange for Sindhī’s and his Indian associates’ support for Amānullah’s accession to the throne, Amānullah would wage war against the British in India. Sindhī and Amānullah formalized this deal as a signed treaty and curiously, Ḥabībullah was assassinated only a few weeks later, amid much intrigue and speculation. Eventually, Sindhī was compelled to flee Afghanistan in 1922 as the British pressure on Amānullah to hand him over became impossible to withstand. Sindhī’s conspiracy movement and his collusion with Amānullah did not succeed as the British continued to rule India for a few more decades. But despite his political failures, Sindhī’s seven years in Kabul transformed him as a scholar and as a person in profound ways. Living in the midst of Amānullah’s aggressive modernisation drive, in Kabul Sindhī began to internalise a narrative of civilisational progress permeating minute aspects of everyday life. For example, Sindhī would later reminisce that it was in Kabul that he learnt the use of forks and knives while dining. Apparently, during Sindhī’s first few days in Kabul, his inability to use Western cutlery in formal gatherings with Afghan political leaders had brought him great embarrassment: so much so that after vowing to overcome this ‘deficiency,’ one day he spent hours at a stretch from morning to evening to master Western dining etiquettes. Similarly, Sindhī also took it upon himself to learn chess. He had taken to heart the advice he was given by some members of the Afghan political elite that to be taken seriously as a political leader, and not as ‘just another Mullah,’ Sindhī must acquire three things: proper dining skills, proficiency in chess, and a taste and habit for consuming naswār (a traditional Pashtun narcotic ingested by being placed between the lower lip and gum).3 If the seven years in Kabul precipitated Sindhī’s cultural transformation, the next four and a half in Russia and then in Turkey further catalysed that process, often in unexpected
ways. Encountering Revolution The next stop in Sindhī’s journey was Moscow where he spent seven months in 1922. As a known dissident of the British Empire, Sindhī was given official protocol in Russia on his arrival, and he is said to have kept company and shared conversations with leading figures in the Soviet intelligentsia. While legends of a meeting with Stalin still circulate, Sindhī himself denied any such encounter. Even so, this short stay in Russia exposed Sindhī to an idea and political current that in many ways defined his intellectual career for the rest of his life: the idea of revolution. Sindhī was mesmerised by the promise of a socialist revolution, and although he was opposed to its irreligious character, he found the emancipatory narrative of a proletariat revolution immensely attractive. Sindhī’s fascination with the idea of revolution further matured during his four-year stay in Istanbul in Turkey, where he moved from Russia in 1922, on the eve of the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate, and the establishment of the Turkish republic. If socio-economic revolution was the central theme that dominated Sindhī’s imagination in Russia, in Turkey, it was secularism. More so than the separation of religion and politics, what most captured Sindhī’s attention were cultural aspects of Mustafā Kemāl’s secularism such as the banning of headscarves and the adoption of ‘Western’ habits and everyday practices. Years later, on returning to India, Sindhī would openly oppose the donning of headscarves, causing much fury and condemnation in Muslim traditionalist circles. Having experienced the immediate aftermath of the war of independence and the foundation of the new Turkish republic, Sindhī’s stay in Turkey only confirmed his conviction in the inevitability of a global enveloping revolution that in his view no society could any longer ignore or remain unaffected by. This revolutionary movement, that had swept aside long running monarchies and spiritual cum political institutions 51
like the Caliphate, would soon confront India and Indian Muslims, Sindhī argued.4 Sindhī spent the next twelve years from 1927 to 1939 in Mecca where he devoted himself to crafting an intellectual project of translating the promise of an economic socialist revolution through the canon of Muslim normative sources, especially the Qur’an. For this task, Sindhī took as his intellectual inspiration and guide the renowned 18th century Indian Muslim thinker Shāh Walī Allah (d. 1762). Of all thinkers in Muslim and South Asian Muslim intellectual history, Sindhī regarded Walī Allah and his political and philosophical thought most relevant to the moral and political landscape of the early 20th century. This was so because in his writings Walī Allah had derided the nobility of late Mughal India for their profligate habits, and had called for a complete overhaul of the political order, as exemplified in his mobilization of the trope ‘Unraveling of every order’ (fakk kull niẓām).5 In addition to analytical commentaries and expositions on Walī Allah’s philosophical and political thought, in Mecca, Sindhī also composed an important commentary on the Qur’an appropriately entitled ‘The Qur’anic Conscience of Revolution’ (Qur’ānī Shu‘ūr-i Inqilāb). In this 600-page Qur’an commentary in Urdu, interspersed with Arabic, Sindhī attempted to show the centrality of the idea of revolution to the Qur’an and to the venture of Islam more broadly. Hermeneutics of Revolution It seems that ‘Ubaydullah Sindhī composed his Qur’an commentary The Qur’an’s Revolutionary Conscience (Qur’ānī Shu‘ūr-i Inqilāb) at some point during his stay in Mecca between 1927 and 1939. Structurally, the text is divided into seven different sections, each corresponding to particular aspects of revolution and specific chapters of the Qur’an. This division was as follows: 1) Qur’anic Foundation of Revolution (Qur’ānī asās-i inqilāb): sūrat al-Fātiḥa 2) Qur’anic Sources/Principles of Revolution (Qur’ānī Uṣūl-i Inqilāb): sūrat al-‘Aṣar and sūrat al-Jum‘a 3) The Qur’anic Revolutionary Party (Qur’ānī Ḥizb-i Inqilāb): sūrat al-Mujādala 4) 52
Qur’anic Steps towards Revolution (Qur’ānī Aqdām-i Inqilāb): No specific Surah discussed 5) The Qur’anic Law of Revolution (Qur’ānī Qānūn-i Inqilāb): sūrat al-Mumtaḥana and sūrat alMunāfiqūn 6) The Qur’anic Program for Revolution (Qur’ānī Dastūr-i Inqilāb): sūrat alMuzammil and sūrat al-Mudaththir, and 7) The Qur’anic War of Revolution (Qur’ānī Jang-i Inqilāb): sūrat al-Muḥammad. In the discussion that follows, let me highlight the salient conceptual features and interpretive moves found in this text, as a way to show some of the ways in which Sindhī translated the Qur’an as a manifesto for revolution. For Sindhī, the Qur’an was in essence a revolutionary text that called for a global revolution premised on annihilating the unjust and elevating the dispossessed. Revelation and revolution were inseparable. The very first chapter of the Qur’an (the Fātiḥa), he argued, represented a ‘global prayer’ for revolution whereby humanity supplicated God for the creation of a virtuous society on the straight path (ṣirāt al-mustaqīm) of socio- economic justice. The liturgical repetition and significance of this chapter in the everyday lives of Muslims, as a necessary part of the five daily prayers, owed precisely to its status as a compact summation of the socio-economic revolution inaugurated by Islam. Hence, Sindhi argued, God made Muslims enunciate their acceptance of this chapter on a daily basis as a way to repeatedly signal and ritually embody their allegiance to the Qur’an’s revolutionary project.6 According to this chapter, Sindhī further explained, God represented the teacher of revolution while the Qur’an itself constituted his revolutionary teaching. As the ‘Lord of the Universes’ (rabb al-‘ālimīn), God taught, nurtured, and nourished the vanguards of revolution, as seen in the noun tarbīya (nurturing/instruction) derived from the word rabb. Sindhī claimed that the pedagogical role of God was also found in his two names
and attributes that constitute the basmallah and the second verse of the Fātiḥa: Raḥmān and Raḥīm. Raḥmān and Raḥīm corresponded to the parental qualities of God as the nurturer of revolutionaries mandated to fulfill the revolutionary promise of Islam. While the ‘Raḥmānīya’ or generosity of God corresponded to the fatherly desire to see his children confront challenges and bear hardships on their way to success, His ‘Rahīmīya’ or mercifulness represented an allegory for the motherly concern to make sure that her children were protected from any form of strife, fear, or misery. By combining these varied attributes, God instructed humanity the pathway to revolution which was the Qur’an, as clearly shown in the first two verses of sūrat al-Raḥmān ‘al-Raḥmān…‘allama al-Qur’ān’ (The most generous, who taught [humanity] the Qur’an) (Q. 55:1-2).7
divine sovereignty with a politics of radical human freedom. Submission to a sovereign divine was meant to free humans from dependence on all other forms of oppressive power and hierarchies. Moreover, Sindhī presented the classical Muslim theological imperative to seek help from no other entity but God in explicitly political terms. So for instance, he translated the iconic statement ‘You (God) alone we worship’ (Q. 1:5) in the Fātiḥa, as a supplication for the establishment of what he called a ‘Qur’anic revolutionary party.’ This Qur’anic revolutionary party was tasked with fashioning a political order that at first resisted and eventually eliminated two kinds of elitism: intellectual elitism (‘ilmī sarmāyadārī) or what Sindhī also called ‘Brahminism’ and economic elitism (mu‘āshī sarmāyadārī) or what he called capitalism.9
In Sindhī’s view, class struggle was at the heart of the Qur’an and of Muḥammad’s prophetic career. The revolutionary intervention of the Qur’an lay in the annihilation of the two major imperial powers of the 7th century, the Romans and the Persians (Qaysar wa-Kasra). But these two empires not only represented political and spatial entities. Rather, Sindhī argued, Romanness and Persian-ness (Qaysarīyat wa-Kisravīyat) represented mindsets of imperial elitism that were destroyed by Islam and replaced by the equalizing power of divine sovereignty. The major sins of such elitism were extravagance, oppression of the underprivileged, and the monopolization of financial and political power by a small elite, all sins that Sindhī categorized as falling under the biggest sin of what he called ‘capital worship’ (sarmāya parastī). In his view, the underlying motif of a Qur’anic revolution was to overthrow such regimes of capital worship and to replace them with a political order that elevated the dispossessed and that ensured a just and egalitarian society.8
In its beginning stages, this revolutionary movement was to remain national (qawmī). Every international movement must begin locally among a people who spoke a common language, Sindhī argued. Eventually, after achieving a solid platform, leadership, and adequate preparation, it takes on an international identity. Therefore, in the beginning years of Islam, the Arabs represented the ‘central committee’ of the international revolution that Muḥammad ushered. Later, after a few decades, that geographically and linguistically concentrated revolution assumed a global character. Similarly, at first the followers of this movement were to remain non-violent, as unnecessarily provoking their opponents would harm their cause. However, this was not meant to be an entirely pacifist movement as eventually, after attaining a position of strength, it may have to revert to violence. I will return to this point shortly. Ultimately, Sindhī’s underlying argument was that a theology of divine sovereignty mandated a radical revolutionary politics.
Sindhī’s socio-economic program and his hermeneutics were anchored on a political theology that combined a theology of radical
Other than the instrumentalism of his theology, another novelty of Sindhī’s discourse was the way he couched his emancipatory political theology in a narrative of civilisational progress. As he declared, ‘A progressive society (taraqqī kun mu‘āshara) must only beseech God for its needs, this is the guarantor of human freedom.’10 A just and free ‘society’ (the English word society used by Sindhī) was only possible through absolute submission to the divine sovereign. What I wish to emphasize here is the way in which Sindhī reconfigured and translated the centuries-old concept of divine sovereignty in the explicitly modern language of ‘progress’ or taraqqī. My point is this: his liberationist Qur’an hermeneutic was indebted to and indeed made possible by a moral and political discourse that privileged progress as a normative ideal to be desired and strived for in the first place.
violence? Sindhi’s answer to that question was that it depends on the stage of the movement and on the conditions and nature of opposition it encountered. While it was to adopt a policy of non-violence during its initial stages, violence against ‘reactionaries’ who opposed and undermined the revolution was permissible in later stages. Clearly, Sindhī did not conceive his revolutionary movement as pacifist. But more than that, Sindhī further argued that the very notion of Islam’s non-violent character was unfounded, propagated by apologetic modern Muslim scholars naively preoccupied with absolving Islam of the European accusation that it was a religion of the sword. In the process, Sindhī contended, they (he did not give names) had made it seem as if Islam were a pacifist tradition, a claim not borne out by Muslim history or by Muslim normative texts.11 Sindhī’s argument here is worthy of some elaboration
However, a cautionary note is on order here. Despite its modernist overtones, Sindhī’s discourse did not translate into an uncritical embrace of Western modernity. In fact, he explicitly stated that modern European revolutions lacked the comprehensiveness of the revolutionary charter propounded in the Qur’an. Moreover, while drawing from a modern secular conceptual vocabulary, as reflected in his championing of progress, Sindhī’s discourse was thoroughly grounded in a salvational eschatology. In fact he even argued that the most insidious aspect of economic injustice was that it dissipated humanity’s capacity for salvation. Also, the perpetrators of such injustice were not only bound for humiliation in this world, they were also eschatologically doomed, he argued. Theology and salvation were central to his discourse.
Sindhī argued that social movements were of two kinds ‘evolutionary movements’ (irtiqā’ī teḥrīkāt) and ‘revolutionary movements’ (inqilābī teḥrīkāt). Evolutionary movements, he explained, only relied on propaganda (English word used by Sindhī) as a means of growth; by nature they don’t engage in violence. Revolutionary movements, on the other hand, could and indeed should resort to violence were their political program thwarted by reactionary opponents. Most importantly, that violence or warfare (qitāl) need not be defensive; it could well be preemptive. In assembling his case, Sindhī drew on chapter 47 of the Qur’an sūrat al-Muḥammad also known as sūrat al-Qitāl, revealed after the Battle of Badr in 624. This chapter, he insisted, clearly demonstrated that aggressive wars were permissible in Islam. As an international revolutionary movement, Islam could not be pacifist or limited to defensive wars only. But crucially, Sindhī was at pains to remind that this did not turn Islam into an inherently violent religion; all it meant was that both defensive and aggressive wars were permissible in the religion.12
Another aspect of his commentary that shows ways in which Sindhī in fact resisted modern European conceptions of and discourses on Islam was his discussion on the question of violence and its potential role in revolutionary politics. Can a revolutionary movement resort to 54
The hypocrisy of Western orientalists and commentators who called Islam a religion of the sword was that at the very moment they launched this propaganda, Europe itself was violently colonizing non-Europeans, Sindhī pointed out. Moreover, European wars of imperial expansion were not revolutionary or meant to advance and protect any just causes, but were rather wars of exploitation (intifā‘ī jang). Rather than calling Europe out on its hypocrisy, Sindhī lamented, some Muslim scholars had instead fallen right into the Western trap by adopting the apologetic position that Islam only allowed defensive wars. For Sindhī, such apologetics not only gave further credence to the Western propaganda against Islam, they also contradicted the revolutionary mandate and the normative traditions of the religion.13 To conclude this discussion, while Sindhī was clearly inspired by European discourses on progress, his call for revolution was not premised on a liberal secular teleology that equated progress with jettisoning or moderating religion and salvational aspirations. Rather, his mobilization of modernist tropes such as progress was folded with an unflinchingly theological program of revolution that did not preclude the possibility of aggressive warfare. This is not to posit a binary between the ‘secular’ and the ‘theological’ but to simply point out that Sindhī’s appropriation of modern secular symbols and desires was not premised on a push away from religion or on an unquestioning embrace of Western modernity. While drawing from modern secular tropes, Sindhī was at the same time selective and critical about how he engaged in that appropriation. What we find in his thought is a dynamic process of translation whereby a traditional source of religious normativity such as the Qur’an was recast and translated so as to secure and punctuate the urgency of its epistemic and political significance to the modern moment. It is to certain important illustrations of this operation of translation in
Sindhī’s Qur’an commentary that I now turn by describing some of the ways he framed and presented the Qur’an as a manifesto for revolution. The Qur’an as a Manifesto for Revolution Throughout his Qur’an commentary, Sindhī interpreted particular verses and passages in the Qur’an through entirely novel conceptual vocabularies. For purposes of illustration, in this section, I will primarily focus on his commentary on two related chapters in the Qur’an, Q. 73 sūrat al-Muzzammil (‘The Enwrapped One’ or ‘The Enfolded One’) and Q.74 sūrat al-Muddaththir (‘The One Enveloped’). His commentary on these two chapters brings together several of the major conceptual, theological, and narratological features that characterize his Qur’an commentary and hermeneutic as a whole. According to Sindhī, al-Muzzammil and al-Muddaththir were conjoined through a common manifesto for revolution. In fact one was a completion of the other. What was left ambiguous in alMuzzammil was elaborated in al- Muddaththir and visa versa. Among the earliest Meccan chapters, central to the agenda of both these chapters, Sindhī argued, was a scathing repudiation of what he called a ‘capital worshipping mindset’ (sarmāya parastāna zahnīyat). Sindhī claimed that these two chapters provided a roadmap for the realization of a revolutionary movement that would confront and eviscerate such an exploitative mindset. Much of Sindhī’s commentary on these chapters was focused on revealing their revolutionary import, generating unexpected interpretive moves and outcomes. The novelty of Sindhī’s commentary lay not in offering entirely new paradigms of interpretation but rather in reinvigorating existing registers of meaning through a hermeneutical engine propelled by an intense longing for revolution. As a case in point, consider his understanding of the term al-Muzzammil. 55
In the Muslim tradition of Qur’an commentaries, this chapter has usually been interpreted as a testament to the heightened spiritual consciousness and awareness of Prophet Muḥammad, as reflected in the image of Muḥammad enwrapped or enfolded in his cloak while engaged in prayers. The intensity of the Prophet’s piety in turn is presented as a normative example of devotion and spiritual discipline for all Muslims to emulate. However, in Sindhī’s hands, this sūrah turned into a practical manual for an aspiring revolutionary. For one, he mined an alternative translation of the word muzzammil that can also mean making someone a friend or a colleague (tazmīl; the second verbal form of the Arabic root za-ma-la). Sindhī ingeniously argued that Muzzammil here referred to the divine command to assemble and gather together ‘comrades’ for the establishment of a Qur’anic revolutionary party.14 The second and third verses of this chapter read ‘Keep awake (in prayer) at night, but not all night; Half of it or a little less’ (Q. 73: 2-3). And verse six states, ‘and verily during the hours of night the mind is freshest and the speech clearest’ (Q. 73:6). Now most Qur’an commentators have read these verses as injunctions authorising supererogatory or extra nightly prayers (tahajjud) in Islam. However, in Sindhī’s view, the devotional content of these verses was intimately bound to a call for political action. He argued that these verses provided a daily plan of action for a revolutionary comrade. The night, Sindhī explained, was a time for devotion and preparation for revolution through an intense routine of reciting, reading, and absorbing the revolutionary message of the Qur’an. In other words, in his view, the hours of the night had been designated by God as a time for learning and reflecting on the manifesto for revolution: the Qur’an. Why? Because late at night a person was free from the thought and responsibility of work and home, and could thus focus on intellectual exertion and discussion with a sharper mind. The day then was to be devoted for venturing to the public for the propagation of 56
the Qur’an’s revolutionary program.15 Similarly, as part of his commentary on alMuddaththir, Sindhī advanced a rather curious reading of verse six that reads ‘And do not through giving seek yourself to gain’ (wa lā tamnun tastakthir) (Q.74:6). According to Sindhī, this verse represented a stern indictment of the idea of ‘surplus value;’ a concept that he described as extracting labor in excess of what the laborer is paid. For instance, paying a laborer four cents and extracting work worth ten cents or for example charging exorbitant amounts of money for the provision of education: these were all symptoms of a capital worshipping mindset. The sole objective that drove such a mindset was the accumulation of wealth and revenue, at the expense of the humanity of the society’s underprivileged. The only interest that occupies the capital worshipper is to increase his capital. Not only does the capitalist class fail to acknowledge that the needy and the underprivileged have any rights over its wealth. More, capital worshippers make it seem as if they are doing their laborers a huge favor by nourishing them just enough so that they don’t die. This verse, Sindhī argued, lambasted the exploitation of labor to generate surplus value. Moreover, in Sindhī’s view this verse also announced that no revolutionary group should tolerate the injustice that results from such exploitation. As Sindhī emphatically declared, ‘The foundational principle of a just revolution is to protect humanity from hardship and injustice by establishing institutions of public welfare instead of opening avenues of exploitation for self-benefit.’16 Interestingly, Sindhī dramatised his opposition to economic exploitation by arguing that such exploitation was not only detrimental to the individual, it also threatened the sovereignty of the state. As he analogized, ‘If a father makes his son work more than what is fair, or if a teacher demands from his student in excess of what the latter can achieve, then the son and student will
eventually become disobedient (nā farmān). Similarly, if a state transgresses its limits with regards to the benefits it extracts from its subjects, then the sovereignty of that state will inevitably be shattered.’17 Thus, in Sindhī’s imagination, the culture of exploitation that a revolutionary must confront was not limited to individuals or to scattered groups, but rather steeped in the machineries of the state. Sindhī did not differentiate in much detail individual and state forms of economic exploitation; nor did he elaborate on how a state becomes infested with an exploitative mindset. But what I wish to emphasize here is not just the content of Sindhī’s discourse, as fascinating and at times ambiguous as it is, but rather the way he connected a pithy Qur’anic verse to a decidedly modern politicoconceptual terrain populated by such modern concepts as ‘surplus value.’ For Sindhī, the Qur’an presented a harbinger for modern injustices, and a template of revolution for confronting those injustices. While temporally distant, the narrative battle that animated the Qur’an was ever germane. The Qur’an provided the script for a perennial and constantly recurring drama that pitted against one another the vanguards and the opponents of revolution. But although Sindhī engaged new ideas and concepts, he does not seem to have seen his exegetical labor as a work of innovation that entailed radical hermeneutical liberties. Rather, he saw his work primarily as one of reinvigorating the revolutionary mandate of the Qur’an that he found buried under the rubble of conventional and predictable Qur’an commentaries. In Sindhī’s hermeneutical imaginary, even and perhaps especially, the seemingly devotional verses of the Qur’an were signs of a revolutionary political project of socioeconomic justice. Politics and devotional practices were mutually entangled. What these examples show is the way in which the anticipation for revolution propelled Sindhī’s
hermeneutics, pushing the parameters of existing Qur’anic exegetical norms in the process. Sindhī’s hermeneutical aesthetic was also informed by a particular understanding of time and history. According to him, a perennial tussle between an oppressed class yearning for justice and freedom and an oppressive class of elites represented the master narrative of world history. The advent of Islam constituted a hinge moment in this narrative that made glisteningly apparent the stakes of this tussle, and that provided an ideal template for success in this tussle through a global revolution. For Sindhī, events such as the fall of the Mughal Empire in India and the end of the Russian and Ottoman empires were all examples of the repetition of this innate human yearning for revolt against an elitist and/or exploitative order of power. But crucially, in Sindhī’s thought, the narrative plot that undergirded such a revolt against injustice and a capital worshipping mindset was deeply theological. The fight to establish the supremacy of divine sovereignty was inseparable from the mission of realising socio-economic justice through the erasure of all imperial forces opposed to that ideal. The battles lines in this fight were clearly marked out. On the one side were the reactionary defenders of a capital worshipping mindset. And on the other side the vanguards of revolution determined to destroy that mindset. While the latter were empowered by the power of divine sovereignty, the former were doomed to ridicule and torment both in this world and the next. While an intense battle, its result was preordained. The revolutionaries, if they kept steadfast in their faith in divine sovereignty, were assured a decisive victory. The Life and Fate of the Capital Worshipper Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Sindhī’s discussion was his contention that the opposition between these antagonistic groups 57
did not only rest on colliding ideologies. More than that, they were also diametrically opposed in regards to their psychological and bodily states and in their norms of socialisation. A capital worshipping mindset was not merely an ideological condition; it permeated the embodied performance of everyday life. In a remarkable moment in his commentary, Sindhī argued that sūrat al-Muddaththir advanced a psychosocial analysis cum description of the opponents of a Qur’anic revolution. In his rendition of this analysis, Sindhī drew curious parallels between the condition of unbelievers as described in al-Muddaththir and that of the modern bourgeois elite.18 In the discussion that follows, I conduct a close reading of a selection of Sindhī’s commentary on alMuddaththir (verses 11 to 29). By so doing, I hope to illustrate some of the ways in which he narratively connected the Qur’an’s censure of unbelievers with the eschatological fate of those who harbored and practiced a capital worshipping mindset. Verse eleven of the Sūra reads, ‘Leave me alone [to deal] with him whom I have created lonely’ (Q.74:11 Muhammad Asad trans). This verse simultaneously announces humanity’s utter loneliness and dependence on God while also signaling God’s absolute sovereignty over the fate of humans forgetful of that sovereignty. According to Sindhī, however, this verse, and the following few verses, sketched a picture of the psychological condition of a Qur’anic revolution’s opponent. This picture, as in turn sketched by Sindhī, mirrored the persona of a spoilt brat born into a rich industrialist family. Sindhī explained that this verse described the only child of rich parents raised with all possible pomp and privilege. Raised surrounded by every comfort and luxury, this child was also the sole owner of the wealth and property of his father that he inherited. In Sindhī’s view, while the psychological state that this child develops as he grows is the subject of the next few verses, in this verse God assures humanity that it must not worry and 58
that He alone will deal with such people. 19 The life narrative and psychological condition of this quintessential bourgeois elite continues to be presented in the next two verses that read ‘and I created for him wealth’ (Q.74:12) ‘and children who are always by his side’ (Q.74:13). While commenting on verse 12, Sindhī opined that as this privileged child grows and becomes a young man, he finds himself the owner of multiple industrial and agricultural businesses, as wealth and affluence shower him. Sindhī’s commentary on verse 13 represents among the most fascinating examples of his focus on the social dimension of bourgeois life. According to him, the reason why this rich industrialist/agriculturist can afford the time to have his children always by his side is that his laborers, in both factories and the fields, do all his work, endlessly expending their sweat and blood. In the meantime, the main activity that preoccupies this business tycoon is that of lounging in ‘club-rooms’ (the English word used by Sindhī) with his friends, killing endless hours in idle talk and chatter.20 Overtime, his wealth multiplies as indicated in the next verse ‘and I made [his life] easy and comfortable’ (Q. 74:14). Commenting on this verse, Sindhī explained that a bourgeois capitalist’s wealth keeps compounding because of the multiple avenues through which he generates that wealth. For instance, if his crops ever became scarce or went for a loss, his industries would make enough profit to compensate for that loss. Overall, his wealth and revenues keep multiplying, affording him an easy and luxurious life. By this point in his life, buoyed by his financial and social standing, this person begins to cultivate a capital worshipping mindset. Not satisfied with all that God has bestowed on him, he desires more and more. Sindhī argued that it is this insatiable greed for more wealth that is signaled in the next verse, ‘yet he is greedy-that I should add [yet more]’ (Q.74:15 Yusuf ‘Ali trans).21
Despite being blessed with immense wealth, this capital worshipper always desires to find ways of compounding that wealth. All he cares about are his investments and capital, so he may keep progressing materially. The condition and welfare of his laborers and peasants does not interest him. Similarly, the thought of the poor and underprivileged classes in society does not cross his mind. In fact, he actively seeks to deny them education that might enable their socio-economic elevation, fearing that such elevation of the underprivileged may detract his own status and monopoly over wealth. It is at this point that God declares this capital worshipper an opponent of His, as reflected in the next verse ‘Nay! Our signs he stubbornly opposes’ (Q.74:15). According to Sindhī, this verse clearly announced that this person was an opponent of the Qur’an’s revolutionary program. In fact, he was the leader of his own ‘Reactionary Party’ (irtijā‘ī jamā‘at) Sindhī extrapolated. This reactionary party tries its utmost to undermine and defeat the vanguards of revolution. But will they succeed in their subversive designs? For Sindhī, it is this question that God emphatically answers in the negative in verse sixteen when He exclaims ‘Nay!’22 Capital worshipping reactionaries represent the nemeses of Qur’anic revolutionaries. Only interested in their own wealth and welfare, they turn their backs on a world revolution (bayn al-aqwāmī inqilāb) to elevate the poor and dispossessed. Therefore, Sindhī continued, God declares them His enemy and announces ominously in the next verse ‘I will make him endure a painful uphill climb’ (Q.74:16 partially Muhammad Asad trans). In his commentary, Sindhī took this verse as an ironic play on the idea of progress. A capital worshipping reactionary, who opposes Prophet Muḥammad’s revolutionary program of socioeconomic justice, thinks and believes that his worldly material success equates with progress in life. But this notion of his is a fanciful
mistake. In fact, the taller he climbs in this world the more rapid and painful his fall will be in the afterlife. Sindhī sketched a chillingly vivid picture of the fate that will meet this reactionary. After being thrown in hell, he will be made to climb a steep mountain. While climbing this mountain, at first he will feel and think as if he is progressing upwards. But soon he will realize that for every step he takes upwards, he falls down a few more steps. This will leave him utterly perplexed, and he will remain mired in the tormenting cycle of going up and down with no reprieve. The fantasy of progress that he entertained in this world will quite literally be turned upside down in the afterlife. This will be the punishment of equating progress with material wealth, and of neglecting the less privileged.23 The next few verses, for Sindhī, describe the miscalculations made by this opponent of Muḥammad’s revolution that landed him his ugly eschatological fate. This reactionary opponent carefully examines the Prophet’s revolutionary movement as seen in the next four consecutive verses ‘he thought and plotted,’ ‘and destroyed himself with how he plotted,’ ‘again destroyed himself with how he plotted,’ ‘then reflected again’ (Q. 74:17- 21). Dismissing the revolutionary movement with contempt, ‘he frowned and glared’ (Q.74:22). ‘He then turned his back and inflated himself with arrogance’ (Q.74:23). According to Sindhī, in this phase, the reactionary capital worshipper launches a propaganda campaign to smear and defame the Qur’anic revolutionary movement. He describes those who join this movement as deluded by the Qur’an’s false promises of liberation from misery. Desperate to change their conditions, they fall prey to the spell of its magic, he argues. As verse 24 states ‘So he said this is nothing but spellbinding magic’ (Q. 74:24). He also tries to propagate the false claim that this revolutionary agenda is not divinely inspired but merely the manufactured creation of a human. He says, ‘this is nothing but the word of mortal man’ 59
(Q.74:25 Muhammad Asad trans). Moreover, he spares no effort in seeking to repulse the followers of the movement from its leader (Muḥammad) by fostering the impression that the latter is only driven by self-interest and the interest of his own family, and not by the well being of humanity. Finally, he will also argue that these kinds of movements are always evanescent and temporary that even he himself could invent. But all these efforts bring him nothing but destruction, in this world and especially in the afterlife.24 The next few verses, Sindhī argued, vividly depicted the punishment this conspiring reactionary will suffer in hell. As God announces in no uncertain terms, ‘I will throw him in hell fire’ (Q.74:26). ‘And what does he know what this hell fire [is like]’ (Q.74:27). It will be the kind of fire that ‘does not allow to live and neither leaves [to die]’ (Q. 74:28 Muhammad Asad trans) and ‘that darkens and changes the color of man’ (Q. 74:29). This then is the finale of the life of a capital worshipping reactionary. While the Qur’anic revolutionary party will thwart his exploitative agenda in this world, God will account for him in the afterlife by meting to him a most gruesome and hellish (pun intended) punishment.25 There are several aspects of the narrative presented by Sindhī here that are worthy of some reflection. In this narrative, Sindhī framed the battle for monotheism in early Islam as one animated by the ideal of economic justice, and waged against the opponents of that ideal, the elite Quraysh of Mecca. The revolution of Islam lay precisely in its promise to elevate and alleviate the conditions of the underprivileged. Sindhī translated the Qur’an’s uncompromising rebuke of the Meccan Quraysh as a universal and timeless revolutionary political program ensconced in socio-economic justice. The objective of this program was to unravel and destroy powerful forces in society whose vested interests protected and furthered injustice and exploitation. This underlying narrative drama of the battle between the vanguards of a 60
socio-economic revolution and the reactionary opponents of that revolution was for Sindhī the crux of the Qur’an’s message for humanity. Muḥammad and his divinely inspired revolutionaries’ victory over the forces of injustice in their midst represented a model of emulation for all succeeding generations of revolutionaries. Prophetic time and Sindhī ‘s contemporary moment were temporally separated by a number of centuries. However, the revolutionary promise of overthrowing powerful regimes of injustice seamlessly connected the Prophet’s struggle against his antagonists and the modern struggle against the bourgeois ‘capital worshipping’ elite. While drawing inspiration from the prophetic moment would be quite expected from any Muslim thinker, what was most remarkable about Sindhī’s commentary was the way he connected narrative, psychology, and affect. The Qur’an, he punctuated, presented a narrative of the psychological and affective formations of the opponent of a Qur’anic revolution. This narrative also made clear in trenchant detail the eschatological catastrophe that awaits that reactionary opponent in the afterlife. Sindhī inserted the capital worshipping reactionary into the grinding machine of this narrative. The capital worshipper was the opponent of Muḥammad’s Qur’anic revolution. While enjoying all possible worldly power and wealth, the capital worshipper turned his back on and exploited the underprivileged and dispossessed. Much like the Meccan Quraysh who resisted and sought to torment the Prophet, the modern capital worshipper also grows in arrogance throughout his life, only to be eventually humbled and decimated in hell fire. For Sindhī, it is the narrative of his destruction and misery that the Qur’an had told. While the opponents of Muḥammad’s prophetic mission in Arabia may have passed on, they had reappeared in modern forms and apparitions. The Qur’anic revolution, it seems Sindhī wanted to argue,
represented an ongoing struggle for socioeconomic justice the eventual success of which was confirmed and foretold in the Qur’an. Central to Sindhī’s hermeneutic was the argument that the devotional and eschatological moments in the Qur’an were deeply political. Moreover, he insisted that a superficial reading of such moments would hide and puncture the revolutionary politics of socio-economic justice at the heart of the Qur’an. In short, for Sindhī, the Qur’an was pregnant with revolutionary politics. It is this revolutionary historical sensibility of the Qur’an that in his view most commentators of the Qur’an in Muslim intellectual history had failed to discern and appreciate. Hence their interpretation of the Qur’an could not approach the text beyond the prism of individual events in the Prophet’s life nor capture the call for political action that underlay seemingly devotional verses. The reason for such myopia, Sindhī surmised, was that by the time Qur’an commentary tradition became active in the 9th century, the revolutionary force of Islam’s beginning moments had dissipated, thus escaping Muslim commentators’ interpretive canvass. It is this revolutionary force of the Qur’an and of Islam that Sindhī sought to recover and reenergise through his commentary and indeed through his intellectual output more broadly. The intellectually cosmopolitan environment of Mecca where Sindhī lived from 1927-1939 provided him a highly profitable venue and a broad transnational audience for his project, especially during the ḥajj every year. During his stay in Mecca, in addition to his scholarship, Sindhī also occupied himself with regular study circles in which he taught Shāh Walī Allah’s texts (who was among Sindhī’s foremost inspirations) to a number of students from different parts of the world. Many of them, such as the Russian Muslim modernist Mūsa Jārullah, who later translated Sindhī’s Qur’an commentary into Russian, went on to become influential scholars in their own regard.
