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Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Volume 5, Number 3, 2004

13 Routledge



Taylor & Francis Croi

Islam in Bangladesh politics: the role of Ghulam Azam of Jamaat-I-Islami

Ishtiaq HOSSAIN & Noore Alam SIDDIQUEE

ABSTRACT In recent years, Islam has emerged dramatically in the politics and news headlines of the world. As elsewhere in the Muslim World, the impact of the Islamic resurgence movement is clearly visible in contemporary Bangladesh. Organized and led by Ghulam Azam until very recently, the Jamaat is now the largest and most active Islam-based political party in Bangladesh. This paper attempts to analyse the politics of Jamaat, with reference to Ghulam Azam and his political ideas and thought. First, this paper attempts to put }amaat-I-Islami within the context of Bangladesh politics. We then provide a short biographical sketch of Ghulam Azam, showing his exposure to both Western and Islamic educations and their impact on his political activities. This paper next focuses on some of his political ideas and contributions and analyses them in the light of contemporary socio-political realities in Bangladesh, demonstrating the significant and controversial impact of his political activism and strategies on contemporary Bangladesh politics and society. The paper concludes that neither Ghulam Azam nor his party has been able to change generally negative perception about Jamaat and thus significantly widen its acceptance among the masses. Rather, at times, comments of Jamaat leadership like 'we did no mistakes in 1971' have infuriated the nationalist and patriotic forces and widened the gap between Jamaat and common people. It remains to be seen how Ghulam Azam and the new Jamaat leadership tackle these challenges in future.

KEYWORDS: Ghulam Azam, Jamaat-I-Islami, Bangladesh politics and society, Islamic Chatra Shibir, Awami League, war of liberation, al-Badr, al-shams, BNP


Since the late 1970s, Islam has emerged dramatically in the politics and news headlines of the Muslim World.^ Bangladesh, the third largest Muslim country in the world, is no exception to this trend. As elsewhere, the impact of the Islamic resurgence movement,^ which among others wants to see the establishment of a state based on the principles of Shari'rah, is clearly visible in contemporary Bangladesh. While there are a large number of political parties in Bangladesh which favour the adoption of Islamic principles in the society and polity, the Jamaat-I-Islami Bangladesh (henceforth, Jamaat) is undoubtedly the most important and well-founded. Orga- nized and led by Ghulam Azam until very recently, the Jarnaat is now the largest and most active Islam-based political party in Bangladesh. It has strong institutional networks and support throughout the country. With a considerable number of followers among the students, intelligentsia, civil servants, military and other strata of the society, Jamaat has already emerged as a force to be reckoned with in national politics. It has also attracted a sizeable portion of the votes cast in all recent national and local elections. The Islami Ghatra Shibir, the student wing of the Jamaat has gained ground steadily both among the students of traditional madrasas and modern institutions. Much of the Jamaat's present success could be attributed to the personality and leadership of Ghulam Azam.

ISSN 1464-9373 Print/ISSN 1469-8447 Onlme/04/030384-15 © 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/1464937042000288688

Islam in Bangladesh politics 385

This paper attempts to analyse the politics of jamaat, with reference to Ghulam Azam and his political ideas and thought. The following section attempts to put jamaat-1-lslam within the context of Bangladesh politics. The section after provides a short biographical sketch of Ghulam Azam, showing his exposure to both Western and Islamic education and their impact on his political activities; he was involved in the 1952 language movement and later moved towards the political views of Mawdudi. We then focus on some of his political ideas and contributions and analyse them in the light of contemporary socio-political realities in Bangladesh, demon- strating the significant and controversial impact of his political activism and strategies on contemporary Bangladesh politics and society.

Jamaat-I-Islami and Bangladesh politics

Ghulam Azam and the jamaat have been at the centre of controversy since 1971 for their alleged collaboration with the Pakistani military junta during Bangladesh's war of liberation. As such, for much of his political career Ghulam Azam has been the subject of fierce criticism from the successive governments, mainstream opposition and the secular intelligentsia. Nevertheless, he has been the most influential figure in the jamaat-I-Islami movement and his followers generally have a very high regard for him and his contributions to Islam and the nation, seeing him not only as a legendary hero of Islam, but also as a great philosopher-cum-social reformer (Kamruzzaman 1989, Nuruzzaman 1992) in contemporary times. On the other hand, his radical critics see him as a fanatic on the one extreme and as an enemy of the nation on the other. Many of the Islamists in Bangladesh are critical of him and his party, a phenomenon that undermines his personal credibility and the vision for realizing the S/zfln"ra/i-based administration in the country. Thus, he remains a highly controversial political figure in contemporary Bangladesh. Despite such controversies and a generally hostile environment, Ghulam Azam and the jamaat have been able to make considerable inroads in Bangladesh politics over the past decades. A party that was banned for nearly eight years following the country's independence has subsequently managed to reorganize itself to become a powerful force with growing political influence. With its extensive organizational networks throughout the country, a huge following among the students, and a strong cadre of dedicated workers in all strata of the society and administration, jamaat now stands as the third largest political party in Bangladesh.^ It has also been able to translate its popular support into electoral victory, jamaat won 18 parliamentary seats in the 1991 parliamentary elections and its support was crucial for the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to form the government. It did not fare very well in the 1996 parliamentary elections, managing to win only three parliamentary seats, and most of its candidates lost their deposits. In 2001, however, jamaat had a better show, winning 17 out of 31 seats they were allotted by the coalition, with marginal losses in some of the 14 constituen- cies they contested (Karim 2004: 93). In 2001, jamaat's alliance with the BNP had proved so successful that the ruling coalition was able to gain an absolute majority in the present parliament. Given all this, jamaat has to be considered as a considerable force in Bangladesh politics. It is generally believed that all this has been possible because of the dedication and hard work of the jamaat leadership, especially Ghulam Azam, who has been steering the party directly or indirectly since the mid-1960s. He is also seen by the jamaat followers as a visionary leader and an ideologue.

