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The Transformation of Tajikistan’s Religious Field: From Religious Pluralism to Authoritarian Inertia

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posted on 2019-05-15, 14:36 authored by Shahnoza Nozimova, Tim Epkenhans
The recent transformation of Tajikistan’s political system has significantly altered the social and political context in which the country’s lay Muslims and religious elites negotiate Islam and Islamic normativity. The quasi-governmental Islamic Center (Markazi Islomi) has taken on a more dominant role, becoming the sole official (state-approved) Islamic institution in Tajikistan defining Islamic normativity. In this work, we explore the rationale behind the Tajik state’s pursuit of this political trajectory, conduct a detailed examination of the religious edicts ( fatwas) issued by the Islamic Center, and
identify its conservative trends. Our research suggests that the Islamic Center offers the Tajik government a way to achieve its much-desired monopoly over the religious
field. Furthermore, we argue that the Islamic Center’s conservative interpretation of Islam, with its emphasis on political conformity, social patriarchy, and limited mystical
experience, is far more “legible” and administratively manageable for the authoritarian regime than the previous religious pluralism.