Return Eventually in 1939, after almost 25 years in exile, Sindhī returned to India when the British dropped charges of sedition against him. The last five years of his life, despite his failing health, were hectic. In addition to opening an institute devoted to propagating the teachings of Walī Allah called ‘Shāh Walī Allah Academy,’ he also launched a political party that he named the ‘Sindh Sāgar party.’ Apparently, despite being very ill with tuberculosis and being almost destitute, Sindhī would walk long distances from his home to the Jāmi‘ mosque in Delhi (to avoid the bus fare) to deliver sermons and to hold study circles on Shāh Walī Allah’s teachings and texts. His writings and speeches during this time reveal a consistent theme of him informing and warning Indian Muslims of a looming revolution that he had seen and experienced but that according to him the Indian Muslim masses were only too blissfully ignorant about.26 Politically, from an anti-colonial conspirator, Sindhī had transformed into a proponent of the continued attachment of India with Britain in the form of a commonwealth. Central to the manifesto of his political party was the demand to divide India into smaller political units based on regional languages such as Kashmiri, Balochi, Sindhi, and so on. Language, rather than religion, Sindhī had come to believe, was the most powerful vector of a person’s identity. Although Sindhī had been affiliated with the Indian National Congress, on his return he was deeply critical of Gāndhī for what he called ‘mixing religion and religious symbols with politics.’27 Similarly, he also chastised the noted Indian poet and intellectual Muḥammad Iqbāl (d. 1938) for what he saw as Iqbāl’s callous stoking of separatist sentiments and emotions. ‘One should never allow a poet to take charge of political matters,’ Sindhī had warned while taking a swipe at Iqbāl.28 In the cultural sphere, Sindhī 61
shocked many of his traditionalist peers by encouraging the wearing of hats and boots, the trimming of beards, eating on chairs and tables with forks and knives, and the unveiling of women. While his call for a socio-economic revolution grounded in the Qur’an and in Shāh Walī Allah’s teachings won him a core group of devoted followers, many among Muslim traditionalist scholars (the ʿulamāʾ) either dismissed him as a ‘scholar who had gone mad in exile’ or passed on him explicit judgments of unbelief and anathema. Sindhī’s legacy remains contentious. Some among both traditionalists and modernists in India and Pakistan see him as a visionary scholar who was years ahead of his time and who successfully identified problems that would later haunt South Asian Muslims in vexing ways. Others however regard him as an eccentric radical marginal to the ʿulamāʾ tradition in South Asia. Conclusion To conclude, conceptually there are two main points I wish to make through this essay. One, Sindhī’s life and thought present an interesting example of how global and local histories intersect and cross-pollinate. While India was the desired site that he sought to target through his intellectual and political activities, his discursive apparatus was clearly informed by global discourses and movements of revolution. Second, and on a related note, Sindhī’s translation and reconfiguration of the Qur’an as a manifesto for revolution points to ways in which new political anticipations and imaginaries enter into particular discursive traditions at specific historical conjunctures, shifting and expanding the interpretive boundaries and possibilities of that tradition in the process. Indeed, what we find in Sindhī’s commentary is a translation of the Qur’an invested in engaging with and responding to the perils and 62
possibilities of modernity. For Sindhī translation entailed not the movement from one language to another, but rather the epistemic transfer of a text to new conceptual and political spaces. This project of translation involved the rereading and recovery of the prophetic past, as seen in certain moments of the Qur’an, for fashioning a hermeneutic leavened by an ethos of revolution and grounded in the promise of socio-economic justice and emancipation. In Sindhī’s view, the vitality of the Qur’an in the present depended on absorbing, energizing, and mobilizing the revolutionary fervor that had once destroyed world empires and that had united disparate communities under the flag of monotheism and divine sovereignty. Through the labor of epistemic translation, Sindhī strived to excavate and advance the Qur’an’s manifesto for revolution, a manifesto that he found at once urgently needed to confront the global revolutionary currents of the twentieth century and yet morally superior to those currents. Today, we live in the present that represents the ruins of the future that Sindhī had conceived, and his desire and anticipation for revolution no longer seem as urgent as they once may have.29 Nonetheless his attempt at translating Islam and the Qur’an as a revolutionary movement and text brings into view an important illustration of how new political aspirations during the modern colonial moment enabled and inspired new hermeneutical registers and new ways of reimagining Islam as an ongoing discursive tradition. References Ahmad, Irfan. Islamism and Democracy in India: The Transformation of Jamaat-e- Islami. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009). ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah Yusuf. The Qur’an: Translation. (Washington DC: Islamic Center of Washington DC, 2001).
Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an. (Bitton, England: Book Foundation, 2003). Bukhārī, Ḥāfiz Muḥammad Akbar Shāh. Akābir-i ‘Ulamā’-yi Deoband. (Lahore: Idāra-yi Islāmīyāt, 1999). Faruqi, I.H. The Tarjuman al-Qur’an: A critical analysis of Maulana Abu’l-Kalam Azad’s approach to understanding of the Qur’an. (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1982). Green, Nile. Bombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, 1840- 1915. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013). Khān, Aḥmad Razā. Kanz al-Īmān fī Tarjamat al Qur’ān. (Karachi: Maktabat ul-Qur’ān, 195-). Al-Maḥajja al-Mu’tamana fī Āyat Mumtaḥana in Fatāwā-yi Rizvīya. Lahore: Razā Foundation, 2006. Khān, Sayyid Aḥmad. Taḥrīr fī Uṣūl al Tafsīr (Agra: Matba‘-yi Mufīd-i ‘ām, 1892). Lelyveld, David. Aligarh’s First Generation: Muslim Solidarity in British India (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978) Masūd, Khālid Ed. Athārwīn ṣadī ‘īswī mayn bar-i ṣaghīr mayn Islāmī fikr ke rahnuma. Islamabad: Idāra-yi Taḥqīqāt-i Islāmī, 2008. Mawdūdī, Sayyid Abu’l Ā‘lā. Tafhīm al-Qur’ān. (Lahore: Idāra-yi Tarjumān al-Qur’ān, 2008). Metcalf, Barbara. Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband 1860-1900. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton, University Press, 1982). Moosa, Ebrahim. What is a Madrasa? (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2015). Nasr, Sayyed Vali. Mawdudi and the making of Islamic Revivalism. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).
Robinson, Francis. Islam and Muslim History in South Asia. (New Delhi; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Sarwar, Muḥammad. Ifādāt va Malfūzāt-i Mawlānā Ubaydullah Sindhī. (Lahore: Idāra-yi Islāmīyat, 1972 Scott, David. Omens of Adversity: Tragedy, Time, Memory, Justice. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014). Sindhī, ‘Ubaydullah. Qur’ānī Shu‘ūr-i Inqilāb. (Lahore: Makkī Dār ul Kutub, 1997). Shāh Walī Allah awr un ke Siyāsī Tehrīk. (Lahore: Sindh Sāgar Academy, 1970). Thānvī, Ashraf ‘Alī. Bayān al-Qur’ān. (Lahore: Maktaba al-Ḥasan, 1978). ‘Umarī, Muḥammad. Tazkira-yi Mufassirīn-i Hind. (Volume 1 A‘zamgarh: Dār ul- Musannifīn, 1995). Zaman, Muhammad Qasim. Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age: Religious Authority and Internal Criticism. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012 The ‘Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002).
Rethinking the Question of Fishermen through Gutka Piety Abdul Haque Chang University of Texas, Austin
They say everywhere in the laar [Delta], “even our spit is worth five rupees.” Chewing gutka and spitting it out is an everyday ritual — a neverending sacred act of indulgence. — Nazir Jat Gutka Piety Nazir Jat chewed gutka, which was not surprising, but his six-year-old son Waseem also chewed. Whenever Waseem wanted some, Nazir would give him a bit. He often made his tongue and mouth red and showed us his red face for attention. When I was at Nazir’s otaq (male guesthouse) in the village of Abdul Razaque Jat near Baghan, I often pushed Waseem not to chew gutka. He would stop for half a day but then try to find leftover foil gutka wrappers in the garbage and lick them to make his tongue and mouth red. A mixture of chewing tobacco (betel nut), lime, and artificial flavorings. Gutka was everywhere in the Delta region. They all chew this red, bloodlike substance. Men, women, children, even wild cats and street dogs have red tongues and faces. Deep red liquid drips off lips and chins and onto shirts and sleeves. To outsiders, everyone looks like a vampire. For insiders, not chewing gutka differentiates you from them. You are seen as an outsider — one who will not reciprocate and exchange gutka, the communal commodity that is the key to insider status. Gutka
started in the 1990s, imported from India through fishing boats. Before gutka, people used paan. Paan is betel leaf mixed with areca nut and other sweets and dried fruit. Not sharing gutka sets you outside of the system of gift exchange, outside of giving, receiving, and reciprocating (Mauss 2011). One makes friends by sharing gutka with others, especially with young boys. For the underage boys who can’t afford it, it becomes an unfulfilled desire that motivates them to befriend anyone who can provide them with gutka in exchange for friendship. Even in remote areas where there is no road, water, or electricity, it is a magical object available anywhere, as if it appears just by wishing. It is described as “creamy” and “sweet” and as a “stimulant.” Fishermen can’t open their eyes in the morning before putting gutka in their mouths. No one talks much when chewing it; they say, “It makes us calm. It stops us from talking, gossiping, and bad-mouthing. This makes us good Muslims.” It is generally believed that to be silent is to be pious. Silence after chewing gutka is referred to in the Indus Delta as an act of gutka piety. Gutka creates its own system of exchange outside the market through gifting and scavenging that allow all members of the community to participate in gutka chewing. Gutka speaks through its deep, blood-red stains, visual markers of belonging and insider status. 65
Dr. Sahib was the only doctor available in the town of Baghan. I often visited him at his clinic located next to the taxi stand. He was a leftist political activist and social worker, but now he was limited to practicing medicine. He believed that the fishermen were getting into debt from consuming gutka. He cited a study stating that 77 percent of the population of the Indus Delta consumes gutka and 90 percent of patients with oral cancer in Sindh are from the Indus Delta. Though the provincial government has passed a law in the Sindh Province to ban gutka, imposing a fine and possible jail time, users (and demand) are increasing day by day. Dr. Sahib argued that gutka was an obstacle for fishermen because even if they had no money for food, they would take a loan on a high percentage to buy gutka. In return, they would give their catch to a moneylender on his terms. A gutka habit costs 20 rupees (USD 0.20) per person per day, on average. Dr. Sahib was not in favor of efforts to change the behavior and lifestyle of fishermen in the Indus Delta through development initiatives. He said that such social development is mostly limited to posting signboards. There are at least two dozen from different NGOs erected outside the village to promote their projects, all covered in gutka spit. “Our village names are buried in gutka spit.” I once asked Dr. Sahib why we couldn’t let the people of the Delta live their own lives or let them think about development on their own terms. He replied, “Asaan inhaan khi akeloo natha chadi saghoon!” [We can’t leave them in their own condition!] Perhaps he was against social development taking place in the Indus Delta with the money pouring in from national and international donor agencies. He believed social change should emerge organically from within the society, as that can be sustained for a longer period.
The Question of Fishermen My introduction to fishermen was through the blood-red stains of gutka. Images of chewing and spitting gutka were a powerful expression of its desirability, and gutka itself was an extremely useful emblem and metaphor for navigating the lives of the fishermen (Taussig 2004). There was a difference in how it was seen by fishermen living in these villages versus people who lived in larger towns and worked in more stable, higher-paying areas. Outsiders believed it was an addictive substance. This was considered to be a “cultural trait” of the Indus Delta people: users are called “gutka-eating subjects.” Outsiders defined Delta people as crimson-stained, smiling teeth and dark faces—indebted, drunken, broken, and poor. For Dr. Sahib, gutka was an emblem of all sins, and he was not alone in this opinion. It was amazing to observe this attitude not only in the opinion of a left-wing political worker, but also in the views of the moneylender Haji Jan Muhammad Memon, the Pesh Imam (prayer leader) of the main mosque, the union leader at Karachi Fisheries Harbor, activist Muhammad Ali Shah, and others who worked for social development projects for the fishermen and poor people of the Indus Delta. For all these groups and individuals, the idea that gutka was a social ill affected how they treated fishermen in everyday life. These relations were tense, ambiguous, strategic, contradictory, inevitable, fussy, and ambivalent. I heard repeatedly from politicians, social workers, activists, and many others some variation of “Asaan inhaan khi akeloo natha chadi saghoon!” However, the poor people of the Indus Delta were in fact left alone; the fishermen’s lives continued as usual, uninterrupted by these debates about the place of gutka in society. This disconnect between social groups can be observed in the case of the wiyaj (interest) that moneylenders charge fishermen. Both acts (wiyaj and chewing gutka) are legally and socially prohibited, but they are widespread in everyday
life. Both are keys to seeing fishermen as irresponsible as well as poor. Desire for gutka is generally related to the accumulation of wiyaj from a moneylender. Charging wiyaj is a prohibited act, according to the Quran. However, wiyaj has been a constant presence in the Indus Delta since before British colonial times. Local businessmen and merchants claim that wiyaj is just another acceptable form of business. The religious polity is imbued with the market realities of the local economy, where wiyaj has never been considered a religiously prohibited act. What makes wiyaj legitimate and even possible in the first place are the other aspects of everyday business practices and their intersection with religious activities like praying in the mosque, performing Haj in Mecca, and helping widows. Religious acts are a way of earning blessings; however, there are ambiguities in the social formulation of what it means to be Muslim Ambiguous, too, are the social activism and union politics at the Karachi Fisheries Harbor, where fishermen of the Indus Delta sell their fish. When the everyday politics of social activist groups such as Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum (PFF) intersect with the Karachi Fisheries Harbor’s political control, the borders between activism and extortion become blurred. In order to gain control over the harbor, the union takes money from fishermen, effectively becoming part of a system of exploitation that yields no benefit to the fishermen themselves — a system the union is supposedly fighting. However, despite this contradiction, PFF still performs political activism and claims to be the sole voice of the poor fishermen of Pakistan. Like wiyaj, a prohibited act that has thrived in diverse shapes and forms, battha (extortion) is also, for union members, a key part of the everyday business routine at Karachi Fisheries Harbor. Not only is gutka an important social marker for the fishermen, but wiyaj shows the blurring of boundaries between market and religious concerns in Delta society, and extortion is also a big part of the fishermen’s lives. These three market-driven
forces shape the larger political economy. Beyond the gutka stains lies the essential life of the fishermen. When they spit gutka every day, they think about how quiet it makes them and say to themselves, “It makes us good Muslims.” For fishermen, wiyaj and bhatta (extortion) stand as emblems and metaphors of everyday market morality. They say, “The social activist groups are part of the everyday business of the market by charging bhatta like the local shopkeeper charges you credit on wiyaj.” They resist the simplistic narrative of social activism and at the same time admit their inability to avoid it, as it is part of everyday market business. The small voices of fishermen show how there are different ways of being indebted other than gutka consumption, such as bhatta by union leaders, and wiyaj from the moneylender. Chewing gutka is not the reason for debt; there is an instinctive market economy–based social system in the Indus Delta and Karachi that itself creates indebtedness through its own construction of a market mentality. It works through customs fees, bhatta by union leaders, and wiyaj of moneylenders. These market relationalities are manifestations of the political economy. In rethinking the question of fishermen, I engage with the fishermen from their own critical perspectives as the ethnographic voices that help us to understand everyday life within the complex process of people’s relationships to religion, society, state, environment, and the market economy in Pakistan. The Everyday Life of the Mahighir Haji Jan Muhammad Memon was a businessman, trader, and moneylender. He had a cashier who managed his accounts. This cashier was Hindu and belonged to the business caste. Haji Jan Muhammad often said that, in terms of business you could only trust Hindu cashiers. “Though he is Hindu, I can trust him, as he is honest.”
Haji Jan Muhammad had a white beard, which he dyed black. I would see him during Friday prayers in Keti Bandar. Once I asked him why he charged wiyaj when people bought things from him on qaraz (credit). It was not easy to ask such a question, but I had often heard fishermen complaining about his qaraz, which they could never pay off. He did not seem offended or angered by this question. “This is my business; I am not charging wiyaj. You do know I am Memon by caste. For a long time, my forefathers did the same. You must know that, don’t you?” He said, “I help people to pay me after six months or in a year. Why should I lend my money to someone for nothing? If I give him relaxation, then I need my profit on that investment. This is an investment of money. You might not be able to understand it. You educated people think you know Islam better, but I am also Muslim; I pray in the mosque every Friday in jamiat (congregation), and I went to perform Haj in Mecca. I give old women charity. This is all because of this business. It is not wiyaj.” Though everyone in the Keti Bandar market knew that if you went to Haji Jan Muhammad and took things on credit, he would ask for wiyaj, no Muslim moneylender would admit that fact. Only a Hindu trader would admit that fact when I asked him how business was done: “Yes, I and they—all Muslims traders—charge wiyaj on credit, but they never admit that. Only the typically Hindu trader is blamed as a moneylender and has a negative image.” The market economy of common fishermen and poor people is connected with businessmen from other castes. On the one hand, this connection creates a never-ending system of indebtedness, but on the other, moneylending businesses keep flourishing. Indebtedness and the market economy are entwined aspects of the economic life of fishermen in the Indus Delta. Unlike agriculture, fishing nowadays has become an expensive enterprise. In addition to a boat, one needs fuel for the engine, ice to chill the fish, and a good amount 68
of food to survive at sea. Sailors and crew are also paid in advance. Not everyone has the capacity to bear such expenses in the anticipation of a good catch. In all such cases, dokan owners lend money, and in most cases, the fishermen end up in debt. Haji Jan Muhammad Memon’s dokan is a profitable business enterprise because of the wiyaj system. Through this mechanism of indebtedness, a moneylender buys fish at lower rates from the fishermen who have credit on his account. I wanted to know why the rate of interest charged by the moneylenders was so high, so I asked Haji Jan Muhammad Memon. I twisted my question by using the word “profit” instead of “wiyaj.” This time he was pleased with my question; he said, “These fishermen are not even Muslim. They don’t know anything about Islam. If you ask them if they are Muslim, they will say yes. If you ask them to recite the kalma (the testimony of being Muslim), they will respond with ‘What is that?’ You know one can’t be Muslim unless he can recite the kalma, which is an affirmation that there is no God except Allah and Muhammad is his last prophet.” I was not surprised by what Haji Jan Muhammad Memon had said. Most traders and educated people presented this argument that fishermen didn’t even know about their religion. I was surprised by the persistent legitimization of wiyaj, which both Muslim and Hindu moneylenders justified on the grounds that the fishermen were not true Muslims. This somehow justified the high rate of interest they charged. Karachi Fisheries Harbor Every truck unloaded at the Karachi Fisheries Harbor paid illegal taxes called bhatta to union leaders. Union leaders controlled most of the employees working in the harbor. The fisheries’ cooperative society was the official controlling body. Like everyone else, Ramzan Jat paid bhatta to union leaders. These leaders sit next to the main entrance of the harbor, and no vehicle is allowed
to enter without paying. Most of the workers are members of different political and union groups. However, fishermen are often targeted by the union, fisheries society officials, and middlemen who arrange an auction system and pressure them into paying more money. Fishermen also pay a percentage to dalal (intermediaries) for arranging the auction. Every auction of the day has a different logic to fix the rate of the catch. Sometimes, when a lot of shrimp comes in for auction, the middlemen lower the rate of the catch, whereas during a shortage the rate goes up. Ramzan Jat always gave his catch to one of the big fish traders in Karachi. The entire catch entered international markets, but they never received a good or equitable price. The fish trader got all the benefits, as he had all the global connections. Saeed Baloch was the general secretary of the union in Karachi Fisheries Harbor. He was also the general secretary of the PFF. In a way, the PFF is very much the product of union politics. The PFF considers Karachi Fisheries Harbor to be a major place of exploitation for fishermen because the fishermen have neither control over harbor management nor authority over the auction system. The PFF also demands that the fishermen of Lyari be given jobs. Its political influence provides control over the lower ranks of harbor employees. However, the fisheries cooperative society and the union are always tussling over control of the harbor and the authority to make decisions. Karachi Fisheries Harbor is supposed to be administered by the district government, the fisheries cooperative society, the union, and the Sindh provincial government’s ministry of fisheries. These groups form complex political positions for bargaining and contesting authority over the harbor. Although Karachi Fisheries Harbor is overemployed, not all of its staff members perform their duties. Most of the union and political members are part of the bhatta system, including PFF union members. Although the PFF initially built momentum by taking part in the union politics of the harbor, today, according to Ramzan Jat, it is very much part of the
problem. Fishermen often complained about the illegal bhatta union members charge. “PFF union members act like the gangsters found everywhere else in the city,” I heard in the tea cafés. They should help us to stop such taxes from others, but instead of that, their leaders sit at the main entrance and directly put our money in their own pockets. They have no interest in the poor fishermen, in whose name they are engaged in politics. Their politics are meant to control the fishermen like landlords in the villages control peasants. They are fisheries landlords. If we protest or disagree with them, they make our lives miserable. Conclusion The fishermen of the Indus Delta, though generally presented as endangered or isolated indigenous community groups, seem to be very much a part of the everyday market economy of Karachi. They are connected with provincial, national, and transnational networks, histories, and social movements. For example I was surprised when a national protest march was organized against a controversial film on Islam, the Jamiat Ahle Sunnat used it to create a network connecting the people of the Indus Delta to religious grids that exist on the national and transnational levels. During this march fishermen who were indebted and generally considered not to be Muslim, “because they don’t know how to recite the kalma properly,” were protesting along with officials like Haji Jan Muhammad Memon. It was surprising to observe that fishermen who are not otherwise considered Muslim “become” Muslim when they participate in demonstrations. Similarly, 69
when fishermen become indebted, they become part of the market economy of the Indus Delta, an economy in which gutka is one of the most important commodities. For fishermen, gutka is not a commodity of consumption, desire, and “immorality”—by chewing gutka, they enter into a space of sacredness. They become silent, and they don’t engage in gossip. Thus, the act of chewing gutka makes them “good Muslims.” Nevertheless, chewing gutka is seen by civil society, the Jamiat Ahle Sunnat, social activists, Sindhi nationalists, intellectuals, and the urban middle class as a sign of immorality and undisciplined bodies that can never be corrected. In the question of being Muslim and in the consumption of gutka, the life of fishermen is ordered around a narrative of correctness, reformation, and the need for pedagogic training. On the one hand, the piety of gutka presented by fishermen disrupts what Haji Jan Muhammad Memon argued about fisherman not being Muslims; on the other hand, Dr. Sahib talks about reforming the fishermen, and then says that the fishermen can’t ever be reformed because of their consumption of gutka. Chewing gutka is precisely a sign, an indicator, and an index for Dr. Sahib and Haji Jan Muhammad Memon that shows that fishermen can never be “reformed.” Fishermen are drowned in the spit of gutka, and their image is obscured by the deep red stains that are so visible when “others” look at them. The red tongue, lips, and mouth erase the fishermen for outsiders. The stains are the sole visual representation of the fishermen; everything else is suspended in a mist of gutka spit. However, for fishermen, chewing gutka in the morning to open their eyes is a moment of redemption. Gutka stimulation is a day-opener as well as being part of the local economy. Every cabinet in local shops has these pyramids of gutka packets from early in the morning until five in the evening. It is part of the local household economy and a business for poor people. Fishermen not only consume gutka as a sacred medium that transports them into the state of silence that makes them good Muslims, but 70
they also depend on it as a household business, and whole families work together to make gutka and sell it to the owners of the wooden cabinets in the markets. One wonders at the stigma when looking at the similarity between the sweet shops and gutka shops in the markets with their pyramids stacked in a similar fashion. Gutka fetishism enters everyday life in a way that goes beyond just being an object of desire, a consumptive product, or a stigmatized habit. It moves further, into a moral economy of gift exchange, a system based on the capacity to give, to receive, and to reciprocate. Gutka is part of that larger system of market economy, one where wiyaj, bhatta, the everyday life of the mahighir, and the Jamiat Ahle Sunnat function together in the same space. This is where they all live, and this is where their narratives flow.
Urbanism, Inequality and Karachi’s Contested Geographies Sheetal Chhabria Connecticut College
Question: How to think about and theorize the production, reproduction, and exacerbation of inequality in Karachi. 1.) How to rethink the increasing location of inequality in Karachi, the relationship between political economy and colonial and then national state? Manu Goswami’s Producing India’s emphasizes the colonial state space as forming economic zones through development of the ports of Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, and Karachi and then includes Karachi in railway investments: “The spatial morphology of the railway grid, organized in terms of the imperial space economy, spawned a new uneven economic geography. The major trunk lines of the railway system, constructed before 1870 under the state guarantee system, were built from the raw product-producing interior to the major port cities: Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, and Karachi….The urban corridor from Calcutta in the east to Karachi in the west came to hold a ‘preponderance of imperial personnel and assets… [and] became the imperial heartland and the central zone for state sponsored agricultural development.’ (Goswami, 59 citing in Ludden’s Agrarian History of South Asia) 2.) Polanyi’s double movement and fictitious commodities: “Social history in the nineteenth century was thus the result of a double movement: the extension of the market organization in respect
to genuine commodities was accompanied by its restriction in respect to fictitious ones. [for Polanyi, fictitious commodities and land, labour, and money] While on the one hand markets spread all over the face of the globe and the amount of goods involved grew to unbelievable dimensions, on the other hand a network of measures and policies was integrated into powerful institutions designed to check the action of the market relative to labor, land, and money. While the organization of world commodity markets, world capital markets, and world currency markets under the aegis of the gold standard gave an unparalleled momentum to the mechanism of markets, a deep-seated movement sprang into being to resist the pernicious effects of a market controlled economy. Society protected itself against the perils inherent in a self-regulating market system – this was the one comprehensive feature in the history of the age.” (Polanyi, Great Transformation, 79-80) 3.) In a lively conversation about the book, Theory from the South: or How Euro-America is Evolving into Africa, published in Cultural Anthropology in 2012, the Comaroff’s offered the following defense to the accusation that they had merely replaced a Eurocentric teleology that came out of modernization and development theories with a “Southern” teleology. 73
“We intend, technically, that urban scapes, as global phenomena, have strongly convergent tendencies— in respect of property relations, political life, patterns of trafficking, claims to sovereignty, local economies, and the like—because of the way that capital, and its cultural mediations, tend to play themselves out under specific demographic, infrastructural, and sociological conditions; conditions that, again, are most graphically visible in places like Lagos. Not everywhere, nor all in the same way—hence, again, our anti-teleological insistence—but in ways that materialize the hydra-headed configurations of contemporary capitalism as it takes its historical course. These configurations, we stress, are ill-captured by terms like “deterioration” or “advancement” or any of the other dualisms that we seek so carefully to avoid in Theory from the South.” - Comaroff from http:// www.culanth.org/fieldsights/273-theory-from-thesouth-a-rejoinder In speaking of “global phenomena,” “convergent tendencies,” “cultural mediations of capital,” “hydra-headed configurations of capitalism,” and criticism of dualisms, the Comaroff’s offered a new way of thinking of what we previously thought of as colonial cities, peripheral cities, or underdevelopment. 4.) In “History Without a Cause? Grand Narratives, World History, and the Postcolonial Dilemma,” Barbara Weinstein picks up on a distinction between singularity and specificity offered by Dipesh Chakrabarty (itself from Paul Veyne, PE, 82-3)) as a way to move past the critique of historicism that Chakrabarty provides. In Provincializing Europe (PE), “History 1” is the universal history of capitalism (Chp 1) and “historicism” (following Foucault) is defined as, “…the idea that to understand anything it has to be seen both as a unity and in its historical development…” (PE, 6). While Chakrabarty admits that there have been “western critiques of historicism” he warns that those that, “… base themselves on some characteristics of ‘late capitalism’ overlook the deep ties that bind together historicism as a mode of thought and the formation 74
of political modernity in erstwhile European colonies. Historicism enabled European domination of the world in the nineteenth century…. Historicism is what made modernity or capitalism look not simply global but rather as something that became global over time, by originating in one place (Europe) and then spreading outside it. This ‘first in Europe, then elsewhere” structure of global historical time was historicist; different non-Western nationalisms would later produce local versions of the same narrative, replacing ‘Europe’ by some locally constructed center.” (PE, 7) Chakrabarty’s book then goes on to explore instances of singularity, social practices that “resist assimilation into a historicist narrative.” (Weinstein, 86) Weinstein worries that Chakrabarty’s strategy reproduces Orientalist conceptions of India being a place without history and suggests that instead of conflating all macro histories and metanarratives with Eurocentrism, that we produce new metanarratives that truly provincialize Europe by centralizing other locations, by finding: “Rather, I would argue that, once we dispense with ‘point of origin’ as a principal concern, we can start to think in terms of the circulation of ideas and practices, and of multiple ‘contact zones’ where modifications adopted in one location, previously identified as on the periphery, can serve to break down orthodoxies in another, more ‘central’ location,” (Weinstein, 91) 5.) Stern’s discussion of Wallerstein within Latin American historiography argued something quite similar to Barbara Weinstein, when he said, “We must, in short, put on new spectacles and look at world history with peripheral vision.” (Stern, 832) Stern went on to ask that a specific “colonial mode of production” be given more scholarly attention, and that we remember that commercial capital was dominant over production which was not consolidated to a single type. He acknowledged too that speaking of “modes production” at all was going out of fashion. (Stern, 872) All this in 1988. 6.) James Ferguson’s “Decomposing Modernity”: where modernity is, “a folk category shared by an enormously heterogenous population of natives. Vague and confused as the term undoubtedly is
when considered as an analytical tool, it remains the center of a powerful ‘discourse of identity’, and a keyword that anchors a host of transnational discussions in and out of the academy about an emerging global social order.” (Ferguson, 167) Also, “Modernization theory suggested that the different elements of modern society formed a necessary and integrated package, implying that things like industrial economies and modern transportation and communications systems necessarily ‘came with’ political democracy. As did a transition from extended to nuclear families and from communal to individual identities; the rise of bounded, monadic individuals; the secularization of worldview; the rise of scientific rationalism and critical reflectivity; and so on. Critical ethnographic studies have shown the need to take apart that package. It is now well established that so-called traditional elements can fit together with the various elements of an archetypal modern industrial society without any necessary contradiction. Thus we have become accustomed to accounts of industrial workers with so-called extended family structures, of transnational business executives who fear witches, and of white-collar workers who fly in jet airplanes to visit their matrilineal elders….” (Ferguson, 172) This paper is an attempt to extend Manu Goswami’s argument in Producing India about the production of national economic space during imperialist and nationalist imaginings in the first half of the 20th century. One of Goswami’s arguments is that territorial imaginings of India that formed as anti-colonial modes of resistance, were nonetheless modernist projects utilizing the nation-state as the node of articulation to a global economy. That “India” could be conceived as one such geographical entity depended on an international arena of capital circulation of which colonial India was one part. She consistently pursues the production of uneven development but focuses a lot on increasing urban - rural differentiation, but we also need to find a way to think of the city as a space of inequity, a place where surplus labour collects no matter the specific form of labour alienation it has undergone (so the
distinction between free and unfree labor is less important by the time you get laborers collecting in cities). While Goswami focuses specifically on geographical conceptions of India as an economically contained space that articulates to the global economy, in this paper, I want to focus on the the urban nodes that tied these emerging conceptions of geographically contained national units to global capitalist practices of circulation and labor during colonialism. Goswami provides us with ways to over come methodological nationalism, which she defines as the “common practice of presupposing, rather than examining, the sociohistorical production of such categories as a national space and national economy and the closely related failure to analyze the specific global field within and against which specific nationalist movements emerged.”1 Focusing on the global flows in many directions of capital and politics will overcome the “failure to analyze the specific global field within and against” such territorial imaginings occurred. It was through urban spaces that connections were forged to that “specific global field” of the late 19th century and early 20th century imperial world. If urban spaces were nodes of connection between hinterlands and exteriors, be they ports or inland towns, they served not only to shape global flows but were indeed shaped by them. Ever since Manuel Castells and David Harvey put forth what scholars subsequently called “The World City Hypothesis,” which “linked city forming processes to the larger historical movement of industrial capitalism,” (Friedman, 1) it has been important to think of cities as products of capital and labor contradictions within the larger dynamic of world capitalism. This raises some issues however, especially when thinking of the colonial capitalist economy as well as what might be called peripheral regions in the world system. Most urbanists have theorized a distinct “third world” or “colonial” urbanism to respond to the problem of industrialism under colonial capitalism in South Asia (Janet Abu Lughod). So the question remains how can we think of a city like Karachi as following the 75
“world city hypothesis,” if it in fact does, even though its role in world capitalism was mediated by colonialism.
us see how housing and other related issues related to the urban poor played a contradictory role in urbanist discourse.
In this paper, I want to think through these problems in a very specific way, by focusing on the political economy of shelter and urban land use in colonial Karachi, and conceptualize the city as a site through which a trans-urban discourse emerged alongside a set of urbanist practices (what was this discourse, what did it do? It cast housing for the urban poor as a subsidiary issue to capitalist development of the city even though housing itself played a major role in the advancement of capitalism). In colonial Karachi, we find that urban housing became a site of surplus investments (Karachi 1920 Handbook -Great advertisements in the front showing the importance of housing industry, cement, tiles, building materials, bank loans etc) urban landlordism was a product of commercial successes in the colonial economy (Thomas Metcalf’s sources -Dinshaw family owned many private houses, ), the laboring and poor increasingly found themselves bonded to overlords/industrialists/capitalists through the need for shelter (Mama mansion) and urban nodes which tied colonial South Asia to the “global field’ were central to nationalist imaginings, even in Pakistan (Karachi Handbook, 1920 109) Picture of Vishindas)…where urban municipalities were central to nationalist imaginings and yet exemplified the impossibility of attending to the problem of their urban poor.
