Muslim Countries of the World: Kazakhstan

World Contributor
mosque in Kazakhstan
Photo 188491244 © Turfantastik -

The Republic of Kazakhstan is a state in Central Asia, bordering with Russia in the north and with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China in the south. On December 16, 1991, Kazakhstan was the last of all the republics of the former USSR to declare its independence.

Sunni Islam of the Hanafi madhhab is the traditional religion of Kazakhstan.

The Hanafi madhhab defines a fairly wide degree of liberalization of the morals and customs of Muslims Kazakhstan in particular. This is because, during the period of the persecution of Islam in the 1920s – 1930s, atheistic authorities tried to eradicate any mention of Sharia in the country.

The peoples of Central Asia (Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Turkmens, Kirghiz and Tajiks) have a common history.

In the territories of their settlement (Khorasan, Transoxiana), states were formed throughout the Middle Ages. In which almost all of these peoples lived. The history of Islamization was also shared by these peoples.

Islam penetrated the territory of Khorasan and Transoxiana in the middle of the 7th century.

All the rulers of these regions were zealous defenders and propagators of Islam.

The last act of Islamization of the Turkic peoples was the adoption of Islam in 942 by the future founder of the Karakhanid dynasty Satuk. Who adopted the Islamic name Abdul Karim and the title of the kagan of all Turks.

With this, the remnants of idolatry in the region were stomped out. This was especially true of the territory of modern Kyrgyzstan. Here local idolatrous cults were strong until the era of the Karakhanids.

By 7011, the Umayyad caliphs conquered the entire territory of modern Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

This region was ruled by the Arab governor of Khorasan. However, as a result of the resistance of the local Turkic and Persian peoples, Khorasan fell away from the Caliphate.

At the beginning of the 9th century, the state of the Samanids was formed on its territory. Then that of the Karakhanids.

In the west, in the territories inhabited by Turkmen tribes, the Ghaznavids established their power.

Just before the Mongol conquest of the 1260s, the Khwarazm state gained prominence in the region.

After then the Mongol invasion and the defeat of Central Asia occurred.

The territory of Khorasan and Transoxiana in the 14th-16th centuries was part of the state of Timur Tamerlane.  Later, as a result of its collapse, separate states were formed here.

Namely, the Bukhara Khanate (Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmens), the Khiva Khanate (Khwarazm) (Uzbeks, Turkmens), the Kokand Khanate (Kirghiz), the Kazakh Khanate (which spent almost a hundred years in the wars with the Mongolian Dzungar Khanate and, in an attempt to defend itself against it, became part of Russia in 1734).

In the 1920s, the national-territorial demarcation of Central Asia was carried out in Soviet Russia.

As a result of which modern states were formed. Initially, Islam has persecuted: mosques were closed, imams and mullahs were repressed.

However, during the Second World War, the authorities considered that Islam could have a strong moral impact on patriotic feelings and began to liberalize relations with Muslims.

In 1943, the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Central Asia was created, which was headed by the Mufti (Eshon Babakhan became the first Mufti, then the Spiritual Administration was headed by his son Ziyauddin and grandson Shamsuddin Babakhanov). In each of the republics, a Qadiyat of the Spiritual Administration was formed, headed by a qadi. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, each of the independent states of Central Asia formed its own Spiritual Administration.

In Kazakhstan, the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Kazakhstan was formed, which includes the Council of Ulema and is headed by the Supreme Mufti of Kazakhstan Nauryzbay Tagunly Otpenov since February 2020.

Among the Muslims of Kazakhstan, it is common to follow national customs, often rooted in pre-Islamic cults. Of course, in the part that does not contradict Islam. At the same time, the people of Kazakhstan regard Islam as a factor of national identity and consider it an integral part of their lives.

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