chapter  3
Islam before Pakistan
Pages 15

The desire for a homeland for India’s Muslims formed the basis of the idea of Pakistan. The “two-nation theory” justifi ed the All-India Muslim League’s call for special consideration that, at fi rst, did not also entail a demand for a separate country. 1 This theory, formulated by Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1937 (Jaffrelot, Nationalism 12), held that the differences between Muslims and Hindus were stark enough to warrant the creation of separate states; as Christophe Jaffrelot observes, the two-nation theory gave the League and, eventually, Pakistan a “ nationalist ideology…which has been formulated against India, the ‘other nation’” ( Nationalism 7-8). 2 A “Muslim” identity, thus, occupied a central place in the articulation of the idea of Pakistan, which isn’t to say that the idea was intrinsically an Islamic vision. As all students of Pakistani history know, “fraught” best describes the relationship between Islam and the state throughout Pakistan’s history. Indeed, according Ayesha Jalal, Pakistan has been on a “desperate quest for an offi cially sanctioned Islamic identity” (“Conjuring” 74). Nine years after Pakistan’s creation, for instance, the constitution declared the nation an Islamic Republic. And, yet, the project of defi ning “Islam” in this context has vexed the country since. 3 After partition, Ali Usman Qasmi explains, the question “was not about the admissibility of the role of Islam in Pakistan but the kind of Islam to be established and the extent of its infl uence in the working of the state” (1200; emphasis in original). Qasmi’s stress on the word “kind” calls forth a long-standing debate over Islam in South Asia, both in terms of what has become the ideological foundation of Pakistan and that which dis/ allows the belonging of Muslims in other South Asian nations. One of the recurring themes in this debate involves the syncretistic or composite nature of Islam in South Asia.