On 23 February, 2010 AKU-ISMC hosted a lecture by Tariq Rahman, a Distinguished National Professor of Sociolinguistic History and Director of the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad. Professor Rahman is currently a Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies and has published a number of books on language, power and identity, including Language and Politics in Pakistan (Oxford, Pakistan, 1996), Language, Ideology and Power (OUP 2002), and Denizens of Alien Worlds (OUP 2004) which connect the medium of instruction with world views, poverty and politics in Pakistan. He is currently also writing a social history of Urdu.
Professor Rahman’s lecture entitled Language and Identity: the Case of Urdu and the Politics of Muslim Identity in South Asia explored the history of modern Urdu. He argued that while Urdu is currently closely associated with Muslim identity in South Asia, until the eighteenth century the ancestors of both modern Urdu and Hindi were not associated with elitist Muslim identity. He outlined how this association was instead created at the end of the eighteenth century through a linguistic reform movement. He described this movement as the ‘Muslimisation of Urdu’ and provided a fascinating overview of the agents involved, and the socio-political context of this movement.
Coordinator, Planning & Academic Development
Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations