Central Asia Sees Revival of Islam

August 5, 2005

Source: Payvand/Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty


On August 5, 2005 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported, "[M]ost of the peoples of Central Asia have historically been Muslim. According to regional surveys, some 95 percent of the members of those historically Muslim populations consider themselves Muslim today... Yet Islam in Central Asia, which dates to the 8th century, has traditionally had a moderate cast compared to practices in Saudi Arabia or Iran, for example. That moderation is reflected in its accommodation of originally nomadic practices like the fermentation of mare's milk into mildly intoxicating 'Qymyz' and today includes a less strict attitude toward alcohol overall than in more conservative Muslim societies... Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, communist authorities discouraged the practice of all religions, turned many places of worship into public buildings, and stressed secular values in place of spiritual ones. The effects in Central Asia can be seen today. As Islam has revived in the region, some have embraced it again with a fervor akin to that of new converts."