The first section will provide a social history of Karachi in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It will focus on the set of interconnections between people, ideas, and objects, and processes of migration, settlement, commoditization, and finance that made Karachi an important node in the world order and the related production of inequality inside the city, the way inequality was represented in the emerging urbanist discourse, and how this became the means through which a new national space was imagined as Pakistan. Using Karachi as a site to think through urbanism, inequality, and the competing notions of Karachi’s spatial position, i.e. its contested geographies, is especially pertinent given Karachi’s “peripheral” role both in the colonial economy and as a result in the scholarly literature on colonial capitalism. As David Ludden says, studying empire from the periphery is methodologically productive as locations far from the center of power are often the best places from which to understand power’s constructions since power is naturalized in the center, making it hard to see. In the second section, I will focus especially on the political economy of housing and the politics of the labouring urban poor’s housing in colonial Karachi.
(Karachi handbook 76). It is estimated roughly that not more than 5 per cent. of the population own landed property of the value of Rs. 500 and upwards. The object of the Municipality should be to increase the body of landholders who have built and are willing to build houses to the largest extent possible, and to accelerate the development of the town….)….problem of “house property” (Karachi Municipality 1860) not being revenue generating because of insufficient counting. Examining the ways in which practices of urbanism formed in colonial Karachi and the discursive formations which animated political life in Karachi will help 76
History of Karachi In the Western Indian Ocean and around the Persian Gulf, the cities of Bombay, Karachi, and Aden connected to London in horizontal and vertical relationships of production and exchange which conditioned the kinds of urban imaginations and politics animated social life in each city. Indeed, the Indian Ocean in the late 19th and early 20th century became a space of capital in which power and inequality were reflective of the modes of production along oceanic corridors (especially so after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869).2 This section contextualizes these processes in the longer histories of urbanization, labor mobility, and the commodification of human life. This allows us to
see larger economic and social processes which encapsulated the vast majority of the Western subcontinent through the turn of the nineteenth century, before such peasant migrants and petty laborers were distinguished from each other through the politics of regionalism and nationalism. We will especially see how the politics of shelter/ housing, one of the most basic needs commodified by emerging markets, was reflective of particular locations within a global field of urbanism and constructed that field in a hierarchical manner. In the colonial 19th and 20th centuries, Karachi was governed under the administrative unit of the Bombay Presidency. Laboring and capitalist migrants moved up and down the western coast. The largest numbers of migrants into both Karachi and Bombay came from Ratnagiri and Cutch, south and north of Bombay respectively. Lyari, the infamous shantytown in Karachi was a much older human settlement than Dharavi in Bombay; Dharavi was not densely settled until well into the 1930s, 1940s and onwards, whereas Lyari was a site of urban reform, renewal, and even complaints as early as the 1910s. Deeper historical process resulted in urban disenfranchisement and alienation, processes which are harder to see when we begin with categories of national or regional identity and study the political movements which empowered and reified those notions of identity. Instead, we ought to see how categories of identity were mobilized to construct particular visions of space. Thus for example, the Sindh autonomy movement from the 1930s is constitutive of the production of a particular spatial conception unique to the political economy of the time and cannot be understood as apart from that social history. Commonalities in the cities’ development combined with differences in administrative priorities to make these cities comparable with each other. Shipping was the main form of communication between these port towns. By the beginning of the 20th century, these growing cities started to produce urban leaders who believed their city was being used solely as a seat of power for those located elsewhere, particularly in Bombay. Upon
the onset of the global plague across ports in 1898, Bombay’s City Improvement Trust was dis-housing and rehousing its labouring and poor dwellers to restore its “sanitary credit,” in Karachi and Aden the problem of poor housing did not find similar solutions. There was no Improvement Trust in these cities and it was hard for local urban leaders to develop the kind of institutional framework which would bring in Imperial lines of credit on the scale that it did in Bombay. Rising classes of merchants were able to use these seaport connections to establish nodes of commerce between the three cities, but in Karachi and Aden, they did so as a way to escape any limitations and regulations on their commercial enterprises. Regional distinctions lent credibility to autonomy movements which challenged and eventually removed Bombay as the seat of power over these cities, but it also productively delayed the problems of the urban poor. In Karachi, a desire to “catch up” to Bombay’s stage of commercial advancement meant that leaders advocated for infrastructure for commercial opportunities, not a restraining of commercial ambitions. In both Karachi and Aden, the poor housing problem was no less an issue than it was in Bombay; however, solutions to the problem were hard to come by due to these cities perceived subsidiary role to Bombay. Challenging that subsidiary role contributed to the Sindh autonomy movement in Karachi, which had as one of its crucial components, municipal self-governance for the city of Karachi. The issue of housing for the labouring poor was thoroughly sidelined by the interests of Bombay’s merchants and those merchants in Karachi who wanted to “catch up.” Aden fared even worse, basically turning into a labour colony for Western India’s shipping industries. Thus, as anti-imperial movements and regionalist aspirations grew in the early 20th century, it wasn’t only those in Bombay who were were observant and critical of forms of extractive sovereignty. Cities beyond Bombay started to see Bombay as an 77
instrument of imperial power and thus an obstacle to their own modern progress; they thus cast Bombay as a monopolizer of colonial capital and contested its right to authority over them. History of Karachi: Commercial Competition & Memory as History While Karachi may have felt like a totally new and modern port, Sindh had a long history of oceanic trade and social networks of commerce based in port towns preceded the rise of Karachi’s merchants. The kind of history that was constructed for the city of Bombay in which the British were given all the credit for the opening up of commercial opportunities was similarly at play amongst British historians. Alexander Baillie published Kurrachee: Past, Present and Future in 1890. He reviewed the harbour and port’s history prior to discussing the British period. He said of the port’s pre-British past that, It is obvious that the princes of Sind had no ocean-shipping interests: that they attached but little value to imports and exports, except in so far as they might tend to increase their revenues, and add to their personal comforts, and consequently they lent very slight encouragement to the opening up of seaports, and gave no assistance towards their advancement, but rather opposed their creation and development.3 The British propaganda campaign about their sole efforts at modernization demanded that Sindh’s previous rulers be cast as extractive, self-concerned, feudal overlords with no interest in the well being of Sindh’s merchants. British intervention was necessary to utilize the potential for commerce: But when the disturbed condition of the country demanded the intervention of the British Government, the desirability of having a seaport was at once recognized by the Government of India, 78
at that time the Honourable East India Company, and the advantages offered by the harbour of Kurrachee were fully appreciated. In a short time the foreign trade that sprung up attracted native traders from the interior, and European merchants from Bombay. Money was granted for harbour improvements, barracks were built, roads were made, and banks and other institutions were established.4 British modernization efforts, including infrastructure for trade such as roads, harbors, banks, and money transformed this practically ignored potentiality from a “miserable native fortress into a civil town of considerable size,” according to Baillie. When Sindh was annexed by the British in 1839, the population of Karachi was a mere 8,000 to 14,000 inhabitants. Thirty years later it was thought to be 50,000 people. The value of trade in 1843 was estimated at Rs. 1,200,000. After just two years, it was estimated to have tripled, then in 1865 it was Rs. 46,500,000, and in 1885 it was Rs. 90,000,000. Baillie said of this growth that: Such a rapid increase in population and trade is not uncommon in the United States, and other parts of the American continent, or even in Australia, but it would be remarkable in Europe, and is unparalleled in India.5 Sindh and its harbour was cast as a frontier of human settlement, like the settler colonies of the British Empire. The story being created was that the coast of Sindh were entirely isolated from world trade until the British arrived. Understanding Sindh’s early modern history is important to countering official imperial history about Karachi and its trade. As early as the 15th and 16th century, the Portuguese had attempted to set up monopolistic trading routes down the western coast of South Asia, starting north by the Indus river, and moving southwards down the peninsular coast. Their role in the port city
of Thatta was basically to be one of several intermediary groups in an already established nexus. Sindhi cloth traveled from Thatta down the river to Lahori bander and then across the Arabian sea up the strait of Hormuz. Thatta was a center of trade and courtly activity well before the Portuguese, being ruled by the Sumras and then the Sammas, a Sunni dynasty with allegiances to both Delhi and the Central Asian Mongols. This competition between Delhi and Central Asia for Sindhâ€™s allegiance drove much of the battles within Sindh itself. When the Portuguese successfully acquired Hormuz, the Sammas controlled all of lower Sindh, and Thatta was the capital.6 Thus the profit from the trade of Sindhi textiles, through the collection of trade tariffs, went to the Sammas. Hormuz was an entrepot-state at this time on the island of Jarun, and Portuguese acquired it in 1515. Records from customs revenues kept by the Portuguese for the 1540â€™s at Hormuz show that one-third of revenue came from Gujarat, another third from Persia itself, another ten percent from Sindh, and the remainder from Basra and the Portuguese themselves. Thus, Sindh was a very connected region. However, much contest over the port of Lahori Bander reveals that this area was seen as potentially more profitable due to its exclusive landed connections into central asia. The possibility of two routes connecting Hormuz and Thatta, that by sea just discussed and that over land made the ports a profitable prize. Generally, these two routes operated as complements, when one wasnâ€™t possible, the other was used. Hence the ten percent port revenue from within Sindh itself was only a fraction of profits to be made. Both the Portuguese and the Dutch had made consistent speculations on what net profit would be accumulated if they could become the seabased intermediaries between Thatta and Hormuz. A Dutchman Pieter Broecke said in 1619 of the region: From Lohoor one may navigate through a river into the kingdom of Sinde, which is also part of the realm of Chachalm or the Great Moghul. The main commercial centres there are named
Sinde Tatta and Diolsinde. Here a great abundance of beautiful textiles are produced, which are mostly transported by the Portuguese to Ormus and from there to Persia and Arabia. This is mostly done by Italians, Persians, and Moors, who all of them are engaged in this important trade between Ormus and Bassora, a city in the Cinus Persicus.7 Dutch traders were in control of Iran ever since 1623, when the VOC had a factory in Iran had noticed in 1634 that if the trade had been carried by sea rather than land, they could double their revenue (an estimated revenue of 680,340 Dfl was generated over land between Sindh and Iran, and if it had been carried by sea, a profit of 1,011,500 Dfl was possible).8 They also recognized that the Portuguese were purposefully making this difficult for the Dutch. Through alliances with local traders, and sales of arms to local rulers, the Portuguese had secured an allegiance, such that Dutch traders would find themselves stranded for several days at Lahori Bander and other smaller ports such as Karatje, the predecessor to modern day Karachi, without merchants even coming to visit them. Only when they learned that Thatta was where they ought to go, did they realize that the Portuguese had secured loyalty there. The Dutch had almost nothing to trade which the Sindhis wanted, having arrived here only because of a command by VOC directors to get rid of the surplus sugar mistakenly accumulated in Batavia. Whenever they attempted to make a sale by first allowing the inspection of samples, they would be told that the same item could be bought cheaper from the Portuguese.9 Minimum prices for sales were set on all goods by the VOC, except sugar which was to be sold for one main reason, to get rid of the surplus.10 Changes both in Persia and South Asia led to the decline of Thatta by the beginning of the 19th century. The Mughals gained control over Sindh, making Lahore the main manufacturing base, and Hormuz fell due to the Safavids and English. 79
Aurangzeb established Aurangabander in the mid1600’s, and thus the Mughals gained more control over the Western Indian coast and its oceanic trade. Similar contests for Gujarat by the Mughals, especially under Akbar11 against local Sultans prove that the Mughals had realized that the Indian ocean commerce and revenue it generated was crucial to their land-based imperial interests. The Portuguese role in this route was thus reduced by the 1630’s, after which the English set up more permanent factories, only to be removed and permitted again and again by the Talpur Mirs in the early 1800’s.
While, prior to the annexation, Sind was a participant in a wide-ranging system of interregional and international trade, under British rule, its function was increasingly reduced to that of an outlet for the agricultural production of the Punjab. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the bulk of the investment the British made in Sind was in the construction of a modern harbour in Karachi and of railway lines linking the port with the Punjab.12
Interestingly in the case of Sindh, merchants often petitioned their regional statesmen, the Talpur Mirs, to have the English removed. The company needed to claim that trade had been stifled under the Talpurs, and that the East India Company was setting up factories in order to “benevolently” open up the region to commerce, but these petitions show that the opposite was true. Even former EIC officials such as Outram and Eastwick spoke out strongly against the East India Company. The heightened political discourse through the 1930’s would recall the great economy under Talpur reign, and use it to champion secession from the Bombay Presidency.
The global role of Karachi was established through a colonial economic relation in which grain and raw materials were exported through Karachi’s newly built harbors and manufactured goods from the industrializing world were sold in Karachi’s newly built marketplaces. A landed and agricultural class of rural notables from Punjab, a mixed Hindu and Muslim business community of Sindhis, a bureaucratic class of colonial administrators from the Bombay Presidency and European merchants, all came together to motor the colonial economy. By the end of the 19th century, the port city Karachi became the largest grain exporter of the Indian subcontinent, fixing its role as an urban outpost for demands made elsewhere.
The British annexation of Sindh in 1843 by Sir Napier presented new challenges for the Sindhi commercial network and the routes established through the early modern 16th-18th centuries. Commercial activities were reoriented towards new centers in London and Bombay. Indigo production in Sindh, which along with Gujarat was once one of the highest in the world, was shifted to Bihar. Two networks based out of Shikarpur and Hyderabad respectively had different trajectories of negotiation. The Shikarpuris continued on the strength of previous network connections, while the Hyderabadis sought connections throughout the region under the control of the Bombay Presidency. It is true that colonial rule reduced the viability of Sindh as a financial and commercial network base:
Some argued that Bombay’s revenue paid for the construction of the port of Karachi, but later Sindhi separatists contested the claim that Sindh had become financially dependent on Bombay and argued that it was fully capable of supporting itself. The port benefited the Punjab the most, and Punjabi officials were happy to derive opportunities from the port without having to include Sindh as a part of its province, even when some British officials made such recommendations.13 Another factor in the changes in Sindh through colonial rule involved the arrival of new traders in greater numbers from Bombay, who for the first time, were sharing dominion with the notably prosperous Sindhi merchants. Parsi contractors, Jewish traders, Gujarati banias, Marwaris, and Punjabis arrived for the first time at this rate to
trade at the Karachi port, while Ismaili Khojas and Kutchi Memons strengthened old ties.14 This replaced previous Shikarpuri and Hyderabadi bases, thus resulting in a steady decline in commercial activity for both upper and lower Sindh, out of Karachi. The Hyderabadi network, however, was able to survive and enter a larger global economy, through connection with Bombay. A network of Hyderabadi merchants also called Sindwork merchants flourished after 1860. Through the annexation period, they were able to exploit connections to Bombay, and thus the world well into the contemporary period. The base of these Sindworkies evolved from local merchants, shopkeepers, and generally retailers into the network. Initially, however, the transition wasn’t easy. The Talpur Amirs had made Hyderabad their capital, and thus the Hyderabadis had had state patronage of their financial and commercial skills. When Sir Charles Napier arrived, he moved the capital from Hyderabad to Karachi, thus eliminating the state’s patronage to Hyderabadis commercial activities. Thus immediately after annexation, Hyderabad’s merchant community suffered due to reduced opportunities.15 By 1860, however, the Sindworkies began trading along new network routes, through 1914, the outbreak of World War One. They traded in goods from all over India, through Benares, Kashmir, and the Punjab. The increasing demand for “ethnic Indian goods” internationally led them to prosper, as did their ability to adapt to new local environments. Trade in “Oriental” crafts at newly opening “Oriental” shops in London and other cities both in Europe and North America drove demand. They eventually became intermediaries in new locations for the sale of all sorts of “Eastern” goods, ranging from Chinese and Japanese silk and far Eastern crafts, to Egyptian products. The five major areas of global expansion for the Sindworkies were, “Gibraltar and North Africa, Egypt, Java, the Straits Settlements and neighbouring Sumatra, and the Philippines.”16
The outbreak of the First World War and the Great Game between Russia and the West had effects on both Shikarpuri and Hyderabadi merchants. Both merchant communities, but more so the Hyderabadi Sindworkies, took advantage of being subjects of the British crown and demanded legal protection and free travel across the British colonial globe. However, their previous pattern of travel into Central Asia, and thus Russia, could not be sustained through the early 20th century. There is evidence that some merchants traded in an ageold and highly valuable commodity through the rivalry with Russia: information. Functioning as spies, some merchants would sign contracts for information gathering in Central Asian locations for any fixed period of time. Legal problems arose on occasion because of this arrangement. In general, however, it seems the Sindhi merchants were unable to assess political tensions, and remained in Central Asia until after 1914, and suffered greatly by not disinvesting earlier.17 In Russia, state officials had increasingly become weary of the role Indian merchants (and therefore British subjects) were playing in the money market. Emperor Alexander II (1855-1881) officially capped the interest rates Sindhi financiers could charge. This limited the financiers a little, but greater regulation was sought and increasing legal restrictions were enacted into the 20th century. In 1877, Governor General Kaufman published a seven point circular which explicitly forbade the possession of land, contracts, and gifts of land for more than six months, and officially regulated the repayment of debt to the “Indian moneylenders.” The merchants responded unhappily through a series of letters but to no avail.18 The state government of Russia enacted radical changes to the entire banking system of the country, thus greatly diminishing the role of these moneylenders, and reduced their numbers in the population: “Within two decades of the publication of that circular, the number of Indians in the Turkestan Krai dropped to less than 1000, roughly two-thirds of the population having returned to India.”19 At this point, the connection between South Asia and Central Asia was greatly severed, the 81
transformation in the banking and economy of Russia providing radical change and increased control over Central Asian trade.20 World War one also cut up the globe in new ways, such that South Asian British subjects travel and trade also became restricted in the Middle East. Karachi’s merchants believed that it was only when the British annexed the region in 1843, had Sindh become a regulated province of Bombay such that the economy declined. As it was brought into the colonial relation, Sindh became a periphery to imperial centers in Calcutta and Bombay as well as London. Sindhi merchants began a movement to separate their city from Bombay’s governance in 1913 when a leader of Karachi’s Municipal Corporation, Harchandrai Vishindas, gave a speech that cited Karachi’s cultural uniqueness alongside Karachi’s relative impoverishment as proof that Karachi should be released from its subordination to Bombay. Karachi’s development had been neglected, its capacity for commerce was unmet, a deviation from its potential history. Regional distinction was linked to the problem of poverty, and not necessarily the poor but poverty itself became the grounds upon which a contest over sovereignty between regional and imperial leaders could be had. The complaints against the Bombay Presidency included issues having to do with the decline of the port’s economic profitability. It seemed some great accident of misplaced trust that a British officer had annexed Sindh in 1843, and then by coincidence attached it to Bombay, a competing sea port. At the Sind Separation Conference of 1932, the speaker recalled the tale thus: In 1830 when Alexander Burnes wanted to see Ranjit Singh in Lahore, his best way to get to him was through Sind, and the Sind rulers of those days gave free access to the British for the purpose. In 1838 the British armies were allowed free passage through Sind in their expedition to Afghanistan. It was because Sind was thus traversed 82
by British officers and British-Indian troops from Bombay, that Sir Charles Napier took the opportunity to annex Sind in 1843. As is well known he did this against orders and practically acknowledged his guilt. He went on to speculate on the counterfactual, that Sindh would have been attached to the Punjab or North India, such that Sindh would, probably have been able to develop its port of Karachi with reference to its natural hinterland more freely than was possible in the rivalry of Karachi with Bombay when Bombay held the supreme power.21 The question here was of a “natural” oceanhinterland connection through a port, presumably a long established historical one, which was deployed as an object of memory/history in the 1930s as the changes had come. The ushering of the sub-continent into World War II by the colonial administration, and that too on the heels of the economic depressions of the 1930s, without consulting any provincial leaders, surely prevented any resurgence of local economies after the provincial autonomy Act of 1935. However, these were the stated ambitions in the interwar period. Enhancing Karachi’s ability to participate in world trade was central to the demand for autonomy in Sindh. Along with this demand, came the claim that the region’s and the city’s poverty would be remedied by that enhancement. The complaints were that the port had been insufficiently developed, that roads from Karachi to the interiors were lacking, that there was no railway connecting Karachi to Delhi, and that the basic infrastructure for trade was lacking. Because of these deficiencies, Karachi had not been able to serve as a center of commercial activity to the degree that other ports had. Bombay’s prominence had allowed merchants more accustomed to Bombay and its regions to out-compete merchants exclusively located in Bombay.
Karachi’s merchants resisted both the supremacy of Bombay (as a part of the Bombay Presidency) and the construction of an exogenous origin story, emphasizing a long history of maritime commerce. Karachi’s merchants experienced their centurieslong history of trade and commerce as evidence of their right to commercial prominence, autonomy, and wealth on their own terms. Although they understood Karachi to be a new city, they didn’t believe a port or oceanic trade was new to them. They deployed Sindh’s long history of port towns and wanted to restore and revive their prior prominence which had dwindled because of their attachment and dependence on governance from Bombay. While Bombay’s precolonial history was understood by native locals as being insular and cut off from the rest of the world until the colonial imposition, i.e. many of Bombay’s leaders accepted the colonial narrative of an exogenous modernity imposed on a traditional way of life, Karachi’s precolonial history was understood as already connected to other world ports. That the British misunderstood Sindh’s commercial past had to be corrected. Karachi’s Poor Housing Most importantly for our concerns, was the claim that were there more money flowing into the port city of Karachi, there would be resources available to solve the poor housing problem in the city of Karachi. That there weren’t meant that the poor housing issue would have to wait. Thus, through the first decades of the twentieth century when the Bombay Improvement Trust was rehousing slumdwellers, as flawed as that project was, Karachi’s leaders could not enlist a similar plan for their city. Nor however, is it clear that such a scheme is how they would have chosen to solve their poverty problem. The sole desire amongst Karachi’s leaders were to enhance the port city’s ability to become a home for world trade. That commercial goal was first and solving the problem of poor housing would have to wait.
On a visit to Karachi in 1918, the Viceroy and Governor General of India, Frederic Chelmsford, and his wife were welcomed by the municipal leaders of the city. On their greeting, they addressed Mr. Chelmsford thusly: In this connection we may venture to suggest the urgent importance of a direct broad gauge railway line between Karachi and Delhi….also the necessity of direct broad gauge railway communication between Karachi and Bombay via Cutch. The public have been long agitating for these railways, and it is hoped that Government will see its way to overcome all possible obstacles thereto....We may here.. make mention…application made to Municipality for a large piece of land for the establishment of Aerodrom, Flying School, and Aeroplane Terminal Station for Western India. Should this … materialize…will eventually annihilate distance between Karachi and England, to say nothing of Karachi and Delhi, and give an impetus to the development of this City.22 The “annihilation” of distance was necessary for increasing trade and all the addresses to Mr. Chelmsford on this visit were about that. Since the capital had been moved from Calcutta to Delhi, Karachi’s elites were keen to make sure that the shorter distance between the capital and Karachi should have great benefits from them. They had complaints about the lack of expenditure in the past on the infrastructure: We are sorry to observe the entire lack of activity in the past, on the part of Gov’t and Local Boards in providing trunk roads leading out of Karachi. In fact, the proceedings of the last Legislative Council of Bombay have disclosed the lamentable fact that Sind has been very greatly stinted on this respect as compared to the other parts of 83
the Presidency. The lack of good roads leading out of the City has not only been keenly felt by all classes of the population, who are thereby confined to urban limits, but their necessity is so patent for the development of the country, for travel, trade and business of all kinds, particularly in the vicinity of a rising city of the importance of Karachi, that it is all the more surprising that the matter has apparently received no attention from the Authorities concerned.23 They were correcting this prior lack of attention by extending the Town Planning Act to Karachi, which was being used to fill swamp beds, build roads through areas, remove obstructive sites on land so that they could create communications across town and into the interior, and acquire land for improvements for which they wanted to raise loans in the open markets. None of these measures involved rehousing schemes like those in Bombay. Challenging Bombay’s sovereignty over Karachi demanded showing that Karachi could exceed Bombay commercially, and be more viable as a commercial center. Then perhaps after establishing parity with Bombay, could the poor housing issue be addressed. This neglect was not lost on the Governor General and Viceroy himself. Mr. Chelmsford responded to the above complaints, announcements, and welcome addresses by trying to redirect the attention of the urban leaders towards their obviously growing labour and poor housing problem. He said: Municipal work is a fascinating subject, and you perhaps know that it has a particular fascination for myself. It was the main interest of my early years of public life, and I find that I am inclined still to approach Municipal affairs in the spirit of my first enthusiasm. It is a difficult subject also. It demands a broad outlook combined with close attention 84
to details; an insight into the problems of the future, together with a close grip on everyday affairs; optimism combined with prudence. The two chief duties of a Municipality may be summed up in two words: Circumspice, Prospice [sic]. Look ahead but at the same time look around you. I can tell from the address I have just heard that you are mindful of the great possibilities and needs of the future. I may however also say that my experience is that the quiet steady work of ward Members and Members of Committees, which does not often catch the public eye is the most valuable work of all. The reason is that such work, and especially attention to the interests of the poorest neighborhoods and classes, is the foundation of municipal work; and the foundation must be thoroughly sound if it is to bear a great superstructure.24 He even tried to justify concern for the poor by citing its beneficial effects it would have on the war, something Karachi’s leaders were keen to prove that they could be helpful in: You have rightly made mention of the war….you can help our common cause by conserving the man power of Karachi by seeing that the men who work at the docks and the sailors from the ships, live in surroundings which conduce to efficiency. You will thus add to the war services which you have already rendered.25 Strangely, the imperial governor general was imploring local urban leaders to have more concern for the poor, and Karachi’s locals were contesting Bombay’s sovereignty over them for just this reason. But yet, Karachi’s leaders deferred the problem of the poor thinking it could be solved later after the economy had picked up. Theirs was likely a belief in the good effects of a liberal economy, namely, that eventually everyone’s
standard of living would be raised by increased trade. The Viceroy and Governor General repeated and ended his response to them in the following manner: In conclusion I may again refer to a matter which I have already mentioned in a general way, and impress upon you the extreme importance of extending a due share of both educational and hygenic advantages to the less favoured quarters of your city and of doing all in your power to brighten the lives and surroundings of the labouring classes. With the great possibilities of your city and the probable influx of larger numbers of this class, it will well repay you to bestow all possible care on the sanitation of new quarters as they arise and upon the decent housing of the poor....I thank you again, gentlemen for your kind reception…I shall now enjoy of becoming personally acquainted with the city and port of Karachi and with your leading citizens.26 The question was left unanswered: whose responsibility were the urban poor? Who was to blame in creating the problem? And who were the poorest in Karachi? In the Konkan, the district Ratnagiri lay exactly on the coast, today in the Southwestern part of Maharashtra. Ratnagiri and Kolaba were the main sending regions to Bombay city. Ratnagiri migrants were also well represented in Karachi. Many from Ratnagiri were lascars or sailors who sent remittances home. Officials thought of the Konkan post offices as bustling money centers because of these remittances. Others were wage earners who joined mills and offices and either settled in Bombay or migrated circularly and seasonally.27 Immigration was not the only source of population growth in Karachi, in fact, in this city in colonial Western India, there seems to be some evidence of early settlements and population growth due to social reproduction amongst urbanites alone. A
census official from 1911 said that “Immigration shows a rise of 6,000 principally from Kathiawar and Ratnagiri, but the increase is largely independent of the foreign born.”28 The census report of 1911 said: “Karachi’s foreign born population comes principally from Cutch, Kathiwar, Balochistan, Hyderabad and the Panjab. The first two being maritime states are naturally well represented. It may be noticed that Ratnagiri, a district with an extended sea board, is responsible for three times as many immigrants as in 1901. The settled character of the Baloch immigrants has already been remarked (para 97); for the last three enumerations there has been little change either in the numbers or the sex proportion of these immigrants from the Makran coast.” and “To sum up – There is quite a considerable amount of periodic migration within the Presidency, induced very largely by the hard times in the Deccan and Gujarat which has rendered labour more fluid. The large cities, especially Bombay, Karachi and Ahmadabad, have attracted much periodical as well as semi-permanent labour, but permanent migration, handicapped in Bombay City by local conditions, is practically confined to newly developed tracts such as are found in Sind.”29) Even the plague had not mitigated the rise of population in Karachi as much as it had of other cities: “Karachi, fifth in 1901 and fourth now, has increased 30%, in spite of plague which has claimed nearly 25,000 victims. There are 39 industrial enterprises in the city, the most important being the Port Trust Engineering and the Tramway Company’s shops which employ 550 and 312 hands respectively. Five metal working establishments employ 852 men, eight grain mills 364, three quarries 308, three tanneries 168. 355 persons are employed in printing presses. The Bulk Oil installations have 288 hands, and salt works, furniture, coach-building, the thread factories and a bone mill employ the balance of the 4,000 artisans which constitute the industrial populaton of Karachi. 85
———————— (51) .... Part III. - Results of the 1921 Census of Bombay Presidency. Section 6. - Cities. 140. ...the population of each of the seven cities since 1872 is given below.... City Population in 1872 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 Bombay 644,405 773,196 821,764 776,006 979,445 1,175,914 Ahmedabad 128,505 137,041 159,366 199,609 232,777 274,007 Karachi 56,753 73,560 105,199 116,663 151,903 216,883 Poona 125,613 144,340 182,099 175,463 188,701 214,796 Surat 107,855 109,844 109,229 119,306 114,868 117,434 Sholapur 53,403 61,345 119,581 Hubli 37,961 69,206 —————————
The City’s phenomenal growth, much in excess of any other city in the Province, is due to its activity as the outlet for the Punjab and Sind harvests and the growth of its ocean-borne trade. The disparity in the sexes is as marked as in Bombay and from the same causes. 49% of the population is Muhammadan and 43% Hindu. Its density is 2,139 per square mile or 3 to the acre, but the city limits are unusually extensive, enclosing a space nearly three times the size of Bombay Island.”30 Compared to other cities, it was the rate of growth of Karachi which made it remarkable, not its actual size, and this of course led to dense urban settlements, especially in Lyari. As early as 1885, Lyari was recognized as the “poorest district of the city.” The Municipality depended on housing taxes for revenue and 86
imposed a 2% tax on assessed value of all the houses, buildings, and lands within municipal limits. The “Lyaree Quarter, the poor district of the city, was expected...”31 Average prices of renting a bungalow were Rs. 70-120/month, but one could also find other rentals for approximately Rs. 2560. To provide a point of reference, consider also that officials complained of servants wages being too high in Karachi. What was considered a very good cook, someone from Goa, asked Rs.14-16/ month, porters could receive Rs. 10-12/month, while grooms, housekeepers, mostly people from Punjab or Sind asked Rs. 10-14/month. A gardener received Rs. 10/month.32 In 1916, A. E. Mirams gave a lecture called “What the Bombay Town Planning Act means to Karachi” which was about the extension of the practices and concomitant institutions of town planning by Karachi’s municipality to Karachi. In a section called “What Town Planning Means” he said: “The bringing into the market of land suitable for building, which without a Town
Planning Scheme would in all probability never be anything but agricultural land... Preservation of historic buildings and buildings of religious veneration with all their traditions. Not the destruction of land marks and temples. The development (5) of an Indian city worthy of civic pride. Not an imitation of European cities but a utilisation of what is in them.”33 About the bed of the Lyari river being filled, he said that: “The closing of the branch of Lyaree has made a considerable difference to the area on the other side and there is little doubt that in years to come the so-called Lyaree Quarter will be pretty thickly populated. (me: So they are filling in one branch of the river, Mirams is hoping it provides space for businesses to move out of Old Town, and anticipating thick population growth on remaining branch.) It has an area of about 1,300 acres, and I understand already supports a population of not less than 37,000 persons. I ask you to think of that figure when I remind you that only 78 years ago (1838) the population of the whole of the town and suburbs of Karachi was only 14,000. If the figures I have given for the Lyaree area are correct then there is already a population of 28 ½ persons per acre living there. As long ago as 1874 small portions of this area were plotted out on a sort of police lines pattern, but subsequently and until quite recently the place like “Topsy” just “growed.” There are still very large areas not built upon, and surely now, if ever, is the time for something to be done to regulate the future development on sanitary lines.”34 For reference, consider that Bombay, in 1911, in the most dense part had a little over 50 persons per acre. Urban housing had been a source of income in Karachi too, just as in other cities. Urban property could provide income without much effort, and
Parsi families, Sindhis and Punjabis benefitted from this. Urban landholdings were an easier way to make money than being a rural zamindar because one didn’t have to attend to the use of the property as much: “The pattern is complex, for Dinshaw’s urban landholdings, rather like rural zamindars, brought in a regular income with but little attention.” Such diversified sources of income made Karachi like Bombay, but for Karachi’s wealthy leaders, the scale needed to increase which could only happen through withdrawal from Bombay’s grip.35 Upon the opening of the Sukkur Barrage, there was a cotton boom between 19331947 due to increased irrigation and thus more Bombay-based firms set up outposts in Karachi,36 increasing demand for even more labourers in the city. While the poverty of Sindh and Karachi could serve as a reason to demand autonomy, its solution had to be more circuitous. First, the commercial interests had to be met, and then, presumably, more money would be available to make poor housing projects possible. Until then the infrastructure for trade would get the first priority. Demands for control over Karachi continued through the nationalist period in the first half of the twentieth century. The conflict over Karachi’s role in the global market escalated in the inter-war period. What began as a religiously mixed Hindu, Muslim, and Parsi group of Karachi merchants wrestling control of Karachi away from Bombay’s bureaucrats in the early 1900’s, turned into the fear of “Muslim Raj” by the predominantly urban based Hindu merchant communities by the 1940’s. This fear was in spite of Muslim leaders insistence as late as 1945 that the success of Karachi and Sindh depended on the Hindu merchant’s prosperity. Also, the successful propaganda of the Hindu Mahasabha had successfully instilled in Karachi’s Hindus a fear of their own numerical minority status. The era of communal politics had begun. In the end, Karachi came to be imagined as the political capital of a Muslim homeland, and a global trading center for which it was originally developed. Commerce and politics were united 87
in its selection as the first capital. Even upon independence, the competition for control over Karachi was cast as a threat to democracy in Pakistan less than one year after the country’s creation in 1947. Hashim Gazdar, speaking of the government of Pakistan’s move to detach Karachi from the adjacent Sindh province and centrally administer the city as the nation’s first capital, warned in May 1948, Sir, if you do not want to make democracy a farce, if you do not want tracking towards absolute dictatorship, you should have respect for the people of Sindh…we do not want to give up Karachi.37 Gazdar’s foresight cannot be lost on any observer of the history of Pakistan, whose postcolonial history went on to be an oscillation between elections and military dictatorships, eventually moving the capital back inland to Islamabad. The political imagination until then had suggested that to control the city was to control the country, which perpetuated the imperial doctrine of the hinterland and ignored the social fact that cities, in the demographic and industrial transformation of the long 19th century, across the world, had become places where surplus labour collects. Finally and most damaging in this view of course is the way in which such statements make rural migrant labourers invisible, illegible, and inaccessible as historical social agents. 1 Goswami, Manu. Producing India : from Colonial Economy to National Space. Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004, 5. 2 This view of the Indian Ocean, as a space of uneven capital production, is in contrast to recent works in Indian Ocean studies which see the ocean as a residue of human mobility and cultural exchange working against the limits of imperial politics. Bose, Sugata. A Hundred Horizons : the Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006. 88
3 Alexander F. Baillie and Yasmeen Lari, Kurrachee, Past, Present and Future (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1997), 5 4 Baillie, Kurrachee, 5. 5 Baillie, Kurrachee, 2.