Ghulam Azam: a short sketch of his life and career

Bom in 1922 in a respected Muslim family, Ghulam Azam spent his childhood in Birgaon village of Comilla district located in the then Bengal province of British India. He received his early education at the village where he attended several institutions vmtil he sat for the Junior Madrasa examination in 1937. Having obtained a first division, he moved to Dhaka to join the

386 Ishtiaq Hossain and Noore Alam Siddiquee

Govenunent Islamia Intermediate College for better education. He passed his High Madrasa examination (equivalent to Secondary School Certificate examination) in 1942 and Intermediate or Higher Secondary Certificate examination in 1944 with distinction. Although he had special interests^ in studying Islam, he did not pursue studies in theology or Islamic studies. Instead, upon completion of the higher secondary examination he joined the University of Dhaka. He earned his BA degree in 1946 and MA in Political Science from the same institution in 1950. At university he became active in student politics;^ he was elected as the General Secretary of the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) for two consecutive years, 1947-48 and 1948^9. This was the beginning of his long political career. With the partition of India in 1947, the eastern part of the Bengal province became one of the provinces of the newly formed Pakistan. In the name of fostering national unity, the government of Pakistan sought to impose Urdu as the state language on the people of the eastern part, as in the rest. As the General Secretary of DUCSU, Ghulam Azam played a crucial role in the movement against such an attempt. He was among the early leaders who rejected the government's intention and submitted a memorandum to the then Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan demanding that Bangla be made a state language along with Urdu. Though subse- quently he had to leave Dhaka University to start a teaching career at a government college, he continued to maintain strong support for the movement. By 1952, the movement entered a new phase with massive support from people of all walks of life. The Pakistan government, unable to put down the movement, responded with violence. On 21 February 1952, scores of students were killed. Since then, 21 February is celebrated as the Language Martyrs' Day. As a mark of respect to this date, UNESCO has declared 21 February as the International Language Day and is celebrated throughout the world. Ghulam Azam spent 5 years (1950-55) in Rangpur, a district town in northern Bangladesh. While his principal occupation Wfas teaching Political Science at the Government Carmichael

College, he was able to spare

movement and travelled to different parts of the country along with its Ameer Maulana Abdul Aziz, to convey the message of the movement to the people across the country. He acted as the Ameer of Tabligh Jamaat, Rangpur district during the period 1952-1954. His interest in Islam and quest for implementing Islamic principles encouraged him to be associated with Tamuddun Majlish, a contemporary politico-religious movement and he became the head of its Rangpur branch until 1954. He shouldered the responsibilities of both organizations, they being comple- mentary to one another. It was through association with Tamaddun Majlis that Ghulam Azam came to know about the writings of Maulana Mawdudi. His interest in Mawdudi drove him to learn Urdu, which subsequently opened up the door to huge Islamic literature written in Urdu. While there were a number of individuals* and organizations that had significant bearing on his thinking, it was Mawdudi who had the most profound influence on his personality, political ideas and philosophies. He was much inspired by Mawdudi's writings and especially the latter's 'scientific approach to polities', and decided to join Mawdudi's Jamaat-I-Islami Pakistan in 1954. He became a full member in the following year while he was imprisoned. Meanwhile, he gave up his teaching position in order to be more actively involved in the party activities, and within two years was elected as the Secretary General of }amaat-I-Islami, East Pakistan. In 1964, when the military government of General Ayub Khan banned the politics of Jamaat, Ghulam Azam was arrested and kept behind bars for eight months without trial. He was elected as the Ameer of Jamaat in East Pakistan in 1969 and remained in the same position until the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971. He contested in the 1970 elections as a candidate of the Jamaat. The results came as a surprise to many: the Awami League (AL) won an absolute majority in the Eastern wing, winning 167 out of 169 seats of the provincial assembly. Ghulam Azam accepted the popular verdict and congratulated the AL for its victory. The period between 1971 and 1991 was a difficult time for Ghulam Azam as he had to face

time for da'wah activities. First, he joined the Tabligh Jamaat

Islam in Bangladesh politics 387

a series of traumatic experiences v^^ith regard to his nationality, and trial at 'citizen's court' for war crimes. The single most important factor that put him and Jamaat into controversy is their role during Bangladesh's liberation movement in 1971, Jamaat was sympathetic to the idea of

a united Pakistan because of religion. Therefore, it sided with Pakistan, With arms and weapons

supplied by the Pakistan army, the Jamaat organized the Al-Badr, Al-Shams and Razakars and fought pitched battles against the Mukti Bahini (freedom-fighter) guerrillas (Marty and Appleby

1991: 501; Hashmi 1994: 102), and acted closely with the Pakistan army in carrying out one of the largest genocides in recent history. Although Ghulam Azam and his associates deny any

wrong doing or having any involvement in the mass killing in 1971, Jamaat is generally seen as

a collaborator of the Pakistan army. There have been accusations that Ghulam Azam had a

direct hand in the massacres carried out by the Pakistani military and that the members of the al-Badr were involved in kidnapping and killing of Bengali intellectuals on 15 December, 1971, just one day before the surrender of Pakistani forces in Dhaka, Strong deruals from Ghulam Azam and Jamaat in this regard did not remove the clouds of doubt from the minds of people. The government of Bangladesh, soon after the independence (in April 1973), stripped him and many others of their citizenship for their alleged collaboration with Pakistan, The political developments in Bangladesh in the early 1970s took him to London where he lived for eight years. Following the political changes in Bangladesh in the mid 1970s, Ghulam Azam was allowed to return home in 1978, However, he had to wait until 1991'' to become the Ameer of Jamaat-l-lslami Bangladesh and fought a lengthy legal battle to restore his citizenship in 1994, The activities of the Jamaat and other Islam-based parties were banned by the new government that took over following the independence of Bangladesh, The Jamaat's rehabili- tation began with the rise of General Ziaur Rahman to power in 1975 following the assassin- ation of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members. One of Ziaur Rahman's early acts was to lift the ban, imposed by the Awami League government in 1972, on participation of religious parties, including Jamaat' s in politics of the country. This cleared the way for the Jamaat to take part in the politics of the state, whose establishment in 1971 it had vehemently opposed as a further division of South Asia's Muslim Community, Jamaat and Islam-based political parties gained further ground in 1977 when General Ziaur Rahman replaced secular- ism with 'absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah' as one of the cornerstones of the constitution. Following the death of Zia and short rule by Justice Sattar, Ershad came to power in 1982 and continued to pursue the Islamization process. He emphasized the Islamic character of the state, brought about the eighth amendment to the constitution, giving Islam the status of a state religion. Rather than welcoming this step, the Jamaat, in fact, criticized this move by Ershad, The Jamaat saw this move as a ploy to prevent the establishment of an Islamic Republic based on the principles of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Nevertheless, Zia's decision to allow the Islamic parties to participate in politics was a major gain for parties interested in turning Bangladesh into an Islamic state (Evans 2001: 69-87),* Ghulam Azam's election to the post of Ameer in 1991 had ignited the political landscape and

a group of intellectuals and relatives of the victims of the 1971 genocide launched a movement

under the banner of Ghatak Dalai Nirmul Committee to try Ghulam Azam for war crimes. The government arrested him for formally assuming party portfolio while his nationality remained unresolved and, the 'People's Court' in its verdict gave him a life sentence. He remained firm in his own conviction and faced all the challenges and difficulties until the verdict of the highest court concerning his nationality came out in his favour. He continued as the Ameer of the Jamaat until December 2002 when he voluntarily resigned from the position in order to spend more time for Islami Chaira Shibir - the student wing of the Jamaat - and complete the tafsir of the Qur'an, Although he decided to step down from the highest position of the party, after steering the party for a period of three decades, he continues to be the main source of inspiration and guidance to thousands of Jamaat followers. As such, he can rightly be seen as the de facto Ameer as far as the Jamaat's politics is concerned.

