A review of Naveeda Khan’s book Muslim Becoming published in “The Book Review”
I wanted to learn what it meant to know Islam in Pakistan and why this knowing was so easily brushed aside.
It is a welcome addition to the rather scant literature on Islam, identity and Muslimness in contemporary Pakistan. Khan begins by presenting a debate between four librarians of differing religious persuasions. Deep within the stacks of the Provincial As- sembly Library, four men take part in a dis- cussion that highlights the marked differ- ences in their belief systems. Of the four, one is a Shia and the other three Sunni. Among the Sunnis, one identifies himself as a Deobandi, one as a follower of Ahl-e-Hadis sect, and the third as a Barelvi. Akbar, the follower of Ahl-e-Hadis school of thought, speaks at length of the superiority of their mosques as ‘they allowed laymen to give ser- mons and encouraged women’s participation in congregational prayer’. Despite his reverence for mosque culture, Akbar is derisive of the thought of praying at the Prophet’s mosque in Medina.
It is commendable to pray at the Prophet’s mosque, but it isn’t necessary. Some among us have made it into a re- quirement by saying such things as, the Prophet is alive there, he can hear your prayers and he can grant you your wishes. Such claims are bid’a. One cannot pray there until such time as this bid’a has been vanquished… […]