6 Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “The Portuguese, Thatta and the External Trade of Sind, 1515-1635,” Revista de Cultura (1991): 49-50. 7 Subrahmanyam, “The Portuguese, Thatta and the External Trade of Sind,” 55. 8 Willem M. Floor, The Dutch East India Company (Voc) and Diewel-Sind (Pakistan), in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Based on Original Dutch Records (Karachi, Islamabad: Institute of Central & West Asian Studies University of Karachi; in collabouration with Lok Virsa, 1993), 44-45. 9 Floor, Dutch East India Company, 61. 10 Floor, Dutch East India Company. Accounts by Brahe throughout the translated text indicate this. 11 John F. Richards, The Mughal Empire (Cambridge; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 30-33. 12 Claude Markovits,The Global World of Indian Merchants, 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama (Cambridge England; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 54. 13 Markovits, Global World of Indian Merchants, 54. 14 Markovits, Global World of Indian Merchants, 55. 15 Markovits, Global World of Indian Merchants, 115. 16 Markovits, Global World of Indian Merchants, 117-128. 17 Markovits, Global World of Indian Merchants, 218-220. 18 Scott Cameron Levi, The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and Its Trade, 1550-1900 (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2002), 251-258. 19 Levi, Indian Diaspora in Central Asia, 258. 20 Levi, Indian Diaspora in Central Asia, 260. 21 Hamida Khuhro, Documents on Separation of Sind from the Bombay Presidency, v. 2. (Islamabad: Institute of Islamic History Culture and Civilization Islamic University, 1982), 812. 22 “Karachi Municipality: Administration report of the Karachi Municipality,” 1917/18, Appendix A, 47. 23 “Karachi Municipality: Administration report of the Karachi Municipality,” 1917/18, Appendix A, 48. 24 “Karachi Municipality: Administration report of the Karachi Municipality,” 1917/18, Appendix A, 51. 25 “Karachi Municipality: Administration report of the
Karachi Municipality,” 1917/18. Appendix A, 51. 26 “Karachi Municipality: Administration report of the Karachi Municipality,” 1917/18, Appendix A, 53. 27 This discussion from COBP, 1911. 28 COBP, 1911: 32. 29 COBP, 1911: 47. 30 COBP, 1911: 12. 31 Baillee, Kurrachee, 1890: 110. 32 Baillee, Kurrachee, 1890: 176. 33 Mirams, 1916 Address on Town Planning: 4. 34 Mirams, 1916 Address on Town Planning: 9. 35 Thomas Metcalf and Sandria Frietag, “Karachi’s Early Merchant Families: Entrepreneurship and Community,” in The Rise and Growth of Colonial Port Cities in Asia, ed. Dilip K. Basu (Lanham: University Press of America, 1985) 57. 36 Keith R. Sipe, “The Entrepreneurial Basis of Commodity Exploitation: An Examination of Merchant Group Dominance in Karachi’s Cotton Trade,” in The Rise and Growth of Colonial Port Cities in Asia, ed. Dilip K. Basu (Lanham: University Press of America, 1985) 61. 37 From Constituent Assembly Debates, 1948, as quoted in Hamida Khuhro and Anwer Mooraj, Karachi, Megacity of our Times (Karachi; New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 107.
Editorial Framing of Terrorist Attacks in Urdu and English Dailies in Pakistan Akram Somroo University of the Punjab
Pakistan is situated in the most important contemporary geographical location of Asia. It is bordered by the two most populated countries of the world China and India. It has two veto and nuclear powers China and Russia on its northwestern borders also. On its north-western borders lies Afghanistan “the heart of Asia” and ancient civilization, Iran and China are situated on its western borders. As a nation state that also claims to be the Islamic Republic also, Pakistan is a blend of nation state and only religiously ideological Muslim country in the world. The people and media of Pakistan must also mediate between these two concepts of nation state and religious state. Since its inception, Pakistani media has been in a situation where it has to defend both claims of this nation. The situation becomes more challenging for mass media when, despite government’s anti-Taliban stance, a strong support for Taliban exists in certain groups of population. Thus placing media in between government and Taliban supporter, and common people of Pakistan, make situation more challenging for media. The religious leadership in Pakistan became influential in the last years of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s regime. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the first elected prime minister of Pakistan; his government was overthrown by General Zia-ul-Haq in 1977 with the
support of Pakistani’s Rightist religious parties that lead to the Zia-ul-Haq era which stretched from 1977 to 1988. During this period, Pakistani military and most of the religious parties and institutes actively supported the Afghan jihad against Russian forces. The concept of jihad not only came into the limelight, but during this time was also discussed and treated as a positive norm in the media. Indeed, from 1977 to 1988 Pakistani media never opposed this jihad or violence against the Russian forces; rather, they supported the Mujahedeen of Afghanistan and presented them as heroes of Islam and Muslim Umma. But after the 9/11 attacks, America and its allies decided to wage a war against terrorism, and the Taliban was the primary target of this war. In the post 9/11 scenario, the international political situation took a new outlook. Being an ally of America, the Pakistani government also decided to stop any support for the Taliban who were fighting in Afghanistan and they also resolved to uproot all such fanatic, violent and fundamentalist groups from the country. In the American war against terrorism, Pakistan provided logistic and intelligence support to the allied forces which were fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Gen Musharraf the first Pakistani president took measures against jihadists and declared violence 91
and terrorism under the pretext of jihad as illegal and unacceptable. Gen. Musharraf also introduced the idea of modern enlightenment, which welcomed by urban population but resisted by religious leadership and hardliners of the society. Mass media is always helpful for people to understand emerging social and geo-political changes. Therefore, at this turning point media as an agent of social change became important to interpret and correlate Musharrafâ€™s war against terrorism. The incident of 9/11 created a challenging situation both for Pakistani government and media to redefine jihad, mujahedeen and Taliban role in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This study aims to investigate the editorial framing of terrorist attacks in the English and Urdu major dailies of Pakistan during 2001-2015. The unit of analysis for this study is Editorial and researcher will use the purposive sampling technique. Such editorials which were published in the reaction of a terrorist attack will be included in the study. The study will focus on two hypotheses: first, Pakistani press framed terrorist attacks as a reaction of Pakistanâ€™s foreign policy towards Taliban regime in Afghanistan and Mujhadeen. Second, Pakistani press did not frame terrorist attacks as crime against humanity or Muslim population. Urdu and English major dailies of Pakistan will constitute the universe of study. Urdu newspapers are consumed by the general public of Pakistan while English newspaperâ€™s circulation in limited only in the academic and political elite, government and corporate executives and high social economies classes of Pakistan. Since news is an objective account of event while editorial reflects the opinion of editor and policy of newspaper, therefor, research has selected the editorials to investigate the framing patterns. The collected data (editorial frames) will be analyzed by using content analysis methodology. Both quantitative and qualitative content analysis techniques will be employed to understand editorial frames.
The 2014 is a cut point when after the tragic incident of Army Public School National Action Plan (NAP) approved by the parliament and a comprehensive war against terrorists begins. The researcher will also study one more year the 2015 to compare that what type of frames were used after the approval and execution of NAP. This study is very important because of two reasons: one, in last fifteen years Pakistan has lost more than eighty thousand lives including civilians and persons of law enforcement agencies. These fifteen years also brought political and economic challenges to the country as well. Second, the other researches which have been conducted in countries facing the problems of terrorist attack show that media promoted the government view point and did not provide any communication room for terrorists and act of terrorism. The finding of this study will show the stance and patterns of editorial frames Pakistani press followed in the last fifteen years. The media framing of an issue create strong public opinion in the favor of an issue or against it. The framing analysis of editorials will help researcher to know that did Pakistani press create an atmosphere of confusion or clarity among the readers while discussing and framing terrorist attacks in editorial. (This presentation is prepared to share the initial ideas on a proposed area of study. The research questions, hypothesis, methods, sampling technique may be / will be revised and modified before final submission.)
The Rehtoric of Othering Ahmed Usman University of the Punjab
The aim of this research project is to investigate the contemporary narratives about jihad emanating from Pakistani mosques located in Lahore that incite hate towards minorities and ‘others’ and generate militant ideologies to challenge and undermine the US led “war against terror” in Pakistan. Specifically, this project will explore how the mosque going audiences are persuaded by the preachers to adopt a violent vision, including terrorist activities, for “saving Islam.” More importantly, the project will bring to the fore the power tensions between the Pakistan state and the institutions of mosque and madrassa for addressing the challenging questions about the limitations of the state authorities in curbing violence and religion inspired terrorism in Pakistan. This Project will be conducted in the frame of: • Post 9/11 era, when the debate about jihad evolved with fresh outlooks. Jihadis of the Afghan war were now viewed as militants and jihad as “new terrorism’. • 20-point National Action Plan (January, 2015) initiated to combat terrorism, and as a result the power conflicts generated between influential mosque preachers and state. I started this research with the questions about militancy. What accounts for the continued
militancy in Pakistan? Why sympathy for militants runs high among large numbers of Pakistanis? Why the Pakistani government has not been able to tackle militancy? These difficult questions have dominated the international security debates in the post 9/11 era. Scholars have struggled to provide convincing answers that afford insight into the politics of militancy in Pakistan. The commonly cited reasons for public support for the militants include state-led Islamization; military-mullahmilitant network for Kashmir and Afghan jihad; proliferation of madrassas and mosques through foreign funding; and recent drone attacks on Pakistani territory. However, one underlying factor that needs more attention and arguably connects the reasons of escalating radicalization and militancy is the ideology-driven narrative about creation of Pakistan as an ‘Islamic state’. The history of relationship between militant jihad and Pakistan dates back to the partition of 1947 based on the ‘Two Nation theory.’ Additionally, the national fear that external powers want to disintegrate Pakistan encouraged national support for militant jihad. The country is now home to various Islamist militant actors and movements that have important ties to global terrorism. The contour of making Pakistan an ‘Islamic state’ has been the major reason for its destabilization and rising security challenges at the hands of militant jihadi groups. This Islamist narrative is so deeply rooted in the 95
county’s identity that the dominant internal players including political parties, military, mullahs, and militants have contributed to the rise and spread of this narrative in Pakistan. Since 1947, this ideology-driven Islamic politics was consistently encouraged by state policies. The military regime of Zia Ul Haq (1977-88) was instrumental in emphasizing religion’s authority for shaping the Pakistan state and Pakistani society. During the Zia era, madrassa-mosque complex was assigned a central role in state-led Islamization, especially to facilitate jihad policy in Afghan and Kashmir, allowing political involvement of Islamist preachers in state affairs. The role of Islamist preachers is not limited to madrassa education but also extends to development of public support for state-led jihad policy through mosques. They use the Friday sermon and other religious oratory to indoctrinate militant jihadi ideologies to large audiences. After the 9/11, there was a turning point in Pakistan’s attitude toward jihad as ‘new terrorism’ and jihadists as ‘terrorists’. The role of mosque in state affairs declined. This created new axes of conflict between state and institution of mosque. The preachers became defiant against the state that could not rein them in. On the other side, many local jihadist groups oppose the state’s decision to curb jihad and their opposition was formally institutionalized as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). So, there was a natural alliance between religious power of mosque and militants. The upsurge of this religious power fueled the proliferation of militant groups in the region resulting in waves of domestic terrorism and sectarian violence. The role of madrassas and mosques has been central in the rise and spread of jihadi ideologies and providing support to militants in the post-9/11 phase. The Pakistan army’s military operation Zarb-e-Azb (2015) somewhat weakened the tactical capabilities of the terrorists, but countering the ideological dimension fueling jihad is not successful.
The government of Pakistan announced the 20-point National Action Plan in early 2015 to combat extremism, including ban on hate speech and preaching of militant ideologies. However, the state has not been successful in thwarting influential mosque preachers from imparting extremism and jihadi ideologies amongst the masses. For example, Maulana Abdul Aziz of Red Mosque in the capital city of Islamabad has continued to support militants and his sermons receive wide publicity in the media. There is an ongoing power struggle between the state and mullah-militants networks on controlling the interpretation about the role of religion in running the Pakistan state. All the internal powerful actors in Pakistan are convinced that Pakistan should be an ideology-driven “Islamic state”, which arguably provides a point of consensus that is worth noting. The struggle is who should have control on the interpretation of religion for the “Islamic state”? To explore the tensions between the state and jihadi groups and provide an analytical reading of the conditions and strategies enabling the proliferation of jihadi activities in Pakistan, this research will adopt a three-prong approach – 1. Historical, 2. Strategic, 3. Conceptual. The questions for the research are developed to address the issue of jihad from these various perspectives. Historical questions Do the contemporary narratives about jihad in Pakistani mosques reflect the militant jihadi rhetoric of 1980s Afghan war? Is this rhetoric still employed by the preachers to justify militant ideologies and win public support for militants in the context of the post 9/11 ‘war against terrorism’? How do the preachers in Pakistani mosques interpret historical Kashmir dispute in their narratives about jihad? Do they use the rhetoric of Kashmir jihad to support militancy? How do the preachers use the ideology-driven rhetoric about the creation of Pakistan as an ‘Islamic state’ to construct the contemporary narratives about jihad?
Questions on strategy How do the preachers interpret jihad after the ban on hate speech and preaching of radical ideologies? Do they use subtle ways of preaching jihadi militancy? Do they sympathize with militants, directly or indirectly? What are the rhetoric, tactics and content that the preachers use for mass persuasion? Do they encourage people to engage in radical versions of practical jihad? Do the preachers justify violence and killing, in the name of jihad, to defeat the enemies? Is violence an acceptable means to put an end to “save Islam”? How do the mosque-going audiences compare the authority of state and mosques in the context of ‘war on terror’ narrative? What are the sources of conflict between the state and the institutions of mosques? What are the limitations of state, in this conflict? Conceptual questions According to the preachers, who are ‘Others’? How do they construct ‘Others’ in sermons? What are the markers and symbolisms that the preachers use to describe the ‘Others’? What is the process of ‘Othering’? How do the preachers interpret ‘terrorism’ and ‘global war on terror’? How are the ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ portrayed? According to the preachers, what is the contemporary concept of ‘jihad’ in the context of ‘global war on terror’? Are ‘terrorist acts’, acts of ‘jihad’? How do the preachers construct the “enemy” in the context of ‘global war on terror’? These research questions will investigate the internal tensions between the state’s approach to reduce the expansion of jihad, while the institutions of mosques and the preachers proliferate jihad in Pakistan. Of particular importance is to investigate the role of preachers who support militant jihad despite a ban on preaching radical ideologies and policy against terrorism of the state. Arguably, in the post-ban phase in Pakistan, mosque preachers have begun to rely more on indirect rhetoric to justify militant ideologies under the garb of religious teachings and thus provide lip service that they are not deviating from the state’s policy
against terrorism. Nevertheless, they continue to create and disseminate powerful rhetoric against the constructed enemies and perpetrators. In turn, they motivate dissent against the government policy against terrorism. Several prominent Pakistani preachers who advocate militant Islamic ideologies also attract large audiences through internet in addition to their Friday sermons in mosques. Dissemination of hate speeches through digital media has increased the access of these preachers among both educated and less educated segments of society. The conceptual and theoretical bases of this study revolve around Others and the process of “Othering”: markers and symbols; hate speech; construction of enemy; terrorism; war on terror; victims and perpetrators; terrorism acts vs. acts of jihad; ideology-driven narrative about Pakistan as an Islamic state; state formation, Islam and militancy in Pakistan. However, the Process of Othering is the principal theoretical issue guiding this research. The concept of ‘othering’ builds on a Hegelian heritage and has inspired feminist, psychoanalysts, sociologists and postcolonial theorists, and from the very beginning is an intersectional and interdisciplinary concept. According to contemporary use of the concept: othering is a “process of differentiation and demarcation, by which the line is drawn between ‟us‟ and ‟them‟ – between the more and the less powerful – and through which social distance is established and maintained‟ (Lister 2004: 101). Othering defines existence of a group of people who are identifiable, from the standpoint of a group with the capacity to dominate, as inferior (Schwalbe 2000: 777). The differences between groups constructed through othering are problematized, in the sense that the group which is othered is also defined as “morally inferior”. Through reduction and essentialization, the others are reduced to stereotypical characters and are ultimately dehumanized (Riggins 1997: 9, Lister 2004: 102).
Early postcolonial writing is an important theoretical reference point in the theory of othering, especially Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978). It highlights that: • Orientalism is the ethnocentric vision, which dominates current representations of Islam and sees Muslims as backward, irrational, unchanging fundamentalists and who use their faith for political and personal gains. • The underlying assumption of the theory of Orientalism is that the superior West (“Us”) has to assist and govern the inferior Orient. • Said (2001) maintains that Orientalism has led the West to see Islamic culture as static in time and place, giving the West a sense of its own cultural and intellectual superiority. In response, theoretical approach of “Occidentalism” originated as antithesis of Orientalism, with following important postulates: • Occidentalism represents dehumanizing stereotypes and cluster of prejudices and unflattering images of the Western world, which is seen as “machine civilization,” manifested in imperialism, cosmopolitanism and rootless and sinful urbanism. • Western liberalism is considered as a threat to religion and religious values. • After the 9/11, scholars have employed Occidentalism perspective to understand the representation of West, especially America, in Muslim world in the context of war on terror. In the context of present study, the key learning from orientalism and Occidentalism are: • Orientalism and Occidentalism create “Us” and “Them” distinction in the process of othering through discourses of deeply rooted tensions across civilizations, religions, and cultures. This is a useful analytical approach for othering in 98
this study as well. • In the discourses of othering emanating from mosques, two types of others are constructed: internal others including Pakistani state and other local religious factions and external others including America, Israel and India. Therefore, “US” and “Them” distinction between West and Muslims world cannot be used for this research. • Orientalism debates power position of west and inferior status of orient “other”. On the other side, Occidentalism looks like a discourse of resistance. In this research, it will be important to determine whether preachers construct others from the position of power on the basis of religion or othering by preachers is basically a discourse of resistance. • This study will be examine how the discourses about construction of external others feel off discourses about internal others. Furthermore, scholars have examined how the process of othering is used to construct war rhetoric: • When threatened, groups find it absolutely essential to unify their people, while at the same time placing a division between allies and the unified, Othered enemy. • Leaders construct adversaries of different fields appear as always belonging to one category only and unite their people on the basis of a foe shared by all. • Beliefs, values, ideologies, and other characteristics (e.g. race, culture, religion, nationality) of enemy are portrayed as standing in direct opposition to the “Us” and “Our”. • During war, “Othering” is a powerful tool for inciting the masses, gaining consent of the masses to take action and keeping one’s own people from questioning a leader. • Use of negatively and positively charged terms
associated with love or desire and hate or fear is excessively used. • Rhetoric strategy of good guys and bad guys is used to create an inhuman and heinous enemy. • Strategy of intensifying and downplaying: Intensifying “our” good and the Other’s bad, while downplaying “our” bad and the Other’s good through rhetorical strategies, which demonstrate the power of words. On the basis of this discussion about how the concept of othering is employed by orientalism, Occidentalism, and war studies, the following questions are raised for this research: • According to the preachers, who are others? Why are they others in the context of war on terror? What are the bases for “Othering” to create ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ distinction? • How the mosque preachers use tensions across religions, cultures and civilizations to construct “Others”, especially America, Israel and India? • What are the discourses, symbolism and markers that the preachers use to construct internal and external others in the context of war on terror? What stereotypical images are associated with internal and external others? • How the Western liberalism is portrayed by the preachers in the process of “Othering” to create “Us” and “Them” distinction between Western and Muslim cultures? • How the ideology-driven narrative about creation of Pakistan as an Islamic state based on two nation theory is used by the preachers to construct “Us” and “Them” distinction between Pakistan and India? How the Hindu religion and India is portrayed? • How the government’s stance on “war on terror” and other secular initiatives, according to the preachers, are portrayed as representing west and promoting western culture to create
public dissent against government? • How the discourses on “Othering” in mosques contribute to larger discourses on war on terror? Contribution to disciplinary interests of Sociology The conceptual and theoretical concerns of this research will help in sociological understanding of variety of different aspects of militancy and terrorism in Pakistan. • Weinberg (2004) points out that the definitions of terrorism often ignore symbolic aspects of terrorism. Due to its focus on symbolism, sociology has a unique vantage point to assess terror. This research will contribute to understand how mosque preachers, their adherents and large number of Pakistanis, who support militant jihad as an integral part of Islamist ideology, define and understand terrorism and portray victims and perpetrators in global war on terror differently, compared to popular western definitions. Do they understand the acts of terrorism as acts of jihad? Furthermore, as suggested by Weinberg, this research will explore the importance of symbolism in the process of othering, construction of enemy, mass persuasion and construction of militant discourses. • Using conflict theory in sociology, this research will view terrorism and support for militancy in terms of competing interest and as a reaction to injustices and bad governance in Pakistan that increase people’s trust on religion and religious authorities supporting militancy in opposition to government. Religion makes people look for ways to explain and solve the problems they are facing. Significance for Pakistan Studies: The empirical and conceptual ideas in this research will significantly contribute to literature on Pakistan Studies. 99
• This study will develop a new pathway to understand Pakistan by questioning traditional debates about national identity built around Islam and ideology-driven narrative about creation of Pakistan as an Islamic state as the major underlying factors for public support for militancy and radical ideologies. • Furthermore, the study will contribute to literature on Pakistani studies by exploring how the disclosures about sectarianism, terrorism, and national identity in Pakistan are constructed around religious “Othering”, which are valueladen and emotionally charged entity with negative value connotations, symbolism and meanings.
Dam Women: Gender and Development in Mega Projects in Pakistan Rahla Rahat University of the Punjab
Introduction In my current research, I am looking at how women in Pakistan, like other developing countries, are seen as a site on which state and other powerful institutions can work on and through them make radical transformations in a society. I propose to ask the question that why women are central to development agendas around the world, especially in the developing countries? I argue that whether it is the mode of modernization like women empowerment or a conservative agenda like Islamization, women are not only central, but also are symbolic representationsof modernity or traditionalism. My proposed research would begin with the basic question of why women are central to modernity agendasand in what ways are the efforts of women’s development in Pakistan a battleground for discourses of modernity and traditionalism? To get the answer to the question, I further propose to ask the questions: i) what is Pakistan’s state rhetoric on development of women and how does it relate to the international gender development discourse?, ii) how does the state penetrate into the public and private sphere to bring changes in gender relations as part of the state’s development strategy?, and iii) how does the international discourse on women development shape the
Pakistan’s state officials, state policies, and the state discourse on development of women in Pakistan and what are the implications for women’s participation in projects? These questions emerge from the contradictions that are found in women’s issues in Pakistan. In recent years, Pakistan government has shown efforts to improve the status of women in the countryby signing international covenants, allocation of funds, and initiation ofpolicies and programs (UNICEF, 2012). However, for the last several years,Pakistan ranked very low on theGlobal Gender-Gap Index and dropped to the second to last position duringlast few years(141 out of 142 countries)(World Economic Forum, 2015). Pakistan was unsuccessful in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals including the ones on women. Pakistan was also ranked as the world’s thirds most dangerous place for women by a Reuters Survey in a recent year. The government of Pakistan has never challenged this or any other indexes; rather, they refer to it as a fact in many of their reports Background To get answers to my research questions, I propose to use the case study of Dasu Hydropower Project (DHP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan. DHP is a multi-billion dollar 103
infrastructure project by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Ministry of Water and Power, Government of Pakistan. DHP is one of the priority projects under the Power Policy 2013 and the Vision 2025 of the Government of Pakistan. It was initiated in 2013 and is expected to complete its last phase by 2037. The overall cost of this project is estimated atbetween US$ 2533 billion and is funded by the World Bank. The project is expected to contribute greatly to reducing the power crisis and generate revenue. Dasu is the headquarters of the Kohistan district. Kohistan is one of the most isolated and the least developed districts in the country. According to the 1998 Census, Kohistan had the countryâ€™s lowest scores overall on most of the socio-economic development indicators, which was worse for the women where almost all social indicators show considerable gender gaps. The area remained largely isolated from the rest of the country until the construction of Karakorum highway in 1979. The area has a tribal system, is conservative, and patriarchal. In tribal societies, communities are socially stratified into tribes and clans (sub-tribes) headed by a tribal head, known as a Malik or Khan. The people living in these tribes have a communal lifestyle and collective land ownership. Land acquisition in such communities is not based on individual decision to sell their land; rather, it is a collective decision by the community elders know as Jirga. Usually, the decisions of the Jirga are final and cannot be challenged (WAPDA, 2010). For project execution, WAPDA relies on the assistance of local administration in the project area. This administration are bureaucrats representing the federal government and are responsible for providing support to WAPDA for acquisition of land, conflict resolution, security, law and order, and relocation of the population affected by the projects. Large scale infrastructure projects have the potential to influence communities tremendously for better or for worse. Evidence suggests that if mega projects are not executed correctly, they 104
may lead to impoverishment and miseries for the affected population as well as creating new poverty in general. In addition to land, a project of this magnitude also requires certain social preconditions in the project area, which if absent may threaten to impede the process of the project. These preconditions include: people who are willing to sell their ancestral land and move elsewhere, accept an influx of thousands of strangers working in the area, willing to allow the state to totally change the social, cultural, political, environmental, infrastructural, and economic systems of their areas for ever. Now the government wants to create those social prerequisites in the area, forcing social change because of project deadlines. Prior to the 1970s, the success of a project was usually measured in economic terms. However, there was a rising concern and criticism from various groups (i.e. civil society, human rights groups and the development community of the heavy social and environmental price that is paid by the people for any development project). For example, there are tremendous direct and indirect impacts of the foot prints of a large-scale project on the lives of communities, especially women and the marginalized. These people are not just the ones displaced, but also areas where the displaced resettle and also the area in general. These impacts include: loss of livelihood, socio-economic support system, social identity, loss of traditional skills, changes in gender-specific roles, occupations, loss of indigenous culture, and mobility within the communities. This led towards the concept of sustainable development and projects being responsible to avoid or mitigate harm to people and the environment. The criticism was geared towards the national governments as well as the international financing agencies such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which usually finance medium and large projects (World Bank, 2012b). In thelast two decades, most international financing institutions have increased their attention towards environmental and social opportunities, and risks associated with the development process.
In the 1990s, the World Bank created its safeguard policies on areas such as environment, physical cultural resources, indigenous people, and involuntary resettlement(World Bank, 2012b). Currently, the Gender Action Plan is a part of social and environmentalsafeguards compliance which is mandatory for approval of infrastructure developmentprojects. However, in addition to a Gender Action Plan, the World Bank requires gender considerations in all other engineering and social plans. At present,for DHP, the planning for the project has been completed for both engineering and social, environmental and resettlement work. Currently, WAPDA is going through the land acquisition negotiations. On the social planning, various plans have been developed including Plan on resettlement, public health, construction work management, grievance redresses, and area development & community support, and Gender Action Plan. All these plans require to be based on baseline assessment and public consultations. According to the DHP planning documents, the executing agency struggled to retrieve the baseline data as the WAPDA officials, including the female staff were denied access to women by their male relatives. They were able to receive limited access to women through Lady Health Workers in the Basic Health Units (BHUs). Research Questions: 1. What is Pakistan’s state rhetoric on development of women and how does it relate to the international gender development discourse: I argue, that women development is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that is open to interpretation. This complexity leads to the development of multiple, and at times, contradictory narratives about women’s roles and place in society, and how women development or equalitycan be achieved. These multiple narratives on gender are constructed by thestate, international development agencies, and the civil societyorganizations.
However, the narrative of the state is significant as it sets in motion the initiation, development, institutionalization, and implementation of laws and policies. Additionally, all these stakeholders do not work in isolation; they interact with each other constructing discourses within a broader arena that is influenced by factors including international and national geo-political agendas, patriarchy, colonial legacy, socio-cultural environment, and nature of government in the country. The individual power and role of each stakeholder and their relationship with other stakeholders is fluid and changes on the basis of the nature of anissue, the level of sensitivity and urgency, and national and global politics. When looking at the state’s development of women discourse, it is important to ask: Does the government of Pakistan have its own definition of women’s developmentor they are using an international definition set by the United Nations; if so, has it been localized? Furthermore, does the state have a vision, goal, and strategies regarding women’s development at national, provincial or at project level? However, without a clear vision, goal, and strategies, funding or programmes for women development might not bring the anticipated results. For example, terms such as women and gender are interchangeably used, international concepts like gender mainstreaming are referred to but not taken in context of what they mean. A closer examination of the role of state in developing a localized gender discourse and interrelationships of all stakeholders can help to understand the reasons for the success or failure of women’s development agenda of Pakistan. While examining various documents on women development of different government bodies, it is noticeable that many terms are used interchangeably such as “women empowerment”, and “gender equality”. Their technical meanings might be different, but their practical meanings at times are the same. Additionally, a term like gender equality also has multiple, and at times, contradictory meanings that change over time 105
and place. For example, among the provincial department working on women issues, three (Punjab, Baluchistan, and Sindh) are called Department of Women Development; while the department is the province of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa is referred at Department of Women Empowerment. It would be interesting to explore the significance of using particular terms. The definitions of women development also change with time and place, not only between countries, but also within a country and among various stakeholders at different points in time. The meanings are open to interpretations based on religion, culture and ideological frameworks. Similarly, the gender policies are also diverse and broad statements thus they are open to interpretation and how they could be implemented at national and local levels (Grigorian, 2007). It is very importantthat all stakeholders should have a shared meaning and consensus on various concepts In addition to the meanings of the terms, it is also important for development experts to understand the “women” who are involved in a particular project e.g. for the DHP, who are the “Kohistani women” or “tribal women”? When conceptualizing the women in a project area, who represents these women and where these representations originate? Who are the project planners talking to in its attempt to understand those women? Are they really reaching out to the women they are supposed to be working for? This takes us to our next research question. 2. How does the state penetrate into the public and private sphere of the project areas to bring changes in gender relations as part of the state’s development strategy?: There is a dynamic link with the overall relationship between state and its citizens.It is important to understand how the state enters an area and how it interacts with communities. If the state is democratic or dictatorial, there are implications on how it looks at and interacts with its citizens. For example, most South Asian countries still use eminent domain law from the Land Acquisition Act of 1857 that has 106
been passed on by the British that gives immense power to the state to acquire any land for public purposes by giving compensation. In addition the generic state and citizen relationship depends on the level that a fair justice system prevails in the country. The capacity of the citizen, especially poor and vulnerable, to access state institutions and fight for their rights. In state development projects, especially the state is the one to provide justice while at the same time state is a party if a conflict may arise. Downing (2002) pointed out that most large scale development projects are usually situated in underdeveloped areas within the country with cheaper prices of land, and poor, politically weak, and powerless populations. This further decreases the power balance between the citizens and the state. However, when the development project is in a tribal area, the balance of power might change between citizens and the state, as now the state is not dealing with individuals, but tribes. This power of the group size also empowers the poor and the weak in the group. At the same time, the negotiation style of the state also changes as now instead of dealing with individuals and households at the micro level, they have to deal with the members of the Jirga. Additionally, in the present globalized era, the state does not enjoy complete sovereignty over the citizens especially where free media, strong civil society organization, or international funding are present. There are many instances where state violence during projects have become a national or international story and have led to pressure on the state to back off or at times cancel projects. The international lending agencies have their own policies and protocols that the borrowing country needs to follow in the planning and execution of any project. Also, there are national and international civil society organizations that act as watchdogs of projects ranging from anti-dam lobbies to human and women rights groups. These groups are not isolated and also have national, regional, and global networks and support. These international civil society organizations influence
both the international lending agencies but also the borrowing countries. The research proposes to look at the relationship and interaction processes between international agencies and the governments of the developing countries. There is often a criticism that international agencies see themselves as modern and liberal, while viewing the states of developing countries as traditional and backwards. In most cases,the position of women is used as an indicator or marker of development contributing to a discourse to justify the penetration into an area through development projects to save women. Chandra Mohanty, in her book, Under the Western Eye, 1991talks about the concept of the “eurocentric gaze” that privileges Western notions of liberation and progress while portraying Third World women primarily as victims of ignorance and restrictive cultures and religions. She suggests that Western feminist writing is producing/representing a composite, singular “third world woman”, an image which appears arbitrarily constructed, but nevertheless carries with it the authorizing signature of Western humanist discourse’ (Mohanty 1991: 53). Furthermore, thediscourse on the Third World women tends to be depicted as victims of male control and of traditional cultures. In these characterizations little attention is paid to the history of marginalization and difference, rather Western feminism comes to function as the norm against which the Third World is judged. If Third World women’s issues are analysed in detail within the precise social relations in which they occur, then more complex pictures emerge. Mohanty concludes that women have both the possibility for voice and agency. Another scholar, Lila Abu-Lughad in her book:Do the Muslim women need saving? 2013,looks at the modernizing projects of reforming women in the postcolonial world. She gives an example of how the US government created a discourse of liberating Afghanistan and saving Afghan women for the war
on terror. According to Lughad the justifications made by American intervention using equality, freedom, and rights discourse is the same as colonial and missionary rhetoric which overlooks the differences among women in the world—as products of different histories, expressions of different circumstances, and manifestations of differently structured desires. She suggests that to “save” others also suggest superiority and takes away their role in the situation. Ashraf Kunnummal and Farid Esack in their 2015 article, “Malala Yousafzai and the Post-9/11 Politicsof Gender and Governmentality”, also talk about how the rhetoric of womenrights abuses was the “cherry on top” of the administration’s salespitch for the its discourse on human rights as a pretext for the invasion ofAfghanistan. She quotes that on 17 November 2001, with the invasion of Afghanistanjust days away, the former US First Lady, Laura Bush, told the Americanpublic that women in Afghanistan must not be forgotten and that the“brutal oppression of women was a goal of the terrorists” as well as that,“the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity ofwomen. I argue that the state uses the similar discourse within the country, where it sees itself as modern and liberal, while viewing the marginalized and underdevelopedareas within the country as traditional, uncivilized, and backward. The state also uses the position of women as an indicator for the development of areas and thus a discourse of a need to transform and save women is created. For example, Dasu GAP states: They (women) are unaware of health, hygiene, food habits, upbringing their young in a more decent way. Conclusion In conclusion, in 2016 the development sector and countries around the world are at an important juncture; 2015 marked the end of the 15 years of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While, the UN and other development agencies along with countries around the world, are in the process 107
of finalizing their next development agenda and targets referred as the Sustainable development Goals (SDGs). Pakistan government in their last report in 2014, accepted that they were unlikely to meet almost all goals including Goal3: Promote Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment. The Civil society report on MDGs concluded “Development as it has been practiced in Pakistan has been largely determined by those who deliver it; a change is needed to make development something determined bycitizens. Pakistan’s MDG experience has showed what happens when attempts are made to achieve development without effective governance, participation and accountability.” This study will contribute in the field of women and development. It will contribute in the understanding of how women development and gender equality discourses and policies are developed at international and national arena. How various stakeholders interpret or reinterpret, execute, construct, or resist women development discourses and policies while executing development projects. These actors do not work in isolation, but are influenced by factors including international and national geo-political agendas, religion, and sociocultural environment. A closer examination of the role and interrelationships of all stakeholders would help to understand the reasons for the success or failure of a gender equality agenda of Pakistan.
