In the article distribution and development of Islam was considered in Central Asia and feature of distribution of Islam among the nomads of Kyrgyz was analyzed. A process of distribution of Islam among of Kyrgyz was protracted enough and Kyrgyz accepted an Islam later than all. It was marked that the levels of religiousness of Kyrgyz north and south of country strongly differentiate and it is predefined by historical development of regions. A traditional Islam corresponds to principles of democracy in the new independent countries of region. In post-soviet countries of central Asia an Islam gradually strengthens the lost positions in society.
Keywords: Islam; the Sunnis; mazhab; hanafi; polytheism; Buddhism; Christianity; shamanism.

Religion appeared at the dawn of human civilization and is a complex social phenomenon. In recent years, interest in the Islamic religion has sharply increased throughout the world. This interest is due primarily to the ever-increasing role of countries and peoples inhabiting Islamic countries in world processes. It is the traditions of these peoples that influence the way of life, the direction of thoughts, and to a large extent even the prospects for the development of vast regions of the world. In the Central Asian countries in the post-Soviet period, the problems of Islam have become a widely and openly debated topic. The press stresses the positive and negative influence of Islam, the spiritual values ​​of Islam, its history and culture are considered in a new way. Islam is a world religion and rejects nationalistic, chauvinistic and other claims. It is dominated by cosmopolitan ideas. Despite the development of industrial progress in society, leaps in industry in many countries of the Muslim world, Islam revives, develops and occupies a prominent place in public life. The phenomenon of Islam as a religion that succeeded in spreading over a large territory and deep-rooted in the minds of many peoples, lies in the fact that its foundations express universal and universal values ​​close to most of the peoples of the East.

The history of Islam is saturated in its content and pest in its form. In Islam, power and religion have always existed side by side. They cannot be considered separately, because Islam was the basis of the state system, on its basis the ideology and social structure of this or that society was built. As is known, ideologies are the factor that unites society and ensures the consent of the conflicting interests of society. And this function was performed by Islam in the history of Muslim states. Thus, in Islamic countries, religion was an integral part of the state and at the same time played the role of state ideology. Through Islam, people realized their belonging to a Muslim society. After the establishment of Islam on the Arabian Peninsula, it began to spread to other regions. The first military raids in the lands of Central Asia date back to the third quarter of the 7th century. In the years 673-674. The Arab troops came close to the Amu Darya, captured Ramitan and the vicinity of Bukhara. Finally, the region was conquered in the beginning of the VIII century (706-716). Since the VIII century.The region gradually turned into a zone of spreading a new and last religion – Islam. This was the period when four madhhabs were formed in Islam and the own creeds of this religion began to be developed. (Khalid 2007, 13)

Before the appearance of Islam in Central Asia, polytheism existed. The peoples of this region believed in various currents and cults. Here, elements of shamanism, Tengrianism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Manichaeism and local cults have been preserved. With the spread of Islam, the worship of stones, trees, and natural phenomena continued, but they were already given the status of Muslim shrines. Thus, the Central Asian Islam absorbed the elements and traditions of ancient beliefs. Only preserving some features of the former cults, Islam established itself on the territory of this region. The stability and plasticity of pre-Islamic beliefs organically merged with Islam is striking. And even in Soviet times, traditions that genetically originated with pre-Muslim beliefs, retained in their everyday life greater resilience than the norms of orthodox Islam. This is due to the fact that ideas that are deeply rooted in the minds of people, it is difficult to supersede immediately, and sometimes it is impossible. This requires a strong spiritual foundation. Central Asia was a kind of hotbed for mutual influence and interdependence of world religions and local cults. In fact, this is a rare experience of mankind in the number and duration of the coexistence of the most important creeds. This, of course, left its mark on the minds of its current inhabitants. (Zelkina 1999, 358-359)

With the spread of Islam in the region, pre-Islamic religious buildings were gradually replaced by Islamic ones. Wherever urban life developed with a developed culture and settled way of life, Islam naturally became stronger than in a nomadic environment. (Fletcher and Sergeyev 2002, 253)

The process of Islamization of the nomadic population of Central Asia differed from that in the agricultural areas in a number of objective and subjective factors. First, the nomads have never entered the area of ​​Muslim civilization, accompanied by the breakdown of local social structures (primarily economic and cultural types). Secondly, nomads did not enter into close contacts as economic, political, material, neither in cultural (spiritual), with regional centers of Islam. Thirdly, there was a language barrier between the Muslim center and the periphery. Fourthly, at the time of the beginning of Islamization there were no ethno-cultural ties between nomads of Central Asia and regional religious centers. The process lasted long and painfully: the Persians played the role of the distributors of Islam, because at that time they were engaged in trade and at the same time were the link between nomadic and agricultural peoples.

Another important moment – nomads were perceived so-called “household Islam”, or “people’s Islam”, which was limited to everyday, but superficial use of the cult rites of Muslims. As a result, the pre-Islamic and Islamic traditions shifted in the popular consciousness. It should also be taken into account that the constant influx of nomads into Central Asia lasted more than a thousand years. Naturally, they, with their traditional pagan beliefs, customs and ideas, poured into the Muslim milieu, and all this affected the process of Islamization in the region. Therefore, it is not surprising that, in turn, Islam itself in Central Asia underwent a certain transformation (Yavuz and Forughi 2006, 7-8). An interesting point in the history of nomads is that among them at first only the ruling elite of a tribe accepted Islam. And their relatives, naturally, were also considered Muslims, but Islamic norms and values ​​were adopted by them very slowly. It is impossible to consider the Islamization of the region as an instant, simultaneous and all-encompassing process. Islam asserted gradually, unevenly. Despite the fact that all religions, professed by the peoples of Central Asia, Arabs were declared false, part of the population continued to profess old beliefs.

In the spread of this religion, an important role was played by economic, political and ideological factors. For example, to speed up the Islamization of converts to Islam, they were exempted from paying a per capita tax. In the opinion of V.V. Barthold, Islam established itself in the region around the middle of the IX century, ie, a century and a half after the conquest of Maverannahr began (Khalid 2007, 15).

One of the reasons for the success of Islam is its flexibility. Everywhere, wherever he penetrated, he quickly adapted to local customs, to the conditions of real life. Since the provisions of the teachings of the Hanafis allow widespread application of local law, the peoples of the region after the adoption of Islam continued to live their customs and traditions.

In the XVI-XVII centuries. Islam begins to spread among the Kirghiz. The adoption of Islam strengthened the position of the Kyrgyz nobility among the Central Asian rulers, allowed to merge with the Islamic world and conduct equal diplomatic relations, teach their children to read and write in mosques and madrassas, make profitable marriages, etc. But the majority of nomads, although recognized a new religion, in fact Was far from understanding the quintessence of Islam. Therefore, such major ceremonies as the fulfillment of the fivefold prayer and the observance of the multi-day fast-orozo, were not always performed. This is explained by the fact that the nomadic peoples were far from sedentary civilizations and the nomadic way of life preserved their thinking. These factors hindered the development of Islam among nomads. The process of spreading Islam among the Kirghiz was quite long. The new religion was incomprehensible to the masses, and part of the population was hostile to the clergy, which began to make strict demands on the performance of rituals and collection of religious taxes.

Islam, gradually becoming the dominant religion, continued to get along with the most primitive superstitions and customs of antiquity, which were widespread among the Kirghiz. He introduced minor changes in their moral foundations and way of life. At the first stages of its distribution, he had to play a very modest role, while pre-Islamic ideas were still quite strong. The cult of the deity of Tengri, Umai-ene, Zher-Suu and Tayuu was firmly preserved among the people (Ro’i and Wainer 2009, 26). The Kirghiz believed in demonic forces. They were respected by shamans, as well as dalychi, kurguchu – soothsayers, visionaries, fortune-tellers. Pagan beliefs were also preserved in the worship of earth, water, springs, stones, wood, “holy mountains”, the raising of prayers to the Sun and the Moon. The beliefs of the Kirghiz preserved survivals of totemism. Thus, the Boogu tribe revered the deer as its ancestor. Widespread was the cult of ancestors, whose spirits, according to legends, were patronized alive.

Unlike the settled peoples of Central Asia, the Kirghiz later adopted Islam. It should be noted that the level of religiosity of the Kirghiz in the north and south of the country is very different, which is predetermined by the historical development of the region. A feature of the religiosity of the Kyrgyz in the north is the close intertwining of Islam with pagan pre-Islamic beliefs, the acceptance in Islam of only its external form – rituals, traditions, holidays (Ro’i and Wainer 2009, 32) . The peculiarities of the religiosity of the Kirghiz in the south are due to the historical development and place of Islam among the peoples inhabiting the Fergana Valley. The ethnic composition of the population of the valley was very diverse: there lived more than ten Turkic and Iranian-speaking ethnic groups. Prior to the creation of modern state formations, all the peoples of the region, nomadic and sedentary, recognized themselves as part of the territorially unified Fergana and called themselves “Muslims”, considering Islam as an alternative to nationality (Ro’i and Wainer 2009, 32).

In the Soviet period of history, despite the state policy of suppressing religious consciousness, religious ideas persisted in the society. Most of the population of Central Asia, despite the severe pressure from above, continued to profess Islam. At the end of XX century. The religion in Central Asia expands the ranks of its adherents. In the region, the Sunni Islam of the Hanafi mazhab became established. Special mention should be made of the provisions of this religious-legal school, which has gone a long way of evolution and played a big role in the formation of the Central Asian type of Islam. The norms of the Hanafi school, along with the common features characteristic of other regions of the Muslim world, had special forms of manifestation in Central Asia. So, despite the recognition of the theocratic (“merged”) character of the government, in practice in the Muslim states of Central Asia, there were actually separate spheres of activity of the state and clerics. And it was the Hanafies that introduced novelty in the solution of this issue: the original ban on the cooperation of clerics with secular authorities in Maverannahr was lifted at the end of the 9th century. The outstanding theologian fakih Abu-l-Lays al-Hafiz al-Samarkandi.

The relevance of Islam to Central Asia is indisputable, it is part of history, culture and the most important aspect of life of the peoples inhabiting it. The region had a strong influence and made a significant contribution to the development of Muslim culture, the general theory and practice of Islamic law. The works of outstanding Islamic enlighteners and theologians – Ahmad Yassawi, Al-Bukhari, Burhaniddin al-Marginoni, As-Samani, Az-Zamakhshari and others – exerted a strong influence and made a significant contribution to the development of Muslim culture, the general theory and practice of Islamic law. Their work with interest is studied today. The famous Islamic theologian of Central Asia, the founder of the school of the Maturidia, the philosopher Abul-Mansur al-Maturidi, in the 10th century. Said: “A person has a choice.” It should be noted that the most complete collection of the hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (ace) is “Sahih” al-Bukhari (Khalid 2007, 22).

Traditional Islam corresponds to the principles of democracy in the newly independent countries of the region. In post-Soviet Central Asian countries, Islam is gradually strengthening its lost positions in society. In an ideological vacuum, people seized upon religious values ​​that helped in overcoming the spiritual crisis. Today, immorality, corruption, alcoholism, drug addiction thrive in the society. In this respect, Islam has a huge potential that can be used to combat these negative phenomena. Islam is a fair economic order, a balanced social order, civil, criminal and international law. It contains an ideological organization and physical education. All this exists on the basis of conviction combined with a moral orientation and spiritual upbringing. It should be noted that Islam was generally considered by the people even in the Soviet era as a way of moral recovery of society. In the ordinary people’s consciousness, morality and Islam have almost always been identified. In modern conditions, the values ​​of Islam are a kind of vector of search for the spiritual identity of the peoples of Central Asia.

Rüstem Kamenov


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Rüstem Kamenov

IR (Researcher on Russia and Central Asia)


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