‘From Purdah to Parliament’

The Twentieth Century According to Shaista Ikramullah

In: Hawwa
M. Reza Pirbhai Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service in Qatar po Box 23689, Doha Qatar

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Begum Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah was a Pakistani author, politician, diplomat and social-activist whose life bridges the late colonial and post-colonial phases of South Asian history. Her biography illustrates the discursive pressures shaping the lives of upper and intermediate class men and women of her generation, particularly as manifested in the unquestioned tropes of modernization theory. However, the same life reveals that her notion of the tradition-modernity dichotomy does not extend to the equation of Islam with tradition. The secular-religious divide, in fact, does not feature in her thought or activism at all. The latter activism also problematizes the assumption that Muslim women, any more of less than non-Muslims, are marginal or peripheral players in the history of the twentieth century.

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