The Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad hosted an In-House meeting today with Professor Iftikhar H Malik, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a former Quaid-i-Azam Fellow at St. Anthony’s College Oxford. Professor Malik spoke on “South Asia: Historical Strands and Geopolitical Narratives”.
Introducing the subject of his talk, Prof. Malik said he had become increasingly interested in intellectual history of Islam in South Asia. He eulogized several protagonists in the annals of this history, which included, among others, Syed Ameer Ali, Allama Yousaf Ali, Syed Mumtaz Ali, and Sir Muhammad Shafi. However, he lamented that the interest among Western academic circles has always been more about the revivalists, the fundamentalists, and less about these modernists. He also lamented, what he said, was ‘securitization of knowledge’. He also lamented the prevalent thinking about ‘madrassas’, which he said, had resulted from incomplete knowledge about the system. He argued for reforming the’ madrassa’ system, but advised adoption of a policy that does not put the ‘madrassa’ people on the defensive. These people, he argued, should be made stakeholders in the system. In this context, Prof. Malik said, Turkey, UAE, and Morocco offer good examples of how the ‘madrassas’ can be reformed without putting the whole system in danger.