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Islam is the official religion of the Islamic Republic of Pakistanmarker. In the 1998 census, it found 97% of the total population were Muslims, and in 2007 at 97% and out of Muslim population (Sunni 75%, Shi'a 20%). The estimated population of Muslims of Pakistan in 2009 is 175,376,000. Pakistan has the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesiamarker. The majority of Muslims in Pakistan are Sunnis, and the Shi'a Muslim population is the second largest in the world after Iranmarker, more than 50 million.

Umayyad Invasion of Sindh and the Arrival of Islam

Islam arrived in the area now known as Pakistanmarker in 711 CE, when the Umayyad dynasty sent a Muslim Arab army led by Muhammad bin Qasim against the ruler of Sindhmarker, Raja Dahir, this was due to the fact that Raja Dahir had given refuge to numerous Zorostrian Princes who had fled the Islamic invasion of Iran. The Arabs demanded their return to face forced conversion or death and they refused to return. Mohummad Bin Qasim's army was defeated in his first thee attempts. The army conquered the northwestern part of Indus Valley from Kashmirmarker to the Arabian Seamarker. The arrival of the Arab Muslims to the provinces of Sindh and Punjabmarker, along with subsequent Muslim dynasties, set the stage for the religious boundaries of South Asia that would lead to the development of the modern state of Pakistan as well as forming the foundation for Islamic rule which quickly spread across much of South Asia. Following the rule of various Islamic empires, including the Ghaznavid Empire, the Ghorid kingdom, and the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals controlled the region from 1526 until 1739. Muslim technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and Sufis flocked from the rest of the Muslim world to Islamic Sultanate and Mughal Empire in South Asia and in the land that became Pakistan.

Sufism in Pakistan

Sufism has a strong tradition in Pakistan. The Muslim Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting the millions of native people to Islam. As in other areas where Sufis introduced it, Islam to some extent syncretized with pre-Islamic influences, resulting in a religion with some traditions distinct from those of the Arab world. The Naqshbandiya, Qadiriya, Chishtiya and Suhrawardiyya silsas havea a large following in Pakistan. Sufis whose shrines receive much national attention are Data Ganj Baksh (Ali Hajweri) in Lahoremarker (ca. eleventh century), Baha-ud-din Zakariya in Multanmarker and Shahbaz Qalander in Sehwanmarker(ca. twelfth century). and Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai in Bhit, Sindh and Rehman Baba in NWFPmarker.

Islam and the Pakistan Movement

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

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

Salafi Islam in Pakistan

It is represented by the Ahle Hadith movement in Indiamarker, Pakistanmarker and Bangladeshmarker.

Politicized Islam

From the outset, politics and religion have been intertwined both conceptually and practically in Islam. Because Prophet Muhammad established a government in Madina, precedents of governance and taxation exist. Through the history of Islam, from the Ummayyad (661-750) and Abbasid empires (750-1258) to the Mughals (1526- 1858), Safavis (1501-1722) and the Ottomans (1300-1923), religion and statehood have been treated as one. Indeed, one of the beliefs of Islam is that the purpose of the state is to provide an environment where Muslims can properly practice their religion. If a leader fails in this, the people have a right to depose him.

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

Muslim sects in Pakistan

Census data indicates that over 96% of the population is Muslim. The Muslims belong to different schools which are called Madhahib i.e, schools of jurisprudence (also 'Maktab-e-Fikr' (School of Thought) in Urdu). Around 85% of Pakistani Muslims are Sunni Muslims and there is a minority 10% Shi'a Muslims.The Hanafi school includes the Barelvis and Deobandis schools. Although the majority of Pakistani Shia Muslims belong to Ithna 'ashariyah school, there are significant minorities: Nizari Ismailis (Aga Khanis) and the smaller Mustaali Dawoodi Bohra and Sulaimani Bohra branches. Many people on the Makran coast of Balochistanmarker follow the Zikri sect of Islam.

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

There are small non-Muslim religious groups: Christian (1.6%), Hindus (1.85%), Ahmadis, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis, Bahá'í, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and others making up approximately 3% of the population.

Laws and customs

There is no law in Pakistan enforcing hijab, although there is strong social pressure for women to observe Purdah in some regions. The practice of wearing Hijab among younger women is growing due to media influence from the Middle East and travels to Persian Gulfmarker countries.Pakistan is also the country with the highest number of Niqab (full-veil) wearing women in the world. In the NWFPmarker and some areas in the Punjabmarker they make up a majority of females.

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

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

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

See also

Further reading

External links


  1. [1] US Department of State
  2. [2] CIA World Factbook - Pakistan
  3. 2008 World Population Data Sheet
  4. Pakistan in the CIA World Factbook

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