IRAN VERSUS PAKESTAN (NATIONAL SENTIMENTS VS RELIGION)
Many people look at Pakistan
and Iran and they
see both these countries to be non-Arab, Muslim, and with a government called
Islamic Republic; and they expect that the two should be similar, and are
surprised when they observe how different they are, and even to some extent,
opposite they are.
Actually to understand it better, let me say that I think in
the whole world there are two countries that have substituted RELIGION for
NATIONALITY. The first one is PAKISTAN
and the second one is ISRAEL.
EVEN under Islamic Republic is NOT such a nation-state.
This is how Pakistan
was formed. Pakistan
is ruled by Sunni Muslims who are the majority. They do not have a national
identity as such and what they have is actually a religious identity.
This is why the Sunnis of Pakistan, in contrast to Arabs,
are more identified as Sunni-Islamic than Arabs in any Arab state. I mean for
Arabs, lot of Islamic traditions are NATIONAL
traditions. For Pakistanis, they are understood as purely religious mores. This
is why one sometimes sees Sunni Pakistanis as kAseh DAgh tar az
Ash as compared to Sunni Arabs.
The Shi’a of Pakistan view Iranian
Shiism the same way. The Shi’a
in Pakistan are about 30%, as far as I know. The Pakistani Shi’a observe Norooz as a
religious holiday. Many Shi’a traditions, that are
considered more as national traditions in Iran,
are understood as purely religious traditions by Shi’a
Pakistanis. This is why again one sees them as kAseh DAgh tar az
Ash as compared to Shi’a Iranians.
has a lot of similarity with Israel,
they both have substituted religious identity for national identity. It is
ironic that they hate Israel
more than any other country that I know!
But what are nation-states and why Shiism
became the flag of unity in the 1979 Iranian revolution? I will have a separate
post to respond to this question.
May 11, 1994
* The above article was first
posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on May 11, 1994