Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Central Asia rediscovers its Muslim roots

From Reuters

TURKESTAN, Kazakhstan — In Soviet days, people walked past the Khoja Ahmed Yasawi mausoleum, a holy Muslim site in the steppe of southern Kazakhstan, and pretended it wasn't there.

"It was as if there was nothing but empty space. People were afraid to notice it," Beisekul Aladasugirova, a middle-aged librarian, said as she pointed at the burial site of the 12-century Sufi mystic.

"But now people are making up for that. Pilgrims come here in thousands, just like in the Middle Ages," said Aladasugirova, who had traveled about 190 miles to pray at the site.

Today, the shrine with the blue-tiled facade is at the center of an Islamic revival rolling across Central Asia. Some 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is rediscovering its role as a center for study and pilgrimage.

See article: "A History of Islam in Central Asia"

Islam in Central Asia booklist:

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