Event Date: 9-10 September 2011
Royal Holloway, University of London
Contesting Shi‘ism: Isna ‘Ashari and Isma‘ili Shi‘ism in modern South Asia
Hasan Ali Khan
The role of the Auqaf Department in re-defining Sufi and Shi‘a built heritage in Pakistan
This paper describes the general role of the Auqaf Department of the Government of Pakistan in the Islamization era of the 1970s and the 1980s, and its development into a monolith which, along with the affiliated Department of Archaeology, is responsible for the complete management of the built heritage of the country. It will first briefly look at the establishment of the original Auqaf, under British administration after India passed under direct rule, and its early development in the first half of the twentieth century. After partition both India and Pakistan inherited their respective Auqaf departments, along with the colonial-era laws which regulated and governed them. In the case of Pakistan the ministry was quickly restructured to expand, and started taking over shrines not under state control. The process sped up when the Auqaf was subdivided into the Provincial Auqafs, which took direct control of all shrines and mosques in the respective provinces, and the Federal Auqaf, which hence forth dealt only with larger monuments considered to be national treasures, like mosques and forts. In time the provincial Auqafs began a conscious process of dispossessing any shrines not under their control, by deposing the lineal caretakers, and in cases remodelling the monuments on a foreign iconoclastic archetype. This period coincides with the Islamization era of the 1980s, and has resulted in a great loss of Sufi and Shi‘a architectural heritage, especially in the Punjab.