388 Ishtiaq Hossain and Noore Alam Siddiquee

While leading the Islamic Movement of Bangladesh, which also stands as one of the largest political parties in Bangladesh, Ghulam Azam realized that the Islamic movement he was leading could hardly be successful without adequate literature and publications of various kinds. This, he believes, is crucial for promoting the intellectual, moral and spiritual develop- ment of jamaat workers who would ultimately make tbe movement successful. Tberefore, be bas committed bimself for tbe task and continued to support tbe movement tbrougb bis writings. He focused on translating works of Mawdudi, writing tbe tafsir of Al Qur'an and writing books on a variety of issues witb tbe aim of guiding tbe jamaat workers. He bas proved bimself as a prolific writer. His writings bave captured mostly issues relating to Islam and Islamic movements, tbe Qur'an, tbe life of tbe Propbet Muhammad (p.b.u.b), tbe Muslim society and culture, jamaat-I-Islami and tbe Bangladesb politics. He bas also written on a variety of other issues such as family planning, secularism as an ideology and democracy versus socialism. As of now, be bas publisbed over 70 books, booklets and monograpbs of different sizes and lengtb.'

Ghulam Azam's political ideals and other contributions

Ibrabim A. Karawan (1997: 14) points out tbat Islamists commonly believe tbat Islam encom- passes tbree 'Ds' - din (religion), dunya (Ufe) and wa dawla (state) - tbat bave to be implemented in its entirety. As an Islamist, tberefore, Gbulam Azam believes tbat individual adberence to tbe faitb is not sufficient to bring about an Islamic society. His political career has been devoted to accomplishing the three goals in Bangladesh. However, he is neither an ideologue nor a reformist in the conventional sense of the term. Instead, one may consider him as a follower and imitator of Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, tbe foremost Islamic tbinker and pbilosopber of tbe Indian subcontinent. In fact, be considers Mawdudi tbe leading Islamic tbinker of tbe 20tb century (Azam 1997: 26-36) and a mentor wbo bad tbe most profound influence on bis tbinking and political life. As noted earlier, Mawdudi's writings bad so mucb impact tbat Gbulam Azam decided immediately not only to join tbe movement Mawdudi bas launcbed, but also to quit bis government job to become a full-time worker of tbe jamaat. In 1964, wben tbe military government of Ayub Kban outlawed tbe jamaat-I-Islami Pakistan and arrested almost all its key leaders, be was placed in Labore jail along witb Mawdudi for two montbs, during wbicb tbey worked togetber. Gbulam Azam was to claim tbat be benefited tremendously from tbe experience and was given tbe responsibility to continue tbe mission in tbe tben Eastern part of Pakistan (now Bangladesb). Tberefore, one would find striking similarities between wbat Mawdudi proposed and wbat Gbulam Azam asserts.

The Islamic state

Gbulam Azam's views of tbe Islamic state can be better understood from bis reflections on tbe differences between Islamic political pbilosopby and western secular democracy, particularly in tbe context of bis insigbts on tbe sovereignty of AUab, wbich is in fact a leading theme of Mawdudi's political thought. Ghulam Azam argues that Islamic political philosophy is antithet- ical to secular western democracy. Tbe pbilosopbical foundation of Western democracy is tbe sovereignty of tbe people. Islam repudiates tbe tbeory of popular sovereignty and rears its polity on tbe foundations of sovereignty of Allah and tbe supremacy of tbe Qur'anic laws as tbe foundation of sucb an Islamic state. It signifies tbat tbe Muslim community as a wbole enjoys political power as a trust of AUab, under tbe limitations imposed by the Shari'rah. Islam thus provides 'theo-democracy''" where the Muslims can elect a legislature consisting of pious. God-fearing men who would enact new legislation in tbe spirit of tbe Qur'an and Sunnah only. In Western democracy tbe state enjoys tbe rigbt of absolute autbority, in Islam tbe government

Islam in Bangladesh politics 389

is bound to keep within the limits prescribed by the divine code (Banu 1994: 80-99; Ahamed

and Nazneen 1990: 795-808; HamiduUah 1968; and Vatikiotis 1987). In Islamic political order, Ghulam Azam contends that the Muslims are required to obey fellow Muslims in authority; an authority that is in turn subordinate to the obedience of Allah and His messenger. An Islamic polity is, therefore, different from other political systems as it recognizes the Qur'an and Sunnah as the primary sources of law. All matters of dispute between the goverrtment and governed must be resolved in the light of the Qur'an and Sunnah and the parties involved must be prepared to accept the judgement sincerely. In other words, the injunctions of Allah and the ways of the Prophet constitute the basic law and paramount authority in all matters of the state and society. There is no scope whatsoever for the government in an Islamic state to be autocratic or authoritarian as its power is strictly restricted by the Holy Qur'an and the practices of the Prophet. People also reserve the right to raise objections if the government/administration violates the injunctions of the Shari'rah. Gulum Azam maintains that it is this type of Islamic state that Jamaat strives to establish in Bangladesh.

The whole purpose of the Islamic state, for Ghulam Azam, is to enforce the Islamic principles of morality and ethics, in political, economic and social policies and penal laws. According to him, the specific objective of the government in an Islamic state is twofold: to establish al-Din (faith) and to secure and protect the interests of the ruled. Although the establishment of the faith as a purpose of the government is of vital importance, an even more crucial aim is the implementation of social justice. Following Mawdudi, he argues that an Islamic state aims not merely to prevent people from exploiting each other, but it also seeks to safeguard their liberty. More importantly, it aims at developing a system that upholds the principles of fairness, equity and social justice. In the Islamic state, political power is used to eradicate all forms of evil and to encourage and promote all virtues mentioned by Allah in His Holy book. In this connection, Gulum Azam (2000: 20-34) has identified four broad areas of governmental activities: development of morality and ethical behaviour at all levels of the society, establishment of a fair and just financial system, promotion of welfare programmes and prevention and elimination of harmful activities in the society. Since an Islamic state is based on a specific ideology, some of the highest positions in such a state can only be eligible to, and be occupied by, Muslims. Non-MusUms, however, are also entitled to some eminent if not the top positions, for sonte ideological reasons. The most important point to note here is that the non-Muslims would be given full state protection in terms of preserving and maintaining their lives, honour, property, religions and cultures. Thus, he asserts that like the sun and moon, the Islamic state and political and economic guidelines and the codes of administration as revealed by Allah would benefit Muslims and non-Muslims alike. He argues that, in Bangladesh, the fate


Muslims and people of other religions is linked. Therefore, what is beneficial for the country


beneficial to all classes of people irrespective of their religious beliefs.

