Pakistan - Language, Religion, Culture, Customs and Etiquette
creates two independent nations, India and Pakistan. The first This relationship linked extended immigrant families together through. In , the All-India Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, won a In March , the Muslim League's “Pakistan” resolution called for the . Many of the people concerned were very deeply attached not just to religious identity, but to Today, the two countries' relationship is far from healthy. Pakistan received its independence from British India in As a result, many Pakistanis and others in British India converted to the religion of the new people. However, there are also ties of a shared history and culture that bind the.
This is particularly the case with those members of both communities who have the common bond of Islam between them and who might share in prayers at the same mosques and celebrate the same religious festivals. Traditional Muslims rites are observed, and friends and relatives are invited to join festivities that might stretch over several days and that include feasting on traditional foods.
The legal portion of the ceremony is accomplished with the signing of the nikaah, or marital agreement, by the bride and groom.
A moulvi "moolvee"or knowledgeable one, is present at all ceremonies and formally asks the bride and groom whether they accept each other in matrimony. The wedding is held at party centers, not in mosques, and traditional Pakistani music is played before and after the ceremony. While gifts of money and jewelry are traditionally given at weddings in Pakistan, the community in America tends to also give as gifts appliances or other household items that would be of use to the young couple.
Jewelry is still frequently passed down from mother to daughter or daughters-in-law at weddings. Pakistani Hindus, on the other hand, follow the traditional Hindu ceremony, with the bride and groom circling the holy fire from three to seven times, and the priest chanting prayers. Pakistani Americans follow Islamic rites in burying their dead.
No separate cemeteries exist for the community in America; rather, available cemeteries are used. In rare cases, the body might be flown to Pakistan for burial. Only males are allowed to participate in the actual burial ceremony. Pakistani Hindus are generally cremated according to Hindu religious tradition. In this ceremony also, males are given greater prominence. A death is a time for the Pakistani community to come together to provide emotional and sometimes financial support for the bereaved family.
Religion Most Pakistani Americans are devout Muslims, who pray five times a day facing the direction of the holy city of Mecca. Religion figures prominently in the life of Pakistani American families, and the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet serve as the guidelines that Pakistani Muslims follow throughout their lives. Families often visit the mosque once a week, usually on Friday afternoons, where the Imam leads the prayer.
If it is not possible to visit the mosque for Friday prayers, Sunday prayers are another popular alternative. Children are encouraged to attend religious education classes held on weekends and during the summer vacation in substantially populated communities.
Both men and women must keep their arms and legs covered while in the mosque, and covering the head is also encouraged. The sexes must sit either in separate rooms or in separate groups within the same room for the duration of the prayers.
The majority of Pakistanis belong to the Sunni sect of Islam, although a significant representation may also be found among the Shi'ite sect.
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Sunnis, or Orthodox Muslims, believe that the community is responsible for maintaining Islamic law. This law, or shari'a, is based on four sources, which in descending order of importance are: Shi'ites, who are followers of Muhammad's cousin, Ali, believe that Muslim religious leadership descends through blood lines. They also differ from Sunnis through certain religious procedures. In smaller towns in America where there may not be mosques within easy access, Pakistani Americans make special trips to attend the nearest one on major religious holidays and occasions.
Pakistani Americans worship at mosques alongside other Muslims who might trace their ancestry to all parts of the Islamic world and to India; there are generally no separate Pakistani American mosques. Pakistani Americans also participate in and contribute to the larger Islamic community, which includes Arab Americans and African Americans, in America. They are part of the larger community's efforts to educate the country about the ideals of Islam and the teachings of the prophet Mohammed.
Although the overwhelming majority of Pakistani Americans are Muslims, there are also Hindus, Christians, and Zoroastrians within the community. Some Hindus chose to remain in the newly created Pakistan after partition, and they form the core of the Pakistani Hindu community. Hindus are part of a religious tradition that is less structured and less formally organized than other religions like Islam and Christianity. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, with Hindus generally worshipping many gods, including Brahma, the God of Creation, and Surya, the Sun God.
The Hindu community today has access to more than temples all over America, with the oldest one being in San Francisco. It is also common for Hindus in the United States to worship at home, where a small room or portion of a room may be set aside for worship and meditation.
Pakistani Christians, like Asian Indian Christians, worship at churches all over the country and share in the religious life of the dominant Christian culture in America. Zoroastrians or Parsees trace their roots to ninth-century Persia, and form a minuscule religious minority in both India and Pakistan. They have prospered in trade and the professions in both these countries, as also in America, where reports of the earliest Zoroastrians were documented as early as the turn of the century.
Employment and Economic Traditions The profile of the Pakistani American today is dramatically different from the earliest Muslims immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, who came to the United States as manual and agricultural workers with few skills and little or no education.
Many Pakistani American males who entered the United States after were highly educated, urban, and sophisticated, and soon found employment in a variety of professions such as law, medicine, and academia. In the post wave of immigration, many Pakistanis also came to America as students who earned graduate degrees that enabled them to pursue successful careers in a variety of fields. Some members of the community immigrated to the United States with specific educational backgrounds in fields like the law but failed to find positions within that specific field because their qualifications and experience did not transfer readily to the American context.
They have either retrained themselves in other professions or fields, or have had to be satisfied with accepting positions that are meant for individuals with lesser educational qualifications than they have. This is the price that some of these immigrants have paid to settle in the United States. Most of the community today lives a comfortable, middle-class and upper-middle-class existence, although there might be some incidence of poverty among newer uneducated immigrants.
These immigrants tend to take low-paying jobs involving manual or unskilled labor and tend to live in big cities where such jobs are readily available. Many Pakistani Americans also own their own businesses, including restaurants, groceries, clothing and appliance stores, newspaper booths, and travel agencies.
It is common to include members of the extended and immediate family in the business. Pakistani Americans tend to follow the residence pattern set by other Americans, in that they move to more affluent suburbs as their prosperity increases. Members of the community believe in the symbolic importance of owning homes; accordingly, Pakistani Americans tend to save and make other monetary sacrifices earlier on in order to purchase their own homes as soon as possible. Members of the family and the larger community tend to take care of each other, and to assist in times of economic need.
Hence, it would be more common to turn to a community member for economic assistance rather than to a government agency. Relatively low levels of the community are therefore on welfare and public assistance. Politics and Government In the early part of this century, Muslim immigrants were actively involved, along with their Hindu Indian brethren, in the struggle for residence and citizenship rights in America. Since the second wave of immigration inthe Pakistani American community has not been politically inclined, but this is now changing, with the community starting to contribute funds to their candidates of choice in both parties, and running for elected office in districts with large Pakistani American populations.
In recent times, Pakistani American candidates have run for the state senate in districts of such city boroughs as Brooklyn in New York. Because the community is geographically dispersed, the formation of influential voting blocs has not generally been possible, making it difficult to for the community to make an impact on politics in this particular way.
However, there are increasing efforts on the part of community leaders to ensure voter registration and involvement. First-generation Pakistani Americans travel to their native land at least once every few years, and tens of thousands of airplane tickets are sold to Pakistani Americans every year. They often take back to Pakistan gifts of money, food, and clothing for friends and family, and donate generously to charities.
Second-generation Pakistani Americans tend to travel to Pakistan less frequently as ties become attenuated. The relationship of the U. Pakistani Americans maintain a deep interest in the society and politics of Pakistan.
Funds are raised by the community in America for the different political parties and groups in Pakistan. Tensions among ethnic groups like the Sindhis, Punjabis, or Baluchis, in Pakistan tend to be reflected in interaction between these subgroups in America, but to a much lesser extent.
Tensions between India and Pakistan also tend to be reflected in the relationships between Asian Indians and Pakistani Americans. Mohammad Asad Khan —a geophysicist and educator, is on the faculty of the geophysics and geodesy department at the University of Hawaii. He worked mainly in the Southern Asian section of the library. She has been a design consultant who has run her own business.
Salam Shahidi was a leading medical researcher in the department of health, New York City. He was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and has held important posts in the health departments of the states of Michigan and Missouri during the s and s. He was a fellow in hematology and oncology at the Wadley Institute of Molecular Medicine in Dallas, Texas, between andand has been the chair of the department of immunology from He is the author of several books and has written several articles in scholarly journals in his field.
Mohammed Sayeed Quraishi — holds a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts. Media The news group bit. Published in New Jersey in English and Urdu. Features articles of interest to the community and news from Pakistan. A community newspaper that features articles on community engagements, other topics of interest to the community in America and news from Pakistan. It is published in New York City.
Includes articles of interest to the community, news about social engagements involving the community in New York and the United States.
An English language weekly focusing on the Pakistani American community and on events in Pakistan. It is published in New York by Zafar Qureshi. Informs the general public of current political, economic, and cultural developments and events in Pakistan. Cities like New York and Los Angeles with relatively large Pakistani American settlements have weekly Pakistani feature and news programs.
Organizations and Associations Many associations tend to be headquartered in big cities with significant Pakistani American populations. Some associations and organizations are restricted to the interests of particular ethnic and regional communities like Punjabis or Sindhis and subsects thereof. The list that follows are pan-Pakistani organizations—those that do not distinguish on the basis of ethnic or regional groups. APP is an organization of Pakistani American physicians and dentists.
Focuses on how to better serve the health needs of the Pakistani American community and of all Americans. Founded in to serve as a voice for Muslim students in American universities and today has chapters in most major cities in the United States and Canada. Pakistanis have played a leading role in the organization from its inception and have held key roles in its administration. Holds conferences annually on subjects relevant to the Muslim academic community.
Membership ranges in the thousands. Promotes Pakistani culture in America, holds national conventions and seminars on issues of interest to the community. Pakistan Society of Atlanta.
Tellingly, although Pakistan celebrated its independence on 14 August and India on 15 Augustthe border between the two new states was not announced until 17 August.
It was hurriedly drawn up by a British lawyer, Cyril Radcliffe, who had little knowledge of Indian conditions and with the use of out-of-date maps and census materials. Communities, families and farms were cut in two, but by delaying the announcement the British managed to avoid responsibility for the worst fighting and the mass migration that had followed.
Top Tensions in India Many have wondered why the British and Indian leaders did not delay until a better deal over borders could have been agreed. One explanation is that in the months and years immediately following World War Two, leaders on all sides were losing control and were keen to strike a deal before the country descended into chaos. Immediately before World War Two, India was ravaged by the impact of the Great Depression, bringing mass unemployment.
This created tremendous tensions exacerbated during the war by inflation and food grain shortages. Rationing was introduced in Indian cities and in Bengal a major famine developed in The resulting discontent was expressed in widespread violence accompanying the Congress party's 'Quit India' campaign of - a violence only contained by the deployment of 55 army battalions.
The last months of British rule were marked by a naval mutiny, wage strikes and successful demonstrations in every major city. With the cessation of hostilities, the battalions at the disposal of the government in India were rapidly diminished. At the same time, the infrastructure of the Congress Party, whose entire leadership was imprisoned due to their opposition to the war, had been dismantled.
The Muslim League, which co-operated with the British, had rapidly increased its membership, yet still had very limited grassroots level organisation. This was dramatically revealed on the 16 Augustwhen Jinnah called for a 'Direct Action Day' by followers of the League in support of the demand for Pakistan.
The day had dissolved into random violence and civil disruption across north India, with thousands of lives lost. This was interpreted by the British as evidence of the irreconcilable differences between Hindus and Muslims. In reality, the riots were evidence as much of a simple lack of military and political control as they were of social discord. Further evidence of the collapse of government authority was to be seen in the Princely State of Hyderabad, where a major uprising occurred in the Telengana region, and with the Tebhaga 'two-thirds' agitation among share-cropping cultivators in north Bengal.
A leading role was played in both by the Communist Party of India. Elsewhere, the last months of British rule were marked by a naval mutiny, wage strikes and successful demonstrations in every major city.
In all of these conflicts the British colonial government remained aloof, as it concentrated on the business of negotiating a speedy transfer of power. Top Hopes for Pakistan Strong support for the idea of an independent Pakistan came from large Muslim landowning families in the Punjab and Sindh, who saw it as an opportunity to prosper within a captive market free from competition.
Support also came from the poor peasantry of East Bengal, who saw it as an opportunity to escape from the clutches of moneylenders - often Hindu.
At any rate, as we will see later, their unabated activism in the United States has been recently illustrated by a controversy over textbooks in California. Besides, in order to gain better visibility in the host-society, Hindus need to put forward a unified image of the community in the public sphere, and for this they need to overcome their regional diversity and homogenize their different traditions.
And they may have been more successful in doing so in the diaspora than in India. The attempts at homogenizing are also observed among Muslims. Immigration to the United States and the contact with Muslims from different regions of the world has called into question the legitimacy of South Asian Islamic traditions, as other groups view their own customs as equally Islamic.
Besides, the extreme diversity of the Muslim community is perceived as a handicap to the cohesion of the group, while unity is viewed as vital to gain representation and have access to resources in the American society.
Hence, appeals of the leadership to the believers to abandon their cultural baggage and focus only on text-based rituals, as the Text is the ultimate reference that is likely to bind them beyond cultural particularities. However, as compared to Hinduism, Islam is a highly transnational religion, and as compared to UK where most Muslims are from the Indian Subcontinent, South Asians in the United States are far from representing the dominant group amongst Muslims.
This is shown by the kind of religious revival support in particular for a more scripturalist form of Islam, many South Asians, irrespective of their national origin, experience after migrating to the US. The First Amendment to the Constitution, ratified inguarantees religious freedom in a way which can remind one more of Indian secularism, since it implies that the State can show favour neither to the religious over the non-religious, nor to one particular religious tradition over another.
At any rate, Americans have the highest rate of religious practice among industrialized countries, as shown by the high proportion of the population professing to a religion and being actively involved in it. But it is worth noting that Muslims and Hindus experience it in different ways: Hence the paradox of the situation: As for Hindus, even though some negative stereotypes can be associated with Hinduism often seen as a strange and primitive religion as well, they mostly experience discrimination as well as a sentiment of ostracism as an ethnic minority.
