Contextualising Zia-ul-Haq's Islamisation of Pakistan (1977-88) and its impact on 'non-Muslims' in the thought of Maududi and British colonialism

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis explores Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamisation of Pakistan (1977-88) and its lasting impact on those perceived to be ‘non-Muslims’ by his regime. Zia’s Islamisation, to be defined as a top-down process of bringing the laws into conformity with his regime’s understanding of Islamic injunctions, was significantly influenced by the thought of Maulana Maududi and of British colonialism in pre-Partition India. In Chapter One, the existing literature is evaluated, and the definitions, methodology and seminal arguments are presented. In Chapter Two, Louis Althusser’s theory of ideology is carefully applied to Zia’s wider Islamisation process to show how he used it to realise an ‘Islamic ideology’ of Pakistan, in which non-Muslims had an ill-defined place. In Chapter Three, this process is characterised as a continuation of the spirit of the Objectives Resolution (1949), which constitutionally enshrined the tension between the country’s diversity and its unification through Islam. In in its original state, Maududi and others used it as a benchmark to measure Islamisation efforts, but contemporary concerns among the non-Muslim politicians were confirmed when Zia made it a substantive part of the constitution in 1985. Chapter Four surveys the colonial origins of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 to set-up discussion of how Zia’s amendments to its chapter on offences relating to religion has disproportionately affected religious minorities. Zia, like the British, made sweeping legal changes undemocratically and his amendments employed colonial-era language. This discussion continues into Chapter Five, focusing on two amendments that criminalised the Ahmadiyyah community. This thesis makes four key contributions to this subject: it employs a neglected theological mode of enquiry, explores and problematises Zia’s construction of an ‘Islamic ideology’ using Louis Althusser’s theory of ideology, contextualises Zia’s Islamisation in the ideas of Maududi and British colonialism and emphasises the lasting impact of Zia’s Islamisation for Pakistan’s religious minorities.
Date of Award11 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorMario I Aguilar (Supervisor)


  • Islamisation
  • Pakistan
  • Zia-ul-Haq
  • Maududi
  • Non-Muslim
  • Religious minorities
  • Colonialism
  • Ideology
  • Althusser

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