Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia

By Adeeb Khalid | Go to book overview

Introduction

Waiting in line at a cafeteria in Tashkent one day in 1991, in the last months of the Soviet era, I fell into conversation with two men behind me. They were pleased to meet someone from the outside world, to which access had been so difficult until then, but they were especially delighted by the fact that their interlocutor was Muslim. My turn in line eventually came, and I sat down in a corner to eat. A few minutes later, my new acquaintances joined me unbidden at my table, armed with a bottle of vodka, and proceeded to propose a toast to meeting a fellow Muslim from abroad. Their delight at meeting me was sincere, and they were completely unself-conscious about the oddity of lubricating the celebration of our acquaintance with copious quantities of alcohol.

This episode, unthinkable in the Muslim countries just a few hundred kilometers to the south, provides a powerful insight into the place of Islam in Central Asian societies at the end of the Soviet period. Clearly, being Muslim meant something very specific to my friends. Seven decades of Soviet rule had given Central Asians a unique understanding of Islam and of being Muslim. Islam after Communism had its peculiarities.

A few months after my encounter, the Soviet Union ceased to exist, and the republics of Central Asia became independent states. As old barriers—political, ideological, personal—came down, the region experienced a considerable Islamic revival. Mosques were reopened, new ones built, links with Muslims outside the Soviet Union revived. Islam has indeed experienced a rebirth in the region.1

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Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps and Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Islam in Central Asia 19
  • Chapter 2 - Empire and the Challenge of Modernity 34
  • Chapter 3 - The Soviet Assault on Islam 50
  • Chapter 4 - Islam as National Heritage 84
  • Chapter 5 - The Revival of Islam 116
  • Chapter 6 - Islam in Opposition 140
  • Chapter 7 - The Politics of Antiterrorism 168
  • Conclusion - Andijan and beyond 192
  • Afterword 204
  • Glossary 211
  • Notes 213
  • Select Bibliography 235
  • Index 243
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