Muslim Singing: Religious Beliefs and Music Practices in Pakistan Seemab Far Bukhari University of the Punjab
I’m writing upon the theoretical perspective of cognitive dissonance, my actual research topic revolves around comparative analysis of Muslim music listeners in US and Pakistan. Considering that controversial status of music in Islam, it’s a quantitative study, followed by respondent driven sampling ideas. On an initial stage, I am struggling for data resources. My study is based on survey method, but for this workshop, I have confined my boundaries to the conflict between Islamic beliefs and actions or music practices in Pakistani society. I’m just patching this area to create an understanding or just to comprehend the concepts, because my area of research is particularly focused on the state of mind of present day Muslim music listeners in Pakistani society. My aim is to describe the contributive factors to what’s creating a state of cognitive dissonance between actions and beliefs of masses regarding music. I shall start by outlining how extremist factors react to different aspects associated with music in Pakistan, leading music towards a controversial state.
music and dance in public places and educational institutions. The bill titled as ‘NWFP Prohibition of Dancing and Music Bill” was passed by ruling party MMA (Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal) and it also contained that music listening should be declared as punishable by up to five years in jail with fine (Refugee Review Tribunal, 2006). MMA had already imposed ban on music in public transport and the activists were used to warn the musicians in cities to shut down their business by calling it ‘evil and un-Islamic”, ( Khan, 2012). A small chronology of the events regarding extremist reactions to music practices in Pakistan follows as:
After discussing some of doctrinal basis, I shall dwell on music practices in Pakistani society by relating it with the theoretical perspective of cognitive dissonance. Here’s the conceptual framework.
25 March 2009 - The musicology department at Punjab University in Lahore moved out of the university after a religious student group threatened with ‘dire consequences’.
In 2005, at a provincial assembly of Pakistan (NWFP), a bill was passed suggesting ban on
23 August 2007 - A fine of 50,000 rupees to sell music CDs and cassettes in Zargari and other areas in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan 111
12 March 2012 - Four music CD shops were completely destroyed after an explosion in a market in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa province. 21 September 2011 - Six people were killed and over 37 injured in a bomb explosion on 19 September 2011 that targeted a music and video CD market in Peshawar.
was announced. 04 July 2007 - In June 2007, there were more than 20 bomb attacks on music shops in north-west Pakistan. On 4 July, five more music shops were set ablaze with petrol. 08 May 2007 - Religious militants in north-western Pakistan continued violent attacks on property belonging to people who sold or listened to music. 11 June 2006 - Local Taliban and religious leaders in North Waziristan issued public notices about punishing people listening to “un-Islamic” music. Source: www.freemuse.org The conflict on music and musical instruments orchestrated by conservative forces is not a new thing in Pakistan. A report compiled by Pakistan Press Foundation on threats and violence against musicians and attacks on music shops in Pakistan from 2000 to 2011 disclosed that 508 CD and music shops were destroyed or damaged in at least 97 bomb attacks during the period, most of which occurred since 2007. According to the report, 2007 was most dangerous and horrifying year for music shop owners in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. Some sources mention that as many as 800 music shops were bombed in this period. Besides targeting small music markets and individual shops, the main music market in Nishtarabad Peshawar, having around 200 shops, was bombed twice during four years (Music Freedom Report, 2012). I have based my study on the theoretical perspective of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the distressing mental state that people feel when they find themselves doing things that don’t fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold. Human have a basic need to avoid dissonance and establish consistency. The tension of dissonance motivates a person to change either the behavior or the belief. There are four paradigms or strategies a 112
person may adopt to do away with the dissonance. These are called as belief disconfirmation, effort justification, induced‑compliance, and free‑choice paradigms. Normally, when a person comes across a situation of facing different cognitions in his mind, naturally he feels distressed, and to do away with the dissonance, he adopts strategies to overcome with that dissonant situation. In my study, particularly I am focusing that on finding a clash between religiosity and music‑liking, what the strategy a Muslim music‑listener adopts in Pakistani society. When an individual holds two relatively important cognitions, those are inconsistence, the potential to act in accordance with them is undermined. To reduce the inconsistency and reducing negative effect, individual engage in variety of cognitive strategies.(Harmon-Jones, 2012). On taking a deeper look, in Pakistan, the Islamic standpoints towards music can be divided in three strands: Conservative, Liberal and Sufi thought. Islamist and conservative Islamic organizations or individuals try to disturb and break up concerts, demand censorship on recordings, or call for the punishment of individuals for being blasphemous. The liberals declare music as Halal and permissible. A strong tradition of religious Sufi music also exist in Pakistani society comprised on Samaa or Qawali. Fuqaha or Ulema ( Scholars) belonged to every standpoint present doctrinal references in support of their view but as an overriding concern, music is portrayed to the masses of Pakistan as a forbidden, controversial and not allowed thing. Hence, as a very strong form of media, music has a strong base in Pakistani society and serves as important part of lifestyles of masses. By declaring music forbidden or haram, the follower of the first strand clearly condemn music. They focus on the interpretation of different verses of Holy Quran and quote hadiths also in support to their viewpoint.
The primary reference of conservative strand is from Surah‑e‑Luqman, ayat number six, and this also contains the “lahv al‑hadith” word that is interpreted differently by the people of conservative and the liberal stance. On interpreting, Abdullah Bin Mas’ud Radhiyallahu’anhu referred the Arabic expression of “lahv al‑hadith” in this ayah to singing “ghina “ by repeating this three times. Later further researchers, ibn Abbas, Ja’far also, reported this meaning to signify singing and listening to songs. Many Tabi’in also, Mujahid, Ikramah, Makhoul, Umar ibn Shuayb, viewed it as sensual music, and briefly, fuqaha used those purported sayings of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, with considerable effect and forbade any kind of music. Another reference provided by this strand is Surah al‑Isra, ayah 64, some of the Tabi’in such as ad‑Dahak and Mujahid interpreted, “Satan’s exciting mankind with his voice” to mean through the use of music, song, and amusement. Ad‑Dahak said it was the sound of wind instrument. The third ayah that this strand is used to quote is from Surah al‑Najm, ayah 57...These are five ayahs basically, 57 to 62, and according to an interpretation, Ibn Abbas radhi’Allah’anhu quotes that the Arabic word “sam’i’doun,” vanities in this verse refers to the mushrikeen’s habit of singing and playing music noisily whenever they heard the Quran being recited,so the others would not hear it. Though all these views are based on interpretation of Quran, this is very important to mention, there is no single verse in Quran that clearly prohibits music. The follower of this strand also quote many Hadith in support of their view, posing serious questions about the permissibility of music, and finally proving it as a forbidden thing. On the other hand, the scholars in favor of music claim that there is not a single verse in the Noble Quran that prohibits music. In fact, music and songs are allowed in the Islam. They also present references from different verses and Hadith to
support their stance. As Surah Nisa, Verse 163, ( 4:163) says, “We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms.” The Surah Bani Israel, Verse 55, (17:55) ,”And it is your Lord that knoweth best all beings that are in the heavens and on earth: We did bestow on some prophets more (and other) gifts than on others: and We gave to David (the gift of) the Psalms.” Another evidence is quoted when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reached the Holy City of Madina the Muslims played music and sang the famous Islamic song “Talaa El-Badru Alayna” which means “The full moon had come upon us” ( Phulwari, 1997). Scholars from liberal strand also quote these hadith to support their stance from Sahih Bukhari Volume 2, Book 15, Number 70 stating that the holy prophet asked two girls to continue their singing of old war songs when they were stopped by Abu Bakr Sadiq R.A ) This same Hadith is reported again in Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1942 and Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 58, Number 268. In Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 568, Abu Musa narrated as , “ the Prophet said to him ‘O Abu Musa! You have been given one of the musical wind-instruments of the family of David.’ Another evidence provided by the followers of this strand is from Muslim Book 004, Number 0735 that is reported by Ibn Umar as to know the time of prayer Sahaba suggested usage of bell like Christians and horn like Jews in the presence of Holy Prophet (PBUH). The supporters of liberal strand also assert that creating innovations and interpreting the things those are not proved like “music prohibition” is “ biddah” , they also quote Surah Aa, raaf, verse 32, Surah Yunus, Verse 59 in their support. 113
On giving a different stance , Phulwari (1997) quotes that there are even references in the Holy Quran about music but music is permissible in the light of those references, he quotes evidence from Surah Al Ruumn verse 15 that has an Arabic expression as “ Yuhbaroon” , derived from “ Hibratun” . Arabic grammarians and researchers Zajaj, Sheikh Al Labnani interpret “Hibratun” as “ Melodious song” . In subcontinent, Sama or Qawali has been a strong form of religious music. Contrary to the debate of permissibility of music, the tradition has its strong roots. Muslim mystics or Sufis have been staunch advocates of the legality of music whom music was a spiritual staple, not merely a halal (permissible) but a wajib (required) religious practice (Otterbeck, 2008 ; Beeman, 2011). It was the Sufis with their samd’ ceremonies who became the chief guardians and patrons of Islamic music throughout periods of history when Puritanism dominated the social fabric of Muslim society and the cultivation of music was discouraged. From its very beginnings, Persian and Turkish classical music has been associated with the Samd’ ceremony; both the poets and the musicians were often of a Sufi background . In Pakistan, a very strong tradition of Sufi music also exists. Though some segments of conservatives challenge the permissibility of Sufi music also by considering it a blend of lyrics and instruments, a common practice of Sama is present on religious festivals, shrines and religious occasions celebrated by masses. The religious music in Pakistan is also present in the form of non-instrumental Naats, Nasheeds , Marthiyas and Nohas. Sometimes followed by daf or pat voices( instruments), such items are produced in a more rhythmic and melodious manner. Since music is considered a combination of instruments and voice, both the conservative and liberal strands present different standards about the form, nature and effect of music. According to the conservatives, music containing forbidden lyrics and instruments i.e. violin, flute, piano or 114
containing instruments with religious lyrics i.e. Qawali or containing permitted instruments but forbidden lyrics i.e. hip hop and rap music is not permissible. So, only one form of music that has permitted lyrics and instruments is allowed. Whereas according to liberal strand, due to the legacy and respect associated with Quranic verses, singing them with musical instruments seems inappropriate but 1.Manqabat and Sama, 2 The praise of God ( hamad), or praise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) Naat , Nasheed,3 Rajaz , national anthems and inspiring songs towards armed forces,4 Hudi khwani ( Songs to motivate animals)5,Poetic expression with melody to create soft feelings along with child rhymes and music intended to relax patients, instrumental or vocal is allowed. (Beeman, 2011; Phulwari, 1997, p - 44) The situation presents a mixed condition about status of music in Pakistan where all religious Muslim strands have their own stand points with the support of doctrinal texts. Despite that controversial status of music, as an overriding concern the majority of Pakistani Muslims generally considers music as not permitted or allowed in Islam leading to a situation of illusion or unidentified ideas. Banning of music in a province by political party MMA, burning musical CDs by extremist groups suggests a controlled culture by conservatives and gives music a controversy status. At the same time, a consumer oriented youth culture, borrowing from global cultural flows, changes local conditions. New styles with modern consuming patterns of music, advanced technological devices and a new use and distribution of music through social media, creates a challenging public sphere of huge music consumption. According to PEMRA, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, there is a growing rate of musical elements in the television channels of Pakistan along with many national TV channels completely dedicated to 24 hours music transmission, many FM radio stations nationwide with whole day musical contents with AM radio stations partly disseminating musical transmission.
Taking another view, controversial status of music also affected music industry of Pakistan. During last fifteen years, four mainstream singers of Pakistan Junaid Jamshed, Najam Sheraz , Ali Haider and Sheraz Uppel left music declaring it un Islamic and un lawful. Later, three of them joined music industry back. In 2007, a movie” Khuda ke liye” was produced by Shoaib Mansoor on this issue followed by a book in 2010 “ Rock & Roll Jihad”, by musician Salman Ahmed that is also based on the life story of a rock star struggling to comprehend the controversy of music in Islam. In this perspective, I wish to investigate the query under the theoretical perspective of Cognitive Dissonance as 1. How Muslim music listeners in Pakistan, reconcile with their religiosity and music liking while considering the controversial status of music in Islam? 2. What are the sources of knowledge for Muslim music listeners regarding music controversy? Experiments in the domain of cognitive dissonance perspective have shown that after making difficult decisions, individuals value the chosen alternative and devalue the rejected alternative more than they did prior to the decision. The correction of the problem often involves following through with the commitment to the behavior or decision. This view of dissonance is consistent with past as well as present theorizing on the function of dissonance and dissonance reduction (Harmon-Jones, 2012). It is aimed to investigate the state of mind of a Muslim music listener in Pakistani society by taking in account his/her strategies to do away with the dissonance on finding a clash between his music liking and religious beliefs. On April, 4th 2016 a recent study of Pew Research Foundation found as majority of Pakistani Muslims, along with people of Palestine, Jordan, Malaysia, and Senegal, voted that national laws or state laws should be made following by Quranic interpretations. My question in this perspective is, if the interpretations are controlled, then what can
be the status of laws, and what can be the status of minds? The overriding conservative Islamic discourse associated to music in Pakistani society proves music as illegitimate and prohibited resulting in a clash between the beliefs and actions of individuals. On the other hand, music serves as one of the strongest form of media creating a huge impact on the lifestyles of people. The controversial state of music involves listeners in a constant and controlled state of cognitive dissonance and accumulation of authentic religious knowledge can be helpful for them in doing away with this condition. Al Qura’n 4:163 Ibid 17:55 Ibid 31:006 Ibid 017:064 Ibid 053: 057 Ibid 053:058 Ibid 053:059 Ibid 053:060 Ibid 053:061 Ibid 053:062 Ibid 039:075 Ibid 07:32 Ibid 10:59 Ibid 53:59-61 Ibid 6:70 The Hadith, ( Sahih Bukhari, vol.6, Book 6, Hadith 568) The Hadith, ( Sahih Bukhari, vol.2, Book 15, Hadith 70) The Hadith, ( Sahih Bukhari, vol.5, Book 58, Hadith 268) The Hadith, ( Sahih Bukhari, vol. 7, Book 69, Hadith 494) The Hadith, ( Sahih Bukhari, vol.2, Book 15, Hadith 568) The Hadith, ( Sahih Bukhari, vol.2, Book 15, Hadith 72) The Hadith, ( Sahih Bukhari, vol.2, Book 15, Hadith 568) The Hadith, ( Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Hadith 115
142) The Hadith, ( Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Hadith 0735) The Hadith, ( Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Hadith 1938) The Hadith, ( Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Hadith 1940) References Asari, Irshaulhaq. (2005) Islam aur Mauseeque. Lahore: International Darussalam Printing Press Beeman, W. O. (2011), Production, Hearing and Listening: Intentional Participation in Musical Culture in the Islamic World. Anthropology News, 52:Â 11. doi:Â 10.1111/j.1556-3502.2011.52111.x Buneri,S., Arif, M ., Hasanzaib,R. ( 2014) . Music and Militancy in North Western Pakistan (2001-2014). Pakistan: Center for Peace and Cultural Studies (CPCS). Harmon-Jones E. (2012) Cognitive Dissonance Theory. In: V.S. Ramachandran (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, vol. 1, pp. 543-549. Academic Press. Joommal, ASK. ( 2003). Music and Islam .AL BALAAGH, vol. 28,.3, Retrieved March 14, 2006, from http://www.irfi.org/articles/ articles. Khan, J, A. (2012). Music Freedom Report No. 2: Pakistan. Retrieved March,14 2016 from http://freemuse.org/archives/7322 McLeod, S. A. (2014). Cognitive Dissonance. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/ cognitive-dissonance.html Otterbeck, J. (2008). Battling over the Public Sphere: Islamic reactions to the music of today. Retrieved April, 12, 2016 ,from http://freemuse.org/archives/1052 Phulwari, J .(1997) Islam aur Mauseeqi. Lahore: Idara e Saqafat e Islamyah Refugee Review Tribunal,. (2006). RRT Research Response . Australia : Country Research Section of the Refugee Review Tribunal
Visual Affects: The Work of Seeing in Sehwan Sharif1 Omar Kasmani Freie Universität Berlin
I Discussing the anthropologist as the picture-taker, Jay Ruby (2000, 48-49) laments how the use of the camera even if not entirely novel in the discipline has received little theoretical support, not least that it persists without a well-developed set of methods. So unsystematic is the practice that in his view anthropologists barely know where to point the camera or when to turn it off. Though not as clueless as this description would have us believe, like many picture-taking anthropologists, I too struggle with how to employ the camera more effectively. Probably also because my affair with the camera is older than my tryst with anthropology or for that matter with Sehwan, the devotional hub and pilgrimage town on the River Indus in Sindh, Pakistan, where I have conducted field research for several years now. Nevertheless, the two have been intertwined since 2009 when I first arrived in the town with a camera. I was instantly struck by what I saw at the shrine – admissibly fascinated by its haptic, almost erotic repertoires of devotional performances: men dancing in the saint’s courtyard, women falling and letting loose their hair in trancelike states, shirtless torsos in flagellation, sick and seemingly possessed bodies, screaming, losing composure and then regaining it. I was equally drawn by its exuberantly embellished figures, unruly ascetics and ecstatic pilgrims as if Sehwan were an endless catwalk of the marginal and
the extraordinary just as it comes to life in Mast Qalandar (2005), Till Passow’s 30-minute film on the annual fair of Sehwan. Not surprising then that like countless images from places like Sehwan, my first photographs, more than anything reveal my outsider-ness: visual narratives that confirm the distance between the worlds of the photographer and the photographed reaffirming how the appeal of popular religion becomes pictorialized in service of an urban fetish. Sehwan was hardly 300 kilometers away from where I had grown up but a four-hour road journey wouldn’t bring me any closer to what remained distant. An upbringing in a reformist Sunni Muslim family with no contact to Sufis or their shrines had meant that never before was I amidst a people for this long whose experience of the same religion as myself took such dramatic and emotionally powerful forms. The photograph, like the field diary, became a site of interaction, a parallel and continual record of new encounters in the field, and in this sense a living archive. Over the years, I was able to observe and photographically document various ceremonies and occasions throughout the town’s seasonal and ritual calendar stretching from the black cloak of a sombre Muharram to a time wrapped in festive red: processions and rituals of mourning, the annual ghusl or the ceremonial washing of the shrine in the month of Rajab; the festive ceremonies of 15th Sha‘bān, the climactic 119
fair of the annual â€˜urs, and not least, recording the architectural development of the shrine complex as it unfolded year after year. Interestingly enough, a great deal of the photographs from my earlier visits are close-shots. Though also a function of the long-range zoom lens I had at my disposal, such seeing evidences my first response to this setting. It is only in later images that I sense an interest in panning out, seeing the same settings in wider shots as if through my own investment in the city and its inhabitants, and through my familiarity with them, I had found an ease to see things in context. It was also through the labor of time that I was able to situate the shrine-going public in its engagement with the mundane and the ordinary, with the amusing and the leisurely or to see that prayer and pleasure often went hand in hand. A complex and entangled reading of the field is also necessary to better situate the anthropologist as the picture taker. Especially because in contrast to regular and routine portrayals of sites of saintly devotion, shrine-goers are not only concerned with praying, making offerings and finding healing at shrine sites but are themselves actively recording,
documenting, photographing and also being photographed. Add to this the ubiquity of mobile phones in the field and the democratization of the camera that results from it. Group offerings and processions to the shrine are often accompanied with private videographers; many visitors use their phones to audio-record devotional songs and the daily drumming at the shrine. Equally common is to observe pilgrims taking selfies or posing, most commonly in prayer-like postures turning the saintâ€™s tomb into a mere backdrop. So amenable were photo-taking technologies that my ethnographic practice of taking notes at the shrine would draw a great deal more attention than my use of the camera. While I have relied rather frequently on photography in the field â€“ in most cases to offer a certain expediency to ethnographic descriptions of Sehwani life, I have thus far not sufficiently addressed its theoretical and methodological questions. In this particular instance however, with accounts of photographing and being photographed in the field, what I am able to offer is a divided text, two parts, which though not theoretically uniform, will hopefully open up common grounds for analysis, and lead us to questions relevant to
the workshop. In presenting two sides of the coin, I wish to offer this very point to discuss: Given the workshop’s interest in developing methods within an emerging trend of the study of Pakistan’s history, one may ask, if at all in our writing of places, anthropological seeing can advantageously be situated in relation to a wider social context of visuality? In other words, I take up Christopher Pinney’s (2004) call for possibilities of a visual history as a way to highlight analytical apertures that visual methods, concepts and schemata have to offer with regard to fresh contemporary and historical portraits of places of devotion. II Let me once again begin with a few photographs. Amidst an array of daily performances at the shrine of Sehwan, a most noticeable sight is that of visitors hiring the services of an on-site photographer. Once photographed, for 50 Rupees (less than half a dollar), pilgrims and day visitors – like myself in this early picture from 2009 (see fig. 1) – choose from a variety of compositional
possibilities and insert themselves in visual motifs and templates alongside saintly and political personalities made possible through computeraided techniques. Photographers are seen carrying small albums, illustrative of the range of templates. There is plenty of room for imagination for both parties involved. One may even introduce one’s own props, as I did in one particular instance (see fig. 2). Over the years and through our shared practice of photography in the shrine-field, this researcherwith-a-camera had become familiar with several such photographers, especially Amin, with whom I would sometimes take the opportunity to get photographed. We would then discuss and decide which features to introduce in the final image sharing thus the space of its visual narrative. For example, one image shows me pictured with the saint, but the saint isn’t alone (see fig. 3). He is represented with his most-favorite disciple, who has his head resting in his lap. In the backdrop is the façade of the mausoleum and the saint in his popular winged form can be seen flying above. 121
However, in a subsequent version of the same image my face is replaced with that of the disciple (see fig 4.). At first, I wasn’t sure how this request of mine would fare with Amin. We were sitting in a tiny shop right across the shrine entrance, when I had spontaneously brought up the idea. He paused for a moment, asked me to confirm what I had said, then smilingly proceeded with the task on his computer. To my surprise, the photograph became an instant favorite at the shrine as Amin showed it to others; photographers and pilgrims couldn’t stop commenting on the likeness of my face with that of the saint’s favorite disciple. At the same time, I was well aware that my request was not an ordinary one or that perhaps pilgrims at the shrine would not have dared to intervene in an icon such as the saint’s embrace of his disciple, as I had done. However, that iconography is both archive and also a re-telling of that archive differently is illustrated in the vast body of devotional and saintly posters found in shrine markets that usually adjoin saints’ places. Daring as it may have been in this instance, 122
acts of alteration and appropriation are not new: collages, cut-out figures with changeable clothes and replaceable heads are common features in creating poster art of the saints (Frembgen 2012, 130). Perhaps it is also malleability of such images, the consumption of icons, and a certain ease with visual literacy that determines how and why in their engagement with the appropriated image, the shrine public revealed a way of seeing that I would not have discovered otherwise. The possibilities of being photographed in this studio of the saint – if one may call it – were certainly not endless but at the same time it was clear that the site of such photographs was neither limited to the moment it captured, nor was it restricted to the space in which it was recorded. In other words, these pictorial representations referenced broader repertoires and histories of visuality, and called out other archives. For example, the format in which I had inserted myself wasn’t unique. This embrace of the master-disciple is a popular image in Sehwan and can be seen across the city in religious posters, murals and festival booklets; and also in pilgrim photographs.
Similarly, the icon of the saint as a falcon, hovering above us in the picture is a recurring feature in many such photographs but more importantly cross-references the saint’s debut appearances in Punjabi films of the late 1960s2. It pictorializes the well-known miracle of the saint, which is recorded in his very title, Shahbaz, meaning the royal falcon. It is important to note here that to ask what constitutes this archive is to ask not only of the genealogies of these icons, motifs and templates but also to explore its historiality – and I use this term from Hans-joerg Rheinberger (1994) in the way that Lisa Blackman uses it, which is to emphasize hauntings that evidence how things never go away but are constantly recirculated, re-moved. This has methodological consequences. Quoting Avery Gordon (2008) Lisa Blackman (2012) describes such hauntologies as being involved with “traces, fragments, fleeting moments, gaps, absences, submerged narratives, and displaced actors and agencies that register affectively – in a profound sense that there is something more to say, that one should look for, something more than now” (2015, 26). In a broader sense, what I am also saying is that these photographic motifs and templates hint
at places beyond the shrine, involve traces that are locatable across a variety of media (religious-iconic posters, films, music videos) and are co-constitutive of processes that span scales of the individual, the local, and the national (for example, its appearances in saintly dreams and visions or its dissemination as a result of public administration of shrines). Let me briefly elaborate on this last point. It is common knowledge that since the early 1960s, saints’ shrines in Pakistan have been administered under the Department of Awqaf, a subsidiary of the ministry of religious affairs. But what I wish to point out is how enabling access to shrines and furthering pilgrimages involves a mediatisation of saints, which can hardly be read independently of the Pakistani state’s continuing interest and interventions in saints’ places. By this I refer to a systematic circulation of saintly lives and legends across a variety of texts and media: biographical literature, news features, films, devotional songs, and religious posters. This can confidently be said of Sehwan whose countrywide profile has been exponentially bolstered since its public takeover in June 1960. However, the conversation on change
in religious institutions in Pakistan leaves a lot to be desired. A dominant view is that the adoption of shrines as religious endowments in Pakistan refers to a modernization project that comes with an impetus to secularize them (Malik 1990, 76) coupled with the motivation to turn shrines – and also their saints – into revenue-making entities for the state (Malik 1990). More recently however, Alix Philippon (2016, 174) has argued that the state’s effort to secularize the consciousness of its citizens has yielded unexpected results. What she means is that Pakistani state has become the paradoxical promoter of popular Sufism it had initially set out to reform so much so it now draws its own legitimacy from it. Such governance in my view entails a sustained investment in saints’ shrines by not only managing its physical sites, assets, and institutions (Strothmann 2012), but orders an instrumentalisation of saintly figures and networks that routinely exceed its material and tangible dividends. It fosters, for example, a charismatic spatialisation of saints, which as anthropological material from my fieldwork in Sehwan suggests, manifests itself in particular through affective means involving dreams, images, saintly sounds, visions, and visitations, governing thus equally spiritual and sensorial-embodied exchanges between subjects and saints of the state. Affectful dispositions like the ones I have just now described are transmitted by mediums and practices other than the speaking subject (Blackmans 2012, xx), in this case imaginative extensions that come to the fore in photographic practices at the shrine. The question of photographic practice opens up possibilities to discuss the ways in which the work of the visual, as Pinney (2004) has argued, lies not in how images look but what images can do. It is also along these lines that the central thrust of my argument can be situated. It is to say that images are part of an arrangement that enables reciprocal dynamics of affecting and being affected. This means that in prioritizing its affective potentialities over its ocular dimensions, visuality can become the ordering principle along which attitudes, dispositions and desires come to be relationally arranged in orders of resonance and reciprocity 124
(Slaby 2016; Gregg and Seigworth 2010; Gibbs 2010). Equally important is the idea that the visual is always practiced in particular ways (Rose 2007, 23) and that the question of its technologies is not only a question of its production but involves also ways of seeing that such visuality involves and invites (Berger 1972). For example, seeing in the context of Sehwan, especially in the description of its fakirs wasn’t just about looking or viewing what was visible but it referred to a holistic way of apprehending the environment, which included its apparent as well its unrevealed components. In fact, fakir claims of charismatic mastery rested on their embodied and distinct capacities to see and apprehend the world, be it in dreams, enabled through visions or in waking life. Its most important outcome being that it overcame distinctions of the here and the “elsewhere”, the inner self and the outer world. I’m here thinking of Amira Mittermaier’s (2008) discussion of tangible shrine-space and its extension into dialogical dream-space as much as of Angie Heo’s (2014) discussion of the healing dreams in Egypt, wherein patients engage with blessed persons and are affectively healed by touchable dreams. Engagement with the image is similarly not limited to its ocular properties. Saintly iconography reveals how devotees are routinely affected by saints’ gaze thus determining why saints’ heads in pictorial representations tend to receive greater detail and attention as opposed to their torsos and why their eyes are usually depicted larger in comparison to other features (Frembgen 2012). Images also evoke haptic responses; devotees are regularly seen kissing portraits and posters of holy persons and places. In acts of reverence, they literally touch them with their eyes. In such and other ways, sanctified bodies are sensually and sensorially accessed in places and times distant from sites of origin. If what Finbarr B. Flood (2014) has called the erotics of piety is at play when pilgrims’ bodies come into intimate contact with relics, material objects, blessed persons, it is also evoked when they insert themselves in pictorial templates I
say, exceeding temporal, spatial and imaginative constraints. On a methodological note, this means that in researching and writing places we cannot overlook archives that feature local and embodied forms of attachment especially when photographs act not only as visual records but the material and mobile relics that extend affective engagement with the sacred. Concluding Remarks Sadia Bajwa’s (2016) recent call for reclaiming Pakistaniyyat envisages a necessary overcoming of existing discursive and disciplinary formations in which a study of Pakistan currently finds itself. If new histories warrant new strategies, and also other archives, if I may, this work leans on the hope that juxtaposing the visual with the affective may help reshape or at least reinvigorate the conversation on Pakistan’s religious life-worlds, not least on change in its religious institutions. To argue images in relation to affect is to simply reaffirm what we already know, i.e., that images have the capacity to move us, evoke a range of responses in us. But to think of affect historially (Rheinberger 1994) is to acknowledge that there is a kind of recurrence to how visuality is traced not in a chronological sense of history, but how it differs and defers, is re-moved. My reason to focus on photographs is partly to emphasize that the visual image works hauntingly in conjunction with other kinds of representations (Rose 2007, 11) thus constituting an affective arrangement of reciprocity such that its technologies lead us to explore its traces past the site of the image. The two accounts that I have presented here, of photographing at the shrine and being photographed stand on their own but it is also somewhere between photographing and being photographed that one may discover a space for theory as well as method. What I can say with greater confidence however is that when people at the shrine had marveled at my likeness to the saint’s disciple, I had taken that approval to mean that I had finally managed to cover some distance
over the years. In being photographed, I had finally allowed myself to be observed, read and talked about in the field. I had in a sense found myself a place in the archive. Its affectivity meant that it evoked controversy and horror at home; the saint’s embrace was a disturbing reminder of what to my family was a problematic and risky attachment to Sufi shrines. Its more rewarding outcome however was that the saint’s favor that Sehwani locals often told me I enjoyed but did not sense, was now pictorially recorded and affectively confirmed in an image to behold. Sehwan is home to L‘al Shahbāz Qalandar (d. 1274 CE ) a thirteenth-century mystic whose shrine stands as Sindh’s most revered centre of pilgrimage. According to the last census report (1998), it had a population of 48,000 inhabitants attracting 30, 000 weekend visitors and more than half a million pilgrims at the annual fair of the saint. The greater material of this study draws from the researcher’s doctoral research (completed 2015) supervised under Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Dilger at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität, Berlin. The ethnographic data quoted in this work has been collected during several fieldworks between 2009 and 2013. (For more, see Kasmani 2016). 1
least six films between 1969 and 1975 featured songs in praise of the Qalandar of Sehwan. Several of these were produced and directed by Bokhari brothers who were devotees of the saint of Sehwan and regular pilgrims at the annual fair. References Bajwa, S. 2016. “Reclaiming Pakistaniyyat.” Tanqeed, Issue 10. Berger, J. 1972. Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin Books. Blackman, L. 2015. “Researching Affect and Embodied Hauntologies: Exploring an Analytics of Experimentation.” In Affective 125
Methodologies, edited by Britta T. Knudsen and Carsten Stage, 25-44. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Blackman, L. 2012. Immaterial Bodies: Affect, Embodiment, Mediation. Frembgen, J. 2012. The Friends of God: Sufi Saints in Islam, Popular Poster Art from Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press. London: Sage Flood, F. 2014. “Bodies and Becoming: Mimesis, Mediation, and the Ingestion of the Sacred in Christianity and Islam.” In Sensational Religion: Sensory Cultures in Material Practice, edited by Salley M. Promey, 459493. New Haven: Yale University Press. Gibbs, A. 2010. “After Affect: Sympathy, Synchrony and Mimetic Communication.” In The Affect Theory Reader, edited by Melissa Gregg and Gregory Siegworth, 186206. Durham: Duke University Press. Gordon, A. 2008. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imaginations. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press Gregg M and Siegworth, G. (eds.) 2010. The Affect Theory Reader. Durham: Duke University Press. Heo, A. 2014. “The Divine Touchability of Dreams” In Sensational Religion: Sensory Cultures in Material Practice, edited by Salley M. Promey, 435-441. New Haven: Yale University Press. Kasmani, O. 2016. “Women [un-]like Women: The Question of Spiritual Authority among Female Fakirs of Sehwan Sharif.” In Devotional Islam in Contemporary South Asia: Shrines, Journeys and Wanderers, edited by Michel Boivin and Remy Delage, 47-62. Oxon: Routledge. Kasmani, O. 2015. Of_f the Lines: Fakir Orientations of Gender, Body and Space in Sehwan Sharif, Pakistan. Unpublished Dissertation. Berlin: Freie Universität, Department of Political and Social Sciences. Malik, J. 1990. “Waqf in Pakistan: Change in Traditional Institutions.” Die Welt des Islams, 30, 1(4): 63-97.
