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Issues of Implementation: Zia’s Nizam-i-Mustafa

On paper, Zia’s Nizam-i-Mustafa contemplated significant and ambitious reforms in Pakistan’s institutions. The program contemplated modifications in Pakistan’s economic system through the establishment of “Islamic banks,” called for the abolition of bank interest (riba), introduced the mandatory collection of zakat (social welfare tax) against the bank holdings of Sunni Muslims, established a profit-loss sharing scheme in banks, introduced an Islamic land tax (ushr), and established various institutions to study Islamic economics. Nizam-i-Mustafa also mandated educational reforms by establishing new institutions (e.g. the International Islamic University, Shari'ah Training Institute, and various ulema training institutes), by enhancing the importance of Arabic in the curricula, and by contemplating the wholesale redrafting of textbooks to incorporate an Islamic approach to pedagogy. Social reforms were also introduced by Nizam-i- Mustafa through stressing the sanctity of Ramazan, the encouragement of chadar (modest dress by Muslim women) and the enforcement of preexisting bans on gambling and prohibition.

It is beyond the scope of this chapter to detail the consequences of such reforms. Suffice it to observe at this point that such reforms were either: (a) a mere reinforcement and in some cases a tightening of policies or practices already in place (e.g. chadar, gambling, prohibition); (b) cosmetic changes in existing policies or practices (e.g. profit-loss sharing scheme, zakat collection); (c) were left unimplemented or nonjusticiable (e.g. the ban on riba, textbook reform); (d) if implemented, constituted relatively minor changes in existing policies or practices (e.g. educational reform, introduction of Islamic banks).

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The focus of this chapter, rather, is legal reforms. There are several reasons for this approach. First, the demand for Islamic reassertion is, using Pipe’s terminology, a demand for “legalism” and “autonomism.” That is, the Shari'ah is the sine qua non for the establishment of an Islamic state and one cannot enforce the Shari'ah in a state that is not Islamic. Second, of all the Islamic reforms contemplated in Pakistan, legal reforms have been the most visible and the most extensively implemented. Finally, there is ample data available and enough time has passed since their introduction to adequately study and assess the implementation of such reforms.

In turn, the chapter will focus on three types of legal reforms: structural reforms (reforms of the existing legal institutions of the state); procedural reforms (reforms of the procedures pertaining to evidence); and criminal law reform.


Source: Islamization of Laws and Economy: Case Studies on Pakistan, Charles Kennedy. Republished with permission.