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Islamization Under Zia Ul Haq Essay

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When General Zia-ul-Haq took over as the Chief Martial Law Administrator on July 5, 1997, Islamization was given a new boost. General Zia-ul-Haq was a practicing Muslim who raised the slogan of Islam. The Islamic sentiment has always been fully alive in Pakistan. Various governments have used this to their benefit. There are people who doubt Zia’s reasons for raising the Islamic Slogan; whether it was for political purposes to counter balance Bhutto’s appeal or was it to enforce Islam in its true sense. 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 has been created. General Zia wanted to bring the legal, social, economic 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.

On December 2, 1978, General Zia-ul-Haq delivered a nationwide address on the occasion of the first day of theHijra calendar. He did this in order to usher in an Islamic system to Pakistan. In the speech, he accused politicians of exploiting the name of Islam, saying that “many a ruler did what they pleased in the name of Islam.” After assuming power and arresting former leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on charges of murder, the task that the government was facing was how to gain legitimacy. Since the Islamist parties were already against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, they had the most influence on Zia-ul-Haq’s government. It was announced the government would enforce Nizam-e-Mustafa (Islamic System), a 180 degree turn from Pakistan’s predominantly parliamentary law, as a preliminary measure to counter what he saw as a lack of true Islam in Pakistan. Sharing the ideology of the Wahabi sect, Zia advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be impurities and innovations. He wanted to create a hard line Sunni Islamist state.

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His reforms were popular with Hanafi and Shia sects who faced widespread discrimination and human rights abuses during his rule. Significant and systematic changes aimed at Islamizing the legal system were initiated in 1979 and carried out under General Zia-ul-Haq. This process not only introduced religious and gender biases in Pakistan’s laws but also brought about far-reaching institutional changes in the country’s judicial system. Zia’s Islamization drive was ardently supported by religious parties, particularly the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), which emerged as one of his regimes key coalition partners. JI’s founder, Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, endorsed Zia’s Islamization efforts and described them “as the renewal of the covenant between the government of Pakistan and Islam” (Haqqani, 2005, p.139). In turn, Zia’s support and patronage of the JI allowed the party to gain a foothold in the government so much so that crucial ministries, such as the Ministry of Information, were allocated to JI nominees.

However, state sponsored Islamization intensified sectarian divisions between the Sunnis and the Shias 1 who opposed the application of the Hanafi fiqh in areas such as Zakat (Islamic tax) rather than Ja’fari fiqh, which they follow. The Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Fiqh-e- Jafari (INJF-Movement for the Establishment of the Shia Fiqh) was formed in 1979 and led Shia opposition to some of the measures instituted by Zia (Talbot, 2005). The Islamic conservatism and the Islamic state became Zia’s primary policy of his military government. Intensified Islamic Policies to radicalize the country had the West worried. The secular socialist orientation and socialist economics process was an attempt to upset to Pakistan’s order of operation on a routine life, as Zia maintained. General Zia rejected Bhutto’s philosophy and was reported to highly hostile of Bhutto’s philosophical rationale, “Food, Clothing, and Shelter.” General Zia defended his policies in an interview in 1979 given to British journalist Ian Stephens, as he puts it.

“The basis of Pakistan was Islam. The basis of Pakistan was Muslims in the subcontinent are a separate culture. It was the Two-Nation Theory that carved out of the subcontinent as Pakistan. Mr. Bhutto’s way of flourishing way of this Society was by eroding its moral fiber. Mr. Bhutto eroded the moral fiber of the society by pitching students against teachers, children against their parents, landlord against tenants, workers against mill owners. Pakistanis not incapable of economic productions. It is because Pakistanis have been made to believe that one can earn without working. We are going back to Islam not by choice but by the force of circumstances.

It is not I or my government that is imposing Islam. It was the 99 percent of people wanted; the street violence against Bhutto reflected the people’s desire of wanting just as the campaign for Pakistan Movement. I am just giving the people what they want.” In 1983, Nusrat Bhutto reasoned General Zia’s policies as she puts it: “The (scream) and the horrors of 1971 war…. are (still) alive and vivid in the hearts and the minds of people of [Pakistan]…. Therefore, General Zia insanely…. used the “Islam [card]”….. to ensure the survival of his own regime…” The Government of Zia-ul-Haq took a number of steps to eradicate non-Islamic practices from the country. He introduced the Zakat, Usher, Islamic Hadood and Penal code in the country.

Prohibition Order

Drinking of wine (i.e. all alcoholic drinks) was not a crime at all under the Pakistan Penal Code. In 1977, however, the drinking and selling of wine by Muslims was banned in Pakistan and a sentence of imprisonment of six months or a fine of Rs. 5000/-, or both, was provided in that law. Under the Prohibition Order, these provisions of law were replaced by the punishment of eighty stripes, for which an ijma of the companions of Muhammad ever since the period of the Second Caliph Omar was cited. However, the law does not apply to non-Muslims, who can possess a license to drink and/or manufacture alcoholic beverages from the government.

Prayer timings

Instructions were issued for regular observance of prayers and arrangements were made for performing noon prayer (Salat Al Zuhur) in government and quasi-government offices and educational institutions, during office hours, and official functions, and at airports, railway stations and bus stops Reverence for fasting Ordinance

An “Ehtram-e-Ramazan” (reverence for fasting) Ordinance was issued providing that complete sanctity be observed during the Islamic month of Ramazan, including the closure of cinema houses three hours after the Maghreb (post-sunset) prayers.

Definition of Muslim

By amending the constitution, General Zia also provided the following definition of a Muslim and a non-Muslim * (a) “Muslim” means a person who believes in the unity and oneness of Almighty Allah, in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophet hood of Muhammad, the last of the prophets, and does not believe in, or recognize as a prophet or religious reformer, any person who claimed to be a prophet in any sense of the word or of any description, whatsoever, after Muhammad. * (b) “Non-Muslim” means a person who is not a Muslim and includes a person belonging to the Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, or Parsi community, a person of the Qadiani Group or the Lahori Group [i.e. Ahmadis] or a person belonging to any of the scheduled castes. A Federal Shariah Court was established 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.

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. 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. General Zia-ul-Haq wanted to make Pakistan the citadel of Islam so that it could play an honorable and prominent role for the Islamic world.

The steps taken by General Zia were in this direction and had a long-term impact; the Zakat tax introduced by General Zia still holds and so does many of his the other laws. On the other hand Islamization was sometimes used as a political process. Zia’s interpretation of Islam may have contributed to the rise of fundamentalism, obscurantism and retrogression. Since the death of General Zia in 1988, inconsistency and instability has prevailed in Pakistani laws. Instability means that the law is frequently changing or is under threat of change because of differences of opinion among the ruling factions. Three of the most obvious inconsistencies in Zia’s Islamic law are: * Those between legal norms and socially observed norms;

* Those between statutory legal norms and the norms applied in practice in the courts (e.g. Hadd is difficult to implement as confession, retraction of confession and strict standards of proof make it difficult to execute); * Those between different formal legal norms (e.g. non-compliance with the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance is compromised by the courts but is strictly punished under the Zina Ordinance). Another example of this contradiction is that the constitution assures women equal status on the one hand but, on the other hand, they are greatly discriminated in criminal law.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008\03\16\story_16-3-2008_pg3_3 http://ijazulhaq.com/zia/biogrophy1.html

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