Muhammad Qasim Zaman
’s Islam in Pakistan: A History
(Princeton University Press, 2018) is a landmark publication in the fields of Religious Studies, modern Islam, South Asian Islam, and by far the most important and monumental contribution to date in the study of Islam in Pakistan. This book takes the reader on an intellectual roller-coaster, that through mesmerizingly layered archival work, makes visible for the first time in the Euro-American academy the religious thought of a number of previously unknown yet extremely important actors, while thoroughly complicating conventional wisdom about a number of familiar religious and political actors. As has been the hallmark of Zaman’s previous scholarship that traverses early, medieval, and modern Islam, the main strength of Islam in Pakistan
also lies in the way it seamlessly moves between the close and unexpected analyses of complex religious texts and the careful historicizing of the significance and ambiguities invested in those texts and in the careers of their authors. In this book Zaman presents a detailed account of the ambiguities surrounding the relationship between multiple claimants to Islam in Pakistan. The chapters in this book examine a range of critical themes including the career and ethical commitments of modernism in Pakistan, ‘ulama
’-state relations, shifting views on religious minorities, the complicated place of Sufism’s religious history, and the nuances involved in understanding jihad and militancy in Pakistan. This lucidly written book is a must-read for all students and scholars of Islam; it will also make a great text for advanced undergraduate and graduate seminars on modern Islam, South Asian Islam, and South Asian Religions.
SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listener feedback is most welcome.