Bayan Ardakh: The Kazakhs for many centuries are secular Muslims

Bayan Ardakh: The Kazakhs for many centuries are secular Muslims

The relationship between Central Asia, where Kazakhstan is located, and the Islamic religion commences with the 8th century. In 751, where today's Taraz city is situated, was a confrontation between the Arab Empire ruled by the Abbas dynasty and the Chinese Empire ruled by the Tang dynasty, in consequence of the victory of Arab Empire, it led to the Islamic acceptance in this region. Even after more than a thousand years later, the Kazakhs retained their original peculiarities of Islam. The Kazakhs, Arabs, Persians in Central Asia not like Uzbeks, did not fully surrender to the Islamic principles. This difference is explained by religious history researchers with the acceptance of the Hanafi maddhab by Kazakhs. This maddhab has its own uniqueness. From there the Kazakhs were able to unite their steppe and nomadic traditions with the Islamic principles, not differing with it. The Kazakhs not as others embraced, obeyed and lived with the Islamic principles. That is why not like the Arabs, Persians and Uzbeks, the Kazakhs are considered as «not fully Muslims» by others. However, on the other hand, it also defines that the Kazakhs are secular Muslims. This quality did not change until the beginning of the 20th century. 

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, along with independence to Kazakhs, the Islam religion has returned. After the seventy-year atheistic society, the Kazakhs have faced with the new Islam. Under the impact of the Islamic countries led by Saudi Arabian, the campaign aiming to return Islam to Kazakhstan was gaining momentum. The government of Kazakhstan has also supported this. However, there were two factors in the rise of Islam. One was trying to force the absorption of Arabian style Islam. Secondly, they were as zealous as possible in strangling the traditional Islamic worldview of the Kazakhs and, there was a willingness in destroying and wiping it out of the consciousness of people as « wild and alien to Islamic principles». In nowadays this struggle is continuing to gain momentum in the Kazakh society.

The government of Kazakhstan has a two-pronged position on the above-mentioned issue. Most importantly, they aimed to counter the growing internationalist ideas of radical Islam in the country. The aforementioned situation was only outwardly monitored. During this period, Islam had entered an unprecedented stage in its development in Kazakhstan. Many mosques were built, Masses were opened, even in government offices prayer houses started being built. However, this period did not last for long. The number of religious educators who had studied abroad increased. Non-obstructed, direct and public, overseas organizations emerged. From there, the Salafite, Wahabi, Koranic, Sufi and others, even the outreach of radicals has grown up. They worked to eradicate each other, influencing their allies within the authorities. It had lasted until the creation of a caliphate in Kazakhstan and the threats to the government. Hundreds of Kazakhstani people went to Syria to support the Islamic State. 

As it becomes clear that Nursultan Nazarbayev, who governed Kazakhstan for many years, will step down from the power and will be alterations in society, so there is a tendency for authority groups to utilize the Islamic factor in politics. It is evident that people of different Islamic groups in society have begun to show a plethora of power in the media under the control of the authorities and became the propagandists of power. It could add new difficulties to the Kazakhs' not well-established comprehension of Islam. Unclear, a scattered worldview in the concept of religion engaging in various political interests, it will obviously lead the Kazakh society to even more difficult issues. Therefore, in the context of Islamic religion, we can assume that the Kazakh society is in a weaker position than the Arabs, Persians, Uzbeks in Central Asian neighbours.

To recapitulate, the difference between rich and poor is humongous, the future of this country located in Central Asia is complicated by corruption, social problems, bilingual government, weak unity of nationalities, poor knowledge about religion, and many are concerned with the tomorrow of Kazakhstan.


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