For long, we've grappled with the questions of Islam and Pakistan, Islam in Pakistan and, after Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's death, whether the founder wanted the nation state to be secular or theocratic.

The larger question of Islam as religion, state and culture has been analysed by several historians. Islam as a political and governing ideology of Pakistan has also been extensively explored. A study of the institutions that work with reference to Islam in Pakistan is the gap Dr Sarah Holz intended to fill with her new book, Governance of Islam in Pakistan: An Institutional Study of the Council of Islamic Ideology.

Debating the relation between state and religion is not nuanced or limited to Pakistan. Disciplining and regulating people through processes of governance - that define what is good, bad, legal and illegal - is fundamental to nation states. In Pakistan, this debate is taken as an earnest and insistent necessity, because of its link to the dominant narrative of the state as an Islamic Republic.

Ulema groups or religious political parties are widely studied, but the coordinating role played by institutions that work with reference to Islam is overlooked. The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) is one of Pakistan's oldest Islamic institutions and an examination of the actors, factors and debates that have contributed to its institutional development, and enabled or restricted its scope of action, was long needed.

A political scientist deconstructs the work of the Council of Islamic Ideology and how it fits into Pakistan's 'Islamisation' narrative

Holz advocates the study of the CII and similar institutions against the backdrop of political science. Therefore, she departs from the existing and established frameworks of analysis - such as 'Islamisation' or bureaucratisation lenses - that look into it in binaries of religious and non-religious spheres of life and assume linear developments. She conceptualises the CII not as an isolated institution, but one that has evolved with the socio-political context and in relation to other institutions that call the shots.

Analysing the subject through the lens of governance allows Holz to consider the unpredictable collaborations, differences and dissent that arise from the interactions and negotiations among the network of state institutions, as well as between state institutions and the public.

The 'Islamisation' framework - a grand narrative that obscures the complexity of everyday...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT