The Reluctant Fundamentalist : Pakistan and the Use of Religion

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The book The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid follows the life of Changez, a Pakistani man who comes to the United States in search of opportunity. After the September 11th terrorist attacks, he finds that he is viewed differently by Americans. Changez serves as an example of the tensions existing in Pakistan between Islam and modernity in a global setting. In this paper I will argue that the state used religion to serve political needs in Pakistan’s birth, development of its government policies and its modern educational practices. Since the partition of India, there were signs that Islamic movements were demanding creation of a nation. Allama Iqbal, a philosopher of Muslim India, is credited with articulating the idea that only creating an Islamic state the Islamic society could be preserved. Iqbal also viewed Islam as a binding force, which would integrate the Muslim community consisting of various ethnic and linguistic origins, thus making his view of nationalism both ideological as well as territorial. In 1940, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, passed the Lahore resolution, a political statement adopted by the Muslim League demanding the creation of independent states for Muslims. The majority of the congress were non-religious and opposed the division, however the idea was taken up by the Hindu and Muslim masses. In a short amount of time the Muslim League mobilized the Muslim population behind the slogan of “Pakistan- a nation for Muslims”. Religion was always described as the most important basis of Muslim nationhood, but it is noteworthy that in Pakistan’s case, Islam was used as a way to foster group identity with the intent of mobilizing the masses. The actual belief system of Islam did not play a significant role in the pre-independence days, since the Muslim League did not appeal to the ulama (Muslims legal scholars). Pakistan was created in 1947, and it hardly had any national unity: they did not speak the same language or have a homogenous culture,...
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