Muslim identity and Islamic practice in post-Soviet Central Asia

Yaacov Ro'I*, Alon Wainer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the newly independent countries of Central Asia had the opportunity to endorse religious freedom. Nevertheless, they chose for the most part to continue the policy of monitoring religious activity, on the pretext of protecting their countries from radical Islam. This study focuses on Islamic praxis in post-Soviet Central Asia. Based on a survey conducted in four Central Asian successor states (excluding Turkmenistan), it examines everyday Islam - observance of precepts, life-cycle rites, prayer and mosque attendance - as well as people's perceptions about the role of Islam in their lives and in the evolution of their societies and the place of Islam in local identity. The authors' findings have not always corresponded to usually accepted hypotheses and they have sought to analyse the reasons for this. Undoubtedly, the exigencies of the current political situation both act as a restraint on respondents in addressing the questions put to them and restrict their religious praxis outside the home. It is difficult to assess how far responses would have differed had the survey been conducted under more favourable circumstances; indeed, some of the questions may have been genuinely misinterpreted as a result of differences in outlook and the use of concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages303-322
Number of pages20
Volume28
No3
Specialist publicationCentral Asian Survey
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2009

Keywords

  • Belief
  • Identity
  • Islam
  • Morality
  • Observance
  • Praxis
  • Rituals

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