Institutional Sufism in Contemporary Pakistan: Theorizing Gender through Practice


  • Saad Ali Khan Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad



Sufi-Culture, Gender, Sufi-Praxis, Worldviews, Women Sufis, Islamic Womanhood


The article aims to question the easily given and accepted notion of “gender equality” and “gender egalitarianism and justice” in Sufism in Pakistan, which does not (otherwise) question the power relations between man and woman given within practice of Sufism. The analysis does not draw on theological undertones rather it relies on socially lived reality of understanding “gender” and the hierarchy as it is practiced, mediated and legitimized in the daily life of people through Sufism. The study problematizes the concept of ‘gender’ in practice of Sufism in Pakistan through the works of Joan W Scott. It attempts to examine how gender is articulated within Sufism through practice in Pakistan. Sufism in contemporary Pakistan practiced through shrines, orders and mater-disciple relationship, when analyzed through the analytical category of gender i.e. power relations between men and women that operate within and across four interrelated social levels, reveals its gendered nature. I contend, that claims of gender egalitarianism or gender equality within Sufism (discursive level) is not actually practiced in the realm of activity instead, Sufism in practice reconstitutes or reestablishes gendered order or duality and gender hierarchy within society. With the critical examination of secondary literature, these assumedly claims and notions of gender egalitarianism, when contested or problematized, reveals the hidden gendered face of Sufism in Pakistan. Therefore Sufism as practiced in contemporary Pakistan constitutes discrimination, difference, hierarchal and asymmetrical power relations between women and men.





How to Cite

Khan, S. ali. (2020). Institutional Sufism in Contemporary Pakistan: Theorizing Gender through Practice. Pakistan Journal of Gender Studies, 20(1), 129–154.