Islam in Central Asia: Variations on a Religion Cover Image

Az iszlám Közép-Ázsiában. Változatok egy vallásra
Islam in Central Asia: Variations on a Religion

Author(s): Gitta Szekér
Subject(s): History of Islam, Contemporary Islamic Thought
Published by: Korunk Baráti Társaság
Keywords: Islam; Central Asia; mystical Islam; folk-Islam; Bukhara; Soviet Union

Summary/Abstract: The paper reviews the history of Islam in Central Asia and its form of Islamic practices, both “mystical Islam” and so-called “folk-Islam”. The text examines the importance of oral narratives and their sociocultural constructions within its particular context. While the presence of Islam in certain parts of Central Asia dates back to the 17th century, the spread of the faith in regions that are now the modern states of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, was, in actuality, a gradual process. We can talk about the case of Islamisation in multiple waves. The first section of the paper aims to present the main historical events, including Bukhara, “the Mecca of the East”, and the importance of the “Central Asian Golden Age”. It reviews the Soviet era (together with the birth of the modern nations within the Soviet nationalities policy), the shaping of Islamic practices during this time and the effect of both the “underground Islam” of the Soviet times and the foreign impact in the Islamic discourse of these independent states beginning from the Nineties. It assesses the rebirth of Sufism in a national context and the possible influence of foreign jihadi movements. The second part of the research seeks to demonstrate the religiously diverse nature of the region and its encounter with Islam. It notes the effect of certain Shamanistic rituals and beliefs that shaped the religious practices, such as the Osh Bibiyo (and, through this, women’s possible empowerment by their leading role in healing and religious rituals), that is now an organic part of Islam in the region. By exploring the spiritual past of Central Asia, the paper aims to prove the deep implantation of Islam into the life of the people, though with peculiar local characteristics.

  • Issue Year: 2018
  • Issue No: 06
  • Page Range: 43-51
  • Page Count: 9
  • Language: Hungarian