Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Anti-Blasphemy Activism In Pakistan: A Study Of The Popularity Of Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan

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posted on 2024-02-23, 02:30 authored by Qamar Abbas

In this study, I analyze the relevance of anti-blasphemy activism to the political rise of Barelvi Islam in Pakistan. I examine the evolution of the Tehreek Labaik Pakistan, TLP, as a political representation of Barelvi. I argue that the rise of anti-blasphemy activism in Pakistan is directly related to developments in the Barelvi movement in recent years. I contend that popular Islam in Pakistan has gone through a radical transformation from an inclusive religious culture to an exclusive and rigid religious affair under the influence of the contemporary Barelvi movement. Islamic culture as viewed by the neo-Sufi Barelvi doctrine focuses on profound reverence for the Prophet Muhammad as the most prominent feature of religiosity. The emphasis on the public adoration of the Prophet Muhammad as a basis of the religion provides a persuasive rationale for anti-blasphemy activism. The TLP employs a populist paradigm to create a support group for their anti-blasphemy mission. They construct a binary between “us” and “them” to endorse the supporters of the anti-blasphemy mission as lovers of the Prophet and good Muslims. Those who are critical of the TLP’s argument are declared enemies of Islam and the Prophet. Several factors are responsible for the rise of the TLP. A general acceptance of the hierarchical relationship between the religious leaders and their followers also known as "pir-mureed" within Sufi Islam plays an important role in making the TLP a popular movement at the grassroots level. The social media boom in contemporary times has also proven instrumental in spreading the anti-blasphemy mission as constructed by the TLP. Moreover, the TLP’s vigilant and aggressive response to the specific global incidents or cases of blasphemy in the last decade has enabled it to establish its identity as an anti-blasphemy force.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Religious Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

130501 Religion and society

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Weiss, Rick; Nisa, Eva