The Authority of Ulama and the Problem of Anti-State Militancy in Pakistan

in Asian Journal of Social Science
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Pakistan’s religious leaders, ulama, have been put under significant strain in relation to how deal with questions about the political tensions and violence over the past decade flowing from the Taliban’s role in conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The effects of this fraught environment on religious authority can be seen through the way that religious leaders have issued contradictory and opaque fatwa (non-binding, but highly influential, legal opinions). This article particularly considers the way that different fatwa-giving religious groups, such as Deobandis, Brevalis, and Ahl-i-Hadith, have dealt with these problems. The violence, which has struck the heart of Pakistan civil society, has led to a confusing array of fatwa from these religious elites. These opinions have sought to categorize violence as either legitimate or to be condemned. This article therefore shows how these fatwa and the conflicting positions they taken have compromised religious authority in contemporary Pakistan.

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