Some find solace in reconstructing their identity not only along religious lines but also by stressing the superiority of Hinduism over other religions, this giving them a sentiment of pride and dignity. Interestingly, this insistence on the Hindu identity was observed as early as the beginning of the 20th century when a handful of Indians who were then living in the US were fighting to obtain American citizenship: Indians argued that as high-caste Hindus they belonged to the Aryan race, and by extension were Caucasians, and therefore Whites.
As a matter of fact, Sikhs, Muslims and Parsis did the same, as they also tried to prove that they belonged to the Aryan race. At any rate, this shows how much the local context of a given period can influence the self-definition of individuals and groups. It should be also noted that in a country like Great-Britain the insistence on the Hindu identity has been a way of distinguishing oneself from Muslims and from Pakistanis in particular, especially after the Rushdie affair, and even more so since the July 7th bomb attacks in London.
Similarly, in the s and s, Indians across religious affiliations would wear turbans so as not to be identified with African-Americans Mazumdar Hence, beyond issues of religion, race and class can be equally important in the self-definition and the image people want to project of themselves in the host-society.
The implications on inter-ethnic relations: Given the importance taken by mosques and temples as major places of socialization, Hindus and Indian Muslims have much fewer opportunities to meet than in the Subcontinent.
The lack of a common space of worship is therefore a primary reason for the relative lack of contact between both groups: In the s and s when the contemporary migration process started, Indians, regardless of their religious affiliation, were still few in numbers and tended to belong to the same associations.
While Sikhs primarily left for political reasons in the wake of the riots and the Khalistani movement in favour of an independent PunjabMuslims and Christians rather left for religious reasons, since Hinduism increasingly became an important feature in the lives of Indian cultural associations where sessions and events would start with a puja, for instance.
While a minority joined with Pakistani cultural associations, most Indian Muslims decided to set up their own organizations, like the already mentioned AFMI created in The first such event, which represents a watershed in the relationships between Hindus and South Asian, but more particularly Indian, Muslims is the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya. Hindu nationalists claim that Ayodhya, a town in Uttar Pradesh, is the birthplace of Ram, and that the mosque, built by the first Mughal Emperor, Babur was erected over the ruins of a temple dedicated to Ram.
From onwards, the Hindu nationalists led a virulent campaign to reclaim the site, and on 6 December,they destroyed the mosque. It is a well-documented fact that the worldwide Hindu diaspora took part in this campaign from its inception.
Some of the bricks that were carried as symbols in a procession in Ayodhya early in the movement, had been sent to India from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and from South Africa. After the demolition of the Babri mosque, a segment of Hindu immigrants in the United States rejoiced over the event and indulged in the apology of the Hindu nationalists. The following letter sent by an immigrant from New York City to India Today is particularly enlightening: For the past 45 years, Hindus have been pushed to the wall by the deadly combination of Islamic fundamentalists, communists and pseudo-secularist Hindus whose proclivity to belittle their heritage and damage the Hindu cause is mind-boggling.
Now Hindus are in no mood to take anything lying down? The penchant for absurd exaggeration, cynical disregard for truth, vituperative attacks on Hindu leaders, grossly libellous articles designed to vilify and discredit the BJP and entire Hindu samaj smack of yellow journalism India Today This pessimism often exaggerated well beyond reality is not only the direct result of the Ayodhya affair, but is also an aftermath of a reinforced ethno-religious sentiment exacerbated by the diasporic condition: This hypersensitivity could already be observed in the country of origin with a fairly marked propensity amongst Indian Muslims to victimization.
Their status as a vulnerable minority in India, accused of being responsible for Partition and whose loyalties are often suspect they are regularly accused, at times of crises in particular, of being a fifth column of Pakistan are the two main reasons for the sentiment of alienation felt by many Muslims in India. But as said before, the diasporic condition may reinforce the hypersensitivity, this being another facet of the so-called long-distance nationalism.
Muslims in India in the past have kept a low profile, but they no longer feel the need to do so after migrating. They are likely to become more vociferous in their denunciation of the violations of minority rights in India, regardless of the actual size of the problem on the ground. At any rate, the memory of Partition is still very alive among immigrant South Asians regardless of their religious affiliation, but in particular among the Punjabis. The following comment was made in England, but could apply to the US as well: While the sympathy expressed by the Pakistanis is genuine no doubt, it is hard to listen to such lamentations over and over again.
The concern they have for their religious brethren makes them believe that anyone who is not a Muslim is a Muslim basher Kalam circa Indians vs Pakistanis, regardless of religious affiliations is the nuclear tests conducted by both India and Pakistan in Though they aroused mixed feelings in both communities at large, they were nonetheless hailed with an unrestrained jubilation by a segment amongst them: Interestingly, most Indian Muslims reacted either by celebrating the Indian nuclear tests or by taking a pacifist stand and denouncing the tests conducted by both countries.