Islam and Democratic Politics in Central Asia

By Haghayeghi, Mehrdad | World Affairs, Spring 1994 | Go to article overview

Islam and Democratic Politics in Central Asia


Haghayeghi, Mehrdad, World Affairs


The year 1991 marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Central Asian republics (CAR) where the dream of national independence was quickly transformed into political reality. Interestingly enough, the CAR's population as a whole played a marginal or, at best, an indirect role in the realization of that dream. Rather, it was the breakdown of the Soviet central authority that provided an almost effortless opportunity for independence. Unfortunately, the rapidity with which political freedom was brought to bear left the CAR ill-prepared to fill the ideological void created by the collapse of Marxism, leading to the proliferation of a variety of ideological trends, the roots of which were inadvertently nurtured by Gorbachev's policy of glasnost. Of these, only the Islamic trends seem to have become the main source of preoccupation for the West.

Clearly, there is legitimate room for concern given the twentieth century radical and fundamentalist interpretations of Islam and the practical implications of such interpretations that have, among other things, given rise to the Islamic Republic of Iran and other forms of extremism elsewhere in the world. It is the availability of such Islamic doctrines to the CAR that has greatly contributed to the overall uncertainty with regard to the future political development of these newly-emerging states. But, in conjunction with Islam, the democratic forces have established viable organizational structures, presenting a powerful alternative with popular political objectives. Unfortunately, not only the Islamic, but also the democratic forces have been vigorously contained by the present governments of the CAR whose leaders, with the exception of Kyrgyzstan, have been ex-Communists turned democrat. This study is an attempt to put into perspective the dynamics of Islamic and democratic politics in post-independence Central Asia.

ISLAMIC REAWAKENING

In retrospect, the Islamic revival in Central Asia was triggered by Gorbachev's well-advertised policy of glasnost in the late 1980s.[1] Designed to address a completely different set of political problems in the Soviet Union, glasnost became an officially endorsed policy instrument for expression of religious grievances that eventually brought about a qualitative shift in the orientation of the Soviet government toward religion. Quite expectedly, it was the Christian faith that became the early beneficiary of Gorbachev's glasnost, as exemplified by the government-assisted celebrations of the Millennium of Christianity in June 1988. It was not until a year later that Islam was granted similar concessions, and only after public protests made it clear to the authorities that the Central Asian Muslims demanded their fair share of religious freedom.

The first series of Islamic protests in the CAR occurred in December 1988 when spontaneous demonstrations by Uzbek students broke out in Tashkent. Although the focus of the demonstrations was the restoration of the Uzbek language and culture, some participants were reported to have raised green banners - a symbol of the Islamic faith - and read Koranic verses during the demonstration.[2] Two months later, a second public protest was carried out by Muslims in Tashkent to demand the resignation of the head mufti of the Religious Board of Central Asia and Kazakhstan,[3] Shamsidin Babakhanov ibn Zeyudin. Accused of gross violations of Islamic codes of conduct, he was forced to resign, putting an end to nearly four decades of an almost hereditary rule of the board by the Babakhanov family.

The Babakhanov affair caused serious concern among the local party leaders as well as members of the Council for Religious Affairs. This was perhaps the first and only direct public attack on the legitimacy of the official clerical establishment controlled by the Communist authorities in Central Asia. To prevent further chaos and disorder, the chairman of the Council for Religious Affairs, Konstantin Karachev, decided to attend the Fourth Kurultay of the board in March 1989 and formally announce the new Soviet religious policy as it related to Islam. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Islam and Democratic Politics in Central Asia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.