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Shia Islam in Pakistan

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Title: Shia Islam in Pakistan  
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Shia Islam in Pakistan

The Shia population in Pakistan is variously estimated between 5-20% of the country's total population.[1][2][3][4][5] [6][7][8] The total number of Shias in Pakistan is estimated as about 25 million in 2009[2] to as high as 30 million in 2006 according to Vali Nasr.[9] Pakistan is the second-largest Shia country in the world after Iran.[2]


  • History 1
  • Political influence 2
  • Pakistan Shia communities 3
    • Divisions within the Shia sect 3.1
  • Notable Shia Muslims of Pakistan 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


It is unknown when the Shia community first established itself in what is now the state of Pakistan or in South Asia. The region that is now Pakistan has been conquered and ruled mostly by Sunni empires, such as the Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Timurid, Mughals, Durrani, and others.

While Shi'a Muslims have found a refuge in Pakistan, tensions between them and Sunnis has resulted in the creation in recent years of Shi'a-specific organizations. Shias in Pakistan have also faced persecution by some Mughal Emperors which resulted in murder of Shia scholar Qazi Nurullah Shustari also known as Shaheed-e-Thaalis, which means the "Third Martyr". Many Nawabs were among the Shias who were rulers in present day India or Pakistan.[10]

Ruqayyah bint Ali, the daughter of Ali bin Abi Talib through his wife Ummul Banin came to north western India (now Pakistan) in the seventh century. Ruqayyah bint Ali was the sister of Abbas ibn Ali and wife of Muslim ibn Aqeel. Her shrine in Lahore, Punjab, is visited by people all around and she is referred as Bibi Pak Daman.

Political influence

An Imambargah in Islamabad

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Qaid Azam ("the Great Founder"), the founder of the state of Pakistan, was a Shia.[11][12][13][14] In Pakistan, Shias have been elected to top offices and played an important part in the country's independence, history and nation building. Muhammad Ali Bogra, Khawaja Nazimuddin and their families were Shia Muslims, and so are the Bhuttos, Asif Ali Zardari, Haidar Abbas Rizvi, Syeda Abida Hussain, Syed Fakhar Imam, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Faisal Saleh Hayat, Syed Mehdi Shah, Farzana Raja, Faisal Raza Abidi, Fahmida Mirza, Zulfiqar Mirza. Yasir Wilayati and several other top ranking Pakistani politicians and generals such as Mushaf Ali Mir, Tanveer Naqvi, Yahya Khan, Muhammad Musa and Iskander Mirza.[15]

While in past few decades, to address the legal needs and political support of the Shi'a population in Pakistan organizations like Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, a Shia militant group, was formed to deter the militancy against Shias by Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan as well as Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, Deobandi militant groups. Although the Sunni and Shia Muslims usually coexist peacefully, sectarian violence occurs sporadically by radical groups.

When General Zia ul-Haq, the former military ruler of Pakistan, introduced new laws to make Zakat deductions mandatory for every Muslim during the 1980s, Tehrik-e-Jafaria held a large public demonstration in Islamabad to compel the government to exempt the Shia Muslim community from this law. This protest resulted in the "Islamabad Agreement" in which the government agreed to introduce a separate syllabus for Shia students in public schools, as well as exempt the Shia community from the Zakat law, since Shia consider Zakat as a personal tax (to be paid to the needy) not collectible by the state. According to one senior Pakistani journalist who witnessed these events, Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini played an important role in this agreement being reached, and he sought assurances from General Zia al-Haq that Shia demands would be met. A message from Ayatollah Khomeini was also read out to the Shia protesters in Islamabad in which he called for them to keep up their spirits.[16][17]

Pakistan Shia communities

The Pakistani Shia community is spread across the country. Pakistan hosts a number of distinct Shia communities, including the Turi and Bangash Pashtun tribes, Qizilbash, Hazaras, Dards, Baltis, Shias of Padhrar, Khojas, Bohris and others.

Divisions within the Shia sect

Although the overwhelming majority of Pakistani Shia Muslims belong to Ithna 'ashariyah school, there are significant minorities of Nizari Ismailis (Agha Khanis) and the smaller Mustaali Dawoodi Bohra and Sulaimani Bohra branches.

The Shia Ithna 'ashariyah school has its own Masjids and Hussainias. Mustaali Dawoodi Bohra and Sulaimani Bohra also have their own Masjids. While the Nizari Ismailis pray in Jama'at Khanas.

Notable Shia Muslims of Pakistan

See also


  1. ^ "Country Profile: Pakistan" (PDF).  
  2. ^ a b c Miller, Tracy, ed. (October 2009). Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population.  
  3. ^ "Pakistan, Islam in".  
  4. ^ "Pakistan - International Religious Freedom Report 2008".  
  5. ^ "Religions: Muslim 95% (Sunni 75%, Shia 20%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 5%".  
  7. ^ "Early Warning Signs of Shia Genocide in Pakistan". 
  8. ^ Hussain, Javed; Ahmad, Jibran (July 26, 2013). "Suicide bombs kill 39 near Shi'ite mosques in Pakistan".  
  9. ^ "The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future". Vali Nasr, Joanne J. Myers. October 18, 2006. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 2010-08-24. Pakistan is the second-largest Shia country in the world, with about 30 million population. 
  10. ^ BBC News - Mughal Empire (1500s, 1600s)
  11. ^  
  12. ^ "Would Jinnah have lived as a Shia?". 
  13. ^ "Was Jinnah a Shia or Sunni?". 
  14. ^ "Understanding Jinnah God cannot alter the past, but historians can.". 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
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