Institute of Oriental Studies named after R.B.Sulejmanov, Ministry of Education and Science, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Islam in Kazakhstan and questions of ethnic identity
The specificity of Islam in Kazakhstan, witnessed throughout history, is well known to specialists. In post-Soviet Kazakhstan, we are witnesses of the so-called “Renaissance of Islam”.
Is there order to this tendency? Is it connected with the search of key bases of ethnic identity, or is it conditioned by supra-national tendencies, such as the feeling of belonging to the Islamic umma? What role does Islam play in the life of Kazakhstani society? How attractive are different functioning models of Islam offered by foreign religious leaders?
A variety of opinions exist on the role of Islam in ethnic and broader national identity in modern Kazakhstan. Several researchers consider Islam a main component in ethnic identity. Others suppose (referring to historic experience and the Soviet period) that the role and meaning of Islam in Kazakhstan is peripheral. But both sides admit that Islam is expanding its sphere of influence throughout society.