Religion and Belonging: Voices of Lahore’s Khawajasira’s Community


Muniba Tariq
Iram Rubab
Shahida Parveen


A phenomenological study was conducted to understand religious practices of khawajasiras, with an emphasis on instances where Islam provides a historically-rooted identity and offers belonging, and to highlight the challenges faced by them in exercising their fundamental rights. Six in-depth interviews were conducted from Lahore’s khawajasira community. Theoretically, the study utilized the theory of marginality for the refinements of its findings. The study was divided into two phases. The first one offered an overview of organization and rights of khawajasira people globally, in Pakistan, and within Islamic thought. The second phase dealt with the study’s empirical findings in the domains of preferred gender identity, societal discrimination, and appeal and challenges of religious affinity. The findings indicated that most participants wanted to articulate a feminine identity. Additionally, five of them had been abandoned by their birth families in early childhoods. Then, broader khawajasira community and civil society organizations were instrumental in sustaining their survival. With respect to religion, all participants identified themselves as the practicing Muslims – where religion was a source of personal comfort, its social practice was found to evoke a negative response as well because Islam has also guided the majority of the participants to seek halāl work. On the basis of the study findings, it is argued that the status of khawajasira community should be restored in the light of Islamic teachings and that the restoration of their historical and religious belonging along with the assurance of equal citizenship rights.

Keywords: Khawajasira, Community, Islam, Religion, Discrimination


How to Cite
Muniba Tariq, Iram Rubab, and Hafiza Shahida Parveen. 2022. “Religion and Belonging: Voices of Lahore’s Khawajasira’s Community”. Journal of Islamic Thought and Civilization 12 (1), 282-96.


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