Implementation of the Islamic State: methods and tools

How to establish such an Islamic state? Ghulam Azam (2002: 16-18) is of the opinion that the methods of bringing about the Islamic socio-political change were delineated by the Prophet himself. The Prophet presented and propagated the message revealed to him by Allah, organized those who believed in the message, trained the believers in their responsibilities for establishing the divinely prescribed order of human society and ultimately placed them at the

leadership positions for the fulfilment of his mission. Since it is impossible to develop and run

a state, government or society based on divine rules without any institutional means and a

group of well-organized and highly committed workers, he attaches special importance to the organizational matters. Therefore, the Jamaat is seen by him as a vehicle to recruit, organize and prepare the workers for an Islamic movement, workers who would eventually catalyse the transformation of the society along the lines stated above.

390 Ishtiaq Hossain and Noore Alam Siddiquee

It is through Jamaat that Ghulam Azam wants to materialize his vision of the Islamic state.

It is an organization and movement that he has steered, guided and nurtured, bears much of

the testimony of the applied aspects of his political ideas and thoughts, and has the ultimate

aim of establishing an Islamic state in Bangladesh. A fundamental difference with other Islamic groups and organizations active in Bangladesh today, is that Jamaat may rightly be regarded as

a revivalist movement that seeks total transformation of the society in accordance with the

tenets of Islam as understood and interpreted by Maulana Abul Ala Mawdudi. According to Ghulam Azam, Jamaat is not a religious political party in the conventional sense of the term, but

an ideological movement for transforming the society on Islamic principles:

The Jamaat is simply neither a political party nor merely a religious organization. It has embraced Islam without any reservation and it considers Islam to be a complete and balanced code of conduct. So the Jamaat is both political and religious. It is political to the extent Islam is political, it is neither more nor less political than what Islam wanted to be. (Azam 1968: 62-63)

In order to achieve its goals and objectives, a four-point program of activities has been adopted by Jamaat:

(1) Da'wah and Tabligh (call and propagation)

This essentially means presenting the teachings of Islam and inviting people towards its right path. This involves at least three main objectives, namely (i) to reconstruct Islamic thought on the basis of the Qur'an and Sunnah while looking into the contemporary problems and making use of ijtihad whenever necessary; (ii) to present Islamic solutions to various problems of the modem age and to show the deficiencies of the prevailing concepts and ideologies; and (iii) to widen the people's knowledge of Islam so that they are encouraged to actively join the Islamic movements.

(2) Tanzeem and Tarbiah (organization and training)

This component includes among other things, (i) identifying and organizing people who are honest. God-fearing and Islamic-minded, (ii) training them through various practical activities to become true-Muslims and competent khadim-e-deen, and finally (iii) facilitat- ing honest leadership in the society through the development of a cadre of workers with high ethical and moral character.

(3) Islah-al-Maosharah (social reform and welfare)

This involves an extensive involvement of workers in social services and welfare activities. While the ultimate aim is to motivate the people to strive for implementing an Islamic state, the immediate objectives of such activities are to eliminate immoral and anti-social activities from the community and to uplift the condition of the people and the society as a whole.

(4) Islah-al-Hukumat (reforms in government and administration)

The people prepared, as outlined above, are expected to strive to capture power in order to replace the existing 'un-Islamic' system of government and administration with the Islamic one. Ghulam Azam (1978: 42-43) considers that Jamaat and its workers should

(i) advise the government in power in terms of internal administration, law and foreign

policy, health, education and other developmental matters, and (ii) assist and support the election of honest and competent people in positions of leadership at all levels.

The active role played by dedicated and trained workers and leaders with regard to the above has been supported by the huge amount of literature produced on various aspects of the

Islam in Bangladesh politics 391

movement. Thus, Jamaat has been able to bring under its fold people from all walks of life. It has also created separate platforms for various occupational and professional groups, v^^hich have mobilized a large nunnber of people thus giving further strength to its organization. Despite this, the leadership is of the opinion that there is also a need for collaboration and coordination among other Islamic parties and groups. Thus, Ghulam Azam stresses that, in order to ensure the victory of Islam, Jamaat's policy is to cooperate actively with all other political parties and groups, especially those based on Islamic ideology and principles,

Islam and democracy

In contrast to the democratic order that was developed in the West, the moderate Islamic movement has come up with its plan of democratization, which may be dubbed as 'Islamic democracy'. The central feature of the latter recognizes the binding and normative nature of divine law and revelation as a guide to public policy, Iran's President, Mohammad Khatami, and Islamic thinkers such as Tunisia's Rached Ghannouchi argue that a pragmatic interpret- ation of the sacred texts and reliance on Islam's democratic ideals is the most stable path for the Muslims, Other features of this movement are the following: an emphasis on Islam's importance to equality and justice, which empowers the individual to disobey a tyrannical ruler, and the Qur'anic designation of human beings as Allah's agents, responsible for the management of His domain, and respecting individual liberty. Traditional Islamic doctrines such as the notion of shura (consultation) and ijma (consensus) are being interpreted to reflect a democratic perspective. The notion of shura is seen as mandating popular participation in public affairs and establishes the foundation for a govern- ment, which is accountable. The concept of ijma has been reinterpreted to serve as the basis of majority rule, A society resting on a larger consensus is bound to produce a more just and equitable polity. Through these progressive re-evaluations of Islamic doctrines and symbols, moderate Islamists have suggested that popular participation is the only legitimate basis of government. For many Muslims, democratic principles are not only compatible with Islam but represent its ultimate objective: the conception of an ideal Islamic society can only be achieved through democratic institutions and in making sure that the rulers are accountable for their actions to the people, A brief analysis of this concept would demonstrate that Ghulam Azam's 'theo-democracy' is not different from 'Islamic democracy'. His views on politics as a process through which the goverrunent is formed and changed, people are organized and the qualities of leadership are inculcated among them. According to him, the sole objective of politics should not be to grab power but to conduct the affairs of the government in a well-organized manner with the full consent of the people (Azam 1978: 6-7), In his book Bangladesher Rajniti {Politics in Bangladesh) he briefly outlined his views, among others, on the nature of politics in Bangladesh, and the relationship between Islam and democracy in the country. For him, democracy is the system in which the government is formed through free and fair elections. He identifies the following principles of democracy:

• Representatives elected by the majority of the population are entitled to be in power;

• Free and fair elections are to be ensured so that the opposition political parties accept the validity of the election results;

• In order to ensure the well-being of the nation, people must enjoy the right to point out the mistakes of the government. This principle is to be made into an essential part of the democratic order so that political parties may play their role constructively within the bounds of the law of the land;

• The capture of power by any means other than through the support of the government is contrary to the democratic principles; and.

