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Reforming Mysticism: Sindhi Separatist Intellectuals in Pakistan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2010

Michiel Baud
Affiliation:
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Rosanne Rutten
Affiliation:
Universiteit van Amsterdam
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Summary

Summary: This article examines the revival of Sufism and mysticism by the Sindhi separatist movement in South Pakistan. It explores the emergence of a network of young intellectuals from rural and mostly peasant background, and focuses on two pioneers of Sindhi nationalism and Sun revivalism: G.M. Syed and Ibrahim Joyo. Influenced by Gandhian as well as Marxist ideas on social reform and national identity, these two leaders transformed the annual urs celebration at local shrines into commemorations of the martyrs of Sindh. The article traces their relationship as well as their pioneering role as political leaders, education reformers, and teachers. Analysing their ideas as a particular form of Islamic reform, the article discusses the way they adapted and innovated existing cultural ideas on Islamic nationalism, ethnicity, and social justice.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s a rebellious movement emerged in Sindh, the southern province of Pakistan, which protested against the military regime, and later, after the first democratic elections in the history of Pakistan, called for the independence of Sindh. Although Pakistan is now widely associated with radical Islamist movements and authoritarian military regimes, this Sindhi movement does not fit in this picture at all. Its two main ideologues were a neo-Gandhian, wearing white clothes while writing treatises on the meaning of mysticism, and a Marxist struggling for the moral and social elevation of the local peasant population. The name of the former was G.M. Syed, the latter was called Ibrahim Joyo. The former was a well-known politician during the times of independence and a member of an aristocratic landlord family.

Type
Chapter
Information
Popular Intellectuals and Social Movements
Framing Protest in Asia, Africa, and Latin America
, pp. 65 - 86
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2005

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