Mast Qalandar (2005) Directed by Till Passow [Film]. Babelsberg, Germany: KONRAD WOLF. Mittermaier, A. 2008. “(Re)Imagining Space: Dreams and Saint Shrines in Egypt.” In Dimensions of Locality: Muslim Saints, their Place and Space, edited by Samuli Schielke and Georg Stauth, 47-66. London: Transaction Publishers. Philippon, A. 2016. “An Ambiguous and Contentious Politicization of Sufi Shrines and Pilgrimages in Pakistan.” In Devotional Islam in Contemporary South Asia: Shrines, Journeys and Wanderers, edited by Michel Boivin and Remy Delage, 174-189. Oxon: Routledge. Pinney, C. 2004. Photos of Gods: Printed Image and Political Struggle in India. London: Reaktion Books. Rheinberger, H. 1994. “Experimental Systems: Historiality, Narration, and Deconstruction.” Science in Context 7(1): 65-81 Rose, G. 2007. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage. Ruby, J. 2000. Picturing Culture: Explorations of Film and Anthropology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Slaby, J. 2016. “Relational Affect.” Affective Societies –Working Papers, 02/16: 1-31 Strothmann, L. 2012. Managing Piety at the Shrine of Data Ganj Bukhsh, Lahore Pakistan. Unpublished Dissertation. Berlin: Freie Universität, Department of Geographical Sciences.
Images Figure 1: 2009 © Unknown / Omar Kasmani Figure 2: 2011 © Muhammad Amin/ Omar Kasmani Figure 3: 2012 © Muhammad Amin/ Omar Kasmani Figure 4: 2012 © Muhammad Amin/ Omar Kasmani
Death and Dying in Pakistan and the Diaspora: Oral History and Meaning at the End of Life Amber Abbas St. Joseph’s University
As a child on vacation in Lahore, I was disappointed to be left at home when my parents went to visit my grandfather’s grave, the eldest member of our family who was buried was in Pakistan. My mother reassured me that I wouldn’t have wanted to go, the graveyard was a dusty, forbidding place, filled with the biggest ants you’ve ever seen.1 I remember the first time I saw a cemetery in Pakistan’s Northwest, the beautiful simplicity of mounded dirt marked by wedges of white rock. The graves were nestled among trees and the place was anything but forbidding. My grandmother’s grave, in the elite Defence Cemetery in Lahore is built up with marble and an elaborate headstone; with its neat rows and paved paths it is a far cry from the simple graves of the frontier. We always carry a bag of rose petals to sprinkle there when we visit, whisper a prayer and leave a tip with the caretaker so that he’ll keep the site clean. My father’s grave is marked by a headstone and a Bismillah, but it is not in the Muslim section of the Forest Park Cemetery in Houston, the part run by the Masjid Elfarouq Islamic Center, because he wished to be cremated. Thus, though he grew up Muslim, and dropped mashallah into his sentences with increasing frequency, he asked that his body be consigned to the flames rather than the soil, which essentially cut off the possibility that his death could be honored as a Muslim death. It was the negotiation of this experience that got me interested in investigating death and dying in
Pakistan and the diaspora, but many questions remain unanswered. What are the consequences when the rituals cannot take place or fail to satisfy? How do the pressures of modernity compel people to change, to abandon or rewrite the script? Death, a universal human experience, reminds us of the precariousness of life. Because we cannot understand death itself experientially, scholarly focus must be on the deaths of others and the experience of those who survive them. Rituals of transition, and especially those linked to death and dying, are key sites for defining family and community, and these rituals are often prescribed by traditions that are embedded in faith, community and place.2 As a young, officially Muslim state, formed in the midst of chaotic disruption and migration, Pakistan and its diaspora offer unique sites for examining the intersections of religious practice, tradition and spatial disruption on identity formation and belonging. In an increasingly globalized world, where family members may be living apart or even in different countries, where the pressures of work and capitalism modify familial attachments, and migration complicates belief and belonging, death is a frontier of migration history that demands to be explored. My research into death and dying in Pakistan and the diaspora seeks to address many interrelated questions: How do changing political conditions: state-formation, secularism, migration, or transnationalism modify 129
expectations of death and dying for dying persons and their families? How do families adjust to performing the appropriate rites in the absence of key family members or when they are physically dislocated from burial sites? How does the principle of choice affect end-of-life experiences in home and host countries? Unfortunately, this paper will leave many of these questions unanswered, and I eagerly anticipate your feedback as I continue to develop a sustainable research methodology for this project. I see this project as long-term and multi-sited, a second book project. It should build on my earlier oral history work on partition’s displacements and migrations. Here, I’ll look at some material pertaining to the 1947 migration, some about contemporary Pakistan and some about the diasporic experience in the United States. My main methodology for the research will be oral history. Life history interviews are an excellent tool to approach questions of meaning in that they facilitate interplay between past and present. Oral history provides a context for examining the meaning of the past in the present. To use oral narrative as history means to embed oral historical narratives in a context that facilitates examination of changing experiences and responses to death and dying in Pakistan over time, and can also address contemporary understanding of the meaning and impact of religiously or culturally prescribed rituals. I plan to use oral history interviews collected in Pakistan and in the United States to examine how families and communities confront the traumatic transformation of death amidst the pressures of global change. While there are a number of medical and psychological studies, I have found very little historical work that addresses the experience of death and dying in South Asia and the diaspora; what exists focuses overwhelmingly on religious texts. Two edited volumes seek to remedy this lacuna by uniting prescriptive and practical experiences of death and dying.3 Both volumes emphasize the diversity of the South Asian environment, though both focus on the interplay 130
of text and lived tradition in India and among its Hindu majority. Little attention has focused on South Asian Muslims beyond explorations of two key sites of public engagement: Sufi shrines, where saints’ bodies are interred and become objects of veneration, and the ritualized mourning of Shi’i Muslims during Muharram.4 The complicated nature of death and dying in the twenty-first century suggests that investigation of religious texts and public memorials is insufficient for understanding changes in meaning and practice within communities over time. Rather, a dynamic approach that links lived experience to historical context can illuminate how transnational Pakistanis adapt to the challenges of end of life in different contexts. Life history interviews can offer a glimpse into the ways that families manage loss and change, especially generational change, over time. By contextualizing questions about death and dying within larger discussions of life history and migration, the interviews I will conduct with Pakistanis and Pakistani-Americans provide a context for understanding change over time and space, and will allow narrators to embed their experiences of grieving or preparing for death within more complex personal histories. As the project is still inchoate, I have not conducted formal interviews, but include some evidence here from informal conversations both in Pakistan and outside, as well as from my own personal experience. There are so many ways to approach these questions: talking to ritual specialists, washers, wailers and custodians of cemeteries; talking to the elderly about their expectations and plans; talking to family members who have lost a loved one. As an oral historian, I am concerned with perspective, with developing an understanding of how things have changed over time and how oral history may offer a strategy for determining what remains important in the context of those changes. As research on Pakistan continues to expand beyond frameworks defined by national security and conflict, research such as this offers a unique lens for understanding historical experience. It contributes to a growing literature on death and
dying in the United States, especially growing awareness of the psychology of bereavement, the emphasis on hospice and “good death” (KublerRoss 1969, Caitlin Doughty 2014), including works by doctors with South Asian roots (Atul Gawande 2014, Paul Kalanithi 2016), but with a focus uniquely on the particular challenges of Pakistani and Pakistani-heritage Muslims. Pakistani Muslims share some (but not all) traditions and expectations with Muslims elsewhere, though as research on Muslims has repeatedly emphasized, “individuals say and do a vast number of things, sometimes drawing on or invoking recognizable Islamic traditions and concepts, and sometimes not.”5 Pakistani Muslims share some traditions and expectations with non-Muslim South Asians. While the emphasis on family support may be shared, certainly the distinction between burial and cremation stands out. In transnational communities these lines are sometimes blurred and inclusive and sometimes reified and exclusive. Life history interviews can offer a glimpse of that complexity during life’s most sensitive transitions. Investigating death in Pakistan means working at the intersection of South Asia, Islam and modernity, and trying understand or to tease apart the influences of each. Death in Islam Rituals of expectation of all kinds—Victor Turner’s “rites of passage”—are key sites for defining family and community, and these rituals are prescribed by traditions that are embedded in faith, community and place.6 Muslim adherence to burial practices means that death is closely linked to place. Place, as distinguished from the more general “space” evokes meaning, connection, and often, history. To understand the meaning of death, then, one must also understand the meaning of place. In many Muslim traditions, the progress of the soul after death is facilitated by recitation of scripture, bathing and preparing the body for sacred rituals of burial. Some cultural psychology studies have indicated that for Pakistani Muslims in Pakistan and in Britain, religious belief that survivors
can aid the deceased through prayer, reciting the Quran and offering charity, were distinguishing characteristics of the Pakistani Muslim experience.7 The bulk of guidance on ritual process comes from the hadith, as the Quran does not treat issues like how the corpse is to be handled, or include much about the rituals of prayer for the dead, washing of corpses or visiting the grave.8 Reliable hadith attest that “There is no god but Allah” is the appropriate recitation for those who are dying and among Pakistanis and Pakistani Britons, the recitation of the kalima indicated to survivors that the deceased left the world in pious state.9 As soon as a person dies, those present should say, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un” (“Verily we belong to Allah, and truly to Him shall we return”) and pray for the forgiveness of the deceased’s sins. But, Leor Halavi asks, as the body and soul transition, “where does the essence of the person lie, in the earthbound body or in the ejected soul?”10 Believers, he proffers, in the early years of Islam, “envisioned the dead person as a complex entity of soul and bones.”11 While the Quran explains that God takes the soul when the body dies, it returns to the physical body at the time of the burial. According to Ibn Abi-al Dunya’s ninth century tradition in The Book of Graves, between death and resurrection, the corpse is a “mutable substance subject to natural putrefaction and incredible punishment,” that represents the unity of corpse and spirit.12 For some, this prospect is terrifying and motivates the actions of the living to ease the passage of the dead through good works.13 The grave should be marked by a mound of raised earth and a stone with no inscriptions (according to the Sunnah) so that it might be distinguished from the earth around it and not disrespected and so that families might find it later to bury others in the same vicinity.14 Despite injunctions against building a structure above it,15 the grave holds all the meaningful remains of a loved one, both body and spirit, and grave monuments are not at all unusual, not least in the Sufi tradition. Muslims may visit the grave and pray for the deceased. Though it remains common, many consider wailing for the dead, especially by women, a holdover from the pre131
Islamic period that can be read as discontent with the judgment of God.16 Still, it is rarely discouraged outright, and remains the preserve of female mourners.17 Some Muslims, including conservative Wahhabis, consider all investment into death and dying ritual to be wasteful and indulgent.18 While this context is by no means complete, and there is no single set of unifying practices of death and dying throughout the Muslim world, in most situations involving Pakistanis the emphasis seems to be on facilitating a pious death supported by Quran recitation and prayers, proper washing of the body, quick burial and periodic commemoration. Many observe a three-day period of mourning followed by additional ceremonies and gatherings on the 10th and 40th days.19 Many also commemorate death with the observance of the barsi, or annual death anniversary, marked by prayers, Quran recitation and visits to the grave. These commemorations serve to maintain “continuing bonds” with the deceased, that can bring solace to the living.20 Death in Pakistan The construction of a spatially embodied Pakistan required the abandonment of many sites of personal and collective meaning now located in independent India: monuments, educational institutions, and Sufi shrines. Families who migrated into Pakistan left behind attachments to family lands, ancestral homes, and burial plots. For women, this migration may have been particularly vexed, as in Ismat Chughtai’s short story “Jaren (Roots)” illustrates. The matriarch of a large family refused to leave her home, in India, where the placentas of her children were buried.21 The arrival of Muslim migrants also disrupted spatial experiences of people already there, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, as cities grew rapidly and sometimes unpredictably, as deserted homes were claimed and occupied by arriving migrants.22 The process of assimilation has not always been smooth, and as Vazira Zamindar has shown, not all migrants to Pakistan wanted to stay, but returning was almost impossible.23 As 132
Jamal Mian of Farangi Mahall reflected on a visit to West Pakistan in 1949 “In nearly two days I realized that I had not just arrived in Karachi but also encountered Hyderabad, Bombay, Calcutta, Jaipur and God knows how many other cities, friends, relatives, connections.”24 Jamal Mian was able to use his elite connections to secure permission to return frequently to Lucknow before ultimately settling in Pakistan in the mid-1950s. Francis Robinson notes, however, that throughout Jamal Mian’s life, until his death in 2011, partition defined the nature of his access to “places which gave his life meaning” and when he died without leaving instructions to his family, he was buried in Defence Cemetery in Karachi’s elite Clifton neighborhood, distant from the old city of Lucknow that had nurtured his family for 250 years.25 The birth of Pakistan severed spatial, if not spiritual links with the past; the new state claimed the allegiance of the displaced. Even today, however, contestations over belonging and access to space are sometimes expressed in the destruction of minority cemeteries or the cemeteries of poor or migrant communities.26 Because death in South Asia is typically embodied in community, news of a death travels quickly and everyone, as Tony Walter has argued, “knows their script.”27 Social mechanisms are activated such that ritual specialists can be called in to manage the process of shepherding an individual from this life to the next stage. As long as the body remains in the home, no food can be cooked there, so friends and family members bring food for the mourners. These events are only the beginning of the period of mourning for the deceased’s family, throughout which their community supports them by bringing food and participating in prayers or ritual events to guide the soul out of the temporal world. These rituals and the presence of the community may bring comfort to a grieving family, but, especially for diasporic Pakistanis, these gatherings can seem obtrusive, devoid of meaning, or even troubling (informants report feeling hostility from hospital staff when large groups gathered during an illness).28 But as one Pakistani informant told me, he did “not have the choice” to mourn his father,
who was shot during a home invasion and died several days later in the hospital, in the way he saw fit.29 He told me later that his father didn’t believe in “barsi and chalisma and all that.”30 The family received visitors for several days after the funeral, but did not organize these commemorative events later. In other families, these commemorative events are considered part of the basic funerary rituals. Despite being “reluctant to accept the logic of cultural rituals and practices [some] spoke of having to celebrate on all the set days as they were apprehensive of their relatives’ criticism in case of noncompliance.”31 Such public rituals, and even family visitations are performative events. Women, especially, may use the opportunity to wail or cry.32 Though there are many hadith that criticize this practice, Pakistani Britons report feeling that crying was expected, and that failure to cry was interpreted as a failure to mourn.33 Through these assessments, a family’s status may be affirmed (or even challenged) by the way they honor their dead. One woman told me that her family visiting Lahore from Pakistan’s Northwest complained about the simplicity of the food at her husband’s funeral. She was aghast, “It’s not a wedding or something!”34 Amineh Ahmed’s work on mourning and celebration among Pathan women confirms that the “work” of sustaining ritual serves to produce and confirm self-definition and social relations.35 Thus, even as losing a loved one is an intensely personal experience, it becomes very public through the enactment of rituals that involve the whole community. These rituals serve to guide the soul of the deceased into the next world, supported by survivors. Pakistan, though, remains a more diverse society than a simple acknowledgement of its self-conscious Muslim identity might suggest. As a relatively young country, the meaning of Pakistani identity remains in flux. The pressures of Islamization and the ongoing violence in Pakistan in recent years—marketplace bombings and attacks on religious sites and government or military buildings—have challenged the triumphal narrative of Pakistan’s creation and meant that Pakistanis
must confront the fear and possibility of death daily. During a conversation this January, a Pakistani from a muhajir family living in Rawalpindi expressed his anxiety about living under these pressures. “Our wealth is tied up in property,” he said. “I think we should sell the house so that we have more liquidity, and if we need to leave, we can.” From across the room, his wife chimed in: “I do not want to die in a foreign country.”36 The immediacy of these concerns and the persistent anxieties Pakistanis feel over them motivates my interest. Dying in the Diaspora South Asians comprise the fastest growing immigrant group in the United States, growing at a rate of 81% between 2000 and 2010.37 Since the 1965 Hart-Celler Act liberalized immigration laws for non-Europeans, South Asians have steadily arrived in the United States through educational and career preference (including H1B work visas), or family reunification provisions. Approximately one million Pakistanis reside in the United States, and slightly more in the United Kingdom.38 Since the earliest days of migration to the United States, however, as Karen Leonard has shown among Sikh immigrants in California, the South Asian diaspora has been highly adaptable to life in America. Early Sikh migrants built gurudwaras, for instance, but they often married Mexican, Catholic women. The gurudwara was as much community center as site of organized worship. Yet, dying had the effect of reinvigorating the faith many had abandoned when they migrated. In fact, she suggests, “the most significant strengthening of religious identity came in a very private way and because of impending death.”39 Not unique to South Asians or immigrants, of course, for many, death arouses questions of faith. Robert Marrone suggests that final conversations with the dying tend to confirm their religious identity.40 The South Asian diaspora in the United States has grown and changed since 1965. Political 133
developments in both Pakistan and the United States have tested questions of faith and belonging, complicating the landscape for managing sensitive processes linked to the transition of death. For overseas Pakistanis, the tragedy of September 11, 2001 complicated the issue of mourning for South Asians and South Asian Americans. People of South Asian descent, Hindus and Muslims and others, were among the dead in the attacks, but the political violence of the event and its aftermath has obscured the meaning of their deaths in American society. Because of associations with the perpetrators, Muslims could not be “recognized victims” of the tragedy, making public mourning a near-impossibility.41 In less public venues, as the post-1965 generation of migrants ages, they too must manage the challenges of dying in the diaspora. Historian Judith Brown has shown that “among Muslims in particular… [a] powerful sign of belonging in the new homeland [has been] the decision to be buried or to bury one’s loved ones outside South Asia.”42 Attachments to home and host country, to spatially rooted and transnational communities are tested and perhaps even determined by the experiences of death and dying. As one informant recounted to me, in a story heavy with regret, though he had promised his mother that he would return her body to Pakistan for burial, when his imam told him that it was not allowed to “transport bodies,” he was forced to bury her in the United States in a cemetery sponsored by his mosque.43 His own attachments to the place were easier to justify, but in the case of his mother, it meant permanent separation from the place that had given her very existence its meaning. The displacement that migration (both voluntary and involuntary) causes within and beyond South Asia has historically opened up frontiers of behavior (and social mobility), but it has complicated the conduct of all rituals of expectation with their emphasis on place and community. Still, the uncertainty of death and its rituals stand out. Recent literature on transnationalism suggests that instant communication technologies have the 134
potential to mitigate this sense of displacement. Identities may be formed through the experience of transnational mobility rather than the displacement of migration that defined earlier generations of migrants (my grandmother told me that when her two sons moved to the United States, “all communication was cut off”). Still, Sandya Shukla argues that transnational mobility also reinscribes the boundary between home and host country: frequent border crossing reifies the boundary itself.44 Is the process of death and dying away from home constrained by such reified boundaries or made more malleable because of them? The emotional, spiritual and physical mobility implied by transnationality is complicated by the immediacy of prescribed rituals for burial (which should take place by sunset of the following day), health codes and restrictions on movement of dead bodies, and the un/availability of ritual specialists and family members. Today, social media is activated with pleas to community to recite appropriate verses for the deceased and to pray for the affected family so that mourning itself is often a public and transnational experience. In Karachi, a cemetery offers a Skype uplink for the burial service so that overseas or distant relatives might feel present for the funeral. Muslim organizations in the United States frequently provide burial services including washing, shrouding and the Janaza prayer.45 In addition, Muslim community organizations and mosques sometimes establish cemeteries, either by purchasing land for an exclusively Muslim cemetery, or by purchasing sections of existing ones.46 To secure burial in these plots usually means contacting the mosque or funeral committee rather than the cemetery owner itself.47 This means that the mosque serves as a gatekeeper, defining which people may be considered Muslims qualified to be interred, and how the rituals will be conducted. At a time of growing sectarian feeling in Pakistan and throughout the Muslim world, these questions can be sensitive. Old prejudices die hard: while one might interact casually or professionally with some one from a different sect, faith or background, attending his funeral prayer may be another matter.
Hanan Hussein and Jan Oyebode, “Influences of Religion and Culture on Continuing Bonds in a Sample of British Muslims of Pakistani Origin,” Death Studies 33 (2009): 910. Kausar Suhail et al., “Continuing Bonds in Bereaved Pakistani Muslims: Effects of Culture and Religion,” ibid.35 (2011): 35-36. 8 Leor Halevi, Muhammad’s Grave: Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 206. 9 Suhail et al., “Continuing Bonds in Pakistani Muslims.”; Hanan Hussein and Jan Oyebode, “Influences of Religion and Culture on Continuing Bonds in a Sample of British Muslims of Pakistani Origin,” ibid.33 (2009). 10 Halevi, Muhammad’s Grave: Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society, 205. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid., 201. 13 Hussein and Oyebode, “Continuing Bonds in British Muslims of Pakistani Origin,” 906. 14 http://sunnahonline.com/library/fiqh-andsunnah/276-funerals-according-to-the-quran-andsunnah 15 Al- Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Chapter 200. http://www.islamtomorrow.com/everything/ sahihmuslim.pdf 16 Lila Abu-Lughod, “Islam and the Gendered Discourses of Death,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 25, no. 2 (May, 1993): 202. 17 Ibid., 188. 18 Suhail et al., “Continuing Bonds in Pakistani Muslims,” 23. 19 Hanan Hussein and Jan Oyebode, “Influences of Religion and Culture on Continuing Bonds in a Sample of British Muslims of Pakistani Origin,” ibid.33 (2009): 899. 20 Ibid. Kausar Suhail et al., “Continuing Bonds in Bereaved Pakistani Muslims: Effects of Culture and Religion,” ibid.35 (2011). 21 Ismat Chughtai, “Jaren,” In Fasadat Ke Afsane. Islamabad: Dost Publications, 1999. 22 Ilyas Chattha, Partition and Locality: Violence, Migration, and Development in Gujranwala and Sialkot, 1947-1961 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2011). 23 Vazira Fazila- Yacoobali Zamindar, The Long 7
Conclusion Writing this paper has yielded more questions than answers. I believe firmly that the tool of oral history is an appropriate one for investigating meaning at the end of life, and as a historian I remain concerned with the impact of change over time, with the effect of migration and the pressures of globalization and modernity on the practice of rituals that are so crucial in defining belonging to family, nation and place. I seek your guidance on how I might pursue these questions. Certainly there are worlds of scholarship I have yet to encounter; colleagues have turned me on to sources on Reformation Europe, Modern Germany, China. Where else should I look? What are the pitfalls? How can I organize (and fund?) the transnational research the project will demand? Gulberg Cemetery. Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co.,1969). A 2013 Special Issue of SAMAJ featured an exploration of South Asian diasporas and place. Tristan Brusle and Aurelie Varrel, “Places on the Move: South Asian Migrations through a Spatial Lens,” SAMAJ, Vol. 6 (2012). http://samaj.revues. org/3439 3 Elisabeth Schombucher, and Claus Peter Zoller, eds. Ways of Dying: Death and Its Meanings in South Asia. (New Delhi: Manohar, 1999). Liz Wilson, ed. The Living and the Dead: Social Dimensions of Death in South Asian Religions. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003). 4 Richard K. Wolf, “Return to Tears: Musical Mourning, Emotion and Religious Reform in Two South Asian Minority Communities,” in Liz Wilson, ed. The Living and the Dead, 95-112. 5 Lila Abu-Lughod, “Islam and the Gendered Discourses of Death, “ International Journal of Middle East Studies Vol. 25, no. 2 (May, 1993): 189. 6 Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co.,1969). 1 2
Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007). 24 Jamal Mian, Auraq-i-Parishan, Jamal Mian Papers, Karachi. Cited in unpublished paper: Francis Robinson, “How Maulana Jamal Mian Became Pakistani,” (2015). Used with permission. 25 Ibid. 26 Rabia Mehmood, “Over 100 Ahmadi Graves Desecrated in Lahore,” The Express Tribune December 3, 2012. A.A. Personal Communication, December 23, 2015. 27 Walter, “Variants on the Good Death,” 218. 28 Hussein and Oyebode, “Continuing Bonds in British Muslims of Pakistani Origin.” Hussein and Oyebode caution against assuming that family gatherings would provide comfort. 29 T.B. Personal Communication, November 7, 2013. 30 T.B. Personal Communication, December 20, 2015. Barsi is the annual death anniversary sometimes commemorated in Pakistan with a Quran reading. Chalisma commemorates 40 days after the death and usually including recitation of the shahada and the Quran. 31 Suhail et al., “Continuing Bonds in Pakistani Muslims,” 30. 32 Abu-Lughod, “Islam and the Gendered Discourses of Death.” 33 Hussein and Oyebode, “Continuing Bonds in British Muslims of Pakistani Origin,” 900. 34 Z.B., Personal Communication, December 20, 2015. 35 Amineh Ahmed, “Death and Celebration among Muslim Women: A Case Study from Pakistan,” Modern Asian Studies 39, no. 4 (Oct., 2005): 932, 34. 36 M.H., Personal Communication, December 22, 2015. 37 “A Demographic Snapshot of South Asians in the United States: July 2012 Update,” SAALT, http://saalt.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/ Demographic-Snapshot-Asian-AmericanFoundation-2012.pdf 38 Iftikhar A. Khan, “Overseas Pakistanis Get Right to Vote,” Dawn.com, February 15, 2012. http:// www.dawn.com/news/695640/overseas-pakistanisget-right-to-vote 136
Karen Leonard, “Pioneer Voices from California: Reflections on Race, Religion & Ethnicity,” in N.G. Barrier and Verne A. Dusenberry, eds. The Sikh Diaspora: Migration and Experience Beyond Punjab, (Delhi: Chanakya Publications, 1989), 131. 40 Robert Marrone, “Dying, Mourning, and Spirituality: A Psychological Perspective,” Death Studies, Vol. 23 (1999): 495-519. 41 Lindsey Dodd, “’It Did Not Traumatise Me at All’: Childhood ‘Trauma’ in French Oral Narratives of Wartime Bombing,” Oral History 41, no. 2 (Autumn 2013). 42 Judith M. Brown, Global South Asians: Introducing the Modern Diaspora (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 60. 43 K.M. Personal Communication, November 6, 2013. 44 Sandya Shukla, “New Immigrants, New Forms of Transnational Community: Post- 1965 Indian Migrations,” Amerasia Journal Vol. 25, no. 3 (1999/2000): 19-36. 45 http://elfarouq.org/node/76; http://www.iabaaustin.org/Home/IslamicFuneral 46 http://www.iaba-austin.org/Home/ IslamicFuneral; http://elfarouq.org/node/76 47 http://www.iaba-austin.org/Home/IslamicFuneral 39
References Abu-Lughod, Lila. “Islam and the Gendered Discourses of Death.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 25, no. 2 (May, 1993): 187-205. Ahmed, Amineh. “Death and Celebration among Muslim Women: A Case Study from Pakistan.” Modern Asian Studies 39, no. 4 (Oct., 2005): 929-80. Chattha, Ilyas. Partition and Locality: Violence, Migration, and Development in Gujranwala and Sialkot, 1947-1961. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2011. Dodd, Lindsey. “’It Did Not Traumatise Me at All’: Childhood ‘Trauma’ in French Oral Narratives of Wartime Bombing.” Oral History 41, no. 2 (Autumn 2013): 37-48. Halevi, Leor. Muhammad’s Grave: Death Rites and
the Making of Islamic Society. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. Hussein, Hanan, and Jan Oyebode. “Influences of Religion and Culture on Continuing Bonds in a Sample of British Muslims of Pakistani Origin.” Death Studies 33 (2009): 890-912. Mehmood, Rabia. “Over 100 Ahmadi Graves Desecrated in Lahore.” The Express Tribune, December 3, 2012, online edition. Robinson, Francis. “How Maulana Jamal Mian Became Pakistani.” (2015). Suhail, Kausar, Naila Jamil, Jan Oyebode, and Mohammad Asir Ajmal. “Continuing Bonds in Bereaved Pakistani Muslims: Effects of Culture and Religion.” Death Studies 35 (2011): 22-41. Zamindar, Vazira Fazila- Yacoobali. The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.
Decolonizing/Rewriting the Pakistani Woman: Literary Resistance, Islamic Feminism and History Sobia Khan Richland College
Rewriting the narrative to reclaim the female voice is an integral part of the decolonization process for the Pakistani woman. Historically, women’s voices have been marginalized, and when they are celebrated, only the extraordinary women are recorded in history leaving the quotidian experiences of women to the margins. Patriarchy, demonization of local traditions and literary forms has taken place in Pakistani popular culture in favor of everything foreign. Local literature, folklore, and religious paradigms are considered backwards in comparison to Western ideologies. This paper is an attempt to decolonize and rewrite the Pakistani woman by reclaiming her voice in local histories, language, cultural production, and new religious understandings. Pakistani women, majority of whom are Muslim, are seen as subjugated subjects in a patriarchal society. It is assumed they have no voice, or opinion. In short, they are viewed as female bodies who need to be saved (See Leila Abu-Lughad and Saba Mahmood). Despite the cultural and familial impediments faced by Pakistani women, they have agency over their own identity construction within the world they live in. My examination of the female voice will show the independence of thought and agency that preexists colonization and modern understanding of Muslim patriarchy. In fact, decolonization begins with independence of thought, a new measure and linguistic syntax of
articulating existence separate from what has been subjected on a woman’s, a person’s, and a nation’s sense of identity. Independence of thought is the most defiant and decolonial act that a colonized subject can undertake1. For the female subject, decolonial thought often resonates within the framework of feminist thought. It is foretelling that in my search for independence of thought through recent Pakistani history, I locate a woman’s voice most clear and fiercely independent in the ageless form of poetry and religion. Reclaiming historical Muslim figures and literary traditions is an attempt at de-linking from colonial and imperial knowledges. This de-linking includes resistance by women for their freedom of thought. In the case studies I explore here, reclaiming stories of female empowerment embedded deep in Pakistani culture using literary narrative such as oral poetry and mystical poetics, rewriting women’s relationship to God and taking control of the narrative—all point to an already existing engagement towards decolonization In this paper, I will trace knowledges and histories that empower Pakistani women. Unlike popular assumptions, Pakistani women have relied on oral poetry, literary traditions and Islam as the most conducive venues to assert their voice and resistance. Tracing the work of poets and scholars moves the rogue intellectual on the periphery of local culture to the center. 139
In addition, I will examine how Islamic feminism is being understood anew to be the platform for change and innovation for Pakistani women.
colonialism, corporate imperialism, and white supremacy- all of which are inter-related where Muslim women are concerned.
Islam and Feminism
Another scholar inserting women into the primary narrative of Islam is Amina Wadud. A scholar with a doctorate in Arabic and Islamic Studies from University of Michigan, with graduate work in Quranic Studies from Cairo University and philosophy from Al-Azhar University undertakes the task of bridging her belief in Islam and feminism to new frontiers. In her seminal text, “Inside the Gender Jihad: Women’s Reform in Islam” Wadud calls for a reformation in Islamic thought. She coined the term “Gender Jihad” to address and “transform” historical practices of gender asymmetry” (10). She propagates an approach to women’s issue in Islam to the idea that “gender justice is essential to the divine order of the universe” (10). Gender Jihad is “a struggle to establish gender justice in Muslim thought and praxis. At the simplest level, gender justice is gender mainstreaming—the inclusion of women in all aspects of Muslim practice, policy construction, and in both political and religious leadership.” (10).
Before moving to my case studies, I want to briefly discuss two emerging global movements taking place within Islam2. Feminist scholars working on Islam and Islamic knowledges are exploring Islam through the lens of Gender Jihad and Islamic Feminism. “Islamic feminism” is a literary, religious, and philosophical approach that empowers the Pakistani woman3. Isabel Coleman views Islamic feminism or Muslim feminism as it is also called, separate from a secular feminism which is linked with Western ideal of a liberated woman. Coleman agues, that just as: “conservatives have used Islam as a barrier to women’s empowerment, Islamic feminists are turning that argument on its head and using Islam to promote gender equality. They argue that Islam at its core was intended to be progressive for women and that its teachings support equal opportunities for men and women alike” (Coleman xviii). Islamic feminism is not an incongruous idea within Islamic ideology, but it is a relatively new phenomenon in South Asian and Pakistani culture. Islam has long been the domain of men from the physical structures i.e. the mosques that are constructed for the use of men to most renowned scholars of Islamic theology. My work here expounds on the principles of Islam where there is no concept of an Islam that is unjust to one gender over another. However, the practioners of the religion have segregated the religion and use it to advance their own goals. My aim here is not to point to Muslim men as the root cause of the inequities meted out to women in the name of Islam. If anything, thinking through the notion of Islamic Feminism I see the establishment of an unjust Islam rooted in Islamism, patriarchy, 140
Through her work and her writings, Wadud “wages Jihad against gender prejudices and other injustices, including what she describes as the erasure of human beings and their dignity” (viii). She uses her own lived experiences, her intellectual and ethical struggles as a woman, as a mother, as an AfricanAmerican, as an academic, as a Muslim, and as a human being to rearticulate women’s place as propagated in Islam. She writes that “From both its successes and failures we learn that neither justice nor Islam is static” (Wadud 1). “Islam is not a monolith. It has plethora of meanings and experiences” (5) and as such, we must accept Islam in its multitude and inclusivity. Her work is emblematic of the struggle of the Muslim woman. I include the works of Coleman and Wadud here as they inform how I am beginning to understand the ideology of Islamic feminism, however, my interpretation of Islamic feminism is grounded in a secular literary tradition that records the voices of Muslim women, and questions and challenges
colonization of the female subject. Female voice in the Poetic traditions of Pakistan: Bringing decolonial thinking and Islamic feminism to bear in a discussion on Pakistani women is important as I move into how we see these phenomenon play out in historical and contemporary acts of defiance by everyday Pakistani women. Poetry has been a male dominated art much like all other practices in Pakistan. The most popular and renowned poets in Pakistan are men. However, a closer examination will reveal the origins of much poetry and oral poetic tradition is also rooted in women. A recent article describing the resistance of women in the rebellion of 1857 lists women warriors who have gone unnoticed by the male and/or western scribes recording history. Rana Safvi in “The Forgotten Women of 1857” asks, “But why is it that we hardly ever talk about these women? Is it because they were from the margins of society and so their sacrifices weren’t taken into account, or because no one propagated their stories of courage? Or is the reason for their “absence” that, in traditional patriarchal society, women were not seen as warriors?”4 In the very act of recording women in this article, Safvi gives voice to the forgotten women. A closer examination of the women Safvi records in her article reveals that the women were not only warrior women and rebels for the times they lived in, but their adventures were recorded in oral history in folk songs sung by women. In some cases, the forgotten women of 1857 were also poets who utilized the form to give voice to their concerns. In the example of Jhansi ki Rani, a woman warrior from Bundelkhand, Safvi writes that “the reason Jhansi ki Rani is so popular is because of the oral tradition and the dozens of folk songs that are still sung about her” (Safvi). These folk songs and oral myths are most commonly sung and spread by women troubadours and gypsies of Sindh and Punjab.
