Longing for the State: the Dialectics of the Local and the Transnational in Pakistan's Sunni - Shiʿi Sectarianism

Azam Tariq

Longing for the State: the Dialectics of the Local and the Transnational in Pakistan's Sunni - Shiʿi Sectarianism

Tuesday, 17 November 2015 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Venue: 
Fellows' Dining Room
Speaker(s): 
Simon Fuchs (Cambridge)
Convenor: 
Dr F Devji
Series: 
South Asia Seminar

The talk investigates the transformation of sectarian discourses in Pakistan since the 1970s. I contend that anti-Shiʿi religious scholars considered the Iranian Revolution as a threatening attempt at world domination and subversion of the fundamentals of Islamic politics. Even though they still highlighted doctrinal incompatibilities between 'real' and Shiʿi Islam, Shiʿis were now primarily framed as a political problem: they were blocking Pakistan from being molded into its true form, namely a Sunni state with aspirations to global leadership. Yet, in formulating their answer to Khomeini, these Sunni groups attempted to reclaim the Caliphate as a divinely-sanctioned office that strikingly resembled and transcended Iran's model of government.

Simon Wolfgang Fuchs is a Research Fellow in Islamic Studies at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge. He is interested in questions of religious authority, transnational Islam, and renegotiations of the Islamic scholarly tradition in the modern and contemporary Middle East and South Asia. Simon completed his PhD dissertation, which focuses on Shiʿi Islam in colonial India and Pakistan, at Princeton University's Department of Near Eastern Studies in September 2015.