Portraits of Islamic Consciousness in Pakistan
Religious consciousness is a symbolic universe that gives expressions to deeply held religious beliefs. A product of interpretative communities of the past and present, this universe provides the convictions and ideals that act as primary texts for indexing social reality. Using empirical data on how Pakistani Muslims imagine Islam this chapter will aim to provide portraits of religious consciousness. The empirical evidence demonstrates a conflict of conscience among Pakistani Muslims. It shows a dominant mindset characterized by self-sufficiency of Islamic texts and an attitude towards them that is literalist, anti-rational and anti-interpretive co-existing with a pervasive sense of common humanity, kindness and a genuine concern for the welfare of the underprivileged. The chapter explores the development of this mindset and how it compensates for the feelings of alienation, powerlessness, economic and technological underdevelopment and concludes with observations on its implications for the current dilemmas facing Pakistan and other Muslim countries.
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