Islamization Under Gen. Zia

August 5, 2017 | Author: Waleed Akram | Category: Muhammad Zia Ul Haq, Sharia, Pakistan, Abrahamic Religions, Monotheistic Religions
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Religious Developments by President Gen. Zia Ul Haq. Myth and Reality...



WALEED AKRAM [email protected]

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Zia’s Regime

Islamization in Zia’s Regime Introduction Pakistan was designed to be a Muslim state, but the mechanisms to implement such vision were intentionally weak, vague or ill defined.1 According to a Gilani Research Foundation survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan, more than two third of all Pakistanis (67%) believe that government should take steps for the Islamization of the society. However, 48% say steps should be taken one by one as opposed 31% who state steps should be taken at once2. Zia‟s pride in humble social origins, Zia was himself the son of a mullah. His family was also very religious.3 There is no doubt that he believed passionately in Islam, whether or not it was a political tool for him. Even his greatest detractors called him a pious man, and his humility has been described as such that he could convey to handshakes and embraced in a single glance.4 Bhutto’s Islamization policy The early steps toward an Islamic state in Pakistan were taken by Bhutto when he was instituted prohibition and declared an end to gambling and also promised that an Islamic state would soon be created. It seems evident, Whoever, that Zia would have preceded with his Islamization policy whether or not Bhutto had given him a head Start. The religious nature of the state in Pakistan had been a matter of debate since its creation, and various devices had been used to make the constitutions strictly Islamic.5 Zia’s Islamization The Government of Zia-ul-Haq took a number of steps to eradicate non-Islamic practices from the country. He introduced the Zakat, Ushr, Islamic Hadood and Penal Code in the country. The Government invited eminent scholars to compile laws about Islamic financing. The Zakat and Ushr Ordinance to Islamize the economic system was 1


Craig Baxter


Opinion Poll, Religion & Governance Islamization Of Society, Islamabad, May 31, 2011 3

Shahid Javed Burki, Craig Baxter, Pakistan under the Military, (USA: West View Press, 1991), 2.


Christina Lamb, “A Man Strong for Islam”, Financial Times, August 19, 1988.


Burki, 35.

promulgated on June 20, 1980. It covered only Islamic organizations, associations and institutions. Zakat was to be deducted from bank accounts of Muslims at the rate of 2.5 percent annually above the balance of Rupees 3,000. Ushr was levied on the yield of agricultural land in cash or kind at the rate of 10 percent of the agricultural yield, annually. General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq has based his government on what he has called the Nizam-i-Mustafa ("The Order of Prophet"). Zia's government has gradually reorganized much secular institution to bring them into conformity with his advisors „view of Islamic ideology. A number of other Islamization programs were carried out including the teaching of Islamic Studies and Arabic, which were made compulsory. Pakistan Studies and Islamic Studies were made compulsorily for B. A., B. Sc., Engineering, M. B. B. S., Commerce, Law and Nursing students. For professional studies, extra marks were given to people who were Hafiz-e-Quran. The first Ombudsman was appointed to rectify the misadministration of the Federal Government, officials and agencies, and effort to revise the entire legal system, including the Constitution, conform to the shariah (Islamic Law).6 General Zia redirected the discourse of Pakistani politics with new vigor with the object of Islamizing the polity, society and economy. He was emphatic and persistent in arguing that Pakistan was an „ideological state‟ where Islamic laws have not been operationalized.7 Not all religious groups agreed with his content and methods of Islamization but Jamaat-i-Islami emerged as the most enthusiastic supporter and defender of Zia‟s Islamization a partner in the pursuit of transforming Pakistan into an „ideological state‟.8 In his first address to the nation, he declared that Islamic laws would be enforced and that earnest attention would be devoted towards establishing the Islamic society for which Pakistan had been created. General Zia wanted to bring the legal, social, economic 6

J. Henry Korson, Islamization and Social Policy in Pakistan, Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, VI (winter 1982), 71-90. 7


Zia ul Islam Ansari, Jurnal Mohammad Zia ul Haque, Shakhsiat aur Karname, (Lahore: ) 23-30

Khalid tanveer, Islamization in Pakistan: A political and Constitutional Study from 1947-88. PHD dissertation. P 226

and political institutions of the country in conformity with the Islamic principles, values and traditions in the light of Quran and Sunnah, to enable the people of Pakistan to lead their lives in accordance to Islam.9 A Federal Shariah Court was established in 1979 to decide cases according to the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Appeals against the Lower and High Courts were to be presented before the Shariah Court for hearing. Blasphemy of the Holy Prophet (S. A. W.) would now be punishable by death instead of life imprisonment. Although it was argued that the religious court were meant to supplement, not replace, the conventional court system.10

Zia-ul-Haq selected his Majlis-i-Shoora in 1980. It was to be the Islamic Parliament and act as the Parliament of Pakistan in place of the National Assembly. Most of the members of the Shoora were intellectuals, scholars, ulema, journalists, economists and professionals belonging to different fields of life. The Shoora was to act as a board of advisors for the President. The powers of the Majlis-e-Shura were defined in the Presidential Order that created it. It was given the power to recommend the enactment of the laws, and it could suggest amendments to existing laws. It also could discuss the annual budget; review the five year development plan.11 A Shariah Council consisting of ulema was established to look into the constitutional and legal matters of the State in order to bring them in line with Islamic thought. Since Islam does not allow interest, On January 1, 1980, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq introduced a “Profit and Loss Sharing System” according to which an account holder was to share the loss and profit of the bank. The media was also targeted. Television especially was brought under the Islamization campaign, news in Arabic were to be read on both television and radio, female anchor persons were required to cover their heads, the Azan was relayed regularly on radio and television to announce time for prayers.



