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JAM’IYATUL `ULAMA’-I ISLAM. The origins of the Jamclyatul `Ulama’-i Islam (JUI, Society of Muslim `Ulama’) can be traced to the Deoband movement in prepartition India and to the `ulama’ who consitituted the Jam’iyatul `Ulama-i Hind (Society of Indian `Ulama’). Such `ulama’ have been typically characterized as “Indian nationalists,” because during the latter days of British India they were unalterably opposed to British imperialism, supported the aims and policies of the Indian National Congress, and opposed the Muslim League’s struggle for an independent Pakistan. Consequently, following the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 and the creation of Pakistan, the political significance of the JUI was limited, and its leadership was held suspect by successive Pakistani regimes that condemned the JUI’s role in the independence struggle as anti-Pakistan. Indeed, until the late 1960s the JUI remained almost wholly a religious organization with little if any political significance.


This situation changed during the so-called “Disturbances” of 1968-1969 that led ultimately to the resignation of General Muhammad Ayub Khan and to the holding of general elections in 1970. During the ferment of 1969 the JUI split into two factions-a Karachi-based faction under the leadership of Maulana Ihtishamul Haqq Thanvi (later named Jam’iyatul `Ulama’-i Pakistan, Thanvi Group), and a larger and far more politically active faction led by Maulana Mufti Mahmud and Maulana Ghaus Hazarvi and based in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The latter faction (the MuftiHazarvi Group, hereafter JUI) actively participated in the 1970 general elections as a populist-oriented party, appealing to activist Islamic sentiment. The JUI’s program called for the establishment of an Islamic constitution in accordance with the recommendations of the

Board of `Ulama’ as presented to the Basic Principles Committee Of 1954, which had called for the adoption of the shari`ah as the basis of Pakistan’s consitutional structure. The JUI also called for the end of “capitalist exploitation” and for the establishment of a program of Islamic social welfare including free education, health care, and the introduction of minimum-wage legislation.

The combination of such populist rhetoric, the prestige of the `ulama’ and the JUI’s effective control of relevant mosques led to success at the polls. In the 1970 general election the JUI swept the electoral districts of southern NWFP and entered into a coalition with the National Awami Party (NAP) to form provincial governments in NWFP and Baluchistan. The subsequent naming of Maulana Mufti Mahmud as chief minister of the NWFP (1971-1973) marked the first and only time in Pakistan’s history that an Islam-based party has headed a provincial government.

During Mufti Mahmud’s short-lived tenure his government managed to introduce three laws designed to promote Islam in the province. The first established prohibition of alcohol; the second introduced an Islamic law of pre-emption (i.e., regarding inheritance of land); and the third mandated the enforced observance of the Ramadan fast. These laws have remained on the books in NWFP and have significantly influenced the course of the islamization process in Pakistan during the 1980s and 1990s. The JUI-NAP government of NWFP resigned in early 1973 in protest over Zulfiqar ‘Ali Bhutto’s perceived persecution of NAP leaders. In the 1977 general elections the JUI allied itself with the antiBhutto coalition, the Pakistan National Alliance. Subsequently the party cooperated, at times reluctantly, with the regime of Zia ul-Haq (1977-1988), and it tacitly supported the IJM (Islamic Democratic Alliance) government of Nawaz Sharif (1990-1992). The JUI maintains a small but loyal and enthusiastic following in the southern region of NWFP and the Pathan-majority areas of Baluchistan. In the 1988 and 1990 general elections it gained seven and six seats respectively in the National Assembly.

During the past decade, under the leadership of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, son of the late Mufti Mahmud, the JUI has become increasingly associated with Islamic orthodoxy. In their religious views JUI members are often criticized by their opponents as “uncompromisingly rigid,” insisting on the strict enforcement of the shari`ah as interpreted by the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence. In addition, it is often charged that the JUI is anti-Shi’i. The Jul did support Iraq during the IranIraq war, but it joined the TNFJ (Tahrlk-i Nifaz-i Filth-i Ja’fariyah, the most prominent Pakistani ShN group) in its condemnation of the United States’ role in the Gulf War. Also, Jul `ulama’ are often characterized as opposed to innovation in matters Islamic and as favoring a strict social and moral code, especially with respect to gender relations. Indeed, Jul `ulama’ often draw the ire of Pakistan’s feminist organizations.

Politically, the Jul has been at the forefront of the attempt to implement far-reaching Islamic reforms. This is evidenced by the formulation and introduction in 1985, by the Jul Senators Maulana Sami’ul Haqq and Qazi `Abdullatif, of the so-called “Shariat Bill.” The Jul version of this bill proposed that the shari’ah wholly replace Pakistan’s secular constitution. `Ulama’ associated with the Jul have also been very active in proposing petitions before the Federal Shariat Court calling for significant changes in Pakistan’s social and moral practices to bring them more into keeping with Islamic norms. Generally, Jul members were displeased with what they viewed as the slow pace of Islamic reform under President Zia, and they have been even less pleased with successor regimes.

The 1993 general election proved disappointing to the Jul. The party contested the election under the banner of the newly created Islami Jumhuri Mahaz (Islamic Democratic Association, IJM) and entered into an “electoral arrangement” with the Pakistan People’s Party. However, even after intensive electoral campaigning, the IJM was only able to gain 2.3 percent of the popular vote and four seats. Despite such electoral disappointment, the Jul remains a potent social and political force in the NWFP and Baluchistan. Indeed, the party has deepened its populist image and style. But more important, it has maintained its control over the largest number of mosques and madrasahs in Pakistan, and therefore has the strongest base among the madrasah student body in the state.

[See also Pakistan.]


Ahmad, Mumtaz. “The Politics of War: Islamic Fundamentalisms in Pakistan.” In Islamic Fundamentalisms and the Gulf Crisis, edited by J. P. Piscatori, pp. 155-185. Chicago, 1991.

Kennedy, Charles H. “Repugnancy to Islam-Who Decides? Islam and Legal Reform in Pakistan.” International and Comparative Law Quarterly 41 (1992): 769-787.


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Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/jamiyatul-ulama-islam/

  • writerPosted On: July 11, 2014
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