Indeed, it is worth noting that as Safvi records each woman warrior’s contributions to the rebellion of 1857, she eulogizes the warriors by citing verses in their honor. For example, in remembering and honoring the contributions of Begum Hazrat Mahal, Safvi cites, Wajid Ali Shah’s couplet written in begum’s fighting spirit and valour: Gharo’n par tabahi padi saher mein, khude mere bazaar, Hazrat Mahal Tu hi baais e aisho araam hai garibo’n ki gamkhwaar, Hazrat Mahal [Calamity fell on the houses in the morn, my bazaars were looted, Hazrat Mahal You alone are a source of comfort, O comforter of the poor, Hazrat Mahal] Not only were verses recited in honor of the begum, she herself used the verse form to communicate as well. These lines are attributed to her: Likha hoga Hazrat Mahal ki lahad par Naseebo’n ki jail thi, Falak ki satayi [It will be written on Hazrat Mahal’s grave Starcrossed was she, oppressed even by the skies] To record the participation of women in the formation of Pakistan, poetic form, folk tales, and oral poetry were used to commemorate these warrior women. While their stories were excluded from literary and historical discourse, local oral traditions preserved the women’s stories and spread them across all of Pakistan. Safvi records and reclaims the strength of the women, moving them from the periphery of history to the center, and rewrites the meta-narratives of resistance in the rebellion against the British.
Sufiana kalam, female voice and female myths Sufism is another area where the intersection of literary prowess and Islamic feminism cross to produce a unique female experience alongside that of men. Shemeem Burney Abbas in her book, “The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual” conducts an indepth anthropological study of the role of women in the prevalent alternative culture of Islamic mysticism. Among the many aspects of her study, a few threads stood out for my purposes here. Women’s inclusion in the mostly male dominated culture of missionary Islam and patriarchy have enabled women in ways that other forms of literary resistance have not been successful. When we trace the history of mystical poetry, sufi ritual, and sufiana kalam performances, women’s contributions have been significant and they are well received participants of Islamic mysticism. Women’s participation at shrines is evident as a large number of devotees who come to the shrines of sufis are women. “The shrines fulfill devotional needs and provide outlets from the daily chores of life” for the women (Abbas xx). Female singers partake in the rendition of sufiana kalam or Islamic mystical poetry at the shrines, at the melas and in concerts. In addition to singing poetry based on Quranic verses and hadith, these gatherings rely on the oral culture of the subcontinent as well. An integral part of the poetic tradition is the telling of local folklore and romantic myths. The lyrics of all the poetry recited as sufiana kalam have a strong female voice which is written in by the poets explicitly to voice the female characters or renditions of certain poetic verses (Abbas xx). The inclusion of a “strong female voice” is critical as this is one of the ways in which women gain access to the public through the verses penned by a sufi poet. The experience of the female voice in sufi poetry becomes even more powerful when a female singer sings the sufiana kalaam. One great example Abbas shares and one which explicitly demonstrates the power of literary resistance and Islamic feminism is in the manner in which a female singer can manipulate the 142
rendition of the sufiana kalaam as a form of literary resistance. At a concert at the Open University, Islamabad in 1985, Abida Parvin sang to her audience which comprised of university faculty, students and bureaucrats from the federal government. In the course of the evening’s performances, Parvin sang in multiple Pakistani languages such as Sindhi, Siraiki, Urdu and Punjabi. The narratives recited by Parvin, Abbas tells us, focused on the search of a sufi mentor which is a poignant choice of narrative considering her audience of teachers and bureaucrats who consider themselves the “wise” ones (70). “In her narratives she ridiculed the so-called “knowledgeable ones” or the caretakers of faith. She compared them to animals, to cattle, to fish, and to frogs” (71). Parvin sang from the sufi texts of Sultan Bahu in Siraiki, blended with Shah Abdul Latif’s poetry in Sindhi along with poetry of Bulle Shah in Punajbi. Some of her recitations that evening addressed themes of gender, class and caste. An example of what she sand is the following excerpt of Bulle Shah’s verses: A 112 Cal ve Bulle-a cal authe cali-e jithey sare ane A 113 Cal ve Bulle-a cal authe cali-e jithey sare ane A 114 Na koi sadi zat pechane na koi sanu mane-e A 112 O Bulle-let’s go where everyone is blind A 113 O Bulle-let’s go where everyone is blind A 114 Where no one knows our caste and where no one acknowledges us (Abbas 73-74) The use of poetic device as a tool to resist the norm is most explicit in Parvin, a female singer’s control over voice, form, and content. The very act of manipulating popular sufi texts as her own metalanguage of resistance and to use the Islamic mystical poetic form rewrites womanhood in significant ways for the Pakistani woman. Abbas suggests that the performance along with its audience made the event “postcolonial” (70). I would go further and say that parvin’s performance made the event postmodern and decolonial. Popular native female myths in sufism such as those of female lovers Sassi, Hir, Sohni, Mumal, Marvi, and Mira Bai “represent the voices of
marginalized groups and continue to be used as representative frames even today...These myths have become metaphors for the polarities of gender, religious, sociopolitical, and economic hegemony” (Abbas 85). Many of these mythical characters are aristocratic women who defy unjust social and cultural norms of their people. For example, in Hir’s story, she violates her caste conduct to elope with a cowherd. Sassi resists patriarchy when she kidnaps a tribesman to ensure her marriage to their leader’s son, a very desirable man, Punno. Her story tells of their love and Punno’s refusal to return to his father’s land, instead choosing to stay with Sassi (Abbas 85-88). In essence, the popularity of the female stories of women of courage and those who defied cultural norms indicates an age old acceptance of feminist thought in Pakistani culture. This is in stark contrast to the popular belief that Pakistani women are subjugated and have no voice of their own. At least in folklore the women are celebrated and cherished. Contemporary Feminist Poetry Another facet of Pakistani literary landscape is modern and postmodern poetry written by Pakistani women. Many of the female poet writings are resistant, religious and sacrilegious, dealing with contemporary concerns of modern women. A contemporary poet Ishrat Afreen voices the resistance for herself and on behalf of other women in her poetry. I choose to examine Afreen’s work as her poetry tends to deal with feminist concerns that are completely overlooked by male poets in Pakistan. She dares to question that which has not been questioned before. Her words are direct and don’t hide behind veils of uncertainty. Ishrat Afreen is an Urdu poet and women’s rights activist, named one of the five most influential and trend-setting female voices in Urdu Literature by NIPA. Afreen identifies strongly with the poetic Urdu legends Muhammad Iqbal and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. She uses their polished, traditional style and skillfully redirects it to create defiant progressive messages of individuality and rebellion against patriarchal and oppressive social norms. She was
born in Karachi in 1956, Pakistan and completed her Masters of Arts in Urdu from Karachi University. Her poem “Siney Yaas (Age of Sorrow)” from Dhoop Apne Hisse Ki (2005) illustrates the literary feminist resistance I have been tracing in this paper. In the poem, Afreen disrupts any expectations a reader may have of an Urdu female poet. Her postmodern sensibilities use the space and form of the poem to voice her disdain about menopause, a subject not commonly written about in Urdu poetry. She calls menopause “A horrific news/ Which I was denying from myself” and “A crime had occurred within me.” She frankly expresses her sorrow of this impending physical doom calling it “That time when streams run dry.” She writes that menopause signifies the end of her child bearing days and of a change in her sexual experience. Confronting a taboo subject and then expressing her disdain of it instead of complaint acceptance is defiant on part of Afreen. A closer reading of the poem will reveal to the reader that it is not that she views the physiological phenomenon as the only sorrow, but the fact that her lover will not suffer like her upsets her too. And so she turns to her Creator and complains. The act of complaining to God, is reminiscent of Iqbal’s Shikwa, but Afreen’s complaint is one that only a woman can make. She says, “One of your attributes is being Just/ So why then this difference between me and my beloved?” and then she goes on to say, “Oh, my Concealer, my Alchemist/ Why this test of day and night for me alone?” Afreen’s cause of sorrow is that she alone will suffer the consequences of menopause and it is her sexual and reproductive experience that will change the most, and this she finds unjust. I include Afreen in this study of decolonial rewriting of the Pakistani woman because her work challenges what feminist poetry by a believer should be. She manipulates language to address her concerns that are purely hers and not only hers, but that of every woman. Language on the page becomes the tool of her struggle. 143
In the examples I share here, woman warrior stories are hardly ever heard of in oral or written culture of the subcontinent. Whereas, sufiiana kalam and mystical poetry are always around the masses even when they don’t go to shrines to attend sufi events. Feminist poetry likewise is readily available for those interested in reading it. One thing that all my case studies have in common is that despite the subaltern having a voice, she is never heard— listened to. Gayatri Chakavorty Spivak, in her essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?” writes “If, in the context of colonial production, the subaltern has no history and cannot speak, the subaltern as female is even more deeply in shadow” (Spivak 83). According to Spivak, the gendered subaltern is doubly marked in the margins. She does not speak even when given the opportunity. Spivak later revised this assertion in a talk for The Global Center for Advanced Studies, to say that “it is not that the subaltern cannot speak, it is that we don’t know how to listen; we cannot listen” (Global Spivak). And hence, the burden of listening to the existing voices and to the lost voices falls upon us. In looking inwards to native folklore, stories of women of courage, poetry of resistance, and reading the Islamic faith through a feminist lens, the Pakistani woman rewrites her identity through her culture, land, and linguistic traditions. However, what the Pakistani woman needs today as much as she did in the past, are listeners and supporters. 1 Decolonization of thought Walter D. Mignolo’s work on decolonization of thinking in “Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and Decolonial Freedom” echoes what I am trying to suggest in this essay. He writes: De-colonial thinking presupposes de-linking (epistemically and politically) from the web of imperial knowledge (theo-and ego-politically grounded) from disciplinary management. A common type of conversation today, after the financial crisis on Wall Street, is 144
‘how to save Capitalism.’ A decolonial question would be: ‘Why would you want to save capitalism and not save human beings? Why save an abstract entity and not the human lives that capitalism is constantly destroying?’ (Mignolo “Epistemic” 20). In this book, Local Histories/ Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking, Mignolo asserts that any way of thinking that is a regurgitation of the modern/colonial/ first world/center worlds is what the subaltern knowledge seeks to change. Those intellectuals who do not conform and maybe considered on the periphery may in fact, be the ones doing ‘border thinking’ (338). Border thinking, Mignolo thinks could “open the door to another tongue, an other thinking, an other logic superseding the long history of modern/colonial world, the coloniality of power, the subalterization of knowledges and the colonial difference” (338). Mignolo is helpful in understanding the acute need for creating new knowledges in postcolonial states and for colonized female subjectivity. 2 Isobel Coleman defines Islamic feminism as an “emerging global movement.” 3 Saba Mahmood traces a similar da’wa movement in Egypt in Politics of Piety (2012). 4 “The Forgotten Women of 1857” by Rana Safvi (The Wire, 2016) References Abbas, Shemeem Burney. The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual: Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India. Austin, TX: U of Texas, 2002. Print. Afreen, Ishrat. Dhoop Apne Hisse Ki, 2005. Print. Wadud, Amina. Inside the Gender Jihad: Women’s Reform in Islam. Oxford: Oneworld, 2006. Print. Mignolo, Walter D., Local Histories/ Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton University Press: Princeton, 2000.
Mignolo, W. D. “Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and Decolonial Freedom.” Theory, Culture & Society 26.7-8 (2009): 159-81. Web. Spivak, Gayatri. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Marxism and Interpretation of Culture. C. Nelson and L. Grossberg. Ed. McMillan Education: Basington, 1998. 271-313.
Dialogues on History: Rountable Kamran Asdar Ali University of Texas, Austin Farina Mir University of Michigan Chad Haines Arizona State University Yasmin Saikia Arizona State University
The conference closed with a roundtable discussion that sought to sum up some of the key issues that emerged during the workshop. A particular focus of discussion was the question of what it means to change from “Pakistan Studies” to the study of Pakistan, and the role of history within it. Yasmin Saikia: Going back to that issue of how do you study Pakistan…I think this is not the first time that this question has come to our notice – I think it really goes back to the very moment of the birth of Pakistan. I was just looking at an old essay that I wrote on Islamizing Pakistan’s history. I started thinking about these two issues. One was the process in which a history of Pakistan was created. The need for this happened soon after 1947 and the process started soon after, in 1948 or ’49, I think. Another attempt was made in the 1960s. Fazlur Rehman comes to mind—he was one of the first scholars, so to say, who raised the issue of the need to create an Islamic history of Pakistan. History, according to this suggestion, should have a religion, and it must have an identity. The state would be at the helm of affairs in writing such a history, which then was expected to inform the people about their past. The past had to be created, and through that creation the idea was that Pakistan would move forward. During the tenure
of Ayub Khan, the term history was deleted and it became Islamiyyat, and a new term Pakistaniyyat ‑‑ Pakistan Studies was introduced. Despite the fact that the term history was sort of deleted, scholars of Pakistan kept writing history within Islamiyyat, and within Pakistan Studies. The struggle now is how do you reclaim a place for academic history? So we come to the present day, and have to ask, where does this sort of project, ‘A History Workshop’ fit in? Is there a historiography of history that we can bring to our notice and draw our audience’s interest to it? And at the same time, can we create linkages and connections with other fields and other sub‑disciplines of history, histories to which Pakistan then speaks, and speaks in ways that will broaden the scope of both Pakistan’s history and the discipline of history? That is a very important take off point for me. One of the questions that I had raised in the program that you had received, is how can history be studied in Pakistan? That was a question that I have been asking. Now, having said that, and from the conversation that we’ve been having in this workshop, I am encouraged. But at the same time I am scared that in Pakistan the Islamization project is doing great harm not just of Pakistan, but there’s an Islamization of Islam in Pakistan. This came out 147
in several papers. In Pakistan now, Islam has to be of a particular kind in order for it to be acceptable. If the Islam that is presented is not of the right kind, there is no place for it, right? It’s a kind of a different thing that is going on, which we need to interrogate a little more.
exclusive. Pakistanis had to think of themselves as a group of people that always had a different past. It had to become exclusive and excluded from a larger kind of conversation with South Asia or other kinds of history. The vision of looking forward actually started looking backward.
Because otherwise, where does something like what Ammar brought up yesterday, about international connections and global networks fit? There was a moment in which the so‑called Muslims, who later became part of Pakistan, thought of themselves as part of a larger sphere of interactions, and connections, and global relationships. Today, those things are not just deleted, but are seen as dangerous subjects, and history cannot include them.
A question that has come up for us here in USA, and I think this is also asked in the UK: how to study Pakistan outside Pakistan? Do we study Pakistan as just some kind of a mishmash of religions and cultures and all things in between? How do we get out of this kind of thinking regarding history? I don’t have an answer. How do we do history that takes into account the continuous process of happening, outside of the crisis narratives? Farina reminded us of the insularity of the crisis narrative. That seems to be the most important thing that seems to engage the question of how you study Pakistan.
Kamran Ali [President of AIPS] actually made a very good rejoinder that we don’t have to have these binaries, and without the binaries, how do we still talking of different ways of writing about the story of Pakistan? What could be the value or importance of studying history differently now in Pakistan, I think is one of the major questions that we have to think about. I don’t know if many of you know Manan Ahmed’s work? He has been writing on this issue of how history from the colonial times has moved in this direction and today how Pakistan is grafting this narrative in a new way. That creates a mindset which remains confined to post‑colonial ways of thinking, rather than becoming decolonized that Sobia had talked about. What is decolonization, and if there’s decolonization, must it be through ruptures, that Amber made us aware of. I was just looking at my old essay, and I was thinking of the history written in the ‘60s and ‘70s, had a very different kind of forward‑looking approach. The scholars then believed that history could be different. It could serve the purpose of community building. Amber has rightly pointed out to us that 1971 was a moment when that kind of history did not work anymore. Suddenly, the forward‑looking Pakistan’s history changed, and the way of remembering history had to become 148
Something we didn’t talk that much about, except for Abdul Haque’s paper on Sindh, was how does the periphery then connect with a metropolitan center like Karachi, and the powers that work there? He said something very beautifully: about looking from below looking up. The hierarchies, the stratifications, the classes. It’s not simply looking from one end to the other end, in a way. It is looking up. When you’re looking up, how does the one below write something which, in a larger frame, that is how the story of Pakistan writes about South Asian history? How does Pakistan history speak to India, Bangladesh, and other kinds of histories, e.g. of Sri Lanka and Nepal? Because Pakistan’s history is still considered it’s looking upward towards India, or some other more established field in order to write itself, as something both exclusive and connected. Instead of the insularity that Farina talked about yesterday, what we were trying to do here is opening up. The notion of multi-sited history might be one approach to this. But the larger point is that you’re bringing in a variety of different methodologies. Those methodologies could undo the project of history, and again revert to a Pakistani Studies kind of approach, or could it allow for a different
and more fertile moment of opening? This is what we need to think, what is the value of doing it this way? Is there a value? Could this value be opening up this dialogical space of conversation between academics working in the US, and academics and scholars working in Pakistan? Can there be a kind of a continuous, sustainable conversation that informs us both ways? Scholars working in Pakistan actually have the benefit of the archives, the field, the people... All kinds of stuff that you are really enriched by. We, who are working here, look at Pakistan from a distance. Are we looking down? Are we looking up or sideways? What is the level at which we are having this conversation -- I think this is a significant issue. We have a lot to learn from you, how to do history of Pakistan in the US, as much as we continue to inform you, the scholars who are here from Pakistan. I think this could be one of the ways of creating synergies, and advancing the synergies, so we can perhaps move beyond simply interrogating and saying something is not sufficient. This is the approach we have inherited. So instead, let’s see if we can look up and differently, perhaps. With that, I will stop, and Kamran can take over from here. Kamran Ali: One of the burdens of this kind of work, and I think the study of Pakistan, is the configuration of the nation. A lot of us who have matured as scholars in the last 20, 25 years, have really had a very difficult relationship with the concept of the nation state. At some level, history’s forced us back into that space, and the idea of what it is. What is Pakistan? What is Pakistan’s history? Of course, history offers space that is quite new, but where do you start? I remember a conference, I think it was 2003 in New Orleans at the AAA, that Chad [Haines] had a paper about the dominance of Indian Studies. I think I was a discussant on that panel, which raised questions about the kind of way that one writes the history of Pakistan, or Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka. Especially writing that history in the shadow of the longer and deeper and more sophisticated tradition of Indian history. Whereas, someone who is a 18th century fisherman in
Thata can be part of Indian history, but a similar fisherman in Chennai cannot be part of Pakistan history, because of the configuration of politics and things. Unless he’s Moplah or Muslim, and the idea that you can capture certain bodies in your history and other bodies cannot, but India can have that universal way of incorporating all this...That’s a dilemma. What do we do, then, to get out of the dilemma? The process has been; we are doing South Asian history. We are doing processual history. We are doing thematic histories. Again, it’s an issue of catching up. A mature nation has all these kinds of different histories, not only national histories. It’s not only the kind of rehearsal we go through: “so and so came, and so and so came…”. We have all these kinds of genealogies of a kind of national history, and that becomes our straw person against which we can then say, “OK, we are doing something different, not what they are doing. We are rethinking Islam. We are rethinking partition. We are rethinking the national history.” It’s always against that straw person--that national history and the pedagogical styles that history is done in. I think one of the things that we were trying to do is also to diversify what we are working on. Again, that gives me the kind of dilemma that unless we have environmental history, and social history, labor history, gender history, and what have you, the kind of range of ways in which the Euro‑American academia is thinking about various histories in national spaces and non‑national spaces. We are again in that process of catching up. We will only become a “much more mature academy” within the study of Pakistan once we have done all these other kinds of histories. It’s a double‑edged sword. At one level we are trying to grow up, and we are trying to catch up. At another level, if we don’t do that, the diversity and the gaps that all of us have been talking about will not be there. But there are conceptual issues as well. Where do we draw the line? We mentioned that people have also done this for Africa. There was no inevitability that there would 149
be nation states in West Africa till even ‘56 or ‘57 or ‘58. There would be other kinds of configuration of states which would be represented in a French Parliament. Similarly, people have been thinking about whether there could have been other possible outcomes besides the national movement in the case of colonial India, for example, the whole issue of pan‑Islamism. There are other approaches. I don’t have any resolutions, but I’m just trying to ask whether these kinds of attempts to think through, as people in Indian history or historiography are trying to do, could be another way of trying to dismantle certain narratives. For instance, somebody said that there was an imagination of 17 states. The Communist Party in the ‘40s also taught about that, but the interesting thing, we thought about it in terms of the Indian union having various nationalities. We thought about it in terms of the national question that came up in the early 20th century in terms of the way Lennin and Stalin wrote about the national question. There is a Muslim question in there as well, which is very similar to the way there is the Jewish question. For the Bolsheviks, the Jews were not a nation, because they didn’t have language and a territory and in that sense, Muslims were, for them, also not a nation. They could be Sindhis and Punjabis and Bengalis. Yet there was always a slippage because there was a proposal from the Muslim League saying that there’s something about Muslims. You understand that the kind of resolution of the Jewish question in Europe was twofold. One was of course the Holocaust in Europe. The other different kind of resolution was the creation of a Jewish state. In some ways, the resolution of this very fictional, artificial, or problematic modern question of Muslim, the Muslim question, was the creation of this thing, the Pakistani state. Where, of course, a fiction is created and at the moment of its creation it collapses, because of issues of language and diversity and whether Urdu would be the language, which is not spoken by anyone in Pakistan. 150
What I’m trying to suggest is, how do we work on the nation yet keep undermining its validity, or its sort of rigidity as a conceptual space. That can be true for Pakistan or India or Bangladesh, because in Bangladesh, same thing again, this is the dilemma. Their history is not from ‘47. Their history starts in ‘52 with the language question, and then they just jump to ‘71. I could go on and on in thinking through the nations of South Asia, but my point is that there is something for us to think through in terms of our relationship with this thing called the nation state. Partly, if we don’t want to be reactive, we have to go to a much more fundamental level to undermine the sanctity of this conceptual framework. In that sense, the study of Pakistan becomes partly also the dismantling of something called Pakistan. This may be blasphemous, but I think otherwise. Unless we do this, we will be caught in these kinds of narrow spaces and our insularity will be just about, “Do you have another example of this? Do you have another example of that? If you can bring in more data, you will prove something.” We will just keep playing a very positivistic kind of game. I think it’s about time, perhaps to ask these questions -- how can we imagine a future, or rather understand the futures that were being imagined and were censored and excluded. In a different kind of a framework, Sheetal does what’s interesting in that regard, the kind of way that she was thinking about Karachi and Bombay, and the anxieties of labor, urbanism and the poor, particularly the ways in which a colonial government was trying to deal with questions of urban populations. Of course, there was the politics around Sindh and Karachi, but what was important is the way the paper begins to create these kinds of models that start conversations beyond these boundaries. Perhaps the way to go is to think about it in terms of much larger contexts. Not only in terms of South Asia, but also in terms of Central Asia, the Middle East and the Persian cultures. The thing is even archaeologically, if you look at the West
Coast of what is today Karachi, as early as fifth century before the Common Era, we have slips in archaeological evidence of the relationship between this coast and what is today called Mesopotamia, but even beyond. You get even Roman and Palestinian artifacts. One could argue that people from that area would come here, settle down, do things. At a certain moment in history, they became Muslims. What we call Muhammad bin Qasim is just a continuation of a larger historical thing. People would come and create and conquer or take away slaves or whatever. At a particular moment, they become Muslims. Asfar Moeen, but even Manan and I suppose, Munis [Faruqi] and other scholars are currently doing that kind of work. They’re looking at the relationship between Mongols and the Safavids, and also the Central Asians and the Turks, Oman and other stuff. That is a much more productive way of thinking about it rather than we are just this or just that, which is an ideological question. These are just some of the questions that might help us move forward, or at least differently. Farina Mir: Let me share some thoughts on these questions, some of which might be a little provocative and some of which might seem like non sequiturs. I found myself sitting here, thinking in response to this question of why we should study Pakistan. I found myself actually thinking about this whole idea of the depth of area studies. This ongoing debate...it’s a structural issue. It’s institutional. Around this table, both Kamran and I are actually directors of national resource centers on South Asia, so we clearly see a value in area studies. We both also happen to work on AIPS. There is a connection there. The connection is that without something like area studies or without a gathering like this which focuses on the study of Pakistan, we cannot actually reach a critical mass. That is a problem we keep reiterating, so I’ll do it one more time. We do not have depth in our scholarship. That is something that we have to actively work towards in Pakistan. Think about it,
Chad [Haines] and I and a few other people were all in the field together in Pakistan almost 20 years ago now. I wonder to myself as we were conceptualizing our projects, “How much historiography on Pakistan did we cite as we were structuring our own projects?” I’m going to guess that it was only there as a straw man, as precisely that thing that we were not going to be doing, not a real engagement. That’s a problem. We’re now a generation older, and I look to some of our younger friends here and wonder, do you have a rich body of scholarship that you’re actually engaging with in your work? My guess is that it is actually not as rich as we would want it to be. Maybe it’s better, but we have a problem of depth. That’s why the study of Pakistan actually continues to be important. It’s not because we’re parochial, it’s not because we’re insular, but it’s because we need to produce the critical mass, and to produce the quality of scholarship that would allow us to want to engage it. That’s an ongoing problem, and I think we all have a role to play in addressing that. What we’re criticizing is insularity and an absence of depth, and we’re trying to break out of both of those things very self‑consciously. I’ll iterate what I see as some of the problems that I think we are collectively trying to address. One is the problem of the state and how it looms so large. That is actually not just a Pakistan problem. That’s actually a broader post‑colonial problem. As I said yesterday, if I look at my bookshelf and the number of books on it as a South Asian historian that are published on India. If you want to get published by an international press outside South Asia, your book would better be on nationalism, because that’s what it’s going to be. The state and national history and study of nationalism, these loom very, very large. I think we have to self‑consciously find a way to break out of that, but as I look around this table, I recognize the problem with saying that too, which is that for many of us, our commitment to study and work on in Pakistan is itself a political one. We 151
are deeply engaged with the question of the state. Maybe this is to reiterate Kamran’s point, which is that in studying it, we’re also deconstructing ideologically and we’re doing the political work that is where our deepest commitments lie. That also then brings me to this other thought that I had reflecting on this gathering. The question of political commitment is interesting, because it’s not unrelated to this question of depth. If I look around this table, we are almost all either Pakistani or of Pakistani descent, with the notable exceptions of our organizers and hosts, Yasmin and Chad. It speaks to a bigger problem...what attracts people to the study of Pakistan is, often, political commitment, not intellectual questions. There are some issues here that we need to recognize and then also figure out how they impact our scholarship, and how we can affect the field with cognizance of the issues, and the way that they’ve skewed the scholarship. Two last points I want to raise. One is this question of what we are choosing to work on. I’m just struck by the number of presentations where people are presenting on subjects that actually are pushing in new directions -- and yet, our discussions pull us back to the state. We need to figure out how we can actually produce a space in the study of Pakistan where we can actually study things other than the state. It’s not that the state is not a context, but more can we produce a space for histories that aren’t always contingent on the state? That maybe is one challenge that we are facing a little bit intellectually. The last point is what do we need to do to make scholarship on Pakistan productive of theory, rather than just reflective of it. There’s a lot of theoretical sophistication around this table. I think in two days we’ve covered every major 20th century theorist from Derrida to Foucault to Benjamin. We have been reciting them. I think we are now producing some of that work, and some of the people who are doing that and are being cited are sitting around this table. I 152
am thinking of Kamran, Yasmin, and Chad for example. Can we produce theory that isn’t actually about Islamization, violence, or gender in expected ways? These are some of our challenges, and that’s maybe just the beginning. Chad Haines: I don’t know what more I can say that hasn’t already been said but maybe approach it from sort of a different question, but just a note on that sort of point about the production of knowledge ultimately that we’re talking about. My own work, which was my original work, was a spatial history of the Northern areas and really looking at the Karakoram Highway. The publisher forced the grandiose title of “Nations, Territory, and Globalization in Pakistan” that really has nothing to do with what the book is actually about. This brings up the question of the way in which marketing, and in a sense, our knowledge production, gets represented in the symbolic markets in which it is produced and disseminated. Taking off from here, there’s two points that I want to draw attention to. I want to put forward an idea because I have just finished reading Warner’s The Trouble with Normal. I’d ask: What is required is really clearing the idea of Pakistan? I suggested that queer theory was one approach that particularly opens up ways of seeing the fluidity, the problems, and the undermining of a normative ideas of Pakistan that everybody else have been discussing. The second set of questions I want to address also comes out of my own intellectual interest on spatiality, and that is the social production of space. That’s really looking, in a sense, or posing the question, “Where is Pakistan?” Engaging that question compels us to look at the different ways in which we can actually then map Pakistan. One place we can see the significance of this is in our site of research. Do we just reduce it to a partition container of history and culture that
just happens to be in this place called Pakistan today? Or can we recognize that this object, this abstract idea of Pakistan, is itself a social construction? As a social construction, it obviously has its influences on other social processes that are taking place within the supposed borders of the nation state. Another way you can ask this question about the where and the placing of Pakistan is at the site of knowledge production. I think this is something touched upon in some of the comments earlier, between the knowledge that we’re producing, say, here in the United States about Pakistan and the knowledge that’s being produced, say, in Europe and Berlin, or the UK, as well as in Pakistan. This raises a variety of issues that we have to acknowledge and engage with, one of which is the very different and distinct cultures of higher education. The institutions in which we work demand certain types of knowledge and certain types of levels of engagement and the way they allow that as well. That is also shifting and dramatically, particularly here in the United States as universities themselves turn to a more economic and business model. That the type of knowledge that’s being produced would be forced more and more into security studies, into concerns of the state, into concerns of the US towards Pakistan. In a sense, we’re returning back to the regimes of knowledge production that came about in Pakistan in the 1960s and 1970s, which at that point were really development oriented. These were very status type projects, but again driven by US interest.
helps us do. I think it’s a very powerful statement of how we cross borders and critically engage those borders as we’re crossing them. I think that’s important. Just crossing them is not enough, because in many ways crossing them also redefines them. We have to think back, reflect back, critically look at how that border itself denies or allows certain types of knowledge. Coming back to the idea of the clearing of Pakistan, I think there are a lot of ways in which certain normative ideas that are produced. It’s not just Pakistan. Go to the American Studies conference and it’s probably 100 times worse than Pakistan Studies in the way it’s produced here. The very insular ideas about what happens that there is something unique and special and you don’t have to look anywhere else. That need to sort of open up that scope and look at different possibilities, and the randomness, and the hybridities, and the multiplicities, and all these other sort of fluid connections, rather than constantly putting us ourselves in deeper and deeper and deeper or smaller and smaller and smaller silos. Yasmin Saikia: Where is Pakistan? Where do we do this work? How does working in different sites produce a different idea of how we write the history of Pakistan? I think this is a good beginning point for further discussion…
I’m also thinking about, in a sense, the knowledge of Pakistan within Pakistan itself and what’s going on there and again, the institutional constraints and expectations that are in place there.
Chad Haines: I’ll open that. Because now my work is actually multi-sited. Here is a little background on it. As American scholars with US funding, we couldn’t go to Pakistan from 2001 until 2007, and in 2009 funding was started again by the Fulbright Commission. AIPS was allowed to send their scholars for “third country research.”
How do we start recognizing that each of these institutional spaces that we’re operating in are themselves social productions? How can we step out of them and sort of link in a sense and create dialogues, which I think is what this workshop
So I wrote a grant proposal, and I went to Dubai and started a project on globalization, in particular, looking at middle class Pakistanis consumption and the marking of their identities. The project has evolved since then. But that exposure, that idea, 153
that experience in Dubai made me question why is not Dubai a Pakistani city? It’s deeply connected, yet it’s a different structuring than, say, the diasporic community in Houston or here or the UK, for example. Which raises its own unique questions about why we think the borders of Pakistan stop. So I’m looking at and thinking about the ways in which places like Dubai or the Gulf, generally speaking, are actually very much part of Pakistan. Going back to what Kamran was pointing out about the archeological findings, that they’re finding metal pieces from Oman. It seems like Pakistan has been part of the gulf for millennium. Why do we stop then? Why do our histories, our sociologies, our anthropologies assume these borders that are themselves so recent and so artificial in social processes? Farina Mir: I think what’s interesting about what Chad said, if we can put it in the context that I think we’ve been speaking of, is the question of what happens when we make our work more experientially focused. For example, I’m third generation removed, raised in this country as a Pakistani American whose family left 50 years before the creation of Pakistan. Our scholarship hasn’t been focusing on the experiential. Again, it’s folding back onto this question of the very limited kind of subjects of our analysis in the study of Pakistan. As long as we maintain our focus on the state, Pakistan is very bounded, but there’s this massive set of experiences, and of course for me it’s a very personal disjoint between what you’re talking about--this boundedness--and the experiential which has interestingly enough been backdated. Pakistan experientially exists in time and space before its creation in very different ways in the diaspora. Amber Abbas: I would add to that. This is something that came up last year with the 154
dissertation prize from Berkeley…the commentator said, “I started reading this dissertation. Why did this dissertation win a prize on Pakistan because it’s about Aligarh?” [Aligarh Muslim University]. It’s not only about Aligarh… Farina Mir: Pakistan exists in Aligarh. Amber Abbas: Which is what I am arguing. In the committee, Manan ultimately made this argument that I was working with Pakistanis and talking about this idea as sort of a heritage and genealogy of a particular idea. I also think then, and I was struck listening to Ammar’s and Sher Ali’s papers about the same question yesterday too, which is... in terms of the heritage of ideas, what is the value and the meaning of placing them in different places? Chad and I were talking about this yesterday. How do you talk about Pakistanis and a particularity of experience outside of Pakistan when you have shared heritage with Muslim, shared heritage with South Asian, shared heritage with non‑Muslim Pakistani and non‑Muslim South Asian communities? I think, Kamran, you asked this question, where do we start? I would just add to clear that, are we starting something? My students asked last year after the Paris attacks, “Do you think this is the beginning of World War III?” I said, “I don’t think it’s the beginning of anything. I think we might put that question to somebody who’s been in the field longer than I have. But what does it mean to imagine beginnings at a time like that?” Ammar Jan: I’m actually very interested in this idea of belatedness in general, the fact that we’re coming late to modernity almost and then in academia facing the same problem, catching up. Dipesh’s [Chakraborty] article is excellent on this topic. Of course, it’s led to terrible politics, generally, the act of catching up. The same time, what you were saying in terms of seeing belatedness as a possibility. That at once, places that were kept in this waiting room of history
and then eventually had to catch up with once far behind Europe. The same time that the possibility of being far ahead is they could show Europe its own limitations. In this, in academia, if you take the same idea, it means the already existing concepts that are operating in the Western academy. Of course, we must engage with them, because that’s the giant shadow under which we’re functioning. Anywhere in the world we inhabit, unfortunately or fortunately, a European world. The same time, we can apply pressure on the categories that have been received, that our states have had to receive, that our societies have had to receive, and even academia. Here, I think it’s quite crucial for a place like Pakistan to become a site of production of something new. There’s already a trend in that direction in the study of on Pakistan cities. There’s something odd about this place when seen from the normal kind of lens. It’s something different. Perhaps seeing it as a lack or as backwards is not the best lens to see it. Perhaps, that awkwardness that we’re calling backwardness has something to tell us about the modern world as such and not just about Pakistan. Think about Islamic republic. There’s that idea. It must do something to the idea of republicanism. Which is such a huge tradition in modern Europe since the 18th century, the idea of sovereignty belonging to God. The entire constitution then saying it follows from the instruction of God, and then that constitution getting suspended every few months or so. God’s sovereignty being suspended every few months! There’s something interesting and odd about it, but that’s definitely a new conception of sovereignty right there. Baluchistan, at one level, you have people being killed by the state in a very sovereign violence where they can be placed outside the floor. At the same time, offenders working on mercenaries or many Baluchi people who are working in Bahrain and Oman in the military and the police. Over there, they’re the ones conducting sovereign violence against Shias and local activists. At once, they are subjects of sovereign violence and objects of sovereign
violence. That of course got something to place and solve the very question of sovereignty. I think the hostile thing, and I’m working on communist thought and the idea of the revolutionary subject changes in a place like Pakistan or India. I think Pakistan gives us this opportunity to not just engage with these global ideas. But also to apply pressure on them so as to actually develop certain new concepts that are not normative. If this starts happening everywhere, not just in Pakistan, and then if the vast majority of the world is deviating from the norm set in 19th century Europe, then eventually we can question the norms, the very norms through which the world is operating. Perhaps, the norm lies elsewhere. In Pakistan, we’ll not be this freakish country, but actually part of the norm that structures our world. There is definitely that universal potential in a place like Pakistan. Already, with India, they have developed subaltern studies, and other ideas that were taken up, all of a sudden became a global hit, precisely because they spoke to this undercurrent, which is both at once the majority, and yet placed in this box of being weird and freakish and a deviation. It’s about time Pakistan’s apparently bizarre kind of politics should turn into something that tells us not just something about Pakistan, but the world as it exists. Farina Mir: Nobody at this table in two days has framed Pakistan in the terms that you just framed it. I’m just struck that you are actually using that framework and referencing Pakistan as backwards...I’m just pointing out the irony of it because actually that has not been the dominant framework of the discussion. Interestingly enough for me, it’s not my own dominant framework at all, of thinking about Pakistan. I’m kind of struck about where that framework itself is coming from, and wondering if we wouldn’t want to query that because I understand 155
one might say that what you just suggested is appropriating that, but I’m not sure I actually even want to concede that. To appropriate it, it needs to be provocative as a comment, as a comment. Kamran Ali: Just a couple of brief comments. First, I think this is a very interesting and important moment where these new topics are being examined in the study of Pakistan. I remember in the early 2000s going to the Madison conference. I used to have this exercise of looking at Pakistan panels, and for around five consecutive years there was a pattern that was emerging. There were two kinds of panels. One was in archaeology, and second one was on Taliban and Islamism, and so the thing happened in‑between, you see. This is a very interesting and important moment, and AIPS is doing some excellent work in that regard. The other comment I wanted to make was I think one of the other things that AIPS makes possible is to bring together scholars and students working in Pakistan and those situated in the US. I think that conversation is very important, but I think there’s some thinking to be done in terms of the nature of that conversation of how that might take place. When we have these kinds of workshops and conferences in US spaces, there are certain kinds of assumptions about the kind of categories. There are common conversations, unsaid things that are already there, and even the sort of etiquette and real...let’s call it “socialization of the conference space” and so on. I really want to applaud what our friends did yesterday. The presentations that they gave. There was much to learn. It’s a difficult position to just go in, give your presentations, and say thank you so much. I think that conversation, such as we had following the presentations and right now, is something very rich and very important, but there is a certain kind of mentality which is needed. I don’t know how that might be achieved, but there is a certain kind of a power dynamic at work here in terms of what gets counted as theoretically 156
rigorous scholarship, and what are the assumptions in terms of commonly held understandings. I think some thinking around what that conversation looks like and what would be the best avenues of making that as enriching and as much of a two-way street as possible is important. Yasmin Saikia: We have actually three kinds layers, almost. Here is a US layer or the West, global North layer here. Then there are scholars from Pakistan who have been here [at ASU] for four months already, and in a way, are going through a re‑engineering, which is very wrong, but that’s what is going on, right? Then there are scholars coming straight from Pakistan. There are three layers of conversations going on. I think maybe we have done something interesting in seamlessly having this conversation as if we’re all using the same resources, as if we are all in conversation with one another. I think of going back again to Farina’s words. I know that’s a very, very important thing, the framework that you use to speak into Ammar’s thing about the awkward, backward, belatedness. The kind of waiting in the waiting room, waiting to be delivered. I have a problem with that framework, the whole thing of deliverance, as if only when you are going to be discovered, you will be allowed to sit at the table and can join the conversation. Coming from India, and coming from the periphery of India, Assam, I know this very well. For the longest time, I was considered a Southeast Asian historian, because they didn’t know where to put Assam studies in India. Even my adviser was a Southeast Asianist. That apart, this conversation of the dialog of when you become a partner in history, which I think Farina raised initially. What are some of the theoretical lenses that can be developed that do not only just refer to existing theory, but actually must speak back in a resistant voice, but speak alongside what exists. I think it is a depth question. That goes back to what Sher Ali’s probably raising, and we have seen
from our colleagues from PU. Whenever we had our discussions about topics of research and what will be the outcome of this research, there seem to be such serious obstacles and hindrances in the institutions in Pakistan. It’s not simply rethinking what should Pakistan history be, but how do you even conceive, even have that thought that says, “I think I want to break that glass ceiling.” I think even the thought is dangerous in Pakistan. That’s a real problem. Kamran Ali: I think we may be on the same page. I’m not trying to be conciliatory. I raised it, perhaps frivolously, because I was thinking about the depth of the issue that you raised, Farina. It is a cumulative effect that we would have histories of various kinds. I think we do. Will’s [Glover] work is definitely there. There is a rethinking of partition by Vazira [Zamindar], your own work, Yasmin’s work on the partition. On the partition, I’m saying on ‘71. Amber Abbas: We’re one‑offs. Kamram Ali: No, I’m saying it’s a cumulative thing... Amber Abbas: Big time. Kamram Ali: Hang on. Is it a cumulative thing? We still don’t have a lot of environmental history. There are kinds of ways we don’t have it. That is what an issue is, that is it going to be an issue that we are still in the waiting room. It’s not in derogatory sense. What is the project here? If I heard Ammar correctly and, again, taking your cue, is that it has to be a site of production. Taking that adversity, which we have, the issue of lag that we have put on us as a possibility. The point is that that is a possibility. Even if others are saying we have lag, we may or may not, but that lag can produce knowledge that doesn’t have to follow that trajectory, the waiting room. It’s a critique of that waiting room.
Yasmin Saikia: No, I understand. I understood the comment of the critique... Kamran Ali: The waiting room comment is a critique of that waiting room comment. Who cares about the waiting room? We can do things that can destabilize those. Chad Haines: That’s the point. Yasmin Saikia: I’m OK with that. To be clear, partly I was struck by it because I understand the point of critique and I understand that it’s appropriating the critique, but I’m also wondering if we can’t actually fundamentally shift the framework. That is, that I don’t actually want to even be in that framework at this juncture because ultimately, for me, it is limiting. It is limiting because the frames of the debate are set. What we are trying to push for is actually re‑framing the debate. That’s why I’m struck by it, because I understand, absolutely, that it is appropriating as a political move, but it is also taking the terms. It’s still in the same terms of a debate set by somebody else, in a sense, and outside this field. That’s what I’m saying. Ammar Jan: The political side apart, of course in politics there’s a broken time in our political imagination and the lag is a very serious concern. It’s something that in politics one has to deal with all the time, but we are talking here strictly in intellectual terms and, let’s say, even in intellectual history. In that the whole metaphor of backwardness, I want to throw it out. If I read the page correctly, Dipesh is positioning himself completely against the waiting room of history idea. That it’s a ridiculous idea. What it does is if we are to shift from being passive recipients of certain ideas to active producers. Which is something that you earlier suggested, one must not then simply think in terms of Pakistan as being...Where my real emphasis was, that Pakistan, or even Afghanistan, or any other country as being 157
totally particular, almost imprisoned by its own particularity. That pressure should not be placed just on the non‑European world. Europe can produce ideas for the entire world, and we... There’s still not enough work done on what does Pakistan do to global concepts that are arriving in Pakistan or work being produced from colonial India. Because this was also a lab for a lot of new ideas. For example, the question of sovereignty has not been studied, and Pakistan is a very interesting example of sovereign violence or sovereignty. We can redo everything from Hobbes to Agamben just looking at Baluchistan. There’s a lot of, “What do we do about republicanism?” There’s something very powerful in that idea of Islamic republicanism. That gets aborted every few years. There’s something very strange in that idea. There’s a new practice of sovereignty, a new practice of republicanism, a new practice of the revolutionary subject, or democracy, without an adequate theory corresponding to it. That’s where our intellectual input can really help. That there’s certain new practices of inhabiting modernity that have been engineered, produced, experimented with in a place like Pakistan, or even India. We still do not have an adequate description, analysis, or theory for what’s happening, which is transforming. It’s very transformative of received ideas. One of the challenges is it’s not simply to say, “We’re actually not backward. We’re equal.” Of course here. There are others who might not believe that, but here that’s not a bone of contention. The bone of contention is can we actually produce ideas from Pakistan which shows us a new way of inhabiting modernity? Having certain theoretical frameworks, which cannot only explain something about the particularity of Pakistan, with the thick historical 158
description. Speak to areas way beyond Pakistan in terms of how do we even begin to imagine the practice of modernity. Instead of the concepts of modernity whose site of origin is Europe, but whose giant shadow has made us see every other practice as a lack. A theory for that. In that case the theory for that lack, but actually it is not really a lack. Sobia Khan: I want to acknowledge the space we’re inhabiting and the conversation we’re having. We’re talking about the study of Pakistan, and I feel an outsider to this study. For me it’s a returning to Pakistan. My primary work is on transnational diasporic. Pakistani doesn’t even come into consideration for me in my original work. For me this is a return to Pakistan, and it’s not a hierarchical dilemma. It’s a way of claiming identity, or at least figuring out what is identity. The space that we occupy right now, and the conversations we’re having, and the subject that I’m interested in, decolonization, it’s inherent in everything we’re doing. The shadow exists. We’re all writing in English. We’re presenting in English. We’re an imperial state. These are the obvious things that we’re not discussing, but they exist and they’re the underpinning in every conversation. How can we not think about it? How can we not think about what we are doing in this space right now, which also comes back to Ammar’s comment. That the West is still being taken as the center. There’s a relationship, and I don’t know how we will walk away from it, because we’re still comparing. No matter what the dialogue, no matter what the theory, or the lack of, or the language we use, we’re still in that same paradigm where the West is the center. We’re still trying to converse with it. The conversations here are leading away from it, and it’s getting more centered in the geographic region of Pakistan. I’m not sure how I want to grapple with that right now. I’m
not comfortable with the geographical space of Pakistan. I’m more inclined towards thinking what is Pakistan beyond the nation state, beyond the geographical. There’s linguistics. There’s so much else that marks it. These are the kind of questions I’m coming back to. I want to air that and want to acknowledge that the West is not the center. Akram Soomro: I am from the second layer, the people who have spent four months here. We are fortunate that we have spent four months here and that we have got some experience, as well. We have been discussing this issue of nationalism and Pakistan studies in our reading groups, as well. In the last four months there’s a question in my mind. I am not from history, so it might be the way I am going to describe this problem that is not exactly in the discipline of history. Being a common Pakistani and being a person from the university, academia, basically, as we said, as Sobia was saying, that West is the center. As you said, that there is a lack of intellectual depth in the knowledge which has been created on the name of Pakistan study in Pakistan. Yasmin has said that this is not easy, to address these things in Pakistan, as well. Considering all these points, I believe that we need to understand the complexity in Pakistan. That the Pakistani academia, whatever knowledge they are producing, whatever research they are doing, they are doing in a certain context. They have their own problems. They have their own limitations. They have their own things. The concept of nation, the concept of history, the concept of origin is being discussed in American academia. That is in the result of the last 50 years or 200 years of struggle, whatever that is, the knowledge creation or the way they have been trained. There could be a best way in the middle of that. For example, initially we could build or strengthen
the Pakistani academia. That they should be a depth in the knowledge when they are addressing the question of nation, and they are, or course, addressing the question of religion. When they are addressing the question of nationalism, or nation state, or sovereignty, they should engage the depth. Because what I feel, that when we listen to all these discussions, apparently the message goes to, for example, if some Pakistani is listening to this debate, he will get an impression, “Oh my god, this is a funded research where they are against the Pakistanis?”, and that’s all, full stop. They are not going to listen to us. That is the impression, not from a historical or a discipline from history. That is from the media side, as well. There could be a middle way. For example, still Pakistani people are unable to understand the concept of nation. That’s why Baluchi people are going to face all these atrocities. That’s why South Punjab, the area that I’m from, they are still not, we will say, considering themselves as a real part of Pakistan. They always demand that we should be a separate province because, still, the Pakistani military, the Pakistani bureaucrats, the Pakistani politicians, they are exploiting this concept. In that situation, when a Pakistani is not understanding the concept of nation, even there that is unable to understand that in all this geography there should be equality of basic human rights, we are going to give them a new concept that our nation state is something. We should address that. “Oh my god, this nation state that is built on a power structure and that is going to exploit the human beings.” Pakistani, young scholars or people...I am not young, but I can say that. My suggestion is that Farina’s point is wonderful, and all other points, as well. We need to engage the work of other people. We need to create the in‑depth knowledge. A suggestion is that this should be two‑step process.
Because what I felt in last four months, that whatever we are doing or whatever we are trying to do, whether in reference to the current situation, American literature, American history, American situation, Pakistani people cannot absorb it at one step. They will have to learn it gradually. For example, yesterday Kamran raised a question that, “Why you are so interested in this knowledge and all these sort of religions, although, not you are not from religious studies or history.”
One is coming back to this idea of failed. I’m curious. Yes, it is a deeply problematic discourse in the way it’s been structured, yet if you really look at it, there are serious failures in Pakistan. It is in many ways a failed state, but so is the United States. Huge civil rights problems, lack of democracy, poverty is extensive. It is a failed state, so is Germany, so is France, so is the UK. There are hardly any nation states that we can’t say that isn’t a failed state. What is the point of this discourse about failure?
And I was imagining, when Farina was talking, the history department people I know from Punjab University, “Oh my god, if they would be here, how would they respond to that question?” How would they respond to your things?” This should be in two steps.
Can we reframe failure away from the judgment evaluation of us towards them, in this case you, towards a recognition in the sense of a failure of the nation state? Not just economically and politically. It’s total and complete lack of humanity. It is an utterly immoral, inhumane construct.
From media studies I am also interested to do, because I was thinking different projects that I could study, such as the history in the media. Every year they are going to celebrate different things in our newspapers. Even I have planned different things in my mind that I will study, history in the media, how they are going to.
That’s obviously a very opinionated idea, but if you get to it there are ways in which it constructs divisions, violence, etc. Can we reframe failure away from particular nation-states to the nationstate itself and still allow us to see, then, the social problems within certain places?
I think this should be two‑step process. First we need to build the capacity. We are very lucky people that we have come here. We have learned how to understand different perspectives. How to appreciate them. How to engage different theories. How to engage ourselves. That is a first step. First, we need to understand that this is the ABC. This is the nation. This is the concept. This is the geography. This the way we do the work. Second step that is the intellectual that you are talking about. I think that is the 2016 model. My opinion could be wrong, but in terms of nation, religion, and all these things, we are still in 1947 in Pakistan. Thank you very much. Chad Haines: There’s so much being circulated around… There are two particular points I want to discuss or bring out. 160
The other comes back to this question, and it’s a troubling one for me as an anthropologist, and the angst of an anthropologist in the reflexive moment. What Sobia was talking about earlier, the Western‑centric. There are ways in which I have privilege, and my colleagues, who are based here in the United States, have extreme privilege to go to Pakistan, do research, spend a year, spend two years, do whatever, come back, produce knowledge about it that people in Pakistan don’t have. In the same way, to come here and produce knowledge about the United States. Why isn’t there a really deep program of American studies in Pakistan? The whole construction of knowledge production in the global economy of knowledge, if you will, also has to be seriously interrogated and our position in that. That’s what I was getting at earlier, with the sites of knowledge production that we have to look at.
Seemab Far Bukhari: It felt refreshed, so nice to listen to the conversion from Pakistan Studies to the study of Pakistan because I have been a student of Pakistan Studies, as it was an essential subject in the curriculum. So far I felt on the national level that my society, or my country, or the Pakistani society of Pakistan are much beyond the Pakistan Studies concepts and the Pakistan Studies books. On national level what I felt, that there were not many things. Those were not included in the syllabus or in the circle of this term. On international level, when I see, I found not many research or studies concerning about two areas of Pakistan. One is the religion, and second one is politics. I do respect all these areas, or I do respect the emerging discipline of Pakistan Studies back at home, but Pakistani society is much more beyond this, as well. There are many things, social realities in Pakistani society. There are human subjects involved in Pakistani society. Human subjects in such a society that has lost almost 35,000 lives from the last 11 years without having any role, being a victim of terrorism, and all those stuff. Academia is there. Social psychology. Not many areas are there. There is another part. That is the minorities. Not the religious minorities, but the intellectual minorities in Pakistani society. Those people who are struggling, who are striving to create knowledge, who are studying things, those are much more energetic, but they are not getting their way out to express themselves. I’m very happy to see that at least we have started this new dimension to the study of Pakistan after listening to the discussion between Ammar, and Farina, and Amber, and all of you, because we are discussing the connotations, and interpretations, and the linguistics, and all those things beyond the Pakistan Studies concept. This is so very much refreshing and promising for me to listen, that a new term is generated for
Pakistan. Thank you. Omar Kasmani: I wanted to return to one of the points that Chad had brought up, the queer theory possibilities, and to think about that. I think it’s very, very important. It’s one of the things that I struggle with in my own work, thinking about what does it mean to instrumentalize or operationalize queer theory in talking about religious life and in very particular context. It could be a very easy jump to say, “ [inaudible 81:41] are very queer bodies and queer persons,” but I also shy away from that, from thinking about the violence that could come with it. Also, to your question about how do we produce theory and not just quote it. There is something about, at least in the kind of work that I’m interested in with these interlocutors, to somehow locate and situate questions of ambivalence, questions of anxieties, questions of failure in the religious project. This, again, ties to this question of failure and its relationship. Failure as a society of possibilities. To go back to Kamran’s ‑‑ as I said, I’m recycling these thoughts ‑‑ what Kamran had earlier talked about, which I hadn’t thought about, the idea that history is something which is involved with taming the future. Because we are talking about the history of Pakistan and we are thinking about where do we go, it’s already looking at that. There’s this idea that looking in queer ways and looking in queer places should be something that perhaps we have to keep in mind as we look towards the future. Where queerness is more about, to go back to a more special metaphor, to sit more jaggedly in a landscape. Also to think about the spatial aspect, because we’re talking about a landscape in which this work is situated, to think about how queerness can become a way that this simply does not extend the narrative. It’s questions of extenuation that we have brought up. To highlight that. 161
Farina Mir: I wanted to make a clarification. I think this comes back to a much earlier point made by SherAli [Tareen]. One is that I want to distinguish, for the record, between knowledge and disciplines. In that when I’m making very harsh criticisms about the field. I’m talking about the discipline from a subject position, the US academy. Because I don’t want that in any way to be confused with the idea that there isn’t immense knowledge. It’s also differential by fields. There’s also linguistic terrain. My criticisms are about English language scholarship that is circulating in the North American and European academy, as the focus of my analysis because that’s the field that I am in. SherAli and I have been talking about my work on Punjabi literature. The best scholarship was written in Urdu on Punjabi, and it was by local scholars, most of whom did not have institutional affiliations, so we had to go out and find them. These are some of the problems that we’re also dealing with. Which comes back to your point about the institutional constraints within Pakistan, is that if the burden is on us, who are based here, working on Pakistan to actually look beyond the kind of what looks like an absence sometimes of knowledge. Because there are constraints that are not allowing it to be necessarily produced and articulated, in the same fields that we anticipated in, and yet it is very much there. I just wanted to...Lest there be no space for misunderstanding on that point, but I also think it’s really disciplinary. It’s not surprising that that comment would come from you in religious studies, where I think actually there’s been more of a dialogue than there has been in the discipline of history. I think we want to also recognize that differential terrain disciplinarily across the disciplines respect represented at this table. Abdul Haque: I don’t know what to say, but I will say like this, like Kafka’s Pakistan. I will say, 162
for example, when we grow up, we were in Saudi Arabia. We thought that Pakistan is our country and this is like something else. When we went to Pakistan and we asked, “Pakistan kahe hain?” I think for me, my whole life I’ve been looking, where is Pakistan? Recently, for example, when I was doing this, my PhD research, when I was thinking about Karachi, everybody in Karachi says, “It’s mine.” Urdu speaking people say, “it’s mine.” I was looking at the Portuguese community’s writings on Karachi and the way they were describing about the place. It really touched me in a way that I realize that what I think is my space, or what somebody else thinks is his space, it’s everybody’s space. When the Portuguese writer describes Karachi, he says that it’s like history on the sands of sea or something, water, something like that. It stuck to me that even, for example, we’re doing research, we are coming from different backgrounds, trying to reconcile with the Pakistan, but we see some community which is a minority, we don’t know much. If you ask them what they think, they will say they are the ones who created Pakistan. They know more about Pakistan. Having said this, I will just that there may be much has more to come. Much more to come. Future seems to be bright. I’m enlightened by everybody’s discussion in hope for a better future. Omar Kasmani: Very briefly, I think the question of the time is very, very important. I think institutions like AIPS can really play a critical part in destabilizing and pluralizing that kind of narrative. For example, as a doctoral student, you would take a preliminary exam on South Asian historiography. References would be to browse the Robinson debate, or the Cornwallis debate, and so on. How the historians formed, say, 19th century or 20th century. Those who even came to Pakistan... Even the question of history and different way of imagining the question of narrative and so on. I think precisely that question of the current and how this kind of a dialogue could destabilize the current
and address the kind of power that work here in terms of the hospitality of the archive. When you go there and there is this real fear of absorbing things and then... Yasmin Saikia: That goes back to the Islam rejoinder. Seemab said something very interesting. She said, “We started Pakistan Studies in school, and this is what gave us the idea that my country, my thing.” Kamran talked about the Islamization. I think we never think of it what we study in our schools and colleges as part of a larger phenomenon. At a very young age, people are exposed to Pakistan Studies, it appears. By the time they come to the university, they have to do history as a scholar. How is it that it translates from Pakistan Studies to history is something I would really like to begin to understand with my Pakistani colleagues working in Pakistan. Pakistan Studies continues all the way, I agree and I sort of accept that from elementary school or middle school to high school, all the way to university, but something suddenly happens in the university called history that is never taught at a level of school. At a level of the school historical thinking is not a matter of investigation. Akram Soomro: Social studies only. Ammar Jan: BA. Yasmin: No, no, BA is something else. We are talking of school ‑‑ high school. When you don’t create, as you say, in the kind of...forget the canon, forget that knowledge. The thinking, what is Tarikh compared to what is History? If you have to get into this conversation between the two, maybe there will be an appreciation that history is not simply transmission from the past and about the past, like hadith literature. What is it then? I don’t think that methodology has started. We have a narrative of Pakistan in Pakistan Studies. Listening to Seemab that question came up to me: how does a Pakistan Studies person become a historian?
Tanvir Anjum: I’ve grown up in Pakistan. I’ve undertaken courses in Pakistan studies in my college in my university. Especially when I was doing my master’s degree, we were taught the same kind of nationalist history. It was only after doing my M.Phil. that I actually started challenging the whole thing, viewing it from various perspectives. Now I see that my students who are doing M.Sc., they are able to challenge what really involves a painful process. They endure a painful process, because for many, many years, they have studied. They have built a foundation...They put people, personalities, things on high pedestals and then they are destabilized. I can see clearly a problem in how a Pakistan Studies person can become a historian. I was thinking of another question that might be relevant to the entire debate taking place here. I work on medieval India. I work on medieval South Asia. I was basically thinking about how we can situate medieval South Asia in studies on Pakistan. Because when we talk about medieval South Asia, we don’t really talk about the areas which now comprise Pakistan. We have to talk about Delhi. We have to talk about Deccan. We have to talk about Bengal. For me, it’s a problematic area of how we can situate medieval studies as historians and especially in studies on Pakistan. Akram Soomro: One interesting thing I would like to share...That the people who start preparation for the civil service exams, in 99 percent cases, when they literally opt the subject of Indian history. Or British history, or particularly Indian history, they completely go against the Pakistan Studies notion, and then they start criticizing. The people I know, because I have been in that process as well in early 2000. Everybody goes against the Pakistan notion, entire Pakistan history notion and Islamic ideology and rest of the things, so instead of understanding, they become reactive, because they don’t know how to understand that historical thing if something went 163
wrong for them.
Once I gave a particular book to our faculty and students. After they read it, they went against the entire notion. I said, “Isn’t the way to try to understand the problem.” This is an interesting thing that the people and the bureaucracy, particularly, apparently, whatever they say, that is not the truth.
We have scholars who come from different universities and spend four months, and they become really uncomfortable because over here, in religious studies, the text is being read as text. It is being critically opened up and closed, yeah.
Because in their personal conversation, they have a different version of the history of Pakistan, as well as the Indian history and the making of Pakistan. Omar Kasmani: I was just talking about this issue. If you bring up about critical discourse in any discipline, then it becomes very subversive. For instance, in Pakistan where anthropology, is being taught, basically, it’s the study of tribes and development and all that. The fundamental question that in American anthropology we are taught is the issue of the relativity of truth. It becomes subversive. You’re saying how does Pakistan studies become history? If you have a serious engagement with history, then it becomes a problem... Kamran Ali: The point is that my friend is saying it has to be a two‑set. No, we have to find modalities, because if you’re going to sort of have a cultural, the sort of historically American culture anthropology is made, whatever it is – colonial or other roots. The idea is that it’s based on this strong wise notion of cultural relativity. Which sort of undermine any kind of factual idea of any truth, whether it’s religion or anything. You can refocus it as...I’m sorry to say, but at social anthropology, you can study the people in this tribe or that tribe or under development or gender or bombs and burqas, whatever. I’m saying it’s an issue which any serious student in sociology or any social science or humanities, or even in religious studies, if you’re seriously the kind of [inaudible 97:36] at least they can study religious studies here, if he does it over there, it’s 164
Yasmin Saikia: This is why it’s so important that they insist on when we’re having this conversation, the distinction between disciplines and now that... All of us who have done our research value immensely the knowledge bases that people have, but have to engage it through a disciplinary methodology. Omar Kasmani: Even disciplinary methodology, what I’m trying to say that even the way disciplines are taught, of course, you have different kinds of archives, different methodologies, and different kinds of canons to address, but I think there is a fundamental critical engagement with data that undermines a mention of any kind of verifiable truth. The point is so that is sort of common in the production in which all of us have gone in social science and humanities. There’s a certain kind of a similarity that we are made to think that nothing is sacrosanct. That becomes a problem. Nothing is sacrosanct. If my friend is coming from religious department, department of religious studies, he knows friends in Pakistan, they are basically trying to say that the mullahs are wrong, this is not true Islam. They’re defending the framework of Islam rather than asking difficult questions. Yasmin Saikia: Agreed. Imdad Hussain: Thank you so much. I think this is a wonderful discussion. I have just two comments, they can be taken as questions also. Firstly, I wanted to ask what does the discipline of history have to offer to the study of contemporary issues and trends of social change in Pakistan? Similarly, what does the discipline of history have
to offer to other disciplines since most of us come from disciplines other than history. These are the two questions. Ammar Jan: I think there’s a logic question of methodology, which is just huge in a place like Pakistan where, there’s a public life of history, which is extremely different, as compared to, let’s say, in the West. It really hit home for me when I started teaching at a public school, as compared to where I was teaching earlier. You could actually have a conversation about Jinnah there. First, you can call him Jinnah and not Quaid-e-Azam. Then you can criticize him, you can criticize the Pakistan movement, and it can generate a good discussion. Even if students have violent fantasies against you in the public institution where I teach now, because of the hierarchy, they won’t say much. There will be a decent kind of a conversation. At a place like my current university, second week I was there, we were organizing an event on the history of privatization in Pakistan. As soon as the event went up on social media, we started getting calls from intelligence agencies. The VC was pressured, threatened, and eventually, publicly, it had to be canceled. This is just history of privatization. We couldn’t do it formally, so we had to do informally, which then tells you how much, what a close eye they keep. This is not even like a myth or an exaggeration. It’s a very close eye that they keep on public universities, because that’s where they get more than Islam, which is of course the problem. It’s also question of bureaucracy. A lot of the civil service candidates come from these universities, come from places like Punjab University or FC College. Our chief minister is very anxious about what’s being discussed at a place like FC College or Government College. I think it already gives us great material for writing a history of history, of methodology, because even if it’s like those anthropologists who…if the subject refuses to talk to them, they write an entire chapter on this refusal.
I think this stupidity of the Pakistani state and the pressures that historians face, can allow us to also really delve into the methodology of history writing and how alternative histories have already been written and circulated. You have not only popular memory but popular history as such, you have a lot of that, mostly seen in Baluchistan and KPK but also in Punjab. That already then allows us to build new kinds of links between this institution and public history. Yasmin Saikia: I think the question that Imdad raised leads us again to ask what can history do in the contemporary times? Is history about the past or is history about the present and future? What has history to offer to contemporary studies and how can history offer something new to other disciplines? I think that are good closing questions. It’s an open kind of deliberation that we have been doing for the last two days, but I think Ammar actually pointed us to something very, very important and we really need to think about. I think some of us are trained historians here, so we need to think about this issue of public history. There is an entire world of public history that we have not really tapped into when we only work with texts and archives. Hayden White writes excellently about it. What kind of paths are we finding and are there multiple paths we can take on the same time-line? If we look at those multiplicities of history at the same time, the public, the institutional, the private, they can really come together and can inform very different understandings. I think that’s the work that Ammar has particularly pointed out, that is going on in KPK. Or, as I was reminded recently, never use the word KPK. It’s Khyber Pakthunkha. We must refer to it by its full name, not an abbreviated form. I still remember a discussion with a Baluchi student in FCC. After I gave a talk in FCC on my 1971 project, a Baluchi student came up to me and said, “Can you please write a history like this about 165
us? Because only if an outside scholar writes something like this, people would pay attention to the atrocities, this kind of non‑human thing that we have been made into.” To think of history, what it offers to other disciplines, and in our contemporary times, I think it’s a take‑home point for me, and perhaps I can share with others, is that I have started asking the question, what is the purpose of doing history? It’s not just what kind of history I write, and how it informs other disciplines, but what is the purpose? And I think I’ve come to the conclusion that history is a point of a beginning of ethics, and ethics, which is humanistic, which can be both religious and secular. It doesn’t have to completely deny the religious, nor does it have to completely say that only religion can take us, guide us with values, and the secular does not exist. I think history allows you to do that. It humanizes time. It humanizes us. Through that human kind of recognition, we actually start seeing others, and start appreciating about the rights of others to speak about them. Also, we need to develop the capacity to listen, that we also heard today quite a lot. I think, in the case of Pakistan, as Omar told us very clearly, is that there is...the state that has almost decided that history belongs to the state, not to the people. How do we now rethink that people are the agents of history? People are the architects of history. People are the subjects of history. People are the one who will carry history with them. The traveling metaphor that we had earlier. You have traveled with your history. We are traveling with ours.
Published on Oct 21, 2016
On April 28-29, 2016 the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University hosted “Trending Pakistan”, an internatio...