Ziring, Lawrence, Pakistan in the Twentieth Century, A Political History, p 465


Ibid, p 462-63.

As the government grew further in its Islamic leanings, the numbers of mosques were increased. Ordinance for the sanctity of Ramazan was introduced to pay reverence to the holy month of Ramazan. The Ordinance forbade public drinking and eating during the holy month of Ramazan. A three months imprisonment and a fine of Rupees 500 were imposed for violating the Ordinance. A program to ensure the regularity of prayers called the Nizam-i-Salaat was launched by General Zia himself. Zia‟s Government introduced the Hadood Ordinance for the first time in Pakistan, which meant the punishments ordained by the Holy Quran or Sunnah on the use of liquor, theft, adultery and qazf. Under this Ordinance, a culprit could be sentenced to lashing, life imprisonment and in some cases, death by stoning. The Islamic laws of Zia also included laws for women. Zia put forward the theory of “Chadar Aur Chaar Devari” and this was to be applied to women. Thus, for the first time, a woman could be flogged for adultery. If a rape was reported, four witnesses were to be provided otherwise, legally, the rape could be termed adultery. Another law, The Law of Evidence, under the Shariah laws proposed that the testimony of a woman was not equal to that of a man. In legal matters, two women would have to stand witness against the testimony of one man. The status of women was thus arbitrarily cut in half by Zia. There was little consensus amongst Muslim authorities over this law. The lack of consensus among the re1igious authorities combined with countrywide protests forced Zia to hold back on making the Shariah law the law of the country. Some of the most controversial adopted by general Zia were those pertaining to the role of women in the emerging Islamic state. The Majlis e Shora angered many women, when it unanimously approved the Qanoon e Shahdit Ordinance 3rd March 1983, bringing the law in conformity to Islamic injunctions of the Quran and Sunnah. Many women were insulted when it was stated that in an Islamic system charges of rape had to be corroborated by four witnesses to find the alleged rapist guilty. Failure to convict the rapist made the women guilty of fornication in Islamic law. Most of these Islamization measures were protected 8th amendment, radically altered the 1973 Constitution. 12 Conclusion 12

Khalid tanveer, “Islamization in Pakistan: A political and Constitutional Study from 1947-88.”, PHD dissertation. 241

The legacy of the Zia era can be clearly discerned in the heightened Islamic sectarian sentiment that emerged in Pakistan and by the impact of the Afghan conflict with its jihad mentality and huge supplies of weapons.13 What were the political effects of Islamization? Many viewed these policies as Zia‟s “search for legitimacy” in order to keep “dissident political forces at bay”14 He did not want to restore the constitution and democratic institutions; he kept experimenting with the various ideas that could strengthen and validate his government. Though the Zakat Ordinance provided for Zakat and Usher in 1980, Usher was not collected till 1982-83. The Blasphemy Laws were also used against minorities and weaker sections.15 A major challenge facing the Zia government was one of legitimacy. Now that the army once again had control of state power, it was hesitant to relinquish it. Yet General Zia himself had no legal right to head the state in secular terms, he was not an elected officeholder, in religious terms; he was head of state neither due the consent of people or their leaders (Sunni Fiqh) nor as a Mujtahid who could interpret the law (Shiah Fiqh). But with the support of political parties of the “religious right” he claimed that his government would finally put Pakistan on its destined path. He considered his opponents as criminals and wanted to punish them for which he had devised certain methods i.e. flogging and whipping etc. He wanted to turn the whole society into a jail until his questionable sovereignty was restored. The public flogging and execution was introduced in order to create fear among the masses so that they could no longer oppose his unlawful rule. Foucault asserts that the public execution is to be understood not only as a judicial but as a political ritual. It belongs in even minor cases, to the ceremonies by which power is manifested.


Talbot, I. An Overview of Political and Economic Changes in Pakistan since Independence. In I. Talbot, Pakistan: 50 Years (pp. 16-23). London: Berkley Communications Ltd. 14

Rizvi, H.-A. Military, State & Society in Pakistan


Johan, Wilson, Pakistan Struggle within, p102

Bibliography Ansari, Zia ul Islam, Jurnal Mohammad Zia ul Haque, Shakhsiat aur Karname, Lahore: Jhang publishers, 1990. Burki, Javed Shahid, Baxter, Pakistan under the Military: Eleven Years of Zia Ul Haq, West View Press, 1991, USA. Baxter C., Kennedy C., Pakistan 1997, West View Press 1998, USA. Baxter, Malik, and others, Government and Politics in South Asia, 3 rd Ed. West View Press 1993, USA. John, Wilson, Pakistan the Struggle Within, Dorling Kindersley Pvt. Ltd., 2009, India J. Henry Korson, "Islamization and Social Policy in Pakistan, Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, VI (winter 1982) Lamb Christina, “A Man Strong for Islam, Financial Time”s, August 19, 1988. Rizvi, H.-A., Military, State & Society in Pakistan, 2003 Talbot, I., Pakistan: 50 Years, Berkley Communications Ltd., 1998, London Ziring Lawrence, Pakistan in the Twentieth Century: a political History, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005.

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