The Shias of Pakistan: An Assertive and Beleaguered Minority

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9781849043557: The Shias of Pakistan: An Assertive and Beleaguered Minority
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The Shias of Pakistan are the world's second largest Shia community after that of Iran, but com- prise only 10-15 per cent of Pakistan's population. In recent decades Sunni extremists have increasingly targeted them with hate propaganda and terrorism, yet paradoxically Shias have always been fully integrated into all sections of political, professional and social life without suffering any discrimination. In mainstream politics, the Shia- Sunni divide has never been an issue in Pakistan. Shia politicians in Pakistan have usually downplayed their religious beliefs, but there have always been individuals and groups who emphasised their Shia identity, and who zeal- ously campaigned for equal rights for the Shias wherever and whenever they perceived these to be threatened. Shia 'ulama' have been at the forefront of communal activism in Pakistan since 1949, but Shia laymen also participated in such organisations, as they had in pre-partition India. Based mainly on Urdu sources, Rieck's book examines, first, the history of Pakistan's Shias, including their communal organisations, the growth of the Shia 'ulama' class, of religious schools and rivalry between 'orthodox' 'ulama' and popular preachers; second, the outcome of lobbying of successive Pakistan governments by Shia organisations; and third, the Shia-Sunni conflict, which is increasingly virulent due to the state's failure to combat Sunni extremism.

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"With the attention of the world on the problems of terrorism and violence in Pakistan, much of it focused upon the killings of the Shia minority, The Shias of Pakistan is a most valuable and timely book. Rieck presents a nuanced and historically contextualised study of the Shia in Pakistan since independence. It examines the cultural and political significance of Shia elites in the formation of the state as well as the structural reasons for the rise in anti-Shia militancy since the late 1980s. It is a welcome addition to the literature on rights, religion and politics in South Asia and also successfully speaks to our understanding of contemporary Shia Islam and anti-Shiism in different parts of the world." -- Sajjad Rizvi, Director of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter


"A major contribution to our understanding of today's Pakistan viewed through the history of one of its most important minority communities, Twelver Shi'as. Meticulously researched using Urdu, Persian and English language sources, it provides a thorough historical overview of the spread of Sh'a Islam to various parts of South Asia and the important influence this group, that has periodically held power in certain quarters, has had on Pakistan. It also provides important insights into the descent into religious extremism in the country. This is a 'must read' for seeking to the contemporary political and social crises currently engulfing the country." -- Anita M. Weiss, University of Oregon, author of Interpreting Islam, Modernity and Women' Rights in Pakistan


"This is the most comprehensive book on the Shias of Pakistan today, not only because of its historical scope, but also because of its detailed study of all the thinkers, leaders and organisations which mattered -- including those supporting violent action. Rieck focuses on Pakistan, but he factors in the major role of Iran in the making of Shia militancy. As a result, this remarkable book lays at the interface of the domestic dynamics and the foreign influences." -- Christophe Jaffrelot, Research Director at CNRS and author of The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resistance


"Building upon a vast array of Urdu sources, this is a meticulous yet passionate foray into the political history of the second largest Shia community in the world. Refuting the idea that Pakistani Shias would constitute an oppressed minority, Rieck demonstrates that they always played a critical role in the country's social, political and economic life, even as they bore the brunt of religious intolerance and sectarian violence." -- Laurent Gayer, Research Fellow at CNRS, and author of Karachi: Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City


"A major contribution to our understanding of today's Pakistan viewed through the history of one of its most important minority communities, Twelver Shi'as. Meticulously researched using Urdu, Persian and English language sources, it provides a thorough historical overview of the spread of Sh'a Islam to various parts of South Asia and the important influence this group, that has periodically held power in certain quarters, has had on Pakistan. It also provides important insights into the descent into religious extremism in the country. This is a 'must read' for seeking to the contemporary political and social crises currently engulfing the country." -- Anita M. Weiss, University of Oregon, author of Interpreting Islam, Modernity and Women' Rights in Pakistan


"With the attention of the world on the problems of terrorism and violence in Pakistan, much of it focused upon the killings of the Shia minority, The Shias of Pakistan is a most valuable and timely book. Rieck presents a nuanced and historically contextualised study of the Shia in Pakistan since independence. It examines the cultural and political significance of Shia elites in the formation of the state as well as the structural reasons for the rise in anti-Shia militancy since the late 1980s. It is a welcome addition to the literature on rights, religion and politics in South Asia and also successfully speaks to our understanding of contemporary Shia Islam and anti-Shiism in different parts of the world." -- Sajjad Rizvi, Director of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter


"With this magnificent study, Andreas Rieck has singlehandedly put Pakistan's Shia on the map of scholarly inquiry. Skillfully navigating vast Urdu materials, he carefully analyzes the history of the community's uneasy relationship with the Pakistani state and documents the dramatically changing nature of sectarianism in the country. A truly pioneering work." -- Simon Wolfgang Fuchs, Princeton University


"The Shias of Pakistan is a very timely and important addition to the literature on the politics of religion in the Muslim world. It is the first and the only detailed study of an important subject we know very little about. It is insightful, scholarly, and readable. Both students and experts of Pakistan, Islam, and Islamic terrorism will hugely benefit from this book."-- "The Washington BookReview


About the Author:

Andreas T. Rieck has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Hamburg and served with the UN Mission to Afghanistan before spending four years in Pakistan with the Hanns Seidel Foundation. Since 2007 he has been an advisor to the German Federal Criminal Police Office, Berlin.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780190240967: The Shias of Pakistan: An Assertive and Beleaguered Minority

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0190240962 ISBN 13:  9780190240967
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2016
Hardcover