Secularizing Islamists? provides a thorough analysis of two Islamist parties in Pakistan, the highly influential Jama‘at-e-Islami and the more militant Jama‘at-ud-Da‘wa, widely blamed for the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai. Basing her findings on ethnographic work with the two parties in Lahore, Humeira Iqtidar says that these Islamists are involuntarily facilitating secularization within Muslim societies, even as they vehemently oppose secularism.
This book offers a fine-grained account of the workings of both parties. It challenges received ideas about the relationship between the ideology of secularism and the processes of secularization.
Iqtidar illuminates the impact of women on Pakistani Islamism while arguing that these Islamist groups are inadvertently supporting secularization by forcing a critical engagement with the place of religion in public and private life. She highlights the role that competition among Islamists, as well as the focus on the state as the center of their activity, play in assisting secularization.
The result is a significant contribution to our understanding of emerging trends in Islam and politics within South Asia.
Humeira Iqtidar is a lecturer in politics at King’s College, London. Her research is in social and political theory relating to secularism, citizenship, religion, the state, and the market.