Sufi saints and politics: conceptualizing pīrī-murīdī in the movement for the restoration of democracy
BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)
Faculty / School
Faculty of Business Administration (FBA)
Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts
Date of Award
Date of Submission
Dr. Newal Osman, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, IBA, Karachi.
SSLA Culminating Experience
Post-Colonialism, Sindh, Sufi Saints, Democracy, Dictatorship, PPP
The Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) was a multi-party coalition movement led by the Pakistan People’s Party in 1981. It aimed to remove General Zia ul Haq from power and bring about an end to his dictatorship. The movement formally took off in 1983, but ended up being confined to the province of Sindh. One of the most interesting features of this struggle between the MRD and the state was that the religious elite of Sindh, the pīrs, played an important role on either side. This thesis explores this role in more detail. I trace the development of the institution of pīrī-murīdī and its relationship with the state in the colonial era. I draw from Ansari’s (1992) argument that the said relationship was one of collaboration whereby the pīrs were formally incorporated into the state. I argue that under post-colonial rule, this relationship changes, leading to insecurity on the part of the pīrs regarding their political futures. Lastly, by exploring three major gādīs of Sindh through oral sources, I contend that the role which the pīrs subsequently played in the MRD was reflective of said anxieties and pressures from their followers. As such, I also problematize the commonly agreed upon view of pīrī-murīdī as a top-to-bottom system of authority, and aim to explain how the institution has managed to remain relevant to this day.
Sheikh, S. A. (2019). Sufi saints and politics: conceptualizing pīrī-murīdī in the movement for the restoration of democracy (Unpublished undergraduate project). Institute of Business Administration, Pakistan. Retrieved from https://ir.iba.edu.pk/sslace/23
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