Islam and Politics

Secular Pakistan

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By Eqbal Ahmad

Islam, Politics, and the State, ed. Mohammad Asghar Khan (London. Zed Press, 1985 )

In writing about Islam and politics, one faces special difficulties. The field of Islamic studies, strewn with ancient potholes and modern mines, is dominated by apparently different but complementary adversaries-the “traditionalist” Ulema and the “modern” Orientalists. Their methods are different; so are their intentions. Yet, with few exceptions, both tend to view Islam’s relationship to politics in fundamentalist and textual terms. Both emphasize the absence of separation between religion and politics in Islam. Both hold an essentially static view of Islam and interpret change and innovations produced by social and economic forces as impingements on established, therefore ordained, religious standards. Both treat Muslim history, especially its most creative periods-that is, the Umayyads in Spain, the Moghuls in India, the Safavids in Persia-as deviations from the norm. The interplay of the Westerners’…

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