Conservative Islam Draws Rich Pakistanis
10 Apr 2012 12:18 GMT
 

CAIRO - In a major religious shift in the south Asian Muslim country, a new trend of conservatism is appearing among wealthy and educated Muslim women in Pakistan.

“Recently there are a lot of young women coming to a very t (more)

CAIRO - In a major religious shift in the south Asian Muslim country, a new trend of conservatism is appearing among wealthy and educated Muslim women in Pakistan.

“Recently there are a lot of young women coming to a very traditional Islam,” Maha Jehangir, a 30-year-old consultant told The Guardian.

“There is a deep desire for learning.”

Though there are no statistics, signs show that growing numbers of wealthier and educated women adopt more conservative strands of Islam.

Qur'an Prompts Pakistanis to Learn ArabicIslam Reversion Raises Pakistan Debate

For instance, in the information technology division of the Bank of Punjab's headquarters, almost all employees wear hijab.

“I was the first," said Shumaila, 28, who works in the information technology division.

A year ago, no one was donning the Muslim headscarf in the same office.

"I started reading the Qur'an properly and praying five times a day. No one made me wear the hijab. That would be impossible,” said Shumaila.

"I showed the way to the other girls at work."

This is not only applied to working women.

Growing number of women are also joining conservative religious groups, such as Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).

"Our women's wing is doing very well," said Syed Munawar Hassan, the leader of JI in Pakistan.

He said that women made up an increasing proportion of the organization's 6 million members and 30,000 organizers.

"They are some of our best organizers."

Traditionally recruiting among the lower middle class, JI has grown in recent years among the elite in Pakistan by rapid urbanization and economic growth.

Reasons

Some cite the public anger over Pakistan's role in the US-led war on terror as a main reason behind the growing conservatism among Pakistani women.

"People who grew up within the war on terror are asking, what does it mean to be a Nato ally? Is India our worst enemy?” Jehangir, who lives in a large house in one of the most exclusive parts of Islamabad, said.

“We are bombarded by all this information and there is a deep need for answers," she said, adding that many found the answers in conservative strands of religious practice.

“That leads to religious inquiry.”

Others attribute the growing conservatism to Pakistani women who bring their experience in the Gulf countries to their homeland.

"Everything we learn comes from the Qur'an. Maths, computers, banking," said Amna, a 21-year-old business student whose father was a manager for a major firm in Saudi Arabia.

Amna, who wears a Saudi-style full veil, said it was wrong to think that women who were richer or more educated would inevitably be more secular.

“The Qur'an contains everything,” she said.

Along with JI and Al-Huda organization, interest was also growing for more tolerant varieties of Islamic organizations among the wealthy women in Pakistan.

The al-Mawrid institute is attracting more and more "educated ladies, doctors, professors, housewives who do not know about Islam", says Kaukab Shehzad, a 43-year-old teacher."We read the Qur'an in detail but we discuss other religions too.”

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net



-- OnIslam


© islamonline.com