392 Ishtiaq Hossain and Noore Alam Siddiquee

• The principles pertaining to the formation, change, and running of the government are to be enshrined in the constitution. (Azam 1993a: 40-41)

He emphatically maintains that the above-mentioned principles of democracy do not in any way contradict an Islamic political order which does not support authoritarianism or any other forms of government that do not rest on popular will. While he refers to the importance of equality and justice, which empower the individual to disobey a tyrannical ruler, he also emphasizes that it is the sacred duty of the people to point out the mistakes of the government. As in Islamic democracy, the traditional Islamic doctrines such as shura (consultation) are being interpreted to reflect a democratic perspective, and popular participation is the only legitimate basis of government. However, he also warns that there is a fundamental difference between democracy and the Islamic polity. While the central theme of democracy is popular sovereignty or parliamentary sovereignty that has the absolute authority to frame laws on all matters, Islam maintains that sovereignty belongs to Allah. Neither the people nor the popularly elected parliament has the right to enact any law contrary to the divine codes (Azam 1995: 180-182).


Ghulam Azam considers freedom as one of the most fundamental and inalienable human rights. He asserts that people are bom free. He argues that the conventional understanding of freedom as freeing a nation from the clutches of foreign domination/alien rule is not freedom in the real sense of the term. Political freedom becomes meaningless if there is an authoritarian regime whereby people are vmable to enjoy their democratic rights. Therefore, mere indepen- dence either from alien rule or the government of indigenous people, does not guarantee anything. In this connection, he stresses individual liberty. He says that the real freedom lies in the realization of basic human needs that include, among other things, one's opportunity to lead life with honour and dignity, to observe religious beliefs and traditions, to earn and possess property etc. He asks the question: what is the use of political freedom if the people fail to enjoy such liberties that are so fundamental to human life? As such, he suggests tliat people can enjoy the taste of freedom when the divine laws are enforced and governing power is in the hands of right kind of people (Azam 1995: 14-16).

Muslim unity

Since the beginning of his political career, Ghulam Azam has been unequivocal about Muslim unity. During the days of British India and Pakistan, he used to keep close contacts with the Islamic intellectuals and learned people in the country and abroad. It was this sense of unity that, he claims, encouraged him to oppose the break up of Pakistan in 1971. In the liberated Bangladesh, he has been appalled to see that while there are plenty of Islamic groups within the country and despite their potentials, they have failed to advance the cause of Islam because they remain fragmented and much of their energy is invested in discrediting each other. He felt that with numerous institutions and groups devoted to the cause of Islam e.g. political parties, Tabligh Jamaat, madrasas and mosques, socio-cultural organizations and shrines across the country, Bangladesh offered a tremendous prospect for Islam. Thus, on return from his sojourn in London, he felt strongly the importance of the need to bridge the distance between and among various Islamic groups and organizations within the country. This has prompted him to write and publish a booklet in 1978 entitled Islamic Unity and Islamic Movement. He has identified all major players in the Islamic movement and outlined a detailed framework as to how unity and coordination among them can be achieved. He received a favourable response from different quarters and his framework served as a basis for the development of Ittehadul Ummah in December 1981. Although later he could not do much to

Islam in Bangladesh politics 393

achieve the much desired tinity among the Islamic groups, he has continued to highlight the importance of unity through his writings, issuance of statements, and holdings of parleys with learned societies. He initiated fresh proposals for unity among the regional and international organizations of Islam, sent delegates to the heads of different leading Islamic institutions and parties, had meetings and dialog-«es with various stakeholders discussing the practical aspects of unity. In 1998, he published another booklet with the chronology of events and develop- ments since 1978. Although the proposed unity among the Islamic groups and organizations is yet to take any concrete shape, he remains optimistic on this issue.


The basis of nationalism shapes the identity of a nation. According to Ghulam Azam, Muslim nationalism is the basis of Bangladesh (Azam 1990: 6) because the division of India was on the basis of the independence of Bangladesh. This argument is used by Jamaat to legitimize its demands for the establishment of an Islamic state in Bangladesh. It is, however, challenged by those who believe that the Bangladesh state was based on secularism. The immediate cause for the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971 was sudden - the inevitable aftermath of genocide perpetrated by the West-Pakistan dominated military 'junta' in 'defence of its decision not to share power or resources with East Pakistan' (Murshid 2001: 161). The struggle of the Bengalis in 1971 was one of sheer survival and a self-conscious attempt to build a secular polity, even though inspiration was sought in slogans such as ]ai Bangla (Victory to Bengal) which had no religious connotations. However, there are some other important factors that had led to an independent Bangladesh, including Islamabad's political, social, and economic discriminatory policies towards the Bengalis of East Pakistan. One of the factors was the Bengali language movement of 1950-52. The language movement, which originally sought the recognition of Bengali as the state language of Pakistan and subsequently took a form of protest of political grievances of the people against the Pakistani rulers, formed the basis of the independence movement of Bangladesh. As mentioned earlier, Ghulam Azam played an important role in the movement, yet he did not participate in the armed struggle of the country. At the time of the war of liberation, he was in Pakistan and only returned to Bangladesh in 1978, when Lt. General Ziaur Rahman was in power. In his writings, he glosses over the period of war of liberation of the country as if this period were not important in the history of Bangladesh.

