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Radicalization of jihadist movement in Pakistan

Political Islam has always been a reality in Pakistansince its birth in 1947. It is likely that political Islam exhibits a greater influence on the country’s overall Muslim population than the myriad of extremist groups combined. The clearest manifestation of political Islam is within the creation of the Jama’at al-Islami (JI),Pakistan’s first and largest political party founded by the late Maulana Mawdudi (1903-79), a Sunni Pakistani theologian, political philosopher, and influential 20th century Islamic revivalist whose work on Islamic resurgence and doctrine defines the group’s activities and membership.

When he speaks of “Islamic nationality,” Mawdudi means allegiance to the umma, which he envisaged as a sort of Islamic super-nation uniting all Muslims in the world into a single, indivisible community. He asserted a bi-polar worldview that juxtaposed the Islamic sphere with all else and insisted that Muslims should completely isolate themselves from those he deemed not to be Muslims. The struggle to make this change is known as jihad.

For Mawdudi, jihad was akin to a war of liberation for the establishment of politically independent Muslim states. He significantly changed the concept of jihad in Islam and began its association with anti-colonialism and “national liberation movements.”

Mawdudi was certain that the Islamic state would be “the very antithesis of secular Western democracy.” He had written about the need for a “revolution” to create an Islamic state, but he believed this revolution had to be prepared by a long campaign of persuasion. Mawdudi himself never had a sufficient following to make a concerted bid for power in Pakistan.

Mawdudi’s ideas set the agenda for Islamic movements from Moroccoto Malaysia. From his revivalist efforts came the inspiration to re-achieve the glory that is Islam. His ideas were carried to their ultimate conclusion by an Egyptian Muslim Brother, Sayyid Qutb (1906-66), who borrowed heavily from Mawdudi’s vision of an Islamic state, but was far more impatient and urged that a believing vanguard organize itself, retreat from impious society, denounce lax Muslims as no-nbelievers, and battle to overturn the political order. Qutb thus transformed what had been a tendency toward violence into an explicit logic of revolution and thus became the spiritual father of al-Qaeda.

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