Sharia and the State in Pakistan : Blasphemy Politics book cover
1st Edition

Sharia and the State in Pakistan
Blasphemy Politics

ISBN 9780367150655
Published May 15, 2019 by Routledge
204 Pages

SAVE ~ $32.00
was $160.00
USD $128.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book analyses the formulation, interpretation and implementation of sharia in Pakistan and its relationship with the Pakistani state whilst addressing the complexity of sharia as a codified set of laws.

Drawing on insights from Islamic studies, anthropology and legal studies to examine the interactions between ideas, institutions and political actors that have enabled blasphemy laws to become the site of continuous controversy, this book furthers the readers’ understanding of Pakistani politics and presents the transformation of sharia from a pluralistic religious precepts to a set of rigid laws. Using new materials, including government documents and Urdu language newspapers, the author contextualises the larger political debate within Pakistan and utilises a comparative and historical  framework to weave descriptions of various events with discussions on sharia and blasphemy.

A contribution to the growing body of literature, which explores the role of state in shaping the religion and religious politics in Muslim-majority countries, this book will be of interest to academics working on South Asian Politics, Political Islam, Sharia Law, and the relationship of Religion and the State.

Table of Contents

1 A Tale of Two Saints: The Politics of Blasphemy in Pakistan; 2 Blasphemy, Apostasy and Heresy and the Politics of Outrage; 3 Debating Blasphemy: Sharia and the Constitution; 4 Sacralizing the State and Secularizing Sharia: Islamic Politics in the Age of the Nation-State; 5 The Administrative State Chasing the Goldilocks Moment: The Conundrums of a Muslim Nation-State; 6 The Fatigue of the Sharia and Contemporary Muslim Politics

View More



Farhat Haq is Professor and Chair in the Department of Political Science at Monmouth College, USA. Her research interests include ethnic politics, gender and politics, Islam and Human Rights and militarism and motherhood.


"[This book] challenges the simplistic generalisations about the growing significance of blasphemy in Pakistan by focusing on the politics of blasphemy in the country and by comparing it with attitudes towards similar developments elsewhere in the Muslim world. […] Haq’s book succeeds at many levels. She provides a strong analysis of the various conceptions of sharia and the manner in which these have been adopted by Muslim states. She traces the gradual, yet firm spread of sharia in Pakistan to a point where it appears to have overwhelmed the ordinary business of government. She provides anecdotal evidence of her arguments which help contextualise and explain them. She also provides a sharia map of Muslim countries which help the reader understand where Pakistan may be located on the spectrum of Islamisation. For all these reasons the book makes an important contribution to the study not only of blasphemy politics but also sharia politics more generally."

Amber Darr, University College London, Bloomsbury Pakistan 2019


"Few doctrinal and political issues are more controversial in Pakistan today than that of blasphemy. In her excellent and engaging new book Shariʿa and the State in Pakistan: Blasphemy Politics (Routledge, 2019), Farhat Haq presents the history and present of blasphemy laws, debates, and politics in Pakistan, in a manner that carefully weaves the historical backdrop of blasphemy politics with detailed descriptions of important discursive moments and contributions involving a range of different state and non-state actors. Equally conversant with Islamic Studies, South Asian Studies, and Political Science, this book will speak to and interest multiple audiences, while familiarizing readers in eminently accessible prose with the legal, political, and theological complexities invested in the question of blasphemy in Pakistan and beyond. Throughout the book, Haq convincingly shows and argues that blasphemy politics in Pakistan escapes any neat narratives or conceptual framings, and one must attend to its contingencies in order to develop a more nuanced understanding of its thorniest implications and consequences. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the hugely critical and controversial topic of blasphemy in Islam and in Pakistan."

SherAli Tareen, Franklin and Marshall College