Political Islam in Pre-independent Bangladesh: Puritanism, Muslim Nationalism, and Ethno-Nationalism

  • Md Nazrul Islam
  • Md Saidul IslamEmail author


The chapter examines the nature and trends of Islamism in pre-independent Bangladesh. The development of Islamism in the pre-independent Bangladesh was connected to two significant aspects—the global Islamic resurgence and the socioeconomic and political and historical trajectories of the Indian Muslim society. The colonial administration played a vital part in the growth of Islamism in Bengal. Islamism in the colonial period was marked by a puritanical movement in Bengal Muslim society. The ideas of Shah Wali Allah Dahlawi and Sayyid Ahmad Bareilwi contributed enormously to the development of Islamism in Bengal. The reform movements, such as Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya and Fara’idi, led by Mir Nisar Ali alias Titu Mir and Haji Shariat Allah, respectively, and the Khilafat movement by the Indian ulama had a major role in the growth of Islamism in the colonial Bengal. Both Shariat Allah and Titu Mir identified the un-Islamic corrupt practices (shirk and bid’ah) as the major problem and launched their movements to remove them from the Bengal Muslim society. The Khilafat movement was launched to preserve the Ottoman Caliphate. All these movements eventually turned into an anti-British and anti-colonial movement. The colonial rulers successfully suppressed these movements. Nonetheless, these movements had remarkable contributions to the development of Islamism in Bengal. We will then show how Islamism in East Pakistan gradually lost its significance, focusing on how Muslim nationalism on which Pakistan was founded began to decline and the appeal of Bengali nationalism gradually grew.


East Pakistan Puritanism Muslim nationalism Muslim ethno-nationalism Khilafat movement Colonization 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political StudiesShahjalal University of Science and TechnologySylhetBangladesh
  2. 2.Division of SociologyNanyang Technological UniversityJurongSingapore

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