Resistance to authoritarianism

Ghulam Azam has not only disliked undemocratic and fascist tendencies of the ruling elites, he has always played a key role in all mass movements against authoritarian and dictatorial rule since the early 1960s. As a leader of the Jamaat-I-lslami (East Pakistan), he was among the front-ranking leaders who opposed the military rule of Ayub Khan and organized mass support for the restoration of democratic systems. He played a prominent role as the general secretary of the Pakistan Democratic Movement formed in 1967 and later as a member of Democratic Action Committee formed in 1969 to transform the anti-Ayub movement into a popular uprising. He was also among the participants of the Round Table Conference held in Rawalpindi to solve the prevailing political impasse in Pakistan. One of the achievements of the round-table was the elections of 1970, usually seen as a precursor of independent Bangladesh. Although the Awami League emerged as the dominant party, with 167 out of 169 seats in the then East Pakistan, the reluctance of the Yahya regime to hand over power to the Awami League culminated in liberation war and eventually the emergence of Bangladesh as a new nation. Even in liberated Bangladesh, despite controversies surrounding his alleged personal involvement in war crimes and that of other Jamaat leadership, Ghulam Azam's role has been

394 Ishtiaq Hossain and Noore Alani Siddiquee

significant. As already noted, the political situation in the aftermath of Bangladesh's liberation forced Ghulam Azam to be in exile, while the Jamaat faced a ban from the government in power. But this did little to deter Ghulam Azam from the pursuit of his mission. He maintained regular contacts with like-minded people and never gave up hope for making his mission successful. Like many others within the country, Ghulam Azam was concerned with the chaotic situation the coxmtry had witnessed in the initial years and the process of secularization initiated by the Awami League government. He also saw the growing influence of India on Bangladesh as a threat to the country's sovereignty and Islamic identity. He, therefore, wrote a booklet urging Bengalis to unite on the basis of Islamic values to fight the Indian hegemony in order to make Bangladesh truly independent and sovereign. He emphasized, among other things, that the fruits of independence should be conveyed to every citizen in the form of decent living, honour and dignity. He further maintained that rule of law must be established and democratic and peaceful order must be restored. The mass movement must be continued in order to establish a non-communist and real democratic government (Azam 1973).

towards the

military government of General Ziaur Rahman, they were particularly critical of the military rule of General Ershad, who seized power in 1982 in a bloodless military coup, forcing President Justice Sattar'^ - who had been elected President in 1981, following the death of General Ziaur Rahman - to quit. Throughout the 1980s, Jamaat had fought the military rule alongside the other political parties. Through mass meetings, demonstrations and strikes called and enforced by Jamaat and the two other major political alliances (one led by the Awami League and the other by the BNP) the opposition was able to galvanize public support and weaken the authority of the military ruler, and eventually compelled Ershad to hand over power to a caretaker government in 1990, which paved the way to democratic governance. Although Ghulam Azam was personally unable to attend public rallies for legal (his nationality issue was still pending and unresolved) and security reasons, he was the principal architect of Jamaat's policies and strategies throughout this period.

Although Ghulam Azam and the Jamaat have shown some indifference"

Contemporary socio-political issues

The Jamaat supporters and activists see Ghulam Azam as a socio-political reformer in Bangladesh who has always expressed serious concerns on the prevailing social and political order, which is characterized by corruption, injustice, moral decadence, violence and lawless- ness. Much of his writings discuss in great length such maladies from which Muslim societies in general and Bangladesh in particular suffer. As for Bangladesh, he argues, all other problems are rooted in the lack of political stability, ethical and moral degradation of the society, lack of economic safety and the aimless system of education (Azam 1992:15-21). He maintains that the real solution lies in the implementation of divine codes in society and administration. Accord- ing to him, there is a need for developing and preparing the people so that they are able to fight such malice in the society. As such, he considers that it is extremely important to develop the youth of the country as good and honest individuals who would shoulder the responsibilities of an ideological state in future. He has also observes that, for too long, women have been deprived of their real Islamic teachings. This is why the women are not aware of their rights granted in Islam. Since women constitute 50% of the population, it is impossible to bring about desired social change without involving them in the process. He therefore stresses the need for equipping them with knowledge on Islam and practice so that they can enhance the cause of the Islamic movement among fellow women (Azam 1992: 17). Ghulam Azam has proven himself as a man of ideas and innovative solutions to contempor- ary socio-poHtical problems. In the 1980s, when Bangladesh was imder the military rule of General Ershad, as already noted, the opposition political parties mounted pressures for its

Islam in Bangladesh politics 395

return to civilian rule. He came up with a formula to hand over the power to a caretaker government. Although initially there was a debate concerning the viability of the proposed structure and the major political parties were reluctant to give credence to Ghulam Azam, eventually it was accepted by all parties. The innovative method proposed by Ghulam Azam for the transfer of power and holding of free and fair elections under the caretaker government has been followed in Bangladesh since 1990 and has already received acclaim both locally and internationally.

Concluding remarks

It is obvious from the above discussions that Ghulam Azam has been a key and influential figure in Bangladesh politics. Since his return home, he has been relentlessly struggling to make Bangladesh an Islamic welfare state. He has been active in extending his da'wah to all and working to make Islamic ideology victorious for the complete emancipation of humanity. Although during much of his political career, he has remained out of the public domain, and his status remained undeclared, he nevertheless, served as a think-tank, ideologue, and the de facto leader as far as the politics of ]amaat was concerned. He may personally remain controversial for his alleged role in Bangladesh's liberation movement, but his influence in Bangladesh politics is quite obvious. Recent events in Bangladesh politics and the results of national elections indicate the growing impact of Ghulam Azam and his Jamaat on the society. In the 2000 elections, ]amaat received 17 parliamentary seats. While it is impossible to determine how much support the Jamaat actually had as it was part of an alliance against the Awami League, its 17 parliamentary seats - and two ministers - suggest a dramatic increase in its political influence in the country (Lintner 2002). This is an unprecedented success for a party that had been in the wilderness of Bangladesh politics for a long time. Such electoral successes aside, under Ghulam Azam's leadership, Jamaat has also shown a significant maturity and organizational strength. It has emerged as the most well-disciplined and cohesive political party in the country. While all other political parties are plagued with internecine conflicts and have suffered, in the recent past, splits and fractions with every change in the political context, Jamaat is the only party that has not experienced any such crisis so far. While mass defection especially during the elections, appears to be a feature of Bangladeshi politics, hardly any Jamaat leader or activist has defected to other parties. Instead, it has been able to increase membership steadily over the years. What all this suggests is that Ghulam Azam's approach to training and tarbiat has been effective in recruiting and preparing a cadre of highly committed workforce who would eventually implement the party ideals and pro- grammes in the society. Notwithstanding all this, one may find a number of anomalies and contradictions in Ghulam Azam's policy and practice. He strongly maintains that Jamaat is not a power-hungry political party as it seeks to gain political power in order to materialize its vision of the Islamic state. He further asserts that since Jamaat is working with a long term plan, it does not aspire to grab power or share power with the others as long as an ideologically committed workforce with an Islamic mind, intellect and character is not fully in place (Azam 1990: 32). While this remains the stated policy, soon after the last general elections, two of Jamaat's central leaders - i.e. the new Ameer Matiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mujahid - joined the government as cabinet ministers, thereby making Jamaat a partner of the BNP-led coalition government. Although BNP is neither an Islamic party nor has it committed to go along the lines Jamaat would prefer, Jamaat's decision to share power with BNP came as a surprise to many political observers and analysts. There are reasons to believe that such a major decision has not been taken without any consultation with, or endorsement from, Ghulam Azam, given that still he is seen as the de facto leader of the Jamaat. What is more disturbing is that the Jamaat leaders in the government have failed to dissuade the BNP from pursuing undemocratic and

396 Ishtiaq Hossain and Noore Alam Siddiquee

immoral policies, e.g. various repressive acts, politicization of administration, ousting the elected president from the office to name only a few. Instead, they have actively abetted and aided the BNP in all these matters. They have also supported the government in terms of enacting an undemocratic and bizarre legislation known as the indemnity bill (which denies victims the right to seek redress from courts) which provoked severe criticisms within the country and outside. Such a role on part of Jamaat leadership and blindly supporting the BNP's line of actions has raised many questions about the sincerity of jamaat with regard to 'promoting good and preventing evil' in the society. Clearly, in this case, Jamaat MPs in general and the two ministers in particular, have failed to live up to popular expectations. Secondly, in one of his recent writings, Ghulam Azam emphasized political reconciliation and democratic continuity. He has urged all political parties to abandon the culture of 'politics of agitation' and thus contribute to the democratic consolidation process (Azam 1993b: 23-24). He further maintains that for the sake of democratic tradition, the government elected through the democratic process should be allowed to continue its full term in office. Although the opposition has a role to point out the mistakes of the ruling party/group, it must abandon destructive politics of hartal (strike), blockade and agitation. Yet it is interesting to note that it was Jamaat that remained active with the BNP throughout 1996-2000 to dislodge the Awami League government that came to power through free and fair elections in 1996. Earlier, Jamaat launched a strong anti-goverrunent movement and enforced a series of hartals and demonstra- tions across the country, either alone or with the Awami League, to paralyse and force the democratically elected BNP-govemment (1991-1995) out of office. This shows the differences between what Ghulam Azam has proposed and what his party has practised. Obviously, in the prevailing political climate, where anti-government sentiment became strong, it was unexpec- ted that Jamaat would remain indifferent. Furthermore, the repressive policies of the ruling government and the alleged threats to 'Islam' were used by the Jamaat leadership as additional justifications for the party's involvement in the oust-govemment movement, even though it came to power through the democratic process. Thirdly, Ghulam Azam has presented his Jamaat as an ideal political party based on Qur'anic principles. He asserts that since Jamaat wants to implement sharia-hased administra- tion through peaceful means, it does not support violence and or the use of force in its politics. However, this is not corroborated by the evidence, as Jamaat's politics in the recent past has been no less violent than the other political parties. This is also true of the activities of the Islami Chatra Shibir (ICS), the students' organization of the Jamaat. The ICS is a member of the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations as well as the World Assembly of the Muslim Youth. The ICS is the main pillar of Jamaat's growing strength. The ICS has already earned a bad name for its brutality and violent acts against students, teachers and other opponents ia many universities. Since the 1980s, the ICS has allegedly been involved in kidnapping, amputation of limbs and severing ligaments and vital veins and even killing hundreds of opponents in Chittagong, Rajshahi, Rangpur and its other strongholds (Hashmi 1994: 100-138). For ideological differences, the ICS rarely has a good relationship with other student organizations especially those supporting the Awami League and left-leaning political parties. At times, they get locked into conflicts that end in violence and bloodshed. Although the Jamaat or the ICS leaders deny the involvement of their workers in any such acts, the available evidence suggests that the student wings of all major political parties, including Jamaat, have their share of campus and political violence. In many cases, the ICS resorts to violence to counter the violence of its opponents. It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss whether or not this strategy is appropriate. Apparently this violence has earned a negative image for the ICS and the party it represents. Neither Ghulam Azam nor Jamaat has taken any actions against those ICS leaders and activists involved in such activities. Rather they seem to have condoned such events by simply brushing aside any such claims and labelling the media reports as fabricated and untrue. Needless to say, the Jamaat's reluctance or failure to rein the

Islam in Bangladesh politics 397

militant ICS activists has also undermined Ghulam Azam's personal image and that of the party. This explains in part, why despite all the gains, Ghulam Azam and the Jamaat's support base remains narrow. In addition, they continue to face a plethora of challenges. On the one hand, they have yet to come out of the 1971 stigma, on the other hand, the forces opposing Jamaat are as strong as before. More significantly, Jamaat's 'fundamentalist ideology' appears to be somewhat incongruent with the preference of the majority of the population in Bangladesh who, according to a recent survey, want to see modem educated people in power. Neither Ghulam Azam nor his party has been able to change the generally negative perception about Jamaat and thus significantly widen its acceptance among the masses. Rather, at times, the


nationalist and patriotic forces and widened the gap between Jamaat and the common people. It remains to be seen how Ghulam Azam and the new Jamaat leadership tackle these challenges in the future.

of Jamaat leadership such as 'we did no mistakes in 1971' have infuriated the

Author's note

The authors acknowledge the funds provided by the Research Centre, International Islamic University Malaysia, for research.



'The Muslin World' consists of those states where Muslims constitute the majority population.


This article does not purport to identify and analyse the causes, and the beliefs of the Islamic Resurgence Movement. However, for a comprehensive understanding of the nature and implications of contemporary Islamic resurgence movements, see Ahmad (1983).


The Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party are the two largest political parties in Bangladesh.


Ghulam Azam's father, Maulana Ghulam Kabir, and grandfather, Maulana Abdus Sobhan, were perennial sources of religious education and training. They had a great role in moulding his interest, character and behaviour on Islamic values and principles from childhood. With their encouragement he started reading Islamic literature when he was a student of class VII. He was a regular reader of the monthly Neyamat, a magazine devoted to promotion of Islamic values and culture in the then East Pakistan.


He acted as General Secretary of Purba Bangla Sahitya Sangshad, a prestigious literary forum and was elected General Secretary of Fazlul Huq Hall Student's Union.


In childhood, he was heavily influenced by his father and grandfather both of whom were highly


religious. Later, he came in close contact with the leading Islamic figures of the time. The writings of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA), the life of Maulana Muhamn\ad Ilias, the founder of the Tabligh Movement and his association with Maulana Abdul Aziz, the Ameer of Tabligh Jamaat in Bangladesh, had a significant impact on his decision to devote himself to the Islamic movement. janiaat elected an acting Ameer (Maulana Abbas Ali Khan) to carry out the day-to-day fimctions of the party chief during the period of Professor Azam's absence and even after his return home, until 1990. However, Professor Azam was seen as the real Ameer, even though it was not given much publicity, for obvious reasons, as there was much controversy surrounding his nationality.


For a brief discussion on the rise of the jamaat during 1977-1982, see Evans (2001).


Some of his prominent works include: A Guide to the Islamic Movement (1968), Bangladesh and jamaat-i-lslami (1979), Islamic Unity and Islamic Movement (1978), Seerat-un-Nabi (l986). An Easy Under- standing of the Qura'n (1998), Politics in the Life of the Prophet (2000), Ikamat-e-Deen (1997), From Pallasey to Bangladesh (1988), Politics of Bangladesh (1990), Democratic Movement and jamaat-i-lslami (1992), The Future of Bangladesh and jamaa-i-lslami (1990), My Bangladesh (1995), Democracy versus Socialism, Thoughts of Abul Ala Mawdudi (2002), Islam in the Modern Context, As I Saw Maulana Mawdudi (1997) and All That I Saw in Life (2002).


Theo-democracy is a term coined by Mawdudi. But he himself did not insist on promoting this term. He has only used this term and others, like Democratic Khilafah, to differentiate between Islamic forms of government and democracy.

398 Ishtiaq Hossain and Noore Alam Siddiquee

remained suspended. There were additional reasons for the Jamaat supporters and sympathizers to be happy with Zia's rule, as he reversed the Awami League's policy, dropped secularism as a state principle and initiated Islamization processes, no matter how limited. 12. justice A. Sattar served as Vice President under General Ziaur Rahman. As required under the Constitution, Justice Sattar took over as the President following the death of Ziaur Rahman on 30 May 1981 in an attempted military coup.


Ahamed, Emajuddin and Nazneen, D. R. J. A. (1990) 'Islam in Bangladesh', Asian Survey (30)8: 795-808. Ahmad, Khurshid (1983) 'The nature of Islamic resurgence'. In John L. Esposito (ed.) Voices of Resurgent Islam, New York, Oxford University Press. Azam, Ghulam (1968) A Guide to the Islamic Movement, Dhaka: Azam Publications. Azam, Ghulam (1973) Bangali Musalman Kon Pathe, Pamphlet. Azam, Ghulam (1978) Islamic Unity and Islamic Movement. Pamphlet. Azam, Ghulam (1990) The Future of Bangladesh and Jamaat-I-Islami (Bangladesher Bhabhishat and Jamaat-I-Is- lami), Dhaka: Jamaat-I-Islam, Publications Division. Azam, Ghulam (1990) Work Principles of Jamaat-I-Islami, Pamphlet (June).

(1992) Bangladesh and Jamaat-I-Islami, Dhaka: Jamaat-I-Islam Publication Division.

Azam, Ghulam

Azam, Ghulam (1993b) The Call for National Reconstruction (Desh Goral Dak), Dhaka. Pamphlet. Azam, Ghulam (1993a) Politics in Bangladesh (Bangladesher Rajniti), Dhaka: al Azami Publications. Azam, Ghulam (1995) My Bangladesh (Amar Bangladesh), Dhaka: Adhunik Prokashani. Azam, Ghulam (1997) As I Saw Maulana Mawdudi, Dhaka: Adhunik Prakashan. Azam, Ghulam (2000) The Four-Point Program for Muslim Rulers as Declared in the Quran, Dhaka: Adhunik


Azam, Ghulam (2002) Methods of Establishing the Khilafat of Allah, Dhaka: Kamiab Publications. Banu, U. A. B. Razia Akhter (1994) 'Jamaat-I-Islami in Bangladesh politics: challenges and prospects'. In Hussin Mutalib and T. I. Hasmi (eds) Islam, Muslims and the Modern State, London: Macmillan, 80-99. Evans, D. Hugh (2001) 'Bangladesh: an imsteady democracy'. In Shastri, Amita and Wilson, A. Jeyaratnam

(eds) The Post-Colonial States of South Asia: Democracy, Identity, Development and Security,


Surrey: Curzon, 69-87. Hamidullah, M. (1968) Introduction to Islam, Lahore: Sh. Muhamad Ashraf Publishers. Hashmi, Tajul Islam (1994) 'Islam in Bangladesh polities'. In Mutalib, Hussin and Hashmi, Tajul Islam (eds) Islam, Muslims and the Modern State, London: Macmillan, 100-138. Kamruzzaman, Muhammad (1989) Revolutionary Life of Professor Ghulam Azam, Dhaka, publisher not

mentioned. Karawan, Ibrahim A. (1997) The Islamist Impasse, Adelphi Paper 314, London: International Institute for Strategic Studies. Karim, Waresul (2004) Eleetion Under A Caretaker Government: An Empirical Analysis of the October 2001 Parliamentary Election in Bangladesh, Dhaka: University Press Limited. Lintner, Bertil (2002) 'Religious extremism and nationalism in Bangladesh', Paper presented in an inter- national workshop on Religion and Security in South Asia at the Asia Pacific Gentre for Security Studies. Honolulu, Hawaii, 19-22 August. Marty, Martin E. and Appleby, R. Scott (eds) (1991) Fundamentalisms Observed, Chicago, 111.: University of Chicago Press. Murshid, Tazeeen M. (2001) 'State, nation, identity: the quest for legitimacy in Bangladesh'. In Shastri, Amita and Wilson, A. Jeyaratnam (eds) The Post-Colonial States of South Asia: Democracy, Identity, Development and Security, London: Curzon. Nuruzzaman, N. (1992) Professor Ghulam Azam: A Profile of Struggle in the Cause of Allah, Dhaka: publisher not mentioned. Vatikiotis, P. J. (1987) Islam and the State, London: Croom Helm.

Authors' biographies

Dr Ishtiaq Hossain is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, International Islamic University Malaysia. He served as a Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore. He was a Visiting Professor at George Washington University and a Visiting Lecturer at Waikato Uruversity. Contact address: Department of Political Science, International Islamic University Malaysia, Jalan Gombak, 53100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. E-mail address:

Dr Noore Alam Siddiquee is Senior Lecturer, Department of Public Policy and Administration, Universiti

Islam in Bangladesh politics 399

Brunei Darussalam, Brunei. He served as Associate Professor and Head, Department of Political Science, International Islamic University Malaysia.

Contact address: Department of Public Policy and Administration, Faculty of Business, Economics and Policy Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Jalan Tunku Link, Gadong BE 1410, Brunei. E-mail address: