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Jamāʿat-i Islāmī


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Pakistani Islamic revivalist party founded by Mawlana Abu al-Ala Mawdudi in 1941 in pre-partition India. The party encourages the reformation of society through education and conversion rather than by coercion. Its political agenda was premised on a program of training the vanguard “Islamic elite” to oversee the revival of Islam on the national level and mobilize the masses using religious symbols and ideals. Its political activism in the 1940s and 1950s culminated in an open confrontation with the government over the role of religion in politics, and it began direct participation in politics via elections in 1951. The party tried to undermine Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's regime by appealing to religious sentiments, and under the subsequent regime of General Zia-ul-Haq it became a political and ideological force in government, occupying important government offices, including cabinet posts, and playing a direct role in the Islamization of the country (introduction of traditional Islamic law) and the articulation of state policy, although it has never achieved success in elections. The party was rendered politically vulnerable when it was perceived to have been co-opted by the regime, and as Zia fell out of favor with the masses, so did the party. Its social and cultural influence is based on its organizational structure and its ability to manipulate the religious factor in Pakistan's political balance; it developed ties with students and, consequently, with the bureaucracy and the military. The party played an important role in the Afghan resistance in the 1980s and remains active in the struggle for the freedom of Kashmir from India. It has developed extensive contacts in the Islamic revivalist movements in the Middle East.

See also Islami Jamiat Tulaba

Subjects: Islam.


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