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Islam and Cultural Heritage on Tajik Television

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posted on 2019-05-15, 13:02 authored by Benjamin Gatling
For many members of the Tajik governing elite, Muslim piety remains problematic—a stubborn, socially regressive holdover of anti-modern Tajiks—and Muslim leaders are
often thought of merely as anachronistic cultural survivals. This paper interrogates the depiction of Muslim exemplars as they appear on Tajik state television by comparing a 2009 documentary about the life of Imomi Abūḣanifa, the eponymous founder of the Ḣanafī school of jurisprudence, with an exposé about Ėshoni Temur, a local Naqshbandī Sufi pir tried and convicted in 2015 for polygyny and various indeterminate offenses against official notions of Muslim religiosity. This article considers different regimes of Muslim alterity as depicted on state media and argues that the Tajik
governing elite alternately renders problematic Islam as innocuous heritage or in need of swift extermination.