In many Muslim-majority societies, including Pakistan, liberal progressive subjects who espouse feminism and gender equality do so through the language of universal human rights and political secularism. This brings them into conflict not only with anti-secular rightwing conservatives within their own societies but also with progressive scholarly critics of secularism in other contexts. To clear the space for a nuanced understanding of feminist secularism in Pakistan, the author examines a unique style of politics that may be described as “secular” among middle-class Muslim women interviewed by the author in Karachi and Islamabad. She argues that the espousal of secularism by feminists as a political cultural discourse in South Asia can initiate a politics that challenges hegemonic notions of self, community, and nation that are gaining strength in Pakistan. This position militates against simplistic understandings of secular feminism in this Muslim-majority society as the politics of colonized subjects or as a hegemonic nexus for reproducing the discursive power of Eurocentric and universalist discourses.

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