Imagining the “Muslim” Woman

Religious movements and constructions of gender in the sub-continent

Authored by: Meryem Zaman

The Postcolonial World

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138778078
eBook ISBN: 9781315297699
Adobe ISBN: 9781315297682


 Download Chapter



Increasing numbers of urban middle- and upper-class Pakistani women are veiling and participating in piety movements, 1 which have gained large followings in urban Pakistan and have set up faith-based institutions, schools, and private classes. 2 Young college students are demonstrating growing religious sentiment and affiliation with ideas of Pakistan as an Islamic state, 3 and TV shows and newspapers are conducting a vibrant public discourse regarding gender and Islamic piety. While all of these factors mimic changes in other Muslim countries with resurgent Islamic movements, I argue that Pakistan’s postcolonial history impacts Pakistani revivalist movements’ utilization of well-known and widely accepted tropes of cultural corruption popularized by independence movements in pre-partition India, leading them to claim to be the bearers of an explicitly Pakistani culture as well as a “pure” Islam. A number of scholars have pointed to the growing tension between revivalist/“fundamentalist” women, and their non-revivalist counterparts in Pakistan. 4 These tensions center around questions of religious and cultural authenticity, 5 and can be seen operating in the public discourse surrounding the question of women and religion. Popular newspaper articles and TV shows challenge the legitimacy of revivalist modes of religious expression, asking whether revivalist reforms themselves are not “more cultural than religious or scriptural.” 6 These new debates around the well-worn issues of tradition and modernity offer telling insights into the constantly evolving roles and identities of women along the religious and cultural fault-lines of